§ 3.30 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, I would ask the permission of the House to make a Statement on Rhodesia which is being made by the Prime Minister elsewhere. If I may, I will use the Prime Minister's own words. I now quote the Prime Minister:
"The House will have heard with deep sadness of the illegal declaration of independence by the men who until that declaration constituted the Government of Rhodesia.
"The House is aware from statements made in this Chamber by the previous British Government and the present one of the long record of discussions aimed at agreement on independence conferred by the only legal authority capable of granting independence, by this Parliament acting on legislation introduced by the British Government. I do not intend to retrace the course of those negotiations which have now continued over a period of three years, but I must repeat that at every point over those three years successive British Governments have warned the Rhodesians in the strongest terms that any so-called declaration of independence not carrying with it the authority of the British Parliament would be illegal and invalid.
"Before informing the House of the consequences that follow this illegal act, I think that honourable Members will wish me to say something of the discussions between the British Government and the then Rhodesian Government since I last reported to the House on Tuesday. On Tuesday and again yesterday, my colleagues and I had a series of meetings with Sir Hugh Beadle, then and now Rhodesia's Chief Justice. In his capacity as Chairman designate of the Royal Commission he discussed with us every aspect of the working of that Commission which could affect the issues still in dispute between the two Governments. He returned to Rhodesia overnight authorised to explain to Mr. Smith and his colleagues the precise position of Her Majesty's Government on all these 122 questions, including one to which the House attach great importance, the effect on the working of the Royal Commission of the state of emergency and the steps which will have to be taken to ensure that the Royal Commission would still be in a position, despite the state of emergency and the regulations made under it, to see every one it needed to see and to obtain the views of the Rhodesian people as a whole on the basis of a free expression of opinion without restriction or intimidation from any quarter.
"Yesterday afternoon I sent a detailed message to Mr. Smith explaining our position on all the outstanding items, but adding that Sir Hugh Beadle would be in a position to give further clarification on every point including the interim report which I have referred to in earlier statements in this House. On the last outstanding point which held up agreement, namely the extent to which each Government would give an assurance in advance that it would accept a unanimous report from the Commission, we made a proposal to the Rhodesian Government which would fully meet every demand they had made.
"We asked them the following question: 'If the United Kingdom Government undertook to commend to Parliament—whose sovereign rights must be reserved—a unanimous report by the Royal Commission to the effect that the 1961 Constitution was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole as a basis for independence, would the Rhodesian Government give a corresponding undertaking that if the Royal Commission submitted a unanimous report to the effect that the 1961 Constitution was not acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole as a basis for independence they would abandon their claim in this respect and would agree that a Royal Commission should then proceed to devise a new Constitution for Rhodesia which would give effect to the principles enunciated by the United Kingdom Government in their statement of October 9, 1965, and which would be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole as a basis for independence?'
123 "I must tell the House that what was proposed in that message to Mr. Smith which he was in a position to report to his Cabinet yesterday last night met every requirement to which he had referred in messages formal and informal which I had received from him.
"Evidence was accumulating that despite this the then Rhodesian Government were hell-bent on illegal and self-destroying action. Throughout the small hours I was in touch with Salisbury, with Her Majesty's High Commissioner, and arranged an early mornning telephone call to Mr. Smith himself which took place several hours before the illegal declaration.
"I began by telling him there were now no outstanding points between us and I said I was sending a senior Minister to Salisbury empowered to sign an agreed minute recording the basis on which the Royal Commission could be set up this week. I must tell the House that in that conversation I went through every single item of dispute between the two Governments regarding the establishment of the Royal Commission. I spelt out yet again our attitude on them, and proved beyond any possible reasonable doubt that every point they had made was fully dealt with on terms that must be satisfactory to them. Every point was discussed and at the end of the conversation he had no further queries, no further points to raise, and no suggestion that there was anything still in doubt. Yet after this he said that the position of the two Governments was irreconcilable. I am bound to say that when I heard this I told him that if anybody could now say that this position is irreconcilable and justifies illegal action I think they want their heads examining or they must have a death wish on them.
"Mr. Smith who gave no indication that a decision to take illegal action had been taken went on to say that they were in the midst of discussing this and he took it that it would not be right of him if he did not tell me that the feeling seemed to be that it looked as though this thing had gone too far.
124 "I will not at this stage inflict on the House my comments on this statement, on Mr. Smith and on his colleagues. But I should perhaps add that Mr. Smith went on to say that his Cabinet and he himself regretted that this has happened at this stage because he said himself, 'You find yourself in a position that has gone too far not because of actions on your part.' I am glad to feel that Mr. Smith at any rate agrees with the claim I made to the House on my return from Salisbury that I have done everything any man could do to avert this disaster.
"Mr. Speaker, I am hound to tell the House I was speaking in the early hours of this morning to a confused and unhappy man. He has been in these past weeks under intolerable pressures from some of his colleagues and the unreasoning extremists of the Rhodesian front; but it must not be forgotten. Mr. Speaker, that it was Mr. Smith who called the Rhodesian Front into existence.
"I ended the telephone conversation with a heavy heart, feeling that reason had fled the scene and that emotions, unreasoning racialist emotions at that, had taken command regardless of the consequences for Rhodesia, for Africa and for the world.
"The Government conceive it as their duty, Mr. Speaker to publish all the exchanges we have had with the Rhodesian Government over these past months and indeed longer, and when they are published I will call the House to witness that this Government did everything in its power to avert this disaster, that even when this day dawned, less than fours hours before the illegal declaration, we had created a situation settling every difference between the two Governments, providing for the immediate despatch of a senior Minister to proceed to Salisbury and sign an agreed minute and creating the conditions in which the Royal Commission could have been appointed in this very week.
"I still find it incredible, and the House when they read the records will find it incredible, that this action should have taken place. But as I have previously warned the House, the differences between us have not been differences of legal drafting, they have 125 not been the differences of normal political interchange, they have represented a deep difference of philosophy, a gulf that we now know could never be bridged because it was a gulf covering all the distance between different worlds and different centuries. At every point when agreement was near we were told that our positions were irreconcilable because there were men in the then Rhodesian Cabinet who were determined at all costs that agreement should not be reached. I challenged Mr. Smith to-day as I did in my last meeting in Salisbury with this fact, and to his credit Mr. Smith had the honesty to admit it.
"I felt the House was entitled to this frank assessment of the last stages of these discussions. Now I must inform the House of the action that has been taken, that is being taken, that will be taken—some of it subject to the necessary powers being given by Parliament to the Government.
"I repeat that the British Government condemn the purported declaration of independence by the former Government of Southern Rhodesia as an illegal act and ineffective in law. It is an act of rebellion against the authority of the British Government and against the Constitution as by law established, and actions taken to give effect to it will be treasonable. The Governor, in pursuance of the authority vested in him by Her Majesty The Queen, has informed the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Southern Rhodesian Government that they cease to hold office. They are now private persons and can exercise no legal authority in Southern Rhodesia.
"The British Government wish to make it clear that it is the duty of all British subjects in Southern Rhodesia, including all citizens of Southern Rhodesia, to remain loyal to The Queen and to the law of the land and to recognise the continuing authority and responsibility for Southern Rhodesia of the Government of the United Kingdom.
"The British Government are in close touch with all other Commonwealth Governments about the consequences of this illegal act and about the measure we should take. The British Government will of course have no 126 dealings with the rebel régime. The British High Commissioner is being withdrawn and the Southern Rhodesia High Commissioner in London has been asked to leave. Export of arms, including spares, have, of course, been stopped. All British aid will cease. Southern Rhodesia is being removed from the sterling area. Special exchange control restrictions will be applied. Exports of United Kingdom capital to Southern Rhodesia will not be allowed. Rhodesia will no longer be allowed access to the London capital market. Our Export Credits Guarantee Department will give no further cover for exports to Rhodesia. The Ottawa Agreement of 1932 which governs our trading relations with Southern Rhodesia is suspended. Southern Rhodesia will be suspended forthwith from the Commonwealth Preference Area and her goods will no longer receive preferential treatment on entering the United Kingdom. There will he a ban on further purchases of tobacco from Southern Rhodesia. We propose to suspend the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement in its relation to Southern Rhodesia and to ban further purchases of Rhodesian sugar. We shall not recognise passports issued or renewed by the illegal Southern Rhodesian régime. A further statement will be made on citizenship questions.
"We shall bring before Parliament on Monday a general enabling Bill to deal with this situation. It will first of all declare that Southern Rhodesia remains part of Her Majesty's Dominions and that the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom continue to have responsibility for it. It will go on to give power to make Orders in Council, to enable us to carry through the policy I have stated. There will be a Government statement tomorrow giving more details of the action we propose under this Bill.
"Lord Ca radon, British permanent representative to the United Nations, is asking the President of the Security Council to call an early meeting to consider the situation. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will he leaving for New York this evening.
"It is the duty of everyone owing allegiance to the Crown in Southern Rhodesia or elsewhere to refrain from 127 all acts which would assist the illegal régime to continue in their rebellion against the Crown. Members of the armed forces and the police in Southern Rhodesia should refrain from taking up arms in support of the illegal régime, and from doing anything which will help them to pursue their unlawful courses. Public servants in Southern Rhodesia should not do any work for the illegal régime which would tend to further the success of the rebellion. It is the duty of all private citizens owing allegiance to the Crown, wherever they may be, to refrain from acts which will give support to the illegal régime.
"The House will have an opportunity of further debate since the Southern Rhodesia Bill comes before the House next week. I understand also that discussions are proceeding through the usual channels about a possible special debate on Rhodesia to-morrow instead of the intended debate on defence and foreign affairs."
That, of course, refers to the House of Commons.
"For my part I will reserve further comment until we debate these matters more fully. But I cannot end this statement about a problem with which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and other colleagues and myself have been so intimately concerned for so long, without expressing the deep sense of tragedy—personal tragedy, but not only personal tragedy. It is a tragedy affecting a great people, including many thousands who have made their homes there and who are plunged into a maelstrom not of their own making, and of millions more who are denied the inalienable human right of self-expression and self-determination. Heaven knows what crimes will be committed against the concept of the rule of law and of human freedom for which this House has always stood: this progressive unfolding of the regulations which have been signed under the state of emergency are an ominous warning.
"The illegal régime which now claims power and authority in Rhodesia marked its usurpation of authority with a proclamation which borrowed for the purposes of small and 128 frightened men the words of one of the historic documents of human freedom, even to appropriating the reference to 'a respect for the opinions of mankind'.
"I would repeat to them and to the Rhodesian people as a whole, in words I used in my farewell statement on leaving Salisbury, these words:—'When, nearly two centuries ago, the American States declared their independence from a British Government which to say the least was remote, oppressive and unimaginative, they insisted that their actions be inspired by "a proper respect for the opinions of mankind". Nor were they alone. Could anyone say that either of these things would be true of a Rhodesia which chose illegally to claim its independence?'"It would be unworthy of this Government, of any British Government, as it would be unworthy of this House, to allow this challenge, offensive as it is to all our cherished traditions, and to the wider aspirations of the whole of mankind, to go unanswered.
"We did not seek this challenge—the House will concede that we did everything in our power to avoid it—but now, as it has been made, we shall face it, with whatever sadness, with resolution and determination. Whatever measures in our opinion are needed to restore Rhodesia to the rule of law and to allegiance to the Crown, these measures will be taken, with the support of Parliament. And I am confident that we shall have not only the support of Parliament; we shall have the support of the nations of the world, and shall have the clear and decisive verdict of history."
My Lords, that concludes the very grave statement made by the Prime Minister.
If the House will allow me a moment more, I will outline our proposals for the Business of the House in regard to Rhodesia in the next few days. It is proposed that we sit on Monday for the purpose of considering an enabling Bill, which it is hoped will be available from another place by 7 p.m. I cannot give any guarantee of that—none of us could—but it is hoped that it will be available by 7 p.m. It is also hoped that this Bill will receive the Royal Assent that evening.
129 The Bill is an enabling Bill, under which Orders will be subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure, so that in each case the Orders will be debatable, if necessary, in this House. Finally, so as to give the House a proper opportunity for a full discussion, it is proposed to meet on Monday at 2 o'clock to debate a Motion on Rhodesia, and the debate, will continue until shortly before the enabling Bill is received from the House of Commons. I am afraid that I have not had an opportunity of talking to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who also has on the Order Paper a Motion on Rhodesia, but perhaps I can talk to him afterwards.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I can say at once that in the unhappy circumstances that have arisen I do not propose to move my Motion on Wednesday, and if I have the opportunity I shall speak on Monday.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am most grateful to the noble Earl. My Lords, that concludes the statement of the Prime Minister and my own statement on Business.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, it is hardly necessary to say that the Statement we have heard from the noble Earl the Leader of the House is a grave one; indeed, it is one of the gravest that any of your Lordships will have heard made in this House. Both Her Majesty's Government and the Conservative Party, when they were in power, have made it abundantly clear that a unilateral declaration of independence by the Rhodesian Government would be an illegal act, with the gravest consequences. To our great regret, Mr. Smith and the Rhodesian Government have embarked on this course, and no one can foretell what the ultimate result may be. I regret very much that the Prime Minister's efforts have failed.
As the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said, we shall have an opportunity, on Monday, of discussing the whole subject of the situation in Rhodesia, and I do not propose to say much more this afternoon. I think that at this juncture we should all exercise great restraint. Of course we shall have to look very carefully at the Statement which the noble Earl the Leader of the House has 130 made. It is not immediately clear to me, for example, what exactly is the position of the police, the Civil Service and the judges. We shall certainly have more questions to ask about the measures which the Government have said that they will take.
With regard to the last paragraph of the Statement, I assume that when the Statement uses the wordswhatever measures in our opinion are needed to restore the rule of law will be taken",this excludes the use of force, since the Prime Minister is on record as saying so. I should be grateful if the noble Earl would be good enough to confirm this. With regard to the arrangements which the noble Earl has outlined to the House, I am sure that all noble Lords who sit on this side of the House will, as they always do, do their best to co-operate in getting Government business through. Of course, we will do that, provided we are satisfied that every Member of the House has had an opportunity of making his view known. But I think that I ought to make it clear that, if the Bill which the noble Earl has foreshadowed does not arrive from another place by about 7 o'clock, it will be increasingly difficult to complete all the stages that night and to have a Royal Commission on it.
My Lords, may I, from these Benches, express our sympathy with the Government and congratulate the Prime Minister on the great efforts he has made, which so unfortunately have failed. I wonder whether the noble Earl can tell us what is planned by the Government and Governor. The Governor, I take it, has the full support of Her Majesty's Government. We shall be interested to know whether they are going to set up some other form of Government or governing body. Meantime, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that this is not really the time to go into details. We should like to study what the noble Earl has said and go into the matter in greater detail on Monday, as proposed.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am most grateful to both noble Lords. The Governor, of course, has the full support of Her Majesty's Government, but what steps he is taking at the moment I am not in a position to explain to the House; nor, indeed, am I completely aware of them. The noble Lord, 131 Lord Carrington, asked about the use of force and pointed out that he was satisfied by the previous answer of the Prime Minister. I certainly endorse what the Prime Minister said on the earlier occasion.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I ask just one more question? Can the noble Earl say when the Bill will be available for noble Lords to study?
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I think that everyone in your Lordships' House will be conscious of the gravity of this occasion and would not want to say anything at this moment to prejudice the position further, but I should like to ask two questions which are immediately important on matters that might be involved before our debate on Monday. The first is in relation to the European population in Rhodesia who are opposed to the declaration of an independent Government—and I am thinking particularly of the Judiciary. What are the British Government going to do to protect them immediately? I am also thinking of the 4 million African population, for whom we are directly responsible, as well as for the Europeans. What is being done to protect them from the imposition of the restrictions under the Emergency Act?
The second immediate question I want to put is this. Zambia is likely to suffer immediately, even more than Southern Rhodesia, from economic sanctions. What is being done to protect the people and the economy of Zambia, and, particularly, what is being done to safeguard Zambia's right to the service of the Kariba Dam, which is jointly owned by Zambia and Northern Rhodesia, and in which our Government are a party?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, perhaps I may reply first to my noble friend Lord Brockway. I think that I have made a very full statement—I cannot remember so long a Statement ever being made in this House in my time—and I should not like to add to it now. I think that the questions raised by my noble friend are poignant ones to 132 which eventually answers will have to be given.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I will exercise every possible restraint, as indeed I did yesterday, but there is a question which must guide all of us, particularly those less knowledgeable about these obscure matters of law. Did the Prime Minister say, through the noble Earl, that anyone who lends aid, succour or help, even perhaps argument, to those favouring the late Government in Rhodesia (possibly it is, de facto, the present Government: I do not know) is in treason with Her Majesty? If so, we shall have to have some special privilege to enable us to speak at all on this matter in the debates that are to come.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I would ask the noble Lord to study carefully the Statement, and he will then be reassured, at any rate in regard to the last point. The wording is carefully employed, and I would ask him to read it, when he has a chance to do so, to-morrow.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, may I follow the question asked by the noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party and ask the noble Earl that, when the time comes on Monday to open the debate, Her Majesty's Government should tell us clearly the position of His Excellency the Governor, who has carried the most heavy responsibilities during this period and whose position is so much in question. Can we be assured that we shall have a full Statement as to whether he is still able to exercise his constitutional position in Rhodesia, or what his position will be at that time?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I certainly join, as I am sure the House does, in the tribute paid to the Governor, and I certainly hope to be able to answer that question clearly on Monday. Obviously the questions coming up to-day are questions into which we are bound to go carefully when we come to the debate, but, to be quite honest, I do not think that there is much more that I can add to what I have already said.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sure that there is no-one in this House who does not share the deep sorrow expressed by the Leaders of the 133 various Parties about these recent developments in Rhodesia. Nobody wishes to say anything to-day which would exacerbate an already sufficiently tragic situation, and I would only say this, if I may. There are many of us in your Lordships' House who hold views, which we are entitled to hold, regarding the events which have led up to the present situation and who believe, rightly or wrongly, that the action of the Rhodesian Government could be seen in a less unfavourable light, perhaps, than appears from the Prime Minister's Statement. I wanted to say that to-day, because I felt that it should be said. We shall have, I know, a fuller opportunity of discussing these matters on Monday, and I will reserve any further comments until then.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I would express my thanks to the noble Marquess for the restraint he has shown on this matter, on which we are all well aware that he has the deepest possible feeling.
§ ADDRESS IN REPLY TO HER
MAJESTY'S MOST GRACIOUS
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, resuming our debate of this afternoon, I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to limit my few remarks to two subjects, in the first place, to Europe—that is to say, the general political situation in Europe to-day—and, in the second place, to what is called "peacekeeping" in the Indian Ocean, the two subjects being, as your Lordships know, intimately linked.
On Europe, most thinking people—and I repeat, most thinking people—would now admit, I believe, that by far the best solution would be that the European Economic Community should be allowed to continue on the general lines laid down in the Treaty of Rome; that France should return to the fold; that we and the other candidates for admission should join as soon as we possibly can, subject only to provisional arrangements for certain Commonwealth products, a suitable voting formula and a handful of hardcore problems (mostly agriculture), and that we should proceed with the construction 134 on this basis of some European Political Community which would represent the famous Eastern "pillar" of the Western Alliance. This general view is, I believe, becoming more and more widely accepted, both here and on the Continent of Europe—even, I believe, in certain French circles—and it still has many adherents in the United States of America, even at the highest level.
Unfortunately, this happy solution, if I may call it such, is ruled out for the moment owing to the extremely nationalistic policy of the present French Government. If this policy is pursued after December 4 next, which is probable, though not, I suppose, inevitable, a situation will eventually arise in which four other possibilities will perforce present themselves to us. I should like to tell possibilities are.
In the first place, France returns to the European Economic Community more or less on her own terms, which would probably involve a virtual French hegemony, the formation eventually, I suppose, of a kind of European Third Force, the continued exclusion of Britain from Europe, and very possibly, I fear, the break-up of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as at present constituted. The second possibility: the European Economic Community breaks up altogether, and we presumably then try to form some kind of extended European Free Trade Association. The third possibility: we, the Five, and one or two other EFTA countries, form, or try to form, some kind of Community which is itself based on the principles of the Treaty of Rome, if not on the Treaty of Rome itself, a place being left open for France. The fourth possibility: we leave Europe to its own devices and enter into some kind of Customs Union with the United States, perhaps with Canada, and perhaps also in company with one or two other EFTA members.
Now, my Lords, the first possibility I mentioned is the gloomiest, and if it happens we should not, I fear, be able to do very much about it beyond being gradually drawn towards the last possibility that is to say, the possible Customs Union with America. Though if the terms for the return of France really result in a kind of French hegemony, we might perhaps count on an inevitably 135 rather weakened Community not hanging together for very long.
The second possibility is a little better, but not much. There would presumably be little point in France joining an extended EFTA. Why? Because it would not include agriculture, and consequently the French would be much worse off than if they had let us into the Common Market. But if France did not come in, then I am afraid she would certainly gravitate more and more towards the Soviet Union.
The third possibility rests on a double assumption—namely, that the Five are prepared to break temporarily with France, and that Britain agrees to accept the main features of the Treaty of Rome. Both assumptions are problematical. But if it were adopted, this solution, though bad, would, from our point of view, be clearly preferable to the first or the second solution. The hope would be, of course, that France would eventually have second thoughts and join some suitably extended Community.
So the fourth possibility is something which we may well hear rather more about—the famous "Anglo-Saxon" bloc of the General's historic imagination. It seems that there will be no political content in such a Customs Union, though, as we all know in the past, Customs Unions hardly go on for very long without some kind of political content. What it would therefore really mean is that, whatever the economic advantages might he, we should be handing Western Europe over to France to run as a kind of independent Third Force, or if she is not capable of doing this (and probably she is not), then handing it over to potential anarchy, which would hold out all kinds of opportunities to the Soviet Union.
If the suggestion were that Germany and certain other European States, apart from ourselves, should come into the North American Customs Union, this might not be so. But apart from the long-term political effects of an Anglo-German-American bloc, there is little doubt that the Soviet Union could profit greatly by the ensuing disruption of Western Europe, for they would obviously be able to play off America against France and France against America. Moreover, in this bloc there is 136 no doubt that the Germans, rather than we, would become the principal allies of the Americans. It remains to be demonstrated, also, I think, how exactly we should benefit economically, to say nothing of politically, by becoming a sort of new New England.
These are grave matters, and no doubt we shall have many debates on them during the coming Session. All I wish to do at the moment is to repeat the Liberal proposal of long standing that any British Government would be well advised in this critical period to make known their views and their preferences and, if possible, to issue some considered "Declaration of Intent". The Five (this is really an important point) have to make some critical decisions shortly, and surely we want to give them all the encouragement we can. Let it also be declared (why not?) that our one desire is to work in with France on a footing of complete equality, and that the only way, in practice, to arrive at such an intimate co-operation is for both of us to accept certain definite supra-national obligations, or, if we do not like that phrase and prefer another, to arrange in certain defined spheres to take certain decisions in common.
I approach my other topic, which is, as I have said, closely allied to Europe—namely, the question of our Defence policy in the Indian Ocean. When I last addressed your Lordships on this question, on April 8 last, I questioned the whole conception whereby we maintain, at, as I think, crippling expense, bases at Aden, Bahrein and elsewhere in this area, and suggested, in the first place, that we should here and now decide gradually—and I repeat gradually—to clear out of Aden and the Persian Gulf; and in the second place, that we should consider—I say consider—reorganising our communications westabout and work out with the Americans some kind of defence scheme for Australia, New Zealand and our interests in South-East Asia generally, including Singapore, if indeed the defence of that particular base was possible, given the desires and inclinations of the local inhabitants.
When I had finished my exposé, the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition (I do not think he is in his place at the moment) asked me, as one apparently thunderstruck, whether the speech I had 137 just made set forth "the official policy of the Liberal Party." I replied, you may remember, that it did. Subsequently the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, observed that "by my own witness" I appeared to be living in 1926. He must tell me that if somebody shipped me off to somewhere East of Suez to-day, I should find that the best is not like the worst, and one of the important factors which maintains this distinction is British power directed to one responsible Government or another. Our Forces, the noble Lord continued, are protecting a great deal more than tin and rubber, which seemed to him to be the only benefits which I had recognised. (I may here interpose that it was not so, as he will see if he will re-read my speech). He finally had to point out that the "Gladwyn plan" as propounded was not interdependence, but would be dependence in its purest form.
For his part, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, replied, in his summing-up speech (or immediately after my speech; I cannot remember which), that the adoption of the Liberal Party policy would mean "leaving whole areas of the world in chaos." It will be interesting to see whether any areas are to be left undefended by the Government in their forthcoming Defence Review (which is surely rather overdue, is it not, by this time?); and, if so, whether a little chaos is, after all, now perhaps considered acceptable. We shall see.
I now read, however, that in his speech at the recent Conservative Party Congress the Tory Shadow Minister of Defence, after having explained, very sensibly, that we really did not need Armed Forces to protect our overseas trade interests and that bullets were no good against ideas, observed thatassuming that Western military power could limit, or be a factor in limiting, the extension of the Russian and Chinese influence in Asia and Africa, we should still have to measure the practical effect of British military efforts against the size of the resources it demands.He went on to say:However much we may do to safeguard and reassure the new independent countries in Asia and Africa, the eventual limits of Russian and Chinese advance in those directions will be fixed by a balance of forces which will itself be Asiatic and African.Finally we read:We have to reckon with the harsh fact"—138 it is of course, still the Tory Shadow Minister of Defence speaking—that the attainment of this eventual equilibrium of forces may at some point be delayed rather than hastened by Western military presence.Now I am not saying that the Tory Shadow Minister of Defence was actually adopting the Liberal defence policy, as defined by me, when he uttered these words, but he was certainly coming pretty close to it. In more general and philosophical terms than I used, he was nevertheless questioning all the fundamental assumptions on which our Defence policy East of Suez has so far been thought to rest.
For my part, I simply ask, once again, what are the aircraft carriers which we propose to order and construct, with their possible nuclear capacity, and what even are our nuclear submarines going to do in the Indian Ocean if we evacuate Aden, as I have suggested we should, and go back at enormous expense to some other base which will have to be constructed, such as Gan (I think it is; or I now hear reference to Diego-Garcia). Whom exactly will these Forces bomb if it comes to some crisis in the Middle East; and why? Surely, we are not going to use these Thunderbolts to hack up or oppose some revolutionary Government in any of the States concerned. On this point, at least, I have no doubt at all that I have the support of Mr. Enoch Powell. Surely, too, if it is a case of formal aggression by the Soviet Union, the ensuing nuclear war—and it will inevitably be a nuclear war—will be waged by quite other methods and our comparatively small forces, though very efficient, at Gan or elsewhere, would be of no particular use.
However this may be—I mean, as regards the general strategic plan—what seems pretty certain, I should have thought almost indisputable, is that the maintenance of a base at Aden and a British military presence in Bahrein are absolutely useless. Do we think that it is necessary to defend the Sheikh of Kuwait, or some other Sheikh along the Coast, against some serious aggression by their neighbours; and do we think that such conventional forces as we can maintain will be sufficient if serious aggression really takes place? Kuwait is, after all, a member of the United Nations, and 139 there would almost certainly be a majority in that body, even, I think, in the Security Council, to give her collective aid and assistance if aggression really did occur.
Finally, if it is suggested that we should have to pay more for our oil in the event of Kuwait's being absorbed by some other State or States—which seems quite unlikely in the present circumstances—should we not at any rate set off this against the amount we should save owing to our evacuation of Aden and elsewhere? That is, unless we commit the folly of spending hundreds of millions on new bases and new aircraft carriers for use in the area, which I trust we shall never do.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord at this point? I let him run on, because I am sure that he wanted to. But since he did me the honour of mentioning my name, I should like to point out that, so far from my right honourable friend, whom he also mentioned, following his policy, the noble Lord now seems to have come round into following the thinking by my right honourable friend, because whereas he was—
LORD ST. OSWALD
Mr. Enoch Powell. Whereas on the last occasion the noble Lord was didactic, he is now inclined—but only inclined—to be pragmatic. The terms in which he repeated his own original words this time were that we should here and now decide gradually to be gone. Once you here and now decide, and announce your decision, you are doing something which my right honourable friend Mr. Powell certainly did not suggest, and it seems to me that the noble Lord has been guilty, with many thousands of others, of reading certain remarks of my right honourable friend entirely out of context. I would admonish him for doing so, because he carries rather more weight than some others, and I would request him to read more carefully in their context the words of my right honourable friend.
§ LORD GLADWYN
Nobody has tried to read more carefully the words of Mr. Enoch Powell than I have, and I have 140 read out what I believe are the essential points. If your Lordships would like me to read out the entire oration, I will gladly do so.
§ LORD GLADWYN
I did not try to interpret his words in any tendentious way. Nor did I say that Mr. Powell accepts the policy I put forward on April 8 last. He is expressing himself in very general terms, but philosophically I have no doubt that the general tendency of his thought lay in the same direction as my own remarks. I do not think that that can be disputed. Perhaps the Tory Party will eventually pronounce ex cathedrâ what its defence policy is, and shortly we may have another authoritative statement on this. I look forward to it greatly. In the meantime, I do not want in any way to traduce what the Shadow Minister of Defence said.
To resume my argument, perhaps I may be told that a base on some atoll in the Indian Ocean is necessary to give heart to our friends in Africa, and persuade them that no Chinese, Russian or, who-knows? some other Asian Power, may one day be able to invade Africa. That is an argument I have heard. But where are these mythical Chinese or Russian forces? And if they ever did appear in strength off the coast of Africa, would not any active military aggression on their part call into question the so-called delicate "balance of terror"? If it is a case of these Powers' gaining influence in Africa by means of ideas, or political propaganda, or by aid, that is another matter. Here, however, I entirely agree, and I think everyone would undoubtedly agree, with the Tory Shadow Minister of Defence, when he rightly said: "You do not shoot theories with bullets". Why not, if Africa is indeed our concern, rather save the money to be spent on any new Indian Ocean base and give increased aid to the African countries, thereby diminishing the likelihood of some takeover bid by local Left-Wing, though not necessarily pro-Chinese or pro-Russian, elements?
My Lords, the present balance of terror really has changed the face of the world, and "defence" plans which would no doubt make sense if it did not exist, now make pretty good nonsense. There is a crying need to adapt our general strategic 141 thinking to the evident needs of the latter part of the twentieth century. As for leaving the defence of South-East Asia, however, entirely to the play of local interests and to some Asian balance of forces, I am not quite so sure that I go so far as Mr. Enoch Powell in that respect. In South-East Asia, whether we like it or not, the forces of East and West are at the moment actually in contact, which is not by any means the case in the Middle East or Africa, and is unlikely, whatever people may say, to be the case in the Himalayas.
However, what I do say is that the Tory Party is clearly making the most satisfactory progress, both as regards Europe and as regards what is called disimperialisation, and I think the eloquent speech of the noble Duke this afternoon was additional and welcome proof of this tendency. I only wish that such enlightenment would gradually spread to the Government Front Bench which, however well they may be doing in other respects—and I do not deny this—seem to be carrying out a Tory defence policy that might have seemed slightly reactionary even to the 1922 Committee in 1922.
It is the fate of Liberals to produce the good ideas that are eventually taken up by the larger Parties. Perhaps the electorate will gradually come to see that what Liberals think to-day, with luck their opponents will think to-morrow!
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, may I first of all sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and also congratulate him? I wish to sympathise with him in having to rise at a very difficult moment of considerable tension, and I wish to congratulate him on coming to this House and, in spite of that, delivering a very carefully thought out speech. It is in fact a speech which it is hard to debate. It is a speech which is better read, then perhaps I could invite my noble friends who sit behind me to continue the debate in the columns of The Times. I think this would be fair. I thought the noble Duke who spoke first, set the tone of this debate. It was quite unlike yesterday, which started off with a good deal of good humour and Party fight. He contributed his own careful thoughts on a number of matters and he was conscious of the events that 142 no doubt were in everyone's mind—the dark and sombre and dangerous events in Rhodesia.
Although the gracious Speech mentions the problems of Rhodesia, the words in that Speech are now out of date. We shall have our opportunities to debate this problem. Nevertheless, I think this is the moment to say that, if there is any failure, it does not lie with the Prime Minister. I do not believe that as a man he could have put more flexibility or tenacity into finding an honourable solution. If there is any failure it is within the men and women of Rhodesia who thought that by unilateral action they could find a solution. Events have now moved, and shortly we in Parliament will have to do our duty. It will be a duty of great sadness, but I hope we shall do it with resolution. But, at the same time as we act, let us make sure in our own hearts and in our own actions and in our own words that we allow an atmosphere in which, when the time comes, negotiations can be opened and a successful conclusion reached. There will be hard and bitter feelings, no doubt, but I would beg the House, in the interests of Rhodesia, in the interests of Africa, to be very responsible in the debate to come.
I believe it was Mr. Macleod who the other day spoke about choice. Choice is an enviable opportunity when it comes to us. I am quite sure that if the world had a choice between peace—co-existence, perhaps passive in the first instance and then later co-operative—or conflict there is no doubt which the mass of the world would decide to have. We all know that there are large numbers of people in this world who cannot have a choice. Therefore, we must take our steps with that in mind. Certainly the possibility of war between great Powers is less, but I think it is true—and I think the noble Duke touched upon this—that the possibilities of conflict through poverty, misery, the hopelessness of ever being able to improve their lot, either by race or by nation, are increasing.
We must also be conscious—I know we shall be discussing this on Tuesday, and it has a great bearing on world matters—of the conflict of colour. Let us be under no illusion about it. The fear of conflict between peoples of different colour is increasing, not only in this 143 country but in many other parts of the world, and this could perhaps be the greatest threat that the world has ever faced in times of peace, because a conflict of colour would go beyond the boundaries of sea and land, beyond the boundaries of nations. Perhaps we can only play a small part. We can play a strong part at the United Nations, but within our own area we can play only a smaller part—although possibly a major part in dealing with the conflicts of colour within our own lands. The Government are determined to take a lead in this matter in an attempt to ease this conflict and to bring about integration of peoples of different lands and different religions who are already in our country, so that they may live in peace and harmony with us, and perhaps if we succeed other nations will follow us and we may be able to remove this dangerous threat.
In the United Nations there are perhaps four avenues for obtaining a lasting peace. As your Lordships will know, the gracious Speech has been very clear as to the Government's attitude towards the United Nations. The first avenue, obviously, is disarmament, both of conventional and of nuclear weapons. I do not propose to speak about this this afternoon, although the noble Duke touched upon it, because my noble friend Lord Henderson is initiating a debate on November 18 to which my noble friend Lord Chalfont will be replying. We felt this was a subject that should be treated as a specialised subject on its own, and I hope the House will agree we were right in asking my noble friend Lord Henderson, who has done so much in this House in the realm of disarmament, to start that debate.
The only two avenues—or the two middle avenues, because they really go together—within the United Nations are peace-keeping and the settlement of disputes. If you look at all the conflicts in which the United Nations has been involved—Korea, Suez, Cyprus, the Congo and more recently between India and Pakistan—you find that the United Nations has been able to intervene effectively and in time in the stopping of the war, and in the early stages the limitation of the area of the conflict, but on no occasion has the United Nations been 144 able to bring about a settlement. I think we should be frank: the United Nations has not yet got the organism to deal with settlements.
The House may be aware that the present Government, the Labour Government, have suggested in this field that the United Nations should persuade countries that are in dispute with each other to use more frequently the International Court of Justice; that there should be a wider acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction and a greater recourse to arbitration within the court. But we think—and we have put this to the Assembly—that there should be men within the United Nations who are skilled in the art of conciliation. We recognise in our own country the use of men who are able, because of skill and knowledge and general acceptance by persons in conflict, to bring about a solution. We believe that if the United Nations could have a body of such men it might well be much easier, not only to bring a solution to a conflict but to act—and I think this is more important—before the conflict in fact occurs.
In peace-keeping we must admit that the machinery of the United Nations, whilst it has reacted fairly reasonably in a number of cases, could be a great deal better. The Labour Government has suggested at the present General Assembly that the United Nations should set up a peace-keeping fund. This would get over the difficulties of financing peace-keeping operations when an emergency arose. It certainly would mean that the forces could act a great deal more quickly. We have suggested before, and we have repeated our view, that the United Nations should have at its disposal forces contributed by members of the United Nations, forces which are equipped and trained to do specific jobs. This would mean that if a conflict were to arise in one part of the world or another there would be forces available to go there quickly and perhaps able to limit the extent of the conflict. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has pressed this matter upon the Government. As my noble friend Lord Walston said to him, there is no need to press us; we are firmly of this view. Unfortunately at the present moment, as the House will know, the United Nations, for various reasons, is not ready to move. 145 But we believe that both the peace-keeping fund and the forces are a vital necessity if the United Nations is to react in a peace-keeping rôle.
The fourth avenue—and this was touched upon by the noble Duke, and I am sure he is right—is that we have to remove the seeds of war. We know where they are; they lie in the poverty of the underdeveloped countries. I said earlier that I do not believe, nor do the Government believe, that there is a great probability of war between major Powers, but I think we must recognise that there are some of the smaller and poorer countries to whom war may not be such a terrible step as we know it to be. I think it was the Foreign Secretary who used the phrase the other day that we must try to build up a world climate in which people do not wish to go to war, do not wish to lose their standards. We believe this is right, but we have a long way to go. This nation, in fact, is the second largest contributor to the United Nations Agencies. We are spending about £189 million a year in aid to the underdeveloped countries. Others are doing a great deal, but, let us be frank, there are some countries who could do a great deal more; and the gap that divides the rich and the poor is growing wider.
It could be said that, apart from spending money and giving aid, aid to-day is becoming very much a political art. We are learning a great deal how best our money can be used, and this is one of the reasons—and there are great gains from it—for the decision of the Prime Minister to set up a special Ministry, the Ministry of Overseas Development. Here we are bringing together some high-class specialists. They are making a tremendous impact and making far greater use of the money which is available to us.
But whatever we may do in the United Nations, we must still try to open up our contacts within Eastern Europe. As the House will know, the Foreign Secretary has recently been to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and at the end of this month he will be going to the Soviet Union. The Minister of State has been to most countries in the Middle East. I am quite sure the House will agree that, while there is no immediate appearance of gain, it is absolutely right that we should keep open these channels and if possible extend them. The Gov- 146 ernment firmly believe that we must not only increase our political contacts but encourage businessmen, traders, the arts, and also private visitors from this country to them, and from them to us, and that in this way we can get a broader approach, a broader understanding of each other's thoughts.
I should like to turn, very briefly, to Europe. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, would not expect me to be able to satisfy him to-day. There are two problems. First of all, the Government attach the greatest possible importance to EFTA. It would be utterly wrong to write off EFTA, as some people do, as though it were nothing. In fact, by the end of 1966 all the trading barriers within EFTA will have disappeared, and we shall have a trading bloc of 100 million people. I believe that EFTA is one of the greatest examples of international co-operation. We believe that this must be continued. But we also recognise the increasing divisions between EFTA and the European Economic Community.
We believe—and I would say that the Ministers of EFTA also take this view—that we must seek some way of bridging the gap between E.E.C. and EFTA. As the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, knows, there is not only difficulty in EFTA, there is also difficulty in the E.E.C. But I believe that, with tenacity and a good deal of flexibility in all parties, we should be able to come together and find a proper solution. Undoubtedly, Europe and all the countries within Europe would be that much stronger, that much richer and have a greater capability towards helping the rest of the world, if they could remove the barriers of trade between them.
There is one particular point in our problems with EFTA—namely, the surcharge that the Government felt it necessary to place upon imports, in view of the economic difficulties of this country. We have had to tell EFTA (I think it was last month) that in the present economic situation we could not remove the surcharge, but that we regarded it as of the highest priority that it should be removed. While they continue to press us, I think it can be said that the pressure of our friends in EFTA is now such that they understand, but that they would like us to remove the surcharge as quickly as possible.
147 The House will also acknowledge, perhaps with a degree of surprise (I am sure that some may think that it has something to do with my noble friend the Leader of the House), the proposals for the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area. These arise from a meeting of Mr. Lemasse with the Prime Minister on November 5, 1964. There have been close consultations on an official level, to see whether it is possible to remove the trade barriers, or at least to mitigate some of them, between our two countries. It is hoped that the official discussions have now reached the stage when the matter can be referred to the Ministers, and we look forward to being able to make a statement during the course of this Session.
I come now to Vietnam. The House will recognise that this has been a long and bloody conflict, and I am sure noble Lords will agree that there is no foreseeable military solution to it. Time after time the Government have suggested that if those who were taking part were to adopt four steps, the right solution could be obtained. We have recommended to all parties that they should cease fighting; that a conference should be held—and in our view, it is really immaterial under whose auspices it be; that there should he guarantees for North Vietnam and for South Vietnam that both countries could live in peace and free from any fear of attack by their neighbours; and, above all else, that there should be massive rehabilitation by the United Nations and other countries. In this way these two countries, which have been at war for, I think, some fifteen or twenty years (my noble friend Lord Brockway will correct me if I am wrong, but certainly longer than most of us can remember), could be rehabilitated and could live with some sense of decency.
Her Majesty's Government have taken the initiative. So far we have not been successful, as Joint Chairman of the Geneva Conference, in getting this Conference recalled. We proposed a Commonwealth Mission. We even sent Mr. Harold Davies. We make no apology for doing so. We found, as has been said so often, that the doors were always closed to us. But one day those doors will have to open. I am quite sure that most of your Lordships will agree with me that, if the doors have to open, there 148 is no reason why they should not open immediately. We—and I believe this is so of our American friends also—have done all that we can in the circumstances. It is up to the other side now to respond.
Apart from Vietnam, we must also be conscious in South-East Asia of the confrontation policy of Indonesia against Singapore and Malaysia. There were some who thought that the attempted coup of September 30, which brought about a confused situation, might in some way relieve the pressure upon Singapore and Malaysia. I think I should say, quite bluntly, that there is no indication that what took place will have any effect immediately upon the menace and threat to Singapore and Malaysia. Therefore it becomes most important that the Government should reaffirm that it will stand by its Defence Treaty with Singapore and Malaysia. We have had a number of comments in relation to poor Mr. Enoch Powell. He took a "pasting" yesterday on Economic Affairs, and he took a "pasting" again on Defence.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I was not conscious of giving him a "pasting" at all: I was trying to encourage him.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Well, I am wrong again: but he certainly took a "pasting" yesterday. There is no doubt, however, that in the speech of Mr. Enoch Powell, which I read most carefully and which was fairly well written up (I would not have thought that the noble Lord should jump to too many conclusions), he did go round and round the point. But the point is that in Singapore and in Malaya there has been, as the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, knows, certain disquiet as to the attitude of the Conservative Party in regard to Defence. It is perfectly true that his Party are now in Opposition; but outside opinion recognises that there has to be a deal of bipartisan approach in the field of Defence. I hope that the noble Earl, if he has that authority, will reassure our friends in the East that the Conservative Party have not departed from the pledges they made when in office, in regard to keeping to the Defence Treaty with Singapore and Malaysia. I believe this to be most important. While this confrontation exists we must keep up the guard.
I should here like to pay great tribute to the skill and endurance of the British 149 forces in Borneo. They have undertaken a formidable, dangerous, and certainly an uncomfortable task, and they have done it well. We are indebted to them. While we must keep up that guard, we must be ready to meet any opportunity which the Indonesians present to us for negotiation. But let us remember that, in the end, negotiations will depend on Singapore and Malaysia, for they are now separate and independent countries, and it is for them to make the final agreement. It is up to us to see what we can do to help.
There will shortly have to be a Bill dealing with Singapore—I think this was a matter which was originally in the Queen's Speech, but it was taken out in view of its length. As the House knows, Singapore and Malaysia have decided to part. This was a matter of surprise and sadness to the Government. May I say, as one who lived there for a good number of years, that it is a matter of very bitter disappointment. I cannot see how these two countries can really live separately. I hope that their divisions are temporary, and that they will be able to unite and to move forward together, because they have so much to offer to each other.
I want to say only a brief word on Defence. NATO is our major commitment in Europe; we have a major interest in relation to SEATO, and we also have military operations outside SEATO, namely, in regard to Indonesia. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, last night took my noble friend Lord Shackleton to task over the Defence Review The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, knows that this is a major, complex task, and I am quite sure that he would not wish us to hasten and then make mistakes. We believe that it is right to take time in this matter. If there are any who think that we should have done it more quickly, I would only refer noble Lords opposite to their own Party document which they produced, I think, a few days before their Conference. They had twelve months in which to produce, or to refurbish, their policy, and I think that it was Mr. Heath himself who then said that it was only the guideline. But if the Conservative Party took that time to produce that document, I do not think that the Defence Ministry is in any way open to criticism for having taken time in dealing with this very 150 important, complex and balanced survey. I hope that it will be completed and available to the House as soon as possible.
There is one aspect within the Defence Review which perhaps would have been apparent to many even without the Review, and that is the situation facing the Regular Army. We had many debates on this matter when the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, was in the previous Government, and I am sure he would agree that one of the natural consequences of a small regular force, particularly when it is stretched, as our policy now requires it to be stretched, is that it should have available to it adequate reserves—not only adequate numbers, but reserves which have been specifically trained to meet an obligation. It seemed clear to the advisers of the Government that the basic requirement of the Regular Army would lie in the logistic field. We also felt that the Territorial Army, because of its degree of voluntary service and willingness to act, was perhaps the right force to look to for these reserves. It was also clear that the Territorial Army had been organised as an independent force mainly for home defence and as a Reserve Army in major war.
It was the view of the Government—and I admit that it is a matter of opinion—that both these rôles were extremely remote. In particular, we could not envisage the rôle of a reserve army in a long, major conflict in Europe, particularly if it were to involve the use of nuclear weapons. In view of the overwhelming need for these forces, it was felt that we should have to take action there. A White Paper will be issued quite shortly setting out the Government's proposals. We hope that the White Paper will be based on the agreement of Government and the Territorial Army Associations. I hope that the House will think that this matter can well be left until the White Paper appears. I say this because during September I visited the Territorial Army and discovered that there were a number of misconceptions among the soldiers as to the Government's proposals, misconceptions which were causing a great deal of uncertainty and hardship. I am not saying that any speech in this House would create misconceptions, but I think that it would be right to wait until that White Paper is 151 available so that we know what we are discussing and what are the proposals of the Government in this matter.
To give your Lordships an example of one misconception, the House will remember that our Statement said that a soldier in the reserve could be called up for twelve months. From what they had read in the newspapers and from what other people had told them, the soldiers thought that, if they agreed to serve, they would be called up for twelve months. In fact, of course, the twelve months was put in as a limit—a limit for the protection of the soldier and his employer. But a misconception arose in the minds of the soldiers that, if they were called up, they would be called up not for one month or two months, but for the whole period of twelve months. If this were so it would, of course, cause great difficulty to soldiers in obtaining the consent of their employers so that they could be released to serve. This is one of the reasons why I beg the House to be most careful in this matter.
In conclusion, may I echo the words of the noble Duke and say that, whatever we want to do in the field of Defence, or Foreign Affairs, or overseas development, everything depends on our economic stability and our economic growth. That is why we give paramount importance to this matter in the Queen's Speech. Once we are able to overcome our balance-of-payments difficulties, once we are able to move forward so that we are in surplus, then we shall he able to take perhaps greater strides and achieve greater success in giving help within the Commonwealth and to overseas countries. In the meantime, within the limitations which we have had to set ourselves in the National Plan, the Government are determined to maintain our Forces, to equip them properly and adequately, and at all times to meet the obligations within our Defence arrangements. One would hope that the words in the Queen's Speech, although they may be pious and old in the sense that they appear there from year to year, will give as much satisfaction at the end of the year as at the beginning.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, before offering a few remarks on the external 152 situation, I should like to add my tribute to what has been said by the Leaders of both sides with regard to my old friend Lord Hall. Lord Hall was a very old friend of mine. We were in the House of Commons together in 1922. He served in my Government and in Sir Winston Churchill's Government, and everywhere I think he impressed everybody by his exceptionally fine character. I have never known anyone more completely unselfish than Lord Hall. He was one of the finest men I have ever met. May I, at the same time, pay my slight tribute also to one of our old friends who died recently, Lord Lawson, and to Lord Chuter-Ede. I am afraid I am getting very old. I am losing all of these old friends of mine, and it makes me rather lonely. I do not think anybody did his duty better than Lord Lawson, Lord Hall or Lord Chuter-Ede. Lord Chuter-Ede was a most remarkable character. He was a very good Home Secretary and he was devoted to the County of Surrey. He was the only Labour member on Surrey County Council and he led it again and again as Chairman. He was one of those people whom everybody could trust.
Having said those brief words, I should like to offer a few remarks on one very vexed corner of the world—that is, India. It was a great grief to me that old friends on both sides, Indians and Pakistanis, should actually be making war. I had something to do with the setting up of both those countries, and we had the very difficult problem before us of what to do with Kashmir. I tried to settle it and so did other Prime Ministers from Canada, from Australia and from New Zealand. We strove earnestly. We were up against two peoples who set their face against any compromise. Now we have this act of warfare—an act of supreme folly on both sides, and reckless, too. At the present moment there is danger of widespread starvation owing to a very late monsoon, and there are resources which ought to be coming from all over the world to help these two peoples who are engaged in this conflict.
I do not think it is a matter which can be settled easily or by a plebiscite. I think something other than that has to be done. I agree very much with what my noble friend Lord Shepherd said about the need for an international force. 153 I was agitating for that under the leadership of Lord Davies long before the First World War, with Sir Winston Churchill. We were both members of an organisation trying to press for the establishment of that force. We need it to-day. But beyond that, if you want to stop the fighting you must somehow or other cut the knot of this problem. I do not think it will be settled by a plebiscite. I think you have to take it that this delectable country of Kashmir should belong neither to Pakistan nor India; it should be an independent country guaranteed by Pakistan, India, Britain and other States, and I think it might be governed by someone from outside neither Moslem nor Hindu; someone widely respected in the world, someone like, possibly, U Thant, who has done so well in the United Nations. It might work, but not with a full democracy. I do not think you have it yet.
The old device of getting someone from outside has been employed before in the world. It was employed every now and again in the Italian Republics. When the strife was very great they brought in someone from outside called the Gonfalonier of Justice. Someone might be brought in from outside to govern Kashmir for a time, until they got over their present troubles. There is a great future for that little country, a future in the life of the world. It is not really of strategic importance to anybody. It should be preserved by general consent. It should be a kind of Switzerland in Asia. I think that here is a matter where we can take the initiative. We are very old friends. There are many men in this country who are loved in India and Pakistan, and who love India and Pakistan, and they feel this tragedy very deeply. I think that now is the time when we should come forward with other countries and offer a solution to this tragic position which I deplore so much.
§ 5.7 p.m.
My Lords, my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire has dealt with some of the wider aspects of foreign policy, and I propose to confine my remarks almost exclusively to but one, albeit vital, aspect of foreign policy—namely, Defence. For that reason I regret, as I am sure many of your Lordships do, the fact that we shall not be 154 hearing from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, this afternoon. Having said that, I must apologise for being myself snatched away before the end of this discussion. My reason is that I happen to be one of the lucky guests of our absent friend Lord Shackleton and the Royal Air Force Ball. I apologise for that, and I should like to thank the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne, for making it possible for me to speak now. I am very grateful.
Last year on this occasion my noble Leader, Lord Carrington, and I made it clear, I hoped, that, whatever else we might do in Opposition, we would oppose the Government only when we believed that their actions were not in the national interest. We would certainly not oppose the Government just "for the heck of it", let alone on grave matters like our national Defence, and I hope that noble Lords opposite will feel able to agree that we have held scrupulously to that course. But however virtuous the Government's intentions on Defence may be, some of their actions, or inactions, are beginning to fill us with considerable disquiet.
First, there is the mystery of the missing Defence Review. The Government have themselves blown up that Review—the sort of review on which all Governments are engaged, almost all the time—into a vast mountain of their own creation. When are we going to see that mountain, or that mouse? The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, told us that it would be made available to this House. Does that mean that it will be made available in the form of a White Paper? If so, when? I must say that I am getting just a little bored by the way in which the Government, when they are now asked awkward questions on Defence, almost immediately duck behind the smokescreen of that Review. It does not matter at all that I am getting bored; but what does matter—and it matters a very great deal—is that the Government, through their handling of this matter, are causing very serious anxiety and uncertainty in the Armed Forces themselves. Therefore I would ask that they should hasten with this Review, but (to revert to the phraseology of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd) without making mistakes. I hope that that is not asking too much.
155 The second reason for our disquiet is that the Government compound all this self-induced uncertainty by a very odd illogicality. On the one hand, they tell us that they cannot tell us this or that about Defence, or that they cannot do this or that, until they have finished their Defence Review. On the other hand, they are blithely taking a whole series of basic Defence decisions. They have taken, or they are taking, a series of crucial decisions on aircraft procurement which will affect the whole posture of our Defence Forces right through the 1970's. They have taken, or so it would seem, fundamental decisions about our Reserve Forces. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, told us that we should soon have a White Paper on this important subject of our Reserve Forces. For that reason, and because a number of my noble friends (and I do not think that the concern in this House is confined to my noble friends) will also be reverting to this matter, I wish to take up only a moment or two on it.
I will confine myself, for the most part, if I may, to reading a Statement made by the Under-Secretary for the Army on March 8, in another place. This is what he said on March 8:Once we have carried out the review of our commitments and Civil Defence and the home defence requirements, we can look at the size and disposition of the Regular Army and see what is needed to improve it. Having done that, we can look at the Reserves needed to back up the Regular Army in maintaining the commitments, and the Reserves include the Territorial Army,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 708, col. 190, March 8, 1965].That seems to me an absolutely unexceptionable statement. Any Government have the right—indeed, all Governments have the duty—to review the size and shape of our Reserve Forces, but on one condition: that is, that they do not put the cart before the horse; that they do not proceed from a priori assumptions dictated possibly by prejudice, possibly by ignorance, possibly by a well-meaning desire for economy.
In short, my Lords, they should do exactly what Mr. Reynolds has recommended: they should look at the Reserves in the light of our commitments, revised, as they judge fit, for defence abroad, for home defence and, not least, for civil defence, and then come to their decision about the size and 156 shapes of those Reserves. But there was one thing that puzzled me in what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, told us. He told us that the decisions to which the Government have come—and by all accounts they are pretty firm decisions—are founded on certain absolutely fundamental assumptions. One, for example, was the length of a war in Europe—and it is difficult to have a more fundamental assumption than that. But how can they come to that sort of fundamental assumption until they have concluded their Defence Review? That is what some of us find so puzzling in this whole matter.
That brings me to my third and most important cause for concern. The Ministry of Defence have apparently accepted a rigid and quite arbitrary ceiling on Defence expenditure for the next half-decade: I think it is £2,000 million per annum at 1965 prices. They argue that Defence strains our resources and that if our resources are seriously overstrained, it diminishes our influence abroad. To that I would only say, "Granted". And we would all grant that. They go on to add that our plans (that is, the plans of the last Government) would, in fact, have overstrained our resources in that way. That argument I would deny. Our plans were based on the assumption that even in the peak years of expenditure. Defence expenditure would never exceed 7½, per cent. of our gross national product. That was so, I repeat, even for the peak years when Defence expenditure was going to be rather bunched together. If we take Defence seriously, I would not hold that an insurance cover of that sort imposes an intolerable burden on our economy.
But, in any event, there is one point which I should like to make quite clear. The Secretary of State for Defence, his fellow Ministers and the Government are labouring under an illusion if they really believe that they can make real economies without real cuts in our commitments. They are kidding themselves and kidding the nation if they really think they can, at one and the same time, keep within this self-imposed ceiling and keep our present commitments.
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, will in fact be able to tell us something more about our commitments. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has already told us quite a lot. I hope, for 157 example, that Lord Walston can tell us how the Government now view our nuclear responsibilities. Last autumn, if I remember aright, we heard a good deal about the negotiation, or the renegotiation, of the Nassau Agreement. Last winter and in the past spring we heard a great deal about the Government's proposals for an Atlantic Nuclear Force. Those proposals were announced with a tremendous fanfare of trumpets, and I remember the noble Lord, Lord Shackle-ton, waxing quite lyrical about them in this House. Can the noble Lord, Lord Walston, now tell us how these important proposals stand? Can he, in fact, confirm whether or not the Government are still fathering this sophisticated and constructive child of theirs?—to use the adjectives which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, employed. Or have they dropped it, like steel, into the waste paper basket, as some words of his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, in New York last month, somewhat implied? I think it would be very useful if the noble Lord could shed some light upon this now rather grey area.
In saying that, and in saying what I have just said, I do not wish for one moment to underestimate the importance, the complexity or the urgency of this matter. I feel it is very urgent that, within the NATO Alliance, we should reach an agreed solution to this very difficult problem of nuclear-sharing. The words of the German Chancellor only yesterday remind us how urgent and important this problem is. But, my Lords, it is not only urgent within the context of the NATO Alliance itself. It is very urgent that we ourselves should put our nuclear-sharing house in order in Europe if we are going to tackle this problem of nuclear dissemination outside the NATO area. So, in saying what I have said, and in asking for information, I am not, I hope, underestimating the complexity or the gravity of this problem.
I hope, too, that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, can bring us up to date as to the Government's thinking on our Defence commitments as a whole in Europe, by which I mean in NATO. The success of NATO over the last fifteen years is now, of course, the problem of NATO. Because Western Europe has not been attacked, it is argued—and the argument is a plausible one—that the resources 158 which we devote to its defence can safely be reduced. True, the dangers of a Soviet direct aggression across the frontiers of Western Europe have receded. We would all grant that. But the great problems of Europe, Berlin, a divided Germany, the truncation of Europe itself, still persist. And as long as those problems persist, the security problem in Europe is bound to remain with us. Nor can we ignore, save at our peril, all the other possibilities.
There is one other eventuality (apart from that of a possible miscalculation) which I should have thought we must guard against: that is, the possibility, however remote, of a limited Soviet pressure or of a limited incursion against the more vulnerable and isolated flanks of the NATO Alliance. My conclusions in this sphere are fairly simple. It would be unrealistic to press our European allies, or indeed to press ourselves, to raise the general level of our conventional forces in Europe. On the other hand, we should examine very carefully indeed from the standpoint of our wider political interests any proposition—however tempting that proposition might be on purely economic grounds, however plausible it might be on certain military assumptions—that we should reduce, let alone reduce unilaterally, our stake in the defence of Western Europe. I would make only one qualification to that. It is that this would be different in the case of an agreed reduction—a reduction made as a result of an agreed reassessment within NATO of the threat and of how a division of effort to meet that threat could best be spread between the NATO partners. I trust the noble Lord can confirm that the Government are in broad agreement with the view I have just expressed. I trust also that the noble Lord will be able to examine one concrete suggestion: that is, whether it would not be wise for the NATO countries to increase the size and the mobility of the NATO mobile force primarily to guard against the eventuality, remote though I have said it was, of a limited incursion against the flanks of the NATO Alliance.
Before turning from Europe, I should like to touch on one more matter affecting our relations with the Continent and, indeed, with North America; that is, the danger that Europe might become virtually dependent upon the United States 159 for advanced armaments. The warning signs are flying all around Europe today: large Italian purchases of United States weapons; massive German purchases, and now our vast aircraft procurement programme. We in Europe are very close here to the point of no return. We are in danger of placing whole areas, and some of the most advanced areas, of our economy in pawn to our friends across the Atlantic. I naturally welcome such steps as the Government have already taken to make a reality of co-operation within Europe in this field, but I suggest that more drastic decisions are urgently required. I feel that from now onward we need to follow the principle that we in Western Europe will buy no more arms from the Americans than they are prepared to buy from us. We need to accept what in some cases may well be the painful consequences of that decision: that in price, in performance, and in delivery time, at least initially, the European alternative may be inferior to the American product. I think we should face that squarely. Above all, we need to evolve, and to evolve without any further delay, an organisation within Europe designed to ensure that, in the main, the arms requirements of the European members of NATO are met from their own resources. I believe that in this way great gains may come in time. The other way, the present "primrose way", means that for a great range of military equipment, for much of which there is a great direct commercial "spin-off", to use the vulgar jargon, Europe may well become a Europe of sub-contractors.
My Lords, I should like now to turn from Europe to some extra-European problems. I listened with great attention to what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, had to say about the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia. I should like to take this opportunity of echoing the tribute that he rightly paid to the skill and dedication of our armed forces in that area, and indeed across the world. But so that there can be no doubt about it, let me make the position of my own Party, whether in Opposition or in power, clear beyond peradventure on the question of our existing military commitments there or elsewhere. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, invited me to say some- 160 thing on this point. I am glad to do so. I can say categorically that, so far as we are concerned, they stand and we support the Government in honouring them. Some remarks of my right honourable friend the Shadow Secretary of Defence, Mr. Enoch Powell, the other day at Brighton have been both widely quoted and widely misinterpreted. Let me remind the House of some of his remarks on November 4 which have been less widely quoted. After referring to the need to project our thinking in these matters well forward into the future, he said:It is not our commitments at this moment, whether, for instance, in South Arabia or in Malaysia, which can be at issue. They exist, and must be met.I should have thought that that was quite categorical enough. I should have thought that that assurance from the mouth of my right honourable friend should give the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and those whose anxieties he was voicing, all the assurance for which they have asked.
So much for the short, or shorter, term. However, as my right honourable friend said, this does not mean that we should not consider what, in the longer term, our defence commitments outside Europe (especially in Southern Asia) are likely to be and how best they can be discharged. Communist China poses a threat to the independence of many Asian countries; and, judging by the virulence of Peking language, that threat is very real indeed. We may expect that in time, like the Soviet threat, it may be mitigated. But meanwhile, unless we in the West are content to see the engulfment of many millions of free peoples, that threat must be faced.
I do not think, the Conservative Party do not think, that we should be right to contract out of that involvement, although I should have thought, judging by what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said, that the Liberal Party feel that we should, at least after a fairly short time. Could we, for example, stand idly by if, at some future date, Australia or New Zealand came under pressure or attack? We have only to pose the question to answer it clearly in our own minds. Certainly, as we see it, so long as we remain a sovereign State we are likely to retain certain obligations around the world outside the territorial limits and 161 waters of Europe. We shall retain certain collective defence obligations outside Europe, be it as a member of the United Nations or under some more limited arrangements. Certainly, as I see it, even if we become, as I hope that one day we shall become, an integral part of a United Europe, we shall not necessarily find ourselves suddenly freed of all defence obligations outside the narrow confines of that Europe.
I personally believe this dichotomy between defence in Europe and defence outside Europe to be a false one. Clearly, we should attach the very highest priority to Europe and to the defence of Europe. But should we succeed in our desire to join a United Europe, that Europe would be, in fact, a super-State, in the same sort of bracket as the United States of America, as the Soviet Union and as the China which will probably emerge within the coming decade or so. That Greater Europe would inevitably be involved in the affairs of this shrinking planet. I grant that quite possibly some members of that Europe might wish to confine that involvement to the purely peaceful arts of commerce, or politics or culture. We may not succeed in creating that Europe, but I would hazard a guess that if we do, that Europe will not succeed in making so artificial a distinction between the arts of peace and the arts of war. The involvement of that Europe in world affairs would inevitably include an involvement in those affairs which involve power and its use.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD CHAMPION)
Is the noble Earl suggesting that we ought not to enter a Europe unless it would take over those commitments that we have in the Far East and elsewhere?
I would not put it in that way. My belief is that, as and when we enter Europe, this will enlarge the horizons of the Europe which we enter. I think that we should bring a very considerable influence to bear within a Europe which we enter. I grant that many of our European neighbours seem to accord far too low a priority to these grave matters which are beyond the confines of Europe itself at present.
My Lords, it is difficult to peer with any certainty far over the horizon in these matters, and perhaps it is unwise 162 to try to be too specific. But I feel that our best hope, in the longer term, in the area of which we are speaking is to aim for a belt of neutral countries South of China, supported, if need be, by Western power held some distance in reserve. I would also suggest that, in considering our longer-term defence commitments outside the immediate NATO area, our thinking could be based on four general propositions. I do not know whether here I carry all your Lordships with me, but these are they.
The first is that there is no point in our contributing towards the defence of countries in Asia, or elsewhere, unless those countries have a real desire to defend themselves and are prepared themselves to play a real part in that defence. The second is that an actual Western military presence on the mainland may—and I say only may—in the longer term be counter-productive. The third proposition is that we have the right to expect our contribution to be matched by at least proportionate contributions from our partners, be they our European partners, our American partners or our Commonwealth partners. The fourth proposition is that our present collective arrangements, in so far as they do not match these criteria, need to be looked at again; and I think that this applies to SEATO.
What I am suggesting is that when we are considering, in the longer term, our contribution to the strategic defence of free Asia we should be thinking less in terms of classical bases and more in terms of operating from exterior lines of communication, with our power, our capacity to intervene, held well back in reserve. In this connection I should be very glad to hear any more which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, can tell us about the very interesting news which he read yesterday about the formation of what I think is termed the British Indian Ocean territory.
I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is under certain misconceptions in speaking of the Chagos Archipelago and the concept of this base. As I understand it, this will not be a base in the classical sense; it will be a much lighter and much more austere affair. As I also understand it, it is not the intention of the present Government, nor 163 was it the intention of the late Government, to try to turn the Indian Ocean into some form of British lake. This is an Anglo-American, in the first stage, project. I hope that it will be broadened out to form part of a much wider concept for the security of that area.
My Lords, that is all I have to say on these vast and complex subjects. In conclusion, I would say just this. These are very grave and great questions. I hope that, in considering them, the Government will be determined not only to relate our resources to our commitments but also to relate these higher defence considerations to the broadest issues of foreign policy, globally considered. They are taking a very long time about their Defence Review, but I am an eternal optimist; I am also charitable, and I would still express the hope that, while they are about it, the Government will, in fact, do this properly.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, we have had quite a lot of fairly long dissertations on this very important subject, and I propose to deal with only two or three fairly narrow aspects because the wide field has been well covered. At the beginning of the debate the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, mentioned British influence, how we had descended from the first eleven to the second eleven. I feel that we have lost influence because we have lost power, but we still have considerable influence in all areas where we are determined to apply it. We have had one or two gratifying results recently when we acted as a broker between the Americans and the Russians over the Test Ban Treaty. We have taken a very large part in the discussions about the European NATO affairs, quite rightly, and we still have influence.
On the other hand, I feel that that influence ultimately depends on power with a capital "P" and is not just a question of force. I suggest that it is an amalgam of three elements. The first is our actual forces, which are unfortunately very small; the second is a sound financial status which we are fighting for and we have heard so much about, and the last is the quality of steadfastness of our friends. It is these three elements together which give us power in any particular situation. 164 Locally, for example in the Persian Gulf, where we have had good friends for a hundred years or more, we have power. In the United Nations, on the other hand, our power has been diminishing, because we are outnumbered. Again, in the Commonwealth not so very long ago we had considerable power. Now it is extremely doubtful whether we have any power at all in defence matters. We have not been able to stop any emergency. We have not been able to prevent the war between two members of the Commonwealth, India and Pakistan—a tragic war—and we are no longer exercising power as head of the Commonwealth. The lesson I draw from this is that if we want to continue to exercise power in certain situations not only have we to keep our finance strong and keep our friends, but we should be very careful how we dispose our tiny forces acurately.
This brings me to Asia, but please do not be frightened, because I am not going round the world. I mention Asia because of the doubt which has arisen from the remarks of Mr. Powell at Brighton. Whether he actually said something at Brighton with which I agree or said something with which I disagree does not matter: the fact is that he has created considerable doubt, which I should like to clear up, if I may. He spoke about the eventual power situation in Asia resolving itself because of the countervailing Asian forces. I do not think anybody denies that. But, in my opinion, it is a matter of timing, and I was delighted to hear from my noble friend Lord Shepherd and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that the Government and the Opposition are both quite determined to continue to fulfil our present defence obligations in that area. That is quite right. But the question of timing arises. When will countervailing forces become ready?
The answer, I suggest, is a long way ahead, when Japan and India have them available. At the moment Japan has not any force at all worth mentioning, and India is fully occupied defending herself along the Himalayas and in other places. She has remarkably little military influence in South Asia. In other words, it is going to be a long time before the countervailing forces, about which we have become rather mystified, ever become available. Until they do, the 165 United States and Britain—the United States in a large way and ourselves in a smaller way, but in important ways—must defend the newly independent countries which are not yet able to stand on their own feet and defend themselves.
If we withdraw our forces at any time in the near future while that situation still exists, we should be creating a power vacuum and there would be nobody to fill it. The Australians and the New Zealanders could not fill it. The Germans and the French would not fill it. The only people to fill it are ourselves, and therefore we must stay. I do not deny the eventual solution. Asia will have to sort out its own problems in the same way as the Middle East is beginning to do. The balance of power in the Middle East is beginning to emerge. But I will not go on to discuss that, because there is not time.
My noble friend Lord Shepherd mentioned the Defence Review and said that it was not taking very long. I do not quite agree about that; I think it is taking far too long. In fact, it is taking so long that it may be overtaken by events and may be torn up the day it is published. I do not say that it will be, but it is necessary to have a year of an unchanged peaceful situation for any Defence Review which takes that time before it emerges, to be worth anything. The risks which may be caused by delay are so great that they are creating uncertainty, I am afraid, in the ranks of the Army, which I happen to know about. The recruiting of technicians and others is falling off and married officers with children going to school are worried about their careers and longing to hear the answer. So the sooner it comes out the better.
I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, about this arithmetical approach. If we say that we are prepared to spend £2,000 million a year at 1965 prices, which means a saving of £400 million over the next three or four years, that is a very nice target to keep in front of us; but if, in doing so, we destroy our defences, we destroy our power and influence, according to the formula which I mentioned at the beginning. So I think there is an element of risk in setting a hard and fast arithmetical target and not looking at our commitments first. I think an operational approach is safer. 166 We can cut when we can afford it, and not the other way round. Decisions can be taken and published as we go along.
The Government's decision on the Territorial Army was issued as a sort of edict. I was delighted to hear from my noble friend Lord Shepherd that a White Paper is coming out soon, because we are all waiting for it. The statement which has been made is rather disturbing. My noble friend asked us not to disturb the situation any further until the White Paper was published, which means that I must confine my remarks to a small space, but I would say that although I do not challenge the need to reorganise the Territorial Army as the reserve for the Regular Army—the first 50,000—the question about the remaining 60,000 is very much in the air. It is still, I believe, the subject of discussions between the Ministry of Defence and the Territorial Council, and while these deliberations are going on, I would only say this: if we are not very careful, we shall again come to the wrong decision.
I think there is a great deal in the German view which I read the other day. It is: Where is the logic in having B.A.O.R. to fight even a short, conventional war on the Continent if Britain is the only country in Europe which has absolutely no defence? It is not right that the Territorial Army should he the sole support of the Regular Army and should have to send out its ten divisions, as it did in the last war. I am sure that that is wrong. I agree with the Government that it is not right that the Territorial Army should only support Civil Defence. I think it is right to have some force in reserve for the unforeseen emergency. We have only to look at the activities of the National Guard in the United States over the last year or two to see the sort of thing which the Territorial Army in this country could be called out to deal with. To say that riot squads of the police can do it is not good enough, because they do not exist. Cutting out the sentiment and tradition—which, incidentally, we cannot cost effect—we want to be reassured by the Government that they are thinking again carefully about this decision on the Territorial Army.
The last subject that I would mention is the choice which is coming to us very soon in the course of next year as NATO 167 allies. We shall hear more about this from my noble friend Lord Chalfont when we discuss disarmament soon—though I am sorry to say that I do not believe that I can be here that day. I believe that this country has had some influence in bringing the Russians back to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, and they are going ahead now doing their level best to draft a non-dissemination treaty. This is absolutely right and very important. If, concurrently, we are discussing more widely some fairer system of nuclear sharing, of control of decision, inside NATO, and also discussing perhaps the setting up of M.L.F. and A.N.F.—though these are not very popular at this moment—and if the Russians say to us that they are not interested in signing a non-dissemination treaty until we assure them that there will be no further control of nuclear decision inside NATO, we should be careful indeed, because it was my experience that the Communist threat in any area, whether in Europe or in Asia, was directly proportional to the force opposite it.
The only reason we sleep comfortably in our beds in Europe at the present time is that NATO has assembled a large force, the United States has a strategic deterrent and there is the Iron Curtain—a definite line, a large conventional force and a very large strategic nuclear force. These are the reasons why the threat has been removed in Europe for the present. Incidentally, those are the reasons that will, to my mind, eventually make more peaceful the situation in Asia. If we have to make this decision, I suggest that we must be most careful before we do a horse-coping deal in order to get a non-dissemination treaty, and so allow the centrifugal forces inside NATO—and they are certainly strong enough—to take over and split the alliance. If we split the alliance we shall regret having worked with the non-dissemination treaty.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, in his extremely interesting speech the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said that we have little power as head of the Commonwealth; and the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, said that our position in the Commonwealth gives us no special powers and privileges. And this is right 168 enough. But we are not head of the Commonwealth; and I think that some of our strength, some of the value of the Commonwealth, comes from the fact that we are not.
I have had to spend the past year making non-controversial and, I fear, rather dull speeches about the Commonwealth, as is entirely proper for a Parliamentary Secretary to the Commonwealth Relations Office. But now I can be a little more controversial, and, I hope, perhaps a little more constructive. Two weeks ago the noble Lord, Lord Florey, spoke of the need for some great project which could be the pride and joy of everyone in this country. He was talking about the great space programmes of the United States and of Russia, and he said that we had nothing to match these in public imagination; and, of course, that we had not enough resources to compete with them. But I want to urge as such an enterprise the creation of a Commonwealth University.
Mr. Nehru once spoke of "the silken bond that holds the Commonwealth together". In the past year, and in the past month, that bond has been stretched and strained, and I do not doubt that in the coming year it will be just as stretched and strained, at any rate for part of the time. One of the duties of Her Majesty's Government, which they are performing and, I am sure, will perform, is all the time to weave in new sources of strength into that bond. This process goes on whenever Commonwealth Prime Ministers or Ministers meet. My noble friend Lord Shepherd has already paid a tribute to the work of the Prime Minister, and I should like to pay a tribute to the work of my right honourable friend Mr. Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. He has worked tirelessly throughout this year to try to ensure peace in Rhodesia; indeed, he has worked all over the Commonwealth in a remarkable way.
The meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers are a building of links. The work of the C.R.O., the Ministry of Overseas Development, the British Council and the C.O.I. are all links. The new Commonwealth Medical Conference which took place in Edinburgh was just another part of this job. One may say how encouraging it was to see Commonwealth Ministers, other than Prime 169 Ministers, and their chief civil servants, from both the old Commonwealth and the new Commonwealth, meeting as equals, often for the first time, and finding, when they came to their technical problems, that they talked the same sort of language.
Another of the links of great potential importance is the Commonwealth Secretariat. I think it was significant that when Singapore applied for membership of the Commonwealth she did not go to the C.R.O., as would-be new members have gone in the past to get their application sent around; she went to the Commonwealth Secretariat. This is a sign that a change is taking place here. The seeds of these last two institutions were sown by the last Government. Now, after a period of what one might call institutional consolidation, I think we are ready to start looking forward again.
My noble friend Lord Shepherd had a notable piece in his speech about the danger of conflict of colour. We know from our limited experience in these islands that it is not easy to make a success of a black and white multiracial society; it is not easy to create that situation where skin colour counts for no more than Welsh, English or Scottish blood in the United Kingdom. In so far as we are succeeding, I think it is because we have tried—generally successfully, but not always—to break down the barriers by multiracial education.
For many years, in our colleges and universities, we have learned to live, work and play with a quota—it is only a small quota—of Commonwealth students. It is at this time of life, between the ages of 18 and 22, that our major cultural attitudes are formed, and in homes and families where there are strong opinions the young people often want to rebel. When they get to college or university, they get the chance to translate their rebellious idealism into practical reality; and if they are alongside Commonwealth students, this is certainly their chance. Mr. Nehru was himself a product of English education, and I think that without it that "silken bond" of which he spoke might well have snapped under the strain.
The Government are already doing much, and the other Commonwealth countries are helping, too, in mutual Commonwealth education. But I do not think we are doing enough; and I know that 170 we are not doing as much as we might. At present, in the university field we are putting most of our new effort into postgraduate education of Commonwealth students. This is because each new Commonwealth country is building, or wants to build, its own undergraduate university. The latest is that lovely little island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, which is multiracial, although it has an Indian majority, and which we all hope to see joining us as an independent Commonwealth country within the next two years. They are to have a university, and I believe that it will be a very fine thing for them.
This development of local universities is both natural and good; and in some of these new universities they are taking small numbers of students from other developing Commonwealth countries. But these national universities can meet only a small part of their countries' needs; and they are not, of course, international Commonwealth institutions. They are building better societies, but they are not designed to demonstrate or inculcate the ideal of the multiracial Commonwealth society. They could easily become nationalistic institutions if they were to get going on the wrong lines; although, thank goodness! I do not think there is much evidence of that at the present time.
The Commonwealth University which I hope we may soon see launched is one for undergraduate students from all the Commonwealth countries: from the old Commonwealth—Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; with an equal number of young people from India. Pakistan and the West Indies, the Colonial Territories, and all the African countries. Here they could grow up together as new Commonwealth citizens. In such a university—and it is not fantastic to think of such a university as having 10,000 students—I think there should be a fifty-fifty Anglo-Saxon, Afro-Asian mix. To such a university all the Commonwealth countries should contribute not only their students but also, according to their means, materially; and such a university should, of course, be Commonwealth-controlled and Commonwealth-staffed.
I could give your Lordships a dozen reasons why this should not be done. 171 The first is that the time is not opportune. Of course, always there are difficulties whatever time one chooses; and for some people no time is ever opportune. Then it is said that we might strain our resources. Resources develop in response to strain. My noble friend Lord Shepherd mentioned that we were spending £189 million on overseas aid. I reckon that a Commonwealth University would cost not more than £4 million or £5 million per annum, both to build and to run. I base this on the cost of, say, Edinburgh University, which is of the same order and has a number of students not far short of the number I mentioned.
If such a Commonwealth University merely duplicated existing universities, I would at once agree that it would not be justified. We are, I think, well enough equipped to produce super-specialists, but in this process we are in danger of ironing out vigour, non-academic originality and enterprise. All the developing countries—and here we ought to include ourselves—need young men and women with "guts", vigour and "go", trained in the useful arts and sciences, as the Victorians used to say, and trained also with breadth of vision and a conception of service.
We need them to create, develop and operate our factories and workshops. I get a little depressed when I see students with degrees not knowing what to do. One feels often that when in desperation they choose to become personnel officers, it is a little wasteful of all that has happened. We all need them, developing countries the world over, in agriculture and food production, in building and planning our towns, villages and roads. We need town planners, architects, civil engineers and surveyors. We need them in general medical practice, for both treatment and prevention, in the under-doctored rural areas of the Commonwealth and in our own under-doctored urban areas. When we think of our own shortages, it really is a little ridiculous when our colleagues from Nigeria told us at the Commonwealth Conference of their 55 million population and 1,500 doctors for the lot—a ratio of one doctor to 40,000 people, which is an overall ratio. The figure is infinitely worse in the rural areas, because most 172 of those doctors are concentrated in the towns.
We need young people trained in marketing and distribution, in local and central government, and in the Commonwealth I think we need them, perhaps more than anywhere else in some ways, in printing, journalism and television. One cannot go round the Commonwealth without feeling the need for a cadre of professional journalists, with professional standards of integrity—and good, professional printing is one of the things that is most lacking. It could do more than anything else to help to build up public life and standards. Above all, of course, we need them in the schools and colleges of all kinds as teachers of the next generation. Imagine 10,000 young men and women, say, 2,000 or 3,000 every year, from all parts of the Commonwealth, going out to their own countries, not only skilled in useful arts and sciences, but also made into real Commonwealth citizens. Here, surely, is the great project of which my noble friend Lord Florey spoke. I reckon with our Commonwealth colleagues that such a plan could be developed and launched within two years.
At the Commonwealth Medical Conference, Dr. John Ellis of the London Hospital spoke about building new medical schools, and he sadly told us:The more developed the country, the slower is the rate of development.To prove his point, Professor T. J. Danaraj, Dean of the Medical School of the University of Malaya, told us how he was even now finishing a £10 million medical school in Kuala Lumpur, including a 750-bed hospital, which he started only 2½ years ago in 1963. If this can be done in Kuala Lumpur, I suggest that the Commonwealth as a whole could do it, and at no less speed.
At this time, when the Commonwealth is suffering and straining to survive, the antidote for our troubles is working together in some great common endeavour—and the more worthwhile the job, the smaller will our troubles seem. If the Commonwealth is a worthwhile institution for the world—and I personally am sure it is; and, even though it may not be very powerful, one remembers Faraday and the electricity and the baby—one day these African countries will be great 173 countries, strong in industry, too. I am sure all your Lordships think that the Commonwealth is a worthwhile institution, but I believe it can only be made strong for the future by building into it a cadre of Commonwealth citizens who will owe allegiance, not only to their own countries, but also to the Commonwealth as a whole.
§ 6.7 p.m.
My Lords, just for five minutes I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, on the problems of home defence and the reorganisation of the reserves. In view of what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has said, I will make only a very few remarks, and hope to have a later opportunity of discussing this matter much more fully.
We know now what deep feelings of apprehension—and the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, mentioned this—are felt all over the country about the plans that have been announced dealing with the future of the reserve forces. I beg the Government to have another look at this in the light of the advice they have received, and are receiving, from many varied sources, because under the Government scheme the task of home defence, if it is to exist at all, will rest only with whatever Regular units happen to be stationed in the country at the time. For the Minister of Defence has specifically stated that the units to be retained as a reserve will have no rôle for home defence, no rôle for aiding the civil power, nor are they required to provide a framework for expansion in emergency. They are to be a Regular Army reserve—there will be no Reserve Army so far as I know. So far as I know, there will be no Territorial W.R.A.C. I have just come back from Scotland where there are several very keen units, and where there is very great feeling about it. Of course, most people recognise that some form of reorganisation of the Territorial Army is justified, and as an ex-Territorial Army Divisional Commander I entirely agree with that.
There is a real need for Ever-Readies, both units and individuals, and it is certain that reserves which can be called up for service under conditions well short of mobilisation are badly needed. I believe that such reserves can be attracted from a framework of the 80,000 to 90,000 volunteers that we have to-day. 174 But the achievement of the present target is highly unlikely if there is not a national network of volunteer soldiers from which to draw. Once the great national network, with its county traditions and backing and loyalties, is abandoned or curtailed, it can never be rebuilt. No matter how grave the emergency, expansion will be impossible.
As I have said, the old Territorial Army is outmoded in some respects and reorganisation is necessary, but I am sure we should retain a Territorial Army framework for each county, more economically run than it is at present. This would provide a source of volunteer reserves which the Regular Army may require, and a training ground for them, which we support in every way. It should be able to provide a smaller, unsophisticated force with good communications, capable of expansion if required but adequate for a national emergency, and one which would retain the goodwill of employers; and that, under the present scheme, we are not going to get. It would also retain the spirit of voluntary military service, without which any attempt to provide reserves for the Regular Army will founder.
Retention of the Territorial Force is vital for the efficiency of the Civil Defence organisation with which it is at present integrated, and of immense assistance to the Army Cadet Force. How can the Government be so certain that there will never be an emergency which will require Home Defence or military expansion—never in ten years; never in 50 or 100 years? No other European country is prepared to take such a risk. Why should we?
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I intervene just for one moment? I have been asked to announce that dinners will be available for the hardy few who remain long enough to require them.
§ 6.12 p.m.
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, into the realms of the Territorial Army, but it must be clear to your Lordships that our whole Defence structure is in a state of flux, and we should all like to know when the Defence Review is to be completed and presented to Parliament. The noble Éarl, Lord Jellicoe, has already made this point very 175 strongly, and I cannot emphasise it too much.
Articles have appeared recently in the Press—either as a result of guesswork or leakage; and perhaps a bit of both—indicating that the Fleet Air Arm is to disappear in its present form and that its rôle is to be taken over by the R.A.F. Then on Tuesday of this week it was indicated in the Press that a signal was sent to Her Majesty's Fleet by the Minister for the Navy indicating that no decision had been reached in the matter. It was this kind of clumsy handling of affairs which many years ago caused the mutiny at Invergordon. Surely Her Majesty's Government will not revert to the old inefficient organisation of some years ago, when R.A.F. pilots were engaged on naval reconnaissance and were found quite unable to carry out these duties effectively. The Royal Navy requires a special type of pilot, trained in naval warfare and reconnaissance, to be of effective assistance to the Fleet. I hope that the Minister who is to reply to this debate will be able to deny, or at least to clarify, this situation, which I cannot help feeling is ominous.
In a recent speech the Minister for the Navy stated that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to purchase a second-hand aircraft carrier to tide the Fleet over until our own new British carrier could be built. Yet in last Sunday's Press we read that the Navy's carriers are to be phased out of existence, and in any case will get only a few, if any, of the Phantom fighters to be ordered from the U.S.A. I suggest that all this rumour and counter-rumour is very bad for the morale of the Service, and it is high time that Her Majesty's Government made a declaration of their intentions at the earliest possible moment.
I would ask the Minister who is to reply to this debate whether he can confirm that the cuts already going on in the Defence Services will not mean a cut in our overseas commitments. I cannot help feeling that cuts are being made merely to save money, without regard to our commitments abroad and to the defence of this country. Defence is the insurance policy of our survival, and we must be prepared to pay the premium, even at the expense of other much-cherished desires so longed for by the Party opposite.
176 If Her Majesty's Government really wish to save money on Defence, and at the same time maintain our commitments, I suggest that, instead of phasing out parts of the Navy, it would be much more logical to phase out a part of the Royal Air Force. I know that this policy would bring great divisions of opinion, but I feel sure it must be faced one day. I think it is agreed in most quarters that the manned bomber is on its way out and its rôle transferred to Polaris submarines. When that occurs, the R.A.F. will be left with Transport Command and a few fighters, which can well be flown from the flight decks of carriers. Also the Army should have control of its Tactical Air Arm.
Sooner or later, Her Majesty's Government, or any future Government, must face up to this phasing out of the Royal Air Force, however unpalatable it will be in some quarters. There is no doubt that a very great deal of money would be saved on Defence by this policy, and I am convinced that we must face up to this problem in the not too distant future. This problem must not be linked up with Service rivalry, but must be looked at solely in relation to essential overall Defence requirements. It is, of course, a highly controversial question, involving deep loyalties and established positions; none the less, it must be faced in the years to come.
Recent developments in Aden and Singapore bring nearer the day when we shall be compelled to give up these bases, and for these reasons alone I suggest that the aircraft carrier increases in importance from year to year, and even from month to month. Can the Minister to-day indicate the policy of Her Majesty's Government on aircraft carriers?
It is generally agreed, I feel, that the development of nuclear weapons has reduced the likelihood of land warfare between the major Powers; but against this we must not forget the steady rise in Soviet maritime powers. There is no doubt that the focus of international rivalry has shifted from the land to the sea. I suggest that it is therefore all the more essential for our Defence policy to move from a continental one to a maritime one. We have a number of residual responsibilities in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia which are, of course, 177 the result of the aftermath of Imperial rule. These responsibilities absorb a large part of our defence forces, and I still maintain that the best way to contain them is by maritime power.
I feel that money can be saved on Defence to an appreciable extent if we get our priorities right; but as yet we do not appear to be moving in that direction. The Minister of Defence recently said that decisions must be taken at regular intervals. I presume that this means piecemeal, as matters arise, and when they cannot, perhaps, be deferred any longer. This is hardly the sort of Defence policy the country needs, and I hope that it will be possible for the Minister replying to this debate to clarify our Defence policy on some of the points I have raised.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, this is the first opportunity we have had to say anything about the announcement as to the future of the Territorial Army which was made in this House at the end of last July. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has suggested that we should wait until the White Paper is available, and I will gladly go along with him in that in so far as I do not intend to talk about the affairs of the Working Party because not even the excellently controlled leakages of the Ministry of Defence give us enough to go on. Nor will I talk about the Cadet Force, because likewise I know their affairs are in the hands of a Committee. But I will say something about what is behind the announcement of July 29. I think this ought to be said now because it will be too late to say it when the White Paper is crystallised and in print.
Of course, as other noble Lords have said already in this debate, it is common ground that at the time of the last Election the two problems of Regular Army manpower and Home Defence were still problems for settlement, and therefore it was incumbent on whatever Government came into power to continue to search for a solution to those two problems. Although they both impact on the Territorial Army, they are to a very large extent quite distinct. The Regular Army manpower problem is one of solving an equation. Personally I very much doubt, though I know I am not always agreed 178 with, whether this equation can be solved by the British without recourse to selective service, any more than it can be solved by the Australians or the New Zealanders. However that may he, all the figures connected with voluntary military service in this country throughout the ages have been very constant and they are resistant to any efforts to raise them, or indeed to lower them.
They fall into three classes. There are the career Regular soldiers, who enlist in the Regular Army; there are the Territorial Army or Volunteers, or whatever you call them, who will go for a fortnight's camp and do a certain amount of training and are prepared to be called up full-time in an emergency; and then there is the third category, who at different times have been called Militia, or Special Reserve, or Ever-Readies, who take obligations for permanent service in peace time if they are called on. All these three categories have been resistant to any change and the number has been very constant in all three, unless in the case of the Militia you go back to the time before the Unemployment Insurance Acts when it was a form of earning an honest penny. These are the problems which the Working Party are dealing with, and whether they will solve the equation is in the lap of the gods. I am quite certain that, so far as the working party goes, they are trying and will try their very best.
The other question—that is to say, what Home Defence should be like, can be reached only in the context of the Defence policy as a whole. That is the point which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has made, and I would only add that in addition to the assurance given by Mr. Reynolds in another place, there was the equal assurance given by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, on June 17, when he said…the role of the Territorial Army forms part of the current Defence Review and the question of its organisation must be linked with this."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 267 (No. 87), cols. 193–4; 17th June, 1965.]While we welcome that original announcement, we were full of dismay when we saw a very real risk of that announcement being gone back on. I have been trying as an ex-professional soldier myself, and an ex-inhabitant of the War Office, to puzzle out what went on in the Ministry of Defence.
179 I think I ought to say this from personal experience. There always has been a section of Regular Army opinion which is not very favourable to the Territorial Army. That type of opinion has more or less influence at different times over the years. There is always a tendency in the search for professionalism to disparage the amateur, which is what happens every now and then; and there is also another factor which gets to work on this, and that is that the top ranking staff officers in the War Office who handle these things very seldom—I am talking generally, not about any particular person—have first-hand knowledge of the Territorial Army, for the simple reason that the brightest and best of those people go to either Whitehall or Regular Commands and Staffs. Therefore, they are dependent not on first-hand knowledge, which I know is a pity for anybody who is making a plan. But then you get tendencies to bring in arguments, such as cost-efficiency, produced by the Treasury. I do not know what cost-efficiency means in this context, because whereas you can cost something which has happened or which is in process of happening, like administration in peace or war or training in peace, you cannot cost readiness for war, so far as I know, and I should not like to see anybody try.
The other thing about all this is that the particular handling of this exercise with the Territorial Army bears a very close resemblance to a similar exercise at the end of 1955 when a large number of Territorial Army units were converted to supplementary Reserve. Again the Territorial Army Advisory Committee, of which I was then a member, were not called in until they were to be confronted with facts. Again the result of that, the fruits of that exercise, are now dust and ashes, and in my opinion (my noble friends on the Front Bench must not mind my saying so) the Conservative Government were taken for a bit of a ride on that, in just the same way as I think the present Government are being taken for a ride on this. Noble Lords opposite may not agree. However, the plans were made and were put to the Ministers. I am not quite sure exactly where the initiative came from, but the plans of course were made on approved General Staff lines; that is to say, all 180 the aids produced by security, concealment and surprise were brought in, and so this burst on an astonished world in the way it did.
Of course, all this is absolutely excellent on two conditions: first of all, that those who have to plan have sufficient information to be able to make a proper plan, and, secondly, that if you are going to plan against an enemy you choose the right enemy. Did those who made the plan have sufficient information to make it and did they choose the right enemy, if by chance they are concealing these things from the Territorial Army authorities and the T.A. Advisory Council? And the answers I put to your Lordships are, No and No. I myself do not think it was in any degree possible to form any assessment, either of the problem of the reserves or of the problem of Home Defence, unless, before the plan was made, those concerned—that is, not only the Territorial Army people but also the local authority people in respect of Civil Defence—were taken into confidence.
We now come to this very much talked about subject of consultation. Of course, if you have full information on the matter in hand, whatever it may be, you do not need to consult anybody any more before you make your plan. But if you have not that information you do consult other people outside before you make your plan. Otherwise why do we ever have Royal Commissions and Select Committees and bodies of that sort designed for that particular purpose? I do not think either Ministers or staffs in the Ministry of Defence could possibly have had enough information available to them within the Department to make a sound decision on either of the two points at issue which I have just mentioned: can the Territorial Army provide enough people for the new and more demanding terms of service, and, secondly (as the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, mentioned), if the Territorial Army are not to be used for Civil Defence, how are our homes to be defended, and by whom? I think it was a very great presumption on the part of the Ministry of Defence to suppose that they could obtain answers to those questions without consultation outside. If you want to know whether more people in the Territorial Army can be induced to accept the stricter terms of service, the only way to find out is to 181 ask the people in the front line—the Territorial Army associations, commanders of units and the employers' associations and unions who control the people who would have to volunteer. So, in this case, I think that consultations must have preceded any sound decision.
Again, if you are dealing with Civil Defence, surely it was impossible to discover the full impact of the decision to withdraw the Territorial Army from Civil Defence unless the local authorities who were responsible for Civil Defence were consulted. I can tell your Lordships that the local authority associations were consulted no more than the Territorial Army associations were. They discovered what was going on, and made their protest to the Home Office—and a very good thing, too! But I think it would be quite wrong for Parliament to approve any step to cut down the Territorial Army without knowing what is going to be the general content of home Defence policy. It was promised that we should know. I do not think we should touch it until we do know, whether it comes out in the White Paper or otherwise. Then again, the Home Secretary, I think, said in another place on November 4 last that the Civil Defence Review was still in progress. Why, then, are we told, on the one hand, that it is still in progress and, on the other, that they have decided that there is no need for the Territorial Army?
While all this was going on the Department lost no time. The announcement was on a Thursday, and there were full-dress conferences at the Commands on the Monday. Every attempt, as I see it (though I know that noble Lords opposite will not agree with me), was made to railroad the associations into agreement on these various points. If they had agreed, it would have been possible for Ministers to come back and ask, "What is all the fuss about? They have all agreed to it." To my mind, it was a most arrogant performance. To put it another way, certain people were busily engaged in trying to steal the horse and to leave Parliament, in due course, when, at long last, the White Paper comes out, to shut the door.
As I say, I have not attempted to deal with the consultations in detail. I have attempted to deal with the thinking and to produce some thinking of my own. If what I have said has any substance—and 182 I am quite sure that some of it has—then this is the time to say these things, in the hope that those concerned with this matter will begin to feel that the decision would have been sounder if more front-line opinion had been taken; and that until they have found out a little more about the implications of the policy they announced on July 29, it would be thoroughly wrong to suggest the break-up of the Territorial Army, to start doing it as they are doing it now; and equally wrong for Parliament to have anything to do with it, until it has a lot more information about the general policy for home Defence which the present Government may produce.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I should like to address some observations to your Lordships rather on the Foreign Affairs aspect of this matter than on Defence. Owing to absence abroad, I have not been able to take part in recent discussions on international affairs. I should like to apologise at the beginning to the House and to subsequent speakers, because I shall have to leave almost immediately after the close of my remarks owing to a long-standing engagement. Indeed, I nearly took my name off the list when I saw how the debate was dragging out. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if my remarks seem a little disjointed, because I shall have to do my best to compress the logical arrangement of the speech which I had prepared.
The debate this afternoon has brought out clearly the close relationship of Foreign Affairs and Defence. A mistaken foreign policy can obviously lead to a great increase in the cost of Defence. At the present time we are acutely conscious, so far as we can be, of the importance of saving money. No doubt, largely owing to the mistaken financial policy of the late Administration, the social programme of the present Government has to a considerable extent been cut down. I need only mention the universities, in which there is a great feeling of disappointment and frustration as the result of the recent announcements. If we could, in fact, save money—and I think that one obvious area in which we could save is on the Defence Estimates—the sort of difficulties which were alluded to in the debate yesterday, not only in 183 connection with higher education, but in connection with roads and otherwise, could, to a considerable extent, at any rate, be overcome.
We have, of course, been spending a great deal of money, as I suggest unprofitably, during recent years in the East, particularly in Arabia. I was most interested to notice the speech of Mr. Enoch Powell, which has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, in his notable speech this afternoon. I must say that I found myself greatly in sympathy with it, as I did with his interpretation of Mr. Powell's observations at Brighton; and that was certainly the view taken by the Spectator, in a most interesting article, albeit a slightly mischievous one. It seemed to me to indicate the possibility of a solution that could be accepted by all Parties in regard to the expenditure in the Far East, and in the East generally. Aden is mentioned all the time. Are we really spending all this money on armed forces in Arabia because of Aden? I greatly doubt it. On this I agree with Lord Gladwyn's views. We have been told time after time that we had to have ports in Southern Ireland and in South Africa, and, on another occasion, in China, and airfields in Cyprus, otherwise our security was in jeopardy. We have lost control over most of these places which were said to be so essential to us, yet our security does not seem to have been jeopardised very greatly. I think it would be exactly the same in this connection.
It was interesting to notice this afternoon that noble Lords who speak for the Services have, in effect, indicated that they are prepared to give up Aden and Singapore, and some of these other places which until so recently were regarded by everybody as crucial, and are apparently still regarded as crucial. I suspect that our policy in Arabia is to some extent dictated by pure conservatism, that we have for a long time adopted this policy of divide-and-rule. On the whole, we tend to support the going-out order—the sheikhs and the small principalities in these places instead of the incoming democracy.
The Spectator article to which I have referred suggested that to some extent our policy was dictated by our trouble with 184 President Nasser some years ago, from which we have not recovered and which has led us, in pique, to oppose his designs in Arabia. I do not for a moment believe that this is true. I do not myself believe that the Arabs want Nasser there, any more than we do. But they may dislike him rather less than they dislike us. One of our difficulties in this country is that we always tend to imagine that people over whom we have been ruling like us very much. Of course they do not. But I have no doubt that, as soon as they had got rid of us in Arabia, they would be only too anxious to get rid of President Nasser as well. It seems to me that the real point of the situation in Arabia is that one has there the beginnings of a national policy. There is a strong and growing party in Arabia which wants to see Arabia as a new national State, and it is necessary to get rid of this outworn concept which we still seem to be following in that part of the world.
I was interested to read, in the introduction to Mr. Penkovsky's book in, I think, the Sunday Times last week, that it was as that important defector from Communism and the U.S.S.R.—somebody who was brought up as a Communist—began to realise, during the war, that it was Russia and not Communism for which he was fighting, that he recognised it was necessary, in the interests of Russia, as he saw them, to overthrow Communism. It was an ideological basis on which he joined up with the Western Secret Service. It is an obvious point, on which observers in the West have been commenting for a long time, that the U.S.S.R. began to win the war when they fought it as a national war and not as an ideological war. Unfortunately, the full implication of some of these rather obvious points is not always grasped. I am quite sure that nationalism whether we like it or not—and it has many evil aspects—is in fact the dominant force in modern international politics. It is very much more important than Communism, Fascism or Capitalism or any other ideological outlook on affairs.
The trouble about Arabia is that it is already infected with the bacillus of nationalism, which is much the strongest force in the modern world. The sooner we realise this fact and adapt our policy on that basis, the better. This would 185 enable us to save valuable British lives and a great deal of money which could be much more profitably spent in other ways. Arabia is obviously cut out to be a modern national State, and it is bound to become so in the end. Therefore the sooner we base our policy on a far-sighted view of this kind, the better.
In a quite different sort of way my theme of nationalism is relevant to Indonesia, and particularly to Borneo as well. Borneo is one of the ironies of modern international history. It is being fought over at present by two new sovereign States, neither of which has any real claim to it, except a sort of legalistic claim of a kind which, no doubt, was very relevant a hundred or even fifty years ago but which, in the conditions of the modern world, ceases to be relevant at all. Borneo is not in any real sense part of Malaysia, and never has been. Still less has it ever been truly part of Java, which is really the core of Indonesia. The native inhabitants are Dyaks who are neither Malays nor Javanese, though it is true there have been Malay settlers in the coastal districts.
Java argues its case legalistically, that it is entitled to take over the rights of the Netherlands Government. But how real were the rights of the Netherlands Government? It was a blatant piece of colonialism of a very modern period under which the Netherlands took over the largest part of Borneo. The Dutch did not land in Borneo until well into the present century. British Protectorates are, of course, of older standing, and they were only Protectorates until very recently indeed. It is quite ridiculous that either Malaysia or Java should be claiming Borneo on the basis of this shadowy legal claim.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? I think there is some confusion here. If the noble Lord will cast his memory back, I think he will recollect that Borneo became part of Malaysia—which was a new State which included Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore. Is the noble Lord referring to Malaya or to Malaysia? It opted to become a member of the Federation of Malaysia.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I think the noble Lord must allow me to speak with some authority on this, as I was the principal negotiator in it. The people opted to join Malaysia.
§ LORD CHORLEY
You were a member of the British Government. The Borneans themselves, who are a very primitive people indeed, had no real chance of deciding whether they wanted to be brought into this. Borneo is a place which, like Arabia, might become a viable, modern national State. It is one of the largest islands in the world, nearly three times the size of Great Britain. It has no real affinity either with Malaysia or with Java. It should be handed over to the United Nations and given the opportunity to develop properly on its own footing. If you are going to divide it up in this way, all you are going to do is to lay up for yourselves trouble in the future. As Borneans become more educated they will become more nationalistic, and you will have the same situation arising. If I may turn to the final topic I wish to mention—
§ LORD CHORLEY
The problem in Vietnam is really the same—that of nationalism. We speak of it here in the West as the "Communist peril", but the whole of this business arose out of the old French colonial policy and gave rise in Vietnam to nationalist sentiments. If the French had withdrawn and granted Home Rule at a reasonably early stage, there would not have been any problem of Communism. It was, in a sense, an accident that Ho Chi Minh, who was a Communist, became the leader of the Nationalist movement. In that way he was able to establish Communism in North Vietnam. I do not believe the people of North Vietnam want Communism nor do I believe the people of South Vietnam want Communism. What they want is to be united together and to govern themselves—something which they were prevented from doing by the French and which, to some extent, they are now being prevented from doing by the Americans.
I am not suggesting that Communism does not come into this question, for it 187 obviously does, as a result of the historical facts which I have mentioned. That introduces a very difficult issue into this problem, but it cannot obscure the fact that the basic issue of all is that the Vietnamese people want to be one nation. It is that for which they are struggling. The Vietcong would not have any success in South Vietnam if all it was doing was trying to impose Communism on the people. The reason that it has had success is that it has based itself on the national aspirations of the people. It is quite true that as long as Communism prevails in the North, and largely as a result of the defeatist attitude in the Western papers over the last year or two, the Vietcong were almost bound to succeed. The Government in the North has been exceedingly obdurate and quite inexcusably unready to enter into negotiations.
I do not agree with all of my political friends, with whom, generally speaking, I sympathise on problems of this sort, that the United States is entirely in the wrong over this, and I think that our own attempts to act as honest broker, which were very well meant, might very well be more successful now. Anybody who knows anything about the toughness of the American people and the toughness of their Governments, ought to have discounted very considerably the newspaper reports, because it is quite obvious that when the United States has set itself to anything of this kind it is pretty well impossible to prevent its going through with it. But the fact that the Americans have succeeded in stopping the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong from conquering in the South does not in any sort of way solve this problem; and that, I think, has been made clear in all the speeches which have been made upon this subject.
The problem must be solved by agreement of a conference of some sort, and it does not seem to me that it is at all impossible to come to some arrangement about this. Now that it is quite clear that this Viet Cong attempt has failed, there should be a rather more sensible spirit in the North; and if the Government can find time from this obsessive problem of Rhodesia to "go it again", so to speak, and provide the media and negotiators for a conference, it 188 may very well be that something can be done. Of course, one very important aspect of this problem is that it is one of the sore spots in the very much improving relationship between the U.S.S.R. and the West. In a most interesting speech this afternoon, the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, was suggesting that the solution to the atomic war problem is a line-up between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. That is a most interesting idea. It is one which will obviously be very difficult to bring about, but it might surely start in Vietnam, because if you could bring the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. together in effecting some sort of sensible agreement which would enable Vietnam to be unified again, that might be the opening for the very sort of solution to this problem which the noble Duke was so interestingly putting before us.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, as the noble Lord says that he will be unable to stay, and he would not allow me to ask this question in the middle of his speech—
§ LORD MILVERTON
—perhaps I may now ask him the question which I wanted to ask. What is the basis of his knowledge of Borneo and Malaya and Malaysia which enables him to state so-called facts, which, to my own personal knowledge, are utterly incorrect? Almost everything he said about Borneo is just not true, and I speak with some considerable experience. I was for several years the Governor of North Borneo and I spent 25 years of my life among Malayans in that area.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, if the noble Lord will just go and look in the Encyclopædia Britannica he will find the dates of the Protectorates. He will also find the date when the Dutch Army invaded Borneo, which I myself remember as a small boy. I think it was 1905. He will find it all there in the history books.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I remind the noble Lord that the Encylopædia Britannica is now owned by an American firm?
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, if the noble Lord will look in Chambers' he will find that this information is given in just the same way.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, the field of debate to-day covers Defence and External Affairs, so I shall be in order, I think, during the few minutes for which I shall detain your Lordships if I revert to the most tragic event which is uppermost in all our minds. The noble Earl the Leader of the House called upon your Lordships to exercise restraint. I wonder why. What is there now left for us to restrain, except perhaps our tears? There was not much restraint about the Prime Minister's Statement this afternoon. Indeed, when I listened to the noble Earl reading out his words, those spiteful and vengeful words, I could not help comparing them with the sorrowful, the direct—yes, and the generous—words of Mr. Ian Smith in the broadcast this afternoon. If the tone of the two statements was a test of the merit of the two sides, then I have no doubt which side would have the right of it. Rebellion is an ugly word.
§ LORD COLERAINE
And rebellion is a very ugly thing. I know of only one thing uglier, and that is when a people surrenders, under the threat of force, its convictions, its tradition, and its heritage. It is often said that it takes two to make a quarrel. Where British people are concerned it takes two to make a rebellion. The Civil War was not caused by Hampden and Pym. The King and his Archbishop had something to do with it, too. The revolution of 1688 was not caused by Denbigh and Devonshire; it was caused by James II. And the rebellion of the American colonies was not caused only by the Americans.
I think we should search our hearts and see whether we can honestly say that the responsibility for this rebellion rests solely with Mr. Ian Smith and his Government. I do not believe that the decision was formed to-day, or that it was formed in Salisbury. I believe that it was formed over a long period of years, when a succession of Governments 190 sought to coerce a succession of Rhodesian Governments into courses of action which the Rhodesian Governments considered would be disastrous to the Rhodesian people as a whole. If you are to attribute blame for this rebellion, you have to go a good deal further back than to-day, and a good deal further back than last week. We brought pressure to bear upon a liberal and moderate Government under Sir Edgar Whitehead. We succeeded; we displaced it and we got a less liberal and less moderate Government. We then brought pressure on that Government. We succeeded in displacing it, and got Mr. Ian Smith's Government. Let us be honest with ourselves, my Lords, and let us accept a good deal of the responsibility for this tragedy ourselves.
There is another matter to which I think we might direct our minds, and it is this. When two different races are living together, it is a problem of the most appalling difficulty. It is a problem that we do not know, although we have touched the fringe of it—and even that slight peripheral contact provoked in our people here such a violent reaction that Her Majesty's Government were obliged to go back on their Election pledges and to introduce the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. Before we cast stones at others, I think we might examine our own consciences.
My Lords, there is something that I would say with all respect to Her Majesty's Government. They assume that behind them in this matter they have a united country. Let them not be too sure. Over the past few weeks, and, indeed, over the past few years, there has been only one voice on these matters from Parliament—Government and Opposition alike. There has been only one picture that has been drawn, and that has been of an Africa peacefully advancing to democratic freedom and security, obstructed only by a few white settlers in Rhodesia. That is an entirely false picture. But now, when the fog lifts and the silence is broken, as it will be, and when people begin to discuss not only one side but both sides of the question, I think the Government will find that the country is as deeply and as bitterly divided as it was 27 years ago; and they may find, too, that the country will turn and rend them when they know what has been done in 191 their name, as they turned and rent Mr. Chamberlain.
I wish I could see what the Government thought they were going to achieve by the measures which they have announced. At best, they will bring untold hardship to millions of Africans who have done them no harm: at worst, they will bring chaos to a continent. There is something that we need now more than revenge. What we have to do now is to try to build up the structure that has been destroyed through a long succession of blunders and misunderstandings. There is something I would say, too, to my own leaders. If they give blind support to a policy which is repugnant to a great body of Conservative opinion, and if they give Mr. Wilson a blank cheque to bring Mr. Ian Smith to his knees, they will wreck the Conservative Party.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has spoken with deep emotion, and I think we all appreciate that this is a situation of deep emotion, but I would assure him that there are some of us on these Benches who feel that emotion just as greatly as he does, even if we take a point of view opposite to that which he has expressed. But to-day is an occasion when I feel we should respond to my noble friend's invitation for restraint. During the course of the next week we shall have every opportunity of discussing this very tragic matter. Therefore, if the noble Lord will permit me to say so, it is not a wise thing to develop the Rhodesian question at this hour of the night in this particular debate. The noble Lord will himself have an opportunity of developing his arguments to an even greater length on Monday if he so desires; and it seems to me that the appeal for restraint must be responded to during the course of the debate this evening. I say this with the deepest respect, in full appreciation of the emotion which he has shown; and I assure him that those of us on this side of the House are not very light-hearted about what is going on.
My Lords, I am relieved at this moment of time in this debate to find that most of the things that I wanted to say have not been touched upon, and I hope not to take up too much of your 192 Lordships' time in expressing them. But before I come to the things that have not been touched upon, I wonder whether I might say a word or two about what I regard as the most important part of the gracious Speech. Something has not been said to-day which perhaps falls better from the lips of a man of my age. To-day is November 11. How easily we forget! As a man of my years, obviously my memory to-day goes back to where I was on November 11, 1918. It was on that day that I decided that I had a much greater interest in the future of disarmament than the British or any other armed forces. Therefore it was with great joy that I read in the gracious Speech the passage which was referred to by the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, earlier on—the passage which deals with disarmament. In the final analysis that paragraph is probably the most important, for whatever follows in the gracious Speech is of little avail if the nations of the world do not at this time turn seriously to the question of disarmament. This is not something just in the interests of our own country; this is something which affects the future of the whole of mankind.
I have been concerned in recent years that the word "disarmament" seems to have become, or had become, a dirty word; but it is refreshing to find that, thank heavens!, owing to some welcome improvement in international relations, it has been possible to give it such prominence in the gracious Speech. I would remind your Lordships that this is the first British Government to appoint a Minister for Disarmament; and the appointment of my noble friend Lord Chalfont emphasises this Government's determination in the field of disarmament. On the following passage, with regard to nuclear weapons, I remember, as a Member of the other place, how my late right honourable friend Hugh Gaitskell foresaw the need for limiting the number of nations which should have possession of this menace, the nuclear weapon. But I would remind the noble Duke, were he here, that his views at that time were not exactly encouraged by the then Government of the day. But my right honourable friend was right: the greater the number of nations with nuclear weapons, the greater is the menace—and that point does not need to be developed.
193 I will now turn to what I feel is a new subject in this debate, but one which has a close relationship with Foreign Affairs. It is something which is not often mentioned in your Lordships' House and it appears to have reached a stage where it seems to be of very little importance. It is that, since the breakdown of the Common Market negotiations, the only real political or Parliamentary contact that we have with Europe as a whole seems to be through the Council of Europe. I served there for some time as one of the British delegates and was then a colleague of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, who is winding up for the Opposition to-night. If I may say so, a friendship was then established that has never ceased; and I hope he may agree with the things I want to say with regard to the Council of Europe, the only link we have as Parliamentarians with the whole of Europe. We met there our opposite numbers, both members of EFTA and members of the Treaty of Rome, and we learned to value each other's views. Many lasting and valuable friendships were created in that assembly.
It is impossible at this hour to attempt to enumerate the very many accomplishments of the Council of Europe over the years, but because they may be quickly forgotten I would recommend to your Lordships a book written by Mr. A. L. Roberts, Secretary of Committees of the Council of Europe, on the accomplishments and set-up of the Council. My deep concern is that both the British Press and Parliament pay scant attention to the activities of the Council of Europe. I express the hope—I should want to say more but for the hour—that there will be an increased interest to maintain the only real relationships we have with our Parliamentary colleagues in the Continent of Europe. I believe these relationships are of tremendous value.
My Lords, may I for a few moments turn to Commonwealth questions? The thoughts of most people are to-day, obviously, on Southern Rhodesia. I am avoiding this subject; for what I am saying about other parts of the Commonwealth applies equally strongly to Southern Rhodesia. But I welcome the fact that since 1945 policies of both Conservative and Labour Governments have resulted in the independence of over 700 million people. My researches now 194 tell me that the territories for which the Colonial Office remains responsible have a population of only 10 million. Yet the number of territories is 31. Of these 10 million, over half are in Hong Kong and South Arabia. This means that the remaining 29 territories have less than 5 million people between them. And one of the most difficult problems which must be faced is the working-out of satisfactory arrangements for the future of our smaller dependent territories which, in some cases, have a population of only a few thousand. Yet most of them have ambitions of independence.
I welcome the present negotiations taking place in London on British Guiana, while I deeply regret the absence of Dr. Cheddi Jagan about whom I hold views different from those held by many people. I think it would have been most valuable had Dr. Jagan been at the London Conference, because I regard him as a man of great ability and a great believer in his own country and its future. But they are about to fix the date for their independence. I only hope that independence will bring much greater happiness to that territory. The Mauritius Constitutional Conference which met during the Parliamentary Recess decided on independence for that territory. Now I am told by the Colonial Office that progress is being made on independence for the South African territories of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland. All this is a result of the policy, which has been adopted since 1945, of giving greater independence to our territories overseas.
Elsewhere there are many problems; but is it not true that in this particular type of territory progress towards independence is hampered more by internal, racial and religious differences and dissensions than by unwillingness for constitutional progress? Fiji is an example of this with the lack of trust there between the Fijians and the Indians. Perhaps the best example of all is that of South Arabia, whose progress towards independence is hampered not because of differences of view between Governments but, mainly, because of terrorist activities and the like. I would say, in passing, that I welcome the visit being paid to Aden at the moment by my noble friend Lord Beswick. I hope that the visits of our Ministers to Aden which have been going 195 on will ultimately result in greater happiness there and a move toward peaceful independence.
I have only one other thing I want to say. It arises from the fact that over many years I have had an interest in the West Indies. I know it is perhaps asking too much of my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to answer my question to-night, but perhaps he might be good enough to hand it on to see if I can get an answer. What sort of progress has been made with regard to the Little Six, the Leeward and the Windward Isles? Here, again, is an example of the problems encountered in the advance towards independence of the smaller territories. I say it with the deepest respect to our politicians and statesmen over there, but really it is a question of big fish in little ponds. And it is ridiculous to think of the whole panoply of Prime Minister and Government in the case of some of these smaller islands which have populations nothing like as great as that of an English provincial town. They cannot possibly be economically viable. I should like to see a much faster move towards the federation of those islands so that they might be in a more viable position for the attaining of independence.
My Lords, there were many other things I wanted to say, but it is 7.20 in the evening and I feel I have had my share of the time of the House. I close by saying briefly how much I appreciate the trade negotiations which are going on with Southern Ireland at this time, and how I agree with my noble friend Lord Taylor that the establishment of a Commonwealth Secretariat cannot fail to do great work. I apologise to your Lordships if my speech has been a little rambling and if I have spoken at some, length. But these matters are of great concern to me and I sincerely hope that I may be excused for having mentioned them, even if it is only because nobody else has.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I propose to leave anything I may wish say about Rhodesia to a later opportunity which one will have in the days to come, but I should like just to associate myself with every word that was uttered by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and to say 196 that I deeply appreciated his very moving expression of a point of view which I fully share. I have only one comment to make at this moment. It is that we all know that an absentee landlord in an agricultural country has been regarded as an affliction. But, my Lords, analogously, an absentee political master is a worse affliction to a British community in, say, Africa because of the probability of a complete lack of basic understanding of the circumstances and the atmosphere of the country for which they exercise, very unwisely, a little brief authority from this country.
My Lords, in the gracious Speech there is a reference to strengthening the United Nations, and I am particularly glad of the opportunity given to me by Lord Shepherd's eulogy of the United Nations to express my point of view, which is something less than praise. I was struck by the answer given to a supplementary question from the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, a few days ago when a question was answered by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, on behalf of the Government. It was whether they were taking any steps to initiate military forces under the control of the United Nations Organisation. The reply was that the circumstances did not at the moment allow it, but they had every sympathy. Then the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, asked, "Do the present Government really think that military forces can safely be entrusted to the United Nations Organisation?", and the Government's reply was, "Yes". My Lords, I regarded that reply without enthusiasm.
It is only three years ago that the then Foreign Minister of this country spoke like this:When we have reached a stage when a large part of the organisation which is dedicated to peace openly condones aggression, when an organisation which was founded to sustain law and order encourages politics which must endanger it, or when a refusal by many to carry their share of the cost brings the prospect of power without responsibility, it is an understatement to say that there is cause for anxiety.The Prime Minister of the day of this country said:The effective operation of the Security Council has been made impossible by the Russian veto, used, I think, in all 100 times. … The whole foundation on which the United Nations was built has been undermined. … We can only reach some kind 197 of working arrangement not through the United Nations, but through direct negotiations between East and West.The deep divisions on the Security Council have led to another development different from that envisaged in its Charter—that is, the most dangerous development, as I see it, of the Assembly into a kind of semi-executive authority. The United Nations Organisation is based on the principle of equal national sovereignty, but "One nation, one vote" does not correspond to the power position of the world. Some of the greatest Powers, such as West Germany and China, are not even members, and it is because they knew that rule by the Assembly was unworkable that the founders of the United Nations put all their faith in the Security Council.
This is the catalogue officially given in this country only a few years ago. At the end of 1961, 52 countries out of 104 had not paid their ordinary contributions for that year, and 6 had not paid for two years. Out of 104 on the Congo account, 79 were in default. On the Middle East account—that is, the force interposed between Israel and Egypt—65 were still in deficit. There is no way of compelling defaulting States to pay their contributions, or to prohibit them from voting. Here, again, is what has been called power without responsibility. I am emphasising this analysis of the United Nations because it is from United Nations that the most vicious and abusive attack has been made upon Rhodesia during the past few months.
The record of the United Nations in the political sphere is not one of the successes claimed by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, this afternoon. It is largely a record of failure and inefficiency, and the rulings of the International Court, to which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, referred so feelingly and with such respect, have been treated with no respect by anyone else in the United Nations. The rulings have been largely ignored. You have only to look at the numbers of them, from Abadan, from Suez, from the Suez Canal, the barring of Israeli ships, and all the rest of it right down to Kashmir and other occasions to-day. These things have been ignored. And the resolutions of the United Nations have been treated with an equal disrespect. My Lords, it is a 198 mistake to suppose that the United Nations is a barrier to aggression; it is merely a hindrance to action at the present moment, a home of pressure groups, and a place where the Charter of Human Rights is a mockery. The majority of the member countries are not democracies and they deny to their own peoples the freedom they preach to others. All this surely puts a premium on irresponsibility.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who spoke about the seeds of war, and said that the chief seed of war was poverty. I emphatically disagree with that. The chief seed of war is human nature and its incurable habit of cultivating a lust for power. It is that lust for power which is now aflicting the Secretariat of the United Nations. I think it was in the time of Hammarskjoeld that he tried to build up, what has been called, an international priesthood, mostly of detribalised intellectuals, and we were told that service to the United Nations was not incompatible with attachment to one's own country whose higher interests lie in serving the United Nations—only one needs detachment from national prejudices and narrow national interests.
Can we dare think that this superlatively denationalised group of political eunuchs are supposed to be going to run this world through the United Nations in future? One is reminded of the old lines:A wider are their spirit swings,Commands a juster view—We have their word for all these things.Of course, their words are true.The thought of any army, or any other force, under the exclusive command of the United Nations, and of that command vested in the Secretary-General, fills one with apprehension. It is an attempt to turn the United Nations Secretariat into a world power. And a deplorably reckless ambition it is.
How can we justify keeping out of a so-called world organisation one-fifth of the human race? How can we keep out Red China, which has broken no rules, while seventeen nations who have earned dismissal, under UNO's own rules, for failing to pay their subscriptions, remain in the United Nations organisation? It is said that China would be a disruptive influence. Is the United Nations not already full of disruptive influences, which 199 are rewarded with the greatest publicity? In any case, the richest country in the world to-day, West Germany, is not a member. I refer to West Germany as the richest country in the world because I believe that, per head of population, her currency reserves are more than that of any other country. The idea of the "One man, one vote" procedure is such manifest nonsense in the United Nations—one nation, one vote!—that it spreads a lack of confidence in it. A majority of the General Assembly can be made up of States that provide less than 3 per cent. of the money—and many of them do not even pay any. The extremists make considerable impact because of the noise they make. Then who will authorise the use of United Nations troops? Who will call them out?
The last chance, surely, for real and lasting arbitration in international affairs lies in dispensing with the services of the United Nations, except in purely technical matters, where admittedly their work has been often very good. Regional organisations, such as used to take on this job of trying to maintain the peace—the Organisation of American States, the British Commonwealth, the Common Market and so on—are far more likely to have success. The United Nations was conceived in the false notion that the world was moving along well-ordered paths to natural brotherhood, democracy and the rule of law. The uncomfortable truth is that there is less genuine democracy today than there was in 1914. Of the 120 independent States, 60 are one-party dictatorships, and more than half the population of the globe live under authoritarian Governments.
Then, my Lords, what is the point of an assembly of minor representatives engaged in permanent squabbles, while real power lies outside of them? The would-be makers of policies are not those who have to pay the political price for their implementation; nor are they those who have the means to carry them out. There is a point in relation to the policy adopted by General de Gaulle in France over the Common Market countries, a point which Moscow and Paris tried to establish through last year's climax on the "financial crises" in the United Nations: they believe that world policing, and taxation for it, must remain in the hands of the 200 big Powers of the United Nations Security Council. The French initiative may be motivated, it is true, by the same caution towards a supranationalist Civil Service that has caused Gaullist attacks on the Eurocrats of the Common Market. No great Power can be forced into making what are called voluntary payments to the United Nations.
In conclusion, any attempt to arm and build up the United Nations Organisation into a World Power will be the greatest menace to world peace that we have ever invented. It is surely far better to keep the United Nations out of politics and confine its activities to technical matters: health, education, communications, exploitation of natural resources for the common good, fisheries, meteorology and such things. For Heaven's sake! let us see to it that the United Nations is not given any more power to do damage by interfering in contentious political matters.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, I seem to have lost my military friends and shall have to operate alone, but as an ex-submariner I am used to that, and in some ways I prefer it. I am glad that it has fallen to my lot to speak to-day, because, like the noble Lord, Lord Royle, I remember that to-day is November 11 and the 47th anniversary of Armistice Day, 1918. Like him, I have vivid recollections of that day, though they are different from his. My Armistice Day was spent at the Submarine Depôt at Harwich with the 9th Submarine Flotilla and I well remember the jollifications at having fought and won a war, which we were shortly afterwards told was the war to end all wars, though it has not quite worked out that way.
I remember even better, within the following week, receiving some 130 U-boats which came in to surrender. I took over eight of them with my prize crew. Your Lordships will remember that those U-boats were the remnants of the force which nearly brought us to our knees in 1917 by severing our Atlantic lifeline, and they were the forerunners of the larger force which nearly achieved the same thing in 1942. Twice in my lifetime we have nearly lost what has come to be called the Battle of the Atlantic. Small wonder, therefore, that my friends and I 201 take a close interest in our Defence preparations, particularly those in the submarine sphere, since it is well known that the Russians have over 400 sea-going submarines. I think the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who spoke from the Liberal Benches earlier, overlooked this fact in the remarks he had to make about our presence in the Indian Ocean. I do not in this debate, and at this hour of the night, want to go into a lot of detail, and I will confine myself to saying that the Russian submarine force is clearly large enough to operate, not only in the Atlantic, but in all the oceans of the world.
Another reason why I am glad to speak on Defence to-day is that two days ago was the 25th anniversary of the Fleet Air Arm attack on the Italian battle fleet at Taranto. There, in their outdated and ill-equipped Swordfish aircraft—generally referred to as "string-bags" they well and truly started the rot in the Italian fleet which culminated in that famous signal from ABC—better known in this House as Lord Cunningham of Hyndhope, Admiral of the Fleet—to the Secretary of the Admiralty:Be pleased to inform their Lordships that the Italian battle fleet now lies at anchor under the guns of the Fortress of Malta.Now it is sad to think that there are no longer any Lords of the Admiralty and such a grand signal could not be sent.
Mention of Malta brings me to a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on the subject of bases. I was not quite quick enough in intervening in the noble Lord's speech. He rather accused my Party of changing their view about bases. I do not know about my Party, but in self-defence I must remind your Lordships that again and again in Defence debates I have emphasised what I have described as the diminishing base factor, and the need for proper provision of Fleet support, or what some of us old-fashioned ones call the Fleet train. The last time I spoke on Defence, I briefly referred to this question of bases, and I said that I thought that Malta might be a better bet than Cyprus.
To come now to the gracious Speech, I do not find many references there to this all-important question of Defence, with the notable exception of a measure to reorganise the Army Reserve and the Auxiliary Forces. I listened with great attention to what the noble Lord, Lord 202 Shepherd, had to say on this matter, and I was particularly interested in his account of the grilling (if that is the right word) he was given by some Territorial soldiers when he visited them during September. I think the reason why he got a grilling, and the reason why there is so much disturbance and anxiety about the Territorial Forces, is the lack of proper public relations. I do not think the intention to reorganise the Territorial Army was put across in a very intelligent way. In industrial circles, as the noble Lord, Lord Champion, will know, we call this good or bad communications. I think there have been bad communications in this case.
I am not going to speak at length on the Territorial Army. The measure referred to in the gracious Speech will no doubt be debated in this House, and although I am a sailor, I may well intervene in that debate because I have had a long interest in the Territorial Forces, the Special Reserve and so on, as my father was a member of one of the units up to the day of his death. But I find it almost impossible to understand how such a measure could be produced until this famous Defence Review is complete. Nevertheless, although this measure is presumably in print somewhere, I hope it is not too late for the Government and their advisers to study what happened in North America a few days ago when this catastrophic power cut came. I read all the accounts of it I could, and no doubt there was chaos and confusion, which is naturally similar to what might happen in this country in the case of nuclear attack. I think it is greatly to the credit of the American authorities that, according to every account I have read, the National Guard, or the American equivalent of the Territorial Army, was on the job directing traffic, looking after the public, dealing with riots in gaols, and so on.
I also note that the gracious Speech states that the Government intend to work for a generally satisfactory organisation of the nuclear resources of the allies. This is not the time to probe into what is happening in the M.L.F. and A.N.F., although, as I said on the last occasion when I spoke, I devoutly hope that both have been sunk without trace. Nevertheless, I shall await the Government's proposals with interest and 203 anxiety, since the real problem is not so much the equipment and manning of these Forces, as the command structure. In fact, I asked a question in the last Defence debate about that very point, and did not receive an answer. But, whether you call the force M.L.F. or A.N.F., or whatever its equipment and manning is, this is really the million dollar question: what is the command structure?
My Lords, there are a number of other matters to which I should like to refer, but I refrain from doing so because I realise that until this Defence Review is complete one cannot get an answer. From what has been said, I think, unfortunately, that we shall not see this Review before February next, when no doubt we shall be able to debate it in depth and detail. But on rereading our debate yesterday, I see that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said (I heard him say it, but I have checked his actual words) that no one hoped for the Review debate more than he did, and perhaps it may come sooner. This long period of gestation is, however, causing a lot of speculation, anxiety and uncertainty, not only in this country but among our allies and in the Commonwealth.
My noble friend Lord Teynham mentioned some of the concern in the Fleet, and that the Ministry of Defence had had to send a signal to the Fleet trying to allay their alarm. But, like my noble friend, I read in my Sunday newspaper that aircraft carriers were out; that naval pilots and aircrew who might prove redundant would be offered jobs in the R.A.F. This, I admit, considerably shocked me last Sunday morning. But with the evening post the day before I received a little magazine to which I subscribe. It is called Navy News, and is published for the Fleet in Portsmouth—and most useful and interesting it is. In that publication, I found a full report of a speech which the right honourable gentleman the Minister of Defence for the Navy had made to the R.N.V.R. Officers' Club. Although I have not seen any reports of this speech in the National Press, it was fully reported in this publication which I have here.
He said:The new aircraft carrier programme was right in the centre of the stage of the Defence 204 Review. No decision has been made, but we are considering CVA 01 and CVA 02.I am very glad to hear it, though I wish we could get rid of these rotten Americanisms. The report went on to say that the Minister, "speaking deliberately", said:To end the speculation of the last few months, we are also considering, without commitment, whether a second-hand American carrier would improve our capability for a few years in the early 1970s. Second-hand carriers would do as stopgaps—they will not do as substitutes for new carriers.These sentiments are absolutely unexceptionable, so far as I am concerned. I find them in this little Naval newspaper, and not elsewhere.
The Minister made two further remarks in this speech which, with your Lordships' permission, I will quote. Referring to the Far East he said:By simply being there in these waters the Navy stops the war spreading. That was the great task our Armed Forces were performing in many parts of the world—not fighting wars, but preventing them.Finally, he said:Whatever Government was in power, the Navy was inevitably called upon to do too much with too little.My Lords, I could not agree more with that statement.
I was brought up in the firm belief that there was nothing that the Navy could not do. I still believe that the Navy can do anything, but it can do it better if it is given the proper tools; and that is what I ask this Government to do. I can only hope that, when the Defence Review finally appears, it will show that this Government are on the same wavelength as the right honourable gentleman the Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy.
During the time of the first two Socialist Governments after the recent war (such is my age now) I had many Service friends kinsmen, acquaintances, and even contemporaries, who were serving in the higher echelon of our Defence organisation. One and all told me that they had the highest possible opinion and the greatest regard for the Socialist Ministers in charge of the Defence Departments at that time. I fully accept what I have been told. I am too old to have any "buddies" or pals in the higher echelons of the Ministry of Defence to-day, but I can only hope and pray that they still have the 205 same feeling about their Socialist masters. I hope so, because I hope that our preparations for defence will be adequate. They have not always been so, and I distribute my criticisms on any Government in office, since I have been conscious of Governments, that any noble Lord cares to mention.
That brings me nearly to an end of what I have to say. I recently read a book called Spotlight on Singapore, which is a well written, personal story of the tragic capitulation of that fortress, largely due to inadequate preparations of one sort or another. The author of this work quoted some words which seem to me to be worth while and applicable to our present situation. Perhaps I could put it better by saying that they might be a useful warning to our present Government. The words were written, not by the author of this book, but by another writer on maritime matters. He said:Inadequate peacetime provision for wartime requirements is an inevitable symptom of democracy. It is the people themselves, subject to the hopeful, fumbling, imperfect workings of democracy, who are fully responsible for their own defence. They understandably and invariably demand security at the lowest possible cost. Yet it is these same people who, when the time comes, die bravely and unquestioningly in unescorted ships, in obsolete aircraft and behind outranged guns.My Lords, I hope and pray that when this Defence Review appears it will show that our young men, maybe our children, will have no chance of being asked to do what I have just read out. Therefore, I await the Defence Review with interest, but I cannot conceal that I shall study it with a very critical eye.
§ 7.56 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF AILSA
My Lords, I feel that before starting I should declare an interest, as I happen to be a serving officer in the Territorial Army. I, too, have to make an apology that, owing to the late hour, I do not think I shall be able to stay for the completion of this debate. I have to return North to-night to make arrangements for Remembrance Day on Sunday, to which earlier reference has been made.
I have the honour to command one of the many battalions whose services, are no longer required under this proposed reorganisation or, should I say, the disbandment of the Territorial Army. That, in fact, is the case—the Territorial Army 206 is to be disbanded, and the Army Emergency Reserve is to be reorganised. In my opinion, the word "reorganised" appears to have been used as a slight smokescreen under which the Government can do what they wish with the Reserve Army. I understand that the basis for the Government's thinking is that they feel there is no longer any need for a Home Defence Force as such. I feel that no real argument has so far been put forward to support this case. I would contend that it is very difficult to make out an adequate case. I say this because, in my opinion, no matter what form of attack may occur, whatever happens to this country, there will always be a need for organised and disciplined groups of persons ready and willing to do any task that may be required of them. I also add that the knowledge that these groups or persons exist may well have been in itself, and may well be in the future, a deterrent.
I understand that the Government, in making proposals, have taken note of some of the advice given to them by soldiers who are at the moment serving in the Army abroad. I would ask this question: are Her Majesty's Government sure that this advice is true? Are they not hearing what they would like to hear? I would also ask whether they know if these soldiers have had any experience in dealing with the voluntary forces. I wonder whether their thoughts are not engendered by the fact that at present they cannot control these forces—they can only train them and lead them in war. I must ask the Government whether they will think of this when considering what we have to do.
My final point (I do not wish to keep your Lordships long) is that there is an opinion going around that Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's officials within what I would term the "Ministry of No Defence", would not be at all sorry if the Territorial Army stopped to-morrow, and are not particularly keen that the suggested new reorganisation for the Army Emergency Reserve should work. I hope that it will be possible for Her Majesty's Government to deny this suggestion, and to do so with some conviction. Because meantime, I would remind your Lordships, some of us have to go on and keep these forces in being. We will do our best, but we look very 207 much for support from Her Majesty's Government, who in fact command us.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, you will be relieved to hear that I am not going to make a speech. I had intended to talk about Rhodesia, but since the events to-day I feel like one of the inhabitants of New York in the recent blackout, and I think it will be much better to keep quiet until the lights go up on Monday and I speak in that debate. As I am on my feet, I would record my very deep sympathy with the loyal subjects in Rhodesia that the negotiations have broken down.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I have not had the honour of addressing your Lordships for some time, but I want to reassure noble Lords who have had the fortitude to remain in the Chamber that I have no intention of trying to make up for lost time by addressing your Lordships at great length. There are several points which have been raised in this debate and which I should like to take up before Lord Walston comes to reply. I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, with great interest. I found myself in sympathy with him when he asked Her Majesty's Government to make a declaration of intent; and here I share the views of my noble friend, Lord Dundee, when he referred yesterday to the observation in the gracious Speech referring to the E.E.C. It goes so far, but in my view and in the view of many of my noble friends it does not go far enough. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Walston, will be able to tell us whether he feels that Her Majesty's Government can make a declaration which is somewhat more clear and definite than we had in the gracious Speech.
I should like to go back to the closing remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who wound up for Her Majesty's Government in the debate yesterday. He said that all that we considered in the question of Defence and of Foreign Affairs must depend upon our having a sound economy at home, and of course this is absolutely unexceptionable. We must all agree that this is so. On the whole, I have little criticism to make 208 about such parts of the gracious Speech as referred to Foreign Affairs and to our external relations, but, alas!, I have little confidence in the policy of Her Majesty's Government in relation to putting our financial position in a sound posture, and because of this I fear that many of the good intentions that Her Majesty's Govment may have will not be able to be carried out. This is a source of great sorrow to me, for I feel that progress is being made in the world and that we are edging slowly towards an era where peace may be achieved, if only because of the balance of terror to which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred. This balance of terror does exist.
I would refer again to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, as I see he is back in his place. He put certain interpretations on the remarks of my right honourable friend, Mr. Enoch Powell. I am certain that he had no intention whatsoever of putting a false interpretation on those words, but it may be that an emphasis was put on them by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, which was not intended by my right honourable friend. I would say to the noble Lord that I am with him and I am with Mr. Enoch Powell in the belief that it is necessary seriously to reconsider our whole defence position, and it is for this reason that we all await with such impatience the publication of the Defence Review.
Many noble Lords, far more qualified than I am, have spoken with great anxiety about the delay in the publication of this Report. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in a very able and restrained speech particularly referred to this. My noble friend, Lord Ampthill, and others have said that great harm is being done to the Armed Services by withholding this vital information. The noble Lord, Lord Shackle-ton, for whom I have the greatest regard, said absolutely honestly—and I know he meant this—that no one wished more than he did that this Report should see the light of day; and I feel that this is probably the view of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and other noble Lords on the Government side. I beg them to do all in their power to ensure that this Report is held up no longer. Perhaps at this late hour it is not the time to think of possible reasons why the Report has not seen the light of day, but it will not profit them 209 anything to hold it up longer. I beg them to use all the influence they have to see that it is published.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
If the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, will contain himself, may I say that I know this Report is complicated, and I am not suggesting that indecent speed should be indulged in, but I think we have waited long enough.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, the objection I was taking to the remarks of the noble Marquess was in connection with his use of the words "held up". They seemed to contain some implication that we were deliberately withholding the Report. This is not true. It is a complex report, is takes discussion and analysis, and it takes time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Of course I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has said, and it was not my intention to give a false impression.
My Lords, I am afraid it is going to be difficult for me not to have rather a jumbled speech—there have been 19 speakers—but I want to emphasise one or two of the observations which have been made by my noble friends on this side of the House, and to remind the noble Lord, Lord Walston, when he comes to reply, of certain questions which have been put to him because unfortunately, for reasons which have been explained, some of the people who put those questions are now absent. In the first place I would remind the noble Lord of the question put to him by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on what he considers to be the position of Her Majesty's Government in the nuclear sphere. I think this evening we should have some clarification from the noble Lord, Lord Walston, on that point. Also the noble Earl put the question, what exactly do Her Majesty's Government consider our NATO commitments to be? I would repeat a view which I share wholeheartedly with him, and that is that there should be no question of any reduction in our commitments to NATO unilaterally. They should be made only if it is thought wise by all concerned, and only then in agreement should this come about.
210 I should also like the noble Lord, Lord Walston, to apply his mind this evening to the question of arms being bought in such large quantities by the European Powers from the United States of America. I hope the noble Lord will be able to give us some assurance on this point. Is it the intention of the Government to continue this policy, or are the Government prepared to consider the proposal put by my noble friend that we should buy from the United States of America only in the proportion that she is prepared to buy from us? I should like very much to hear the views of Her Majesty's Government on this point. Also, there is the possibility of an increase in the size of the NATO Mobile Force. I think noble Lords on this side would be grateful if they could have some information on this subject also.
Still dealing with questions of Defence, several noble Lords of very considerable experience have spoken with very much concern about the proposals of the Government in connection with the Territorial Army. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, in his concluding remarks will be able to give us some indication that the Government are prepared to look at this problem again.
The noble Lord, Lord Royle, an old friend of mine in the Council of Europe, spoke on a line quite on his own. His speech interested me particularly; it was quite a different line from that of other interesting speeches. I wholeheartedly agree with him. At least the experience I had in the Council of Europe was very valuable indeed. This is an organisation which I think has been given insufficient attention in the Press of this country. It may have been perhaps through our own fault, because when we came back from the Council of Europe we did not speak sufficiently about it and try to convey to our colleagues in both Houses the importance of this organisation. It may be so. I hope this may be corrected.
As the right honourable gentleman, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, has said on so many occasions, this island of ours has too much experience and too much to give to contract out of its world wide responsibilities, and I am quite certain that it is not the intention of the Government that any such thing should happen. 211 The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked my noble friend Lord Jellicoe whether it was still the view of the Opposition that we should fulfil our obligations to Malaysia. He got a categorical, "Yes". Of course this is so, and I for one am glad that the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister has so faithfully carried out our duties and obligations in that part of the world—a very difficult problem, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd knows, and as I know too. I do not myself despair of the possibility of some reasonable solution in that part of the world. I believe we are buying time. I believe we must impress upon the people of Indonesia that they cannot succeed in their intention and we must hold fast here.
There is a great tragedy being enacted before our eyes in this part of the world. Indonesia is potentially one of the richest countries in that part of the world. If only it were properly administered and the natural wealth and resources could be developed, what a difference it would make! I know the feelings of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the intervention of the United States of America in Vietnam, and here, too, it is my view the Americans are buying time. It is not very difficult, if one looks at the map, to see what could be happening in this part of the world; on the one hand, the United States of America are holding a very serious situation in check, and, on the other hand, we with our allies are fulfilling the same duties, the same function, in Malaysia. I should like to say here, and put it on record, how pleased I was that the great Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand decided they were able to participate more fully in the activities in this part of the world. I have often felt that we have carried too much of the burden alone, and I think that at last perhaps it is being realised by the older members of the Commonwealth that they too must play their part.
Yesterday, in what was a very remarkable speech by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey—and although he is not here, I would pay my tribute to the great contribution I thought he made to the deliberations in your Lordships' House; we are very fortunate to have him with us with his great experience of O.E.E.C. 212 and O.E.C.D.—I was particularly glad that Japan was referred to as having joined this organisation. When one looks at the words in the gracious Speech one sees that it is the determination of Her Majesty's Government to co-operate with other industrial countries to help those countries less fortunate than they and ourselves.
In the time of Sir Alec Douglas-Home's Foreign Secretaryship a close association was set up between ourselves and the Japanese. I understand that this has continued. I sincerely hope that we shall continue to consult closely with them, for if we look at the map again (and one must have a proper Weltanschauung; it is no use looking at a little bit; one has to look at the whole thing), we can see that the emphasis of importance is going more and more into that side of the globe. And here I believe the Japanese have a considerable rôle to play; they are a great industrial people, hard-working, and will be able to assist in raising the standard of living of the peoples in that part of the world.
We come back all the time to the same thing. If in this country we are not able to re-establish our economic position we shall not be able to do any of the things we ought to be doing in the rest of the world. This is not a Party political matter; this is something in which we are all engaged together, and I, for one, most certainly do not denigrate the National Plan that Her Majesty's Government have produced. Alas! I have little or no faith in the economic ideas of Her Majesty's Government, because I feel that the ordinary feelings of human nature are so discounted. The incentives that man must have to work hard are often taken away; and this, it seems to me, is where we are going to fall down. If this country is going to be able to play its full part—and there is a great deal of good will in the country—men must be given sufficient encouragement to work hard, and must be able to save, to put away some money, and hand it on to their children.
To move to a rather lighter note (though I was not in the Chamber when the point was raised), I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, referred to the possibility of creating a Commonwealth University. This is something that 213 I have often thought about, and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has often thought about it; and I am glad to hear it was discussed this afternoon. It seems to me that this is clearly something to which perhaps Her Majesty's Government might give serious consideration. I understand that Lord Taylor's idea is that members of such a University would feel a special bond of Commonwealth: they would feel not only loyalty to their own country, but also loyalty to the Commonwealth University. They would be mixed up together, in very much the same way as Lord Royle and I were mixed up with European Parliamentarians. I think that it did us a world of good. I have no doubt that, if it could be brought into existence, a scheme of this nature might be most imaginative and helpful. I do not expect the noble Lord, Lord Walston, to be able to give an opinion on it to-day, but I hope that this suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, will be seriously considered.
I promised that I would not detain your Lordships long, and I have no intention of speaking any further. I would only say that we on this side of the House shall not oppose simply for the sake of opposing, but we shall watch the progress of Her Majesty's Government with great vigilance. Where we feel that Her Majesty's Government are going the right way, we shall support them and give our assistance and our counsel; but I warn Her Majesty's Government that there is much that causes grave disquiet, and where we are in disagreement we shall be active and strong in our opposition.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD WALSTON)
My Lords, this debate, a long debate, divides itself naturally into two sections: one dealing in general terms with defence, and one dealing in general terms with foreign policy. I think it would be most convenient if I were to deal in that order with the points that have been raised during these last hours, and I will do my best to answer the specific questions that have been put to me. Your Lordships will forgive me if I omit some of them—some perhaps because the time is getting late, some perhaps because of 214 my own faulty memory or inability to read properly my notes. I must confess that I am not assisted in answering them by the natural and excusable absence of so many of the people who have asked these questions because they will not be here to prompt me and remind me of what I have left out, though I must thank the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, for his valuable recapitulation of some of the more important questions which have been put to me.
It seems to me that everybody agrees that we were right to have a Defence Review. Where we are being criticised is that that Review has taken too long to produce. Where we have almost been criticised—tentatively criticised, shall I say?—in advance, is that maybe that Review will be too narrow. I have forgotten which noble Lord it was who said, quite rightly and properly, that the Defence Review must not be purely a review of military commitments but must be a review embracing our whole position in the world, the whole of our foreign policy, our Commonwealth policy, our overseas aid policy and all the rest of it. That is absolutely right, and that is the reason why it is taking such a long time to do this.
I freely admit that it would have been better if such a Review, in a depth of that kind, had been carried out by previous Administrations. Then possibly we should not have got into some of the anomalies that we have got into at the present time. But we strongly believe that it is far better, in a matter as vital as this, that we should conduct this Review properly, balancing up all these enormously complex and conflicting aspects of the problem, and should come out in the end, whether noble Lords opposite or noble Lords behind me agree with it or not, at least with what is a well-thought-out and substantiated Review, than that we should quickly rush off in a matter of a few months ideas which are going to affect the security and welfare of this country for generations to come. So I make no apology for the length of time that this Review is taking and, without anticipating too much, I make no apology for the quality of the Review when it eventually appears, which I hope will be early in the new year.
The other general criticism that seems to me to have been made is that we are 215 spending too little money on Defence, and that there are so many things that we ought to be doing; and many noble Lords with their own particular knowledge and expertise have pointed to the things which we are neglecting to do. But, as the noble Marquess so rightly said, the crux of the whole matter is our own national economy. As noble Lords pointed out yesterday, and as they will point out in the course of debates to come, we must have money for our own national economic development.
We have been taken to task for cutting down on the road programme. We have been taken to task for cutting down on the education programme. We have been taken to task for cutting down on the housing programme. All the way through there are many people, in all parts of the House, who will criticise us for cutting down on domestic affairs, or on their own particular matters in which they have great interest—and a most objective interest, too. But it is not possible to do all that is wanted by the users of roads; by those who believe that we must have education in order to survive; by those who believe that the way to peace is by helping the underdeveloped countries, as the noble Duke so rightly said; and by those who believe that we must have a strong Defence Force, and, on top of all that, as the noble Marquess said, give greater incentives to production.
His doubts on the success of our economic policies were based on the fact that we were not giving sufficient incentives, by which I take it he meant that taxation was too high—I see that the noble Marquess nods assent. How is it going to be possible for us, if we are realistic about this, and if we are honest about it, to go ahead with an expanding Defence programme, an expanding domestic programme, and, at the same time, reduce taxation at home? It does not add up. The fault of the previous Administration was that it allowed itself to get into that situation, and that is why we have had, in regard to Defence and so many other ways, to take this drastic action.
Although I agreed with many of the things in the noble Marquess's speech, I cannot share with him his apparent low opinion of the people of this country. According to him, they cannot work 216 either for the good of the country or for the good of the community in which they live; for the society in which they live or the ideals in which they believe. Apparently, according to his doctrine, they can work only if they are bribed with money to work. I have greater confidence in the people of this country than he has.
I turn now to some of the questions which have been asked. In the nuclear sphere what are our intentions? These will be debated at greater length, of course, in the course of a week or so. But our intentions are quite simple. We believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is dangerous to the peace of the world, and therefore we are bending all our efforts—my noble friend Lord Chalfont, in particular, is devoting all his time to this at the present time—to getting agreement on a non-dissemination treaty. At the same time, we believe, as a responsible member of NATO, that in NATO there must be not a dissemination of new weapons but, given suitable safeguards, a proper sharing of the nuclear potential of NATO, so that it continues to develop into a genuine defence organisation rather than just a series of alliances.
There are difficult and conflicting points of view about that, not so much in this country but, as has been pointed out, in particular between some of our NATO allies, on the one side, and the Soviet Union, on the other. What we wish to do is clear. I still hope that we shall be able to persuade the Soviet Union that any suggestions which we put forward, such as A.N.F., for the greater knitting together of NATO in no way run counter to our views about dissemination and our desire to prevent dissemination, not only in Europe but among all the other countries of the world which are on the threshold of producing nuclear devices, however primitive (if that is the right word to use) they may be when set against the standard of the advanced countries.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, am I to understand from what the noble Lord has said that the Government are still in favour of the A.N.F.?
§ LORD WALSTON
We are in favour of the A.N.F. and we have always been in favour of it. We have made this perfectly clear. We do not believe that 217 the A.N.F. is the one and only answer to the problem. Other suggestions have been put forward, such as Mr. McNamara's suggestion of his Committee, the original M.L.F. suggestion. All we are saying is that we consider that the A.N.F. at the present stage will combine our two objectives in the most efficient and desirable way, but if others come up with more efficient ways and can persuade us they are so, if they are things which gain acceptance and which do not run counter to our own overall views, then we would not say "A.N.F. is ours. We will stick to it and will not move to anything else." We still believe that A.N.F. in the context of to-day is the best solution which has been put forward.
The second question concerns our NATO commitments. I say very firmly, without any hedging at all, that we will embark on no unilateral reductions in our NATO commitments. On anything we propose to do we shall consult with our other NATO allies and will undertake it only after the fullest possible consultation and, we hope, agreement with all of them.
The third question related to arms from the United States, a point which was first put forward by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. It was suggested that we should buy from the United States arms in proportion to the arms that they buy from us. Of course, we should like to be in a position where we are able to produce within Europe as a whole—not in this country alone, because we know we cannot do that—a large part of the armaments we require. We are working towards that in collaboration with the French, the Italians and the Germans in various forms of production, both civilian and military. But if the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, gives serious thought to his suggestion, I do not think he would stand by it for very long. What in fact he is suggesting is that we should put ourselves in a position of denying to our own troops the most efficient weapons, possibly sending them out to fight a battle with weapons which are known to be inferior and are accepted to be inferior, slower, older, more costly, and therefore with fewer of them. He himself specifically mentioned possible late delivery dates. His words were, "even though the price, performance and delivery dates are less favourable". That would entail 218 sending our men out to fight battles not only with more expensive weapons but with weapons of lower performance and weapons which are obsolete because delivery dates of the new ones are too slow. That no Government could possibly do.
§ LORD WALSTON
I am perfectly prepared to accept that in certain cases our own Armed Forces do not to-day have the best or the most efficient weapons. I think that is absolutely true. I do not want to embark on a Party political wrangle here or to suggest what are the underlying causes of that position. I am now dealing with the future, and I am saying that to the best of our ability we will ensure that in this country and in Europe we produce efficient weapons. But we shall not jeopardise the efficiency or safety of our own soldiers, sailors and airmen by tying ourselves, as the noble Earl suggested, to buying weapons of inferior quality.
THE MARQUESS OF AILSA
My Lords, I do not like to interrupt the noble Lord again, but is there any guarantee that weapons bought from the United States are any better than those produced in Europe?
§ LORD WALSTON
We must be guided in this matter by the experts with their knowledge; and we have undertaken, and we will undertake, so far as it is possible for us to do so, to get the most efficient weapons as advised by our experts. I can go no further than that.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, when we realise, from what happened in the United States the day before yesterday, how vulnerable a very large country like that is if an emergency should happen, is there not a danger in the fact that we should be entirely dependent on them for our own arms?
§ LORD WALSTON
There is, of course, a very grave danger if we become entirely reliant on any single supplier for anything. But we have no intention whatever of doing that. That is why we are now trying, rather late in the day—though we did it as soon as we had the chance—to build up collaboration with other European countries which are advanced in these matters, so that we have a large 219 part of our armaments manufactured in this country, some manufactured among our NATO Allies and some coming from across the Atlantic. There is no suggestion that we shall buy everything from across the Atlantic. I am saying that I cannot tie myself to say that we can buy from the Americans only in proportion to what they buy from us.
On the question of the NATO mobile force, I am very glad that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, raised this point. I can assure him and other noble Lords that we fully appreciate the importance of this concept. We ourselves at the moment provide a land and air contribution to the force. The overall size of the force depends on a number of factors, including the requirement for defence of the flanks in the priorities established by Governments for the deployment of their forces committed to NATO. But the size and type of the force is kept under constant review, and we give our fullest support, in our capacity as a member of NATO, to the concept of the mobile force.
The final major question of which the noble Marquess reminded me is a question raised by many noble Lords, that of the future of the Territorial Army. There I cannot do very much more than to ask your Lordships to await the publication of the White Paper which will be appearing shortly. The whole question of the reorganisation of the Reserve Army, including the Territorial Army, as your Lordships know, was announced by the Secretary for Defence in another place in July. When the Review has been completed and the White Paper appears, I hope that some of the fears which have been expressed by noble Lords will be allayed; though I cannot by any means promise that, at the end of the day, all of them will go away satisfied.
Again, the specific questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, on the future of the aircraft carriers, are something which will have to await the Defence Review. How much we shall rely on aircraft carriers, how much we shall rely on bases, where those should be and all the rest of it, are very integral parts of the Defence Review and can be dealt with properly only when that matter is discussed. I hope that I have dealt with the 220 majority of the questions that have come up under Defence.
THE MARQUESS OF AILSA
My Lords, I do not like to interrupt once again, but I asked whether Her Majesty's Government wished the Territorial Army to remain in being in the meantime. May I have an answer, please?
§ LORD WALSTON
Most certainly. I think now, even though I may have missed some of the questions which have been asked, that it would be advisable to move on to the Foreign Affairs side of this debate.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, before the noble Lord moves to Foreign Affairs, I wonder whether I may ask him to clear up one point. He said a moment ago that the White Paper on the Territorial Army would be appearing shortly. A little earlier in his speech he said that the whole Defence Review would appear early in the New Year. Does that mean that we shall be expected to approve the proposals for the Territorial Army before we have the whole Defence picture?
§ LORD WALSTON
Certainly there will be an opportunity for discussing the White Paper and to approve or disapprove it before the whole Defence White Paper comes out.
THE MARQUESS OF AILSA
My Lords, I am sorry to keep interrupting, but I asked a question just now to which I got the answer "Most certainly." I waited for an answer but I have not had it, so I take it that the answer is in the negative.
THE MARQUESS OF AILSA
Would Her Majesty's Government say so outright, and not just give the answer "Yes", which might be the answer to anything?
§ LORD WALSTON
I have always been led to believe that the clearest and most concise answer that can be given to any question is a "Yes" or a "No". I gave the noble Marquess a "Yes" answer and I do not think I can amplify that. I can circumlocute it if the noble Marquess would like that, but it would take 221 a great deal more time. I must say that it is sometimes rather rare to get a straight "Yes" or "No" in answer to a question of that sort.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, in fact the noble Lord did not give the noble Marquess a straight answer. The noble Marquess said, "Are you going to give me an answer?", to which the noble Lord replied, "Certainly".
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I understood that the question of the noble Marquess was whether the Territorial Army should continue in being, and my answer was "Yes". There was no desire at all on my part to prevaricate.
THE MARQUESS OF AILSA
My Lords, certainly I accept the noble Lord's explanation most willingly. But as I have already explained, there are some of us with the job of keeping the Territorial Army in being at the present moment, and something more specific would have made our job a little easier.
§ LORD WALSTON
Now, my Lords, perhaps I may turn to Foreign Affairs. I should like to start by congratulating in his absence the noble Duke for what I thought was an admirable, thoughtful, constructive and helpful speech. Naturally, there were one or two points to which I took exception, but I shall not labour them. He spoke very movingly on the importance of bridging the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots", and once more made us realise that you cannot have a successful foreign policy, you cannot have a peaceful world, so long as this gap continues to grow, as we must confess it is at the present time. I can assure the noble Duke that we are at one with him in giving all the help we can to the permanent organisation in Geneva set up as a result of the UNCTAD Conference last year; and we certainly appreciate the part which was played by the present Leader of the Opposition in getting that going. I also agreed with the noble Duke very much on the importance of preventing what he described as the disastrous collapse of primary producer prices, particularly in the developing countries; and there we shall take such initiatives as we can to remedy that situation.
Let me now, as rapidly as I can, go quickly round the world, not stopping 222 very long in the different places, and starting in the Far East. I endorse the attitude of the noble Marquess when he talks of Japan—a great country, a country which is developing at an enormous pace and is, I am glad to say, coming into the world picture in a way which is most valuable. We have had many contacts recently with Japan. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State was over there not long ago, we had a visit from Prince and Princess Hitachi and our own Princess Alexandra was over there; and in many other ways we are building up a relationship with Japan which I believe will be of value, not only to us and to Japan but to the whole of the world.
Then there is all of South-East Asia—Vietnam, Indonesia—potentially rich countries where, as the noble Marquess said, with the Americans we are, in his words, trying to buy time. But we are also trying to prevent, and succeeding in preventing, the engulfment of these new countries by a greater neighbouring Power. Although I know there are many who accuse us and the United States of aggressive intent in these actions, I would ask them if one can really support the accusation of aggression when two considerable military Powers confine their activities—as the United States does with small exceptions, and as we do with no exceptions at all—simply to repelling attacks, instead of going out, as could so easily be done with the overwhelming force available to them, compared with the opposition's, to attack those who are attacking our friends and allies. I think that that alone should give the lie to those who accuse us of any aggressive intent in that part of the world.
I should like to pay tribute to the Commonwealth contribution which is being made to the forces in Malaysia, from New Zealand, from Australia, and from Fiji also, who are helping with fellow members of the Commonwealth in this struggle against the confrontation from their large and potentially very rich neighbour, which is not satisfied with developing its own riches but appears to be driven on to this senseless confrontation.
Then there is the sad story of the subcontinent, mentioned only by my noble friend Lord Attlee. It has been one of the great tragedies of the past months 223 that two fellow members of the Commonwealth, two great countries, India and Pakistan, who have in the past years made such progress—economic progress and social progress—and with whom we have so many close ties, should now or in recent weeks have been killing each other. We have done and are doing all that we can as a friend of both of them, as fellow members of the Commonwealth, through the United Nations, to prevent this. A cease-fire has been agreed upon and is—within limits—being observed. We shall continue in that way to work for a solution of this very thorny problem, which in the long run can only be arrived at with good will on the part both of India and of Pakistan; with a realisation of their own greatness and a realisation of their own responsibilities, one to another.
Then there is Africa, and I should like to agree with at least one point made by my noble friend Lord Chorley, although he did not speak of it in the context of Africa; that is, the importance of nationalism in so many new countries. It is a driving force among them, and it is right and proper that it should be. It is something which we have ourselves. We have it so much inside of us that we sometimes cease to realise it. If you look back to the history of Europe, you will realise what an influence it had in creating, first of all, the Principalities and the Duchies. Then the countries, as they got larger and larger, began to develop their national pride. That is a right and proper stage of evolution. But what we do not want to have, at the same time as that nationalism and that sense of patriotism among the citizens of these new, emerging countries, is economic nationalism, because we know that that cannot lead to economic progress. What we want is the greatest amount of economic spreading of resources, of expertise, of technical "know-how" and of capital, in such a way that it is going to benefit not simply one small country, or even a large country, but the whole area, possibly the whole continent.
Here I should like to pay a sincere tribute to the work of the Economic Commission for Africa and to their great Secretary General, Mr. Robert Gardiner, at the successful conference which was held only a few days ago in Zambia. We think of that part of the world now 224 with sorrow and with despondency, but what came out of Zambia, through that conference only last week, is of very great portent for the future of Africa, and will possibly have, as I hope it will, a greater effect on Africa than some of the events which have been taking place there in the last twenty-four hours.
I should like at this stage to break off in my tour around the world to mention the suggestion by my noble friend Lord Taylor of a Commonwealth University—an admirable plan, in my view. As he so rightly said, it must be a Commonwealth initiative, and not one coming solely from this country. So I would suggest to him that he should put his plan forward to the new Commonwealth Secretariat, and I will certainly ask my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will consider this idea very sympathetically.
There was also the moving and admirable speech of my noble friend Lord Royle. He spoke of so many things which were important, including the Council of Europe—something which is not understood enough, not talked about enough. He also said (and I think this was the most important point he made) that so often in developing countries is progress hampered by internal religious and racial dissension. That, my Lords, is very true, not only in developing countries, but in other countries also; and we must attempt by our example, wherever we can achieve it, to show that multiracial societies and societies of all types of religion can and do exist. And they do, my Lords. I know many people turn a blind eye to them, but think of Trinidad, think of Jamaica, think of Kenya to-day, think of Zambia or of some of the High Commission Territories—Swaziland, for example—where you get multiracial societies, some well developed, some still struggling. It is the same in some foreign countries, too. Brazil is another example of it. These things can be done. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, is not in his place at the moment, because I think he should ponder on those problems when he talks of Rhodesia and of the tragedy which is going on there, and should realise that this is not a matter which affects only Rhodesia and the United Kingdom but is a matter which affects all 225 the countries of that part of the world which are trying with some success to produce a multiracial society.
My Lords, let me now deal solely with Europe as my final point. There are so many parts of Europe, of course, but I should like to make special mention of Germany at the present time. Other noble Lords have already reminded us that to-day is November 11. I think that we must—and now I believe we all do—accept the fact that the dark nightmare period from 1914 until 1945 is behind us, and that what happened then is something that should never enter our attitudes when we are discussing the future of Europe. Germany has a long history of alliance with ourselves, going back into the past centuries, and it has, I am sure—and we have with it—a long future of alliance. I am happy that the very successful visit of Her Majesty to Germany is being followed up in so many good and productive ways. We are looking forward to welcoming Dr. Schroeder, the German Foreign Minister, on his future visit to this country, which I hope will be the first of many.
I come now to a point which is so close to the heart of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and many other noble Lords, on both sides of the House. It has often been said that we are part of Europe, but I do not think that it can 226 be said too often. More than that, we are a major European Power, and we have been for many centuries. I can assure your Lordships that we shall continue to play our full part in Europe in our various rôles as the senior member of the Commonwealth, as a member of NATO and of EFTA and, I sincerely hope, before not too long, as a member, in company with our EFTA partners, of a still wider European Market.
My final assurance to your Lordships is that, whatever we do with our Defence Review, whatever economies are forced upon us, we will never contract out of our world-wide responsibilities. We will ensure that the money we spend on Defence, which will be the maximum we can possibly squeeze from the other essential requirements of our economy, will be well spent, and will be spent in those areas where it will make the maximum impact on the maintenance of peace and on the spreading of Western ideals.
§ LORD DENHAM
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Derwent, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at two minutes before nine o'clock.