§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ VISCOUNT HEAD
My Lords, I must at the outset thank the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, for his welcoming remarks. I can assure him that when a few days ago I was introduced to your Lordships' House I was very conscious of the fact that I was nearly six years late, and, as he said, that was due to no discourtesy but to the fact that for almost all of that time I was abroad. That is why I stand before your Lordships to-day as a somewhat elderly "maiden" giving a somewhat overdue delivery, and I hope that your Lordships will afford to me the consideration usually afforded to people in that condition.
The subject to which I should like to direct my remarks is that of South-East Asia, and I am well aware it is one which is controversial, volatile and complex. I would say at the start, in view of my recent Government service, that these remarks constitute my own views and not Governmental views. At the same time, I would add that, of course, they are not necessarily in direct conflict with or against the Government's views. After 169 which rather ambivalent disclaimer, your Lordships may think that I have picked up a trick or two from the Foreign Service with which I had the honour of serving during the last six years. But it would be quite wrong, if it were thought that I spoke with any Governmental authority whatever.
I do not wish to direct my remarks so much to the present situation as to something which I believe to be of immense importance in South-East Asia—namely, some definition of what our aim is, of what we are trying to achieve in South-East Asia and what our long-term policy should be to bring about that aim. When I say "we", I refer to the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, because in my opinion there is no such thing as a purely independent British policy. And when I mention these four countries, I hope that before long Japan, too, will share in some of these responsibilities.
When I say that we should have a long-term policy, I think that it is very difficult to go further than, say, the next decade. I think it is a fact that we are fairly vague about what our long-term policy is and what exactly we are doing and trying to do in South-East Asia. It may be said that in the middle of two wars in that area it is difficult to evolve a long-term policy, but I would reply that the British are by nature empirical and like pursuing ad hoc policies, and I believe that the United States do, too. The effects of wars, terrible though they are, are transitory compared to the effects of the decisions and policies pursued after them. My fear, frankly, is that in the Far East, without any coherent long-term policy agreed between the United States and ourselves, we shall be led to a series of empirical decisions, brought about by the political and military situation, which will end us up in a position far from that which we should have aimed at if we had to-day a coherent policy that we could follow. I fear that because I found that in America when I talked to some people I felt rather as though I were a man who had gone to Paris in 1917 to talk about the Versailles Treaty; and, as was the case with the Versailles Treaty, unless we are aware of what we are trying to do, we may get into serious trouble. Furthermore, I consider that a long-term policy of the 170 kind which I believe we ought to have could do much to reassure the people of South-East Asia and also China; it would do much to disarm our critics at home and the critics of America in America; it would give us something to aim at and it might well ensure that through empirical decisions we do not get entangled in further difficulties in that area.
Your Lordships may well be saying: What should such a policy be? But before I suggest what it might be, I think it is necessary briefly to examine the problem which confronts us in South-East Asia and also touch on the attitude of the people who live there and the attitude of China. Although it may seem obvious, I would suggest that the present problem has been brought about by the coincidence of two sets of circumstances. The first is the end of colonialism in an area where practically every country was colonised; the second is the growing military and economic power of mainland Communist China. These two circumstances, coming together, have brought about a highly volatile and potentially dangerous situation.
There are those people who say, "Let the people of South-East Asia sort out their own affairs or stew in their own juice. We have given them independence. What more do they want?" We must realise that a great many of the difficulties of the people of South-East Asia are a direct consequence of colonialism. I do not want here to give judgment on colonialism, which did much good, but it has left consequences behind it. We deplore, for instance, the economic mess and bad Government in Indonesia, but when the Dutch ruled Indonesia they had no intention of departing. They made no preparations, they trained no bureaucracy, they had no administration of the locals and nobody had any practice in the art of government. The Dutch thought that they would be there for ever, and when they departed suddenly, through no fault of their own, Indonesia was left with nothing. Another example is the border of Borneo, which has given us trouble and will, I fear, give us more trouble. It is a purely arbitrary line, drawn without reference to ethnic or geographical considerations, between us and the Dutch for convenience of colonial administration in the island of Borneo.
171 In Malaya, what is to-day the main trouble?—racial tension, strain and difficulties between the Malays and the Chinese. Why?—because of the massive immigration of Chinese, sponsored by the British, not unnaturally, with the growth of the tin and rubber industries. The departure of the colonial Powers recently has left in South-East Asia a vacuum of power which is dangerous, though it has been filled to some extent. Therefore, I would say that a part of the troubles of South-East Asia, so far as we are concerned, is unfinished business. I think that with our record in the past and our traditions, at the end of colonialism to fold our tents and depart and leave a mess to look after itself is not a very honourable rôle.
What do the people who live in South-East Asia think about the present situation? It is very misleading to talk about the man in the street in South-East Asia, because the vast majority of people want only peace, some reasonable standard of Governmental stability and the ability to cultivate their paddy and their fields. But there is a minority of thinking Asians, some of whom are highly intelligent—the more long-headed politicians, some journalists, intellectuals, university professors, doctors, lawyers, men of property and so forth. They are watching the present situation closely and keenly. If any noble Lords have the opinion that we should clear out, I can assure them that the very last thing which those whom I would term leaders of opinion and thought in South-East Asia want is that the United States and Britain should depart.
They are watching carefully, because they wish to know where the future is. They know on which side their bread is buttered, in so far as that in Asia it is a had thing to be on bad terms with the side who is obviously going to become the boss. If the West disappear, I suggest that there will be a dramatic change. They will not go Communist overnight, but, squatting on the fence, as they do, the Left leg will go down six inches, and insurance policies with Peking will be taken out all over Asia. That will brim about a dramatic chance. Almost all these people want the West to stay.
Their idea of their own best future is that some balance, some equilibrium, of military and other power between China 172 and the West should be established, and that inside that balance, they can govern themselves, not as we want them to, not as China wants them to, but exactly as they themselves want. The establishment of such a balance is their best hope. That is what they hope for, and in my humble opinion that is what we should aim for. Nobody can think to-day that we can coerce an independent country to govern itself in the way we want it to by the long-term deployment of military force on its soil. I believe that that is a hopeless and doomed approach.
What do the people of China think? I hope that I am not being discourteous in any way to the Foreign Office, or to the noble Lord who represents it in your Lordships' House, if I say that we know remarkably little about what China thinks; and, unfortunately, I am afraid that China knows remarkably little of what we think. The more we get to know China, the more China gets to know us; the more people go to China and the more Chinese come here, the better for all of us—because any policy should gradually aim towards a situation in which we can live in the world with China without wars or rows. The sooner China can cone to the United Nations, and the United States can find a way of recognising China the better. Only then, I feel, shall we be able to make a real start.
But that apart, China is very xenophobic and I think that she has some justification for being xenophobic. There are a great many arguments for the good that colonialism did, but it would need a first-rate apologist to make a case for the exploitation of China by the European Powers at the time of the concessions, when the Russians, Americans, British, Belgians and French gave them loans, "bagged" their railways and carried out some of the hottest transactions that have ever been practised in any so-called independent country in the world. I suggest that if similar treatment had been afforded to ourselves we should have said: "Watch out for those sharks." There is much uphill work to be done before, leaving out ideologies, we can overcome the feelings and fears on the part of China to the Powers which behaved in that way.
But what is the attitude of China? It seems to me (I think this has been 173 said already by a noble Lord) that there are, broadly speaking, two schools of thought. There are those who say that China has enormous problems on her hands and great difficulties. She has the whole of this vast agricultural problem, and she is attempting to industrialise herself. The Chinese are a patient people. China will concentrate on her own affairs, and provided that the situation is reasonably stable she will let things gradually develop; and at the moment she feels that they are, on the whole, developing satisfactorily. Therefore she will not adopt an aggressive attitude and will not risk war. There are others who say that China views South-East Asia as part of her legitimate sphere of influence and wishes to dominate it; that she will not stop even at conventional war if necessary, and that China must be regarded as a really tough, aggressive nation. I would say, in parenthesis, to those who are of this latter opinion that, purely from the point of view of her own self-interest, China is now in a state of incubation, in that she wants to have an atomic capability. This project will for some years be vulnerable to attack by conventional high explosive from the air, and that seems to me, to put it at the lowest, to be a good reason for China's avoiding, out of self-interest, a conventional war in the next few years. However, I leave it at that.
There are two possible attitudes to take about China and although one must take precautions and be prepared for the worst, I suggest to your Lordships, and particularly to the United States, that the best policy to assume in your attitude and dealings with China is the most hopeful one that she will not be aggressive. But if you treat her and expect her to behave like a ravening beast, surely your chances of attaining the long-term object of living with China must be greatly reduced. The situation in Vietnam will not go on for ever. The trees do not grow up to the sky. I was Secretary of State for War when the Mau Mau troubles, and the troubles in Malaya and Cyprus, were going on, and there were periods when people said, "This will go on for ever; it will never stop. Something must be done". But these things do stop. I believe that confrontation will stop; and I hope that it will stop fairly soon.
174 When it stops what do we do? What is our aim? Again, there are various schools of thought about this, but so far as I know there are no agreed ones. As the noble Earl, the Leader of the House has said, there are those who say, "Get out and go. It is none of our business. Let the situation sort itself out." Some noble Lords have already produced strong arguments about this, but I would add this one. If we and the Americans went, there would be a general reorientation towards Peking. There would be a lack of desire right throughout South-East Asia to resist what I would call the impulses of power from Peking.
But another and, as I think, the most serious of all consequences of this would be the reaction in India and Russia, which I feel would be extremely frightening, in the sense that you would create great tension. And I should not be surprised if, a few years after we and the United States had left South-East Asia we were not deploying in India just as large forces as we should have deployed to create a balance in South-East Asia, but a long way further back. I believe that it would be a disastrous course, and I therefore reject it.
There is another school of thought—and there are many in Australia and in America, and some here, who think this way. They say: "We must contain China. We must have strategic forces deployed strategically in the area. We must stay in Singapore, whether we are wanted or not. We must protect the Straits of Malacca and it is rubbish to talk about going. These people cannot kick us out and we will and must stay." There are people in the Pentagon who say, "We have now nearly constructed the biggest base in Asia at Cam Ran Bay which has grown up like a vast mushroom. To go is strategic nonsense. Why should we go? These people cannot kick us out."
That is what I would call the tough, "dig-in" policy. I do not think that at a time twenty years since the last war it makes sense to say that, willy-nilly, you are going by force to remain on the soil of an independent Asian country that does not want you. I think that such a policy would end in tears. Furthermore, the longer you stay when you are not welcome, the greater the prospect of 175 getting involved in local revolutions and so on, and of finding yourselves being called on, possibly by an existing but rather out-of-date and autocratic régime, to put down a rather more liberal progressive régime; and once again you find yourselves killing one lot of Asians on behalf of another lot of Asians. This is about as undesirable a position to be in as one could conceive. Therefore I do not really see any future in the tough, "dig-in" policy.
By now, my Lords, I dare say you are saying: "What does the fellow want? He first of all says that we must not go, and then he says that we cannot stay". Well, my Lords, I do say that as long as we are wanted, and wanted in the right way, we should stay. But it is quite easy to think of circumstances arising, and sooner than we anticipate, in which we should not be wanted. What are we going to do in anticipation of that situation? As I said before, the people of South-East Asia want to exist between a balance of power, and I believe that a credible deployment of military power which would reassure those who wish to remain genuinely independent and unaligned in South-East Asia could be created without any troops on Asian soil except one.
I believe that if there were a deployment of power based on Okinawa, North or Western Australia and Diego Garcia, such a force would act as a credible military reassurance to the people of South-East Asia, in that Western power was there and fully balanced mainland China. With the sea-keeping qualities of modern Fleets, the Seventh Fleet (perhaps I should not say how long it can stay at sea) can stay at sea for a very long time. With the range and lift of modern aircraft, and with the mobility of soldiers, I believe that we could create a credible deterrent, with the United States in Okinawa, with Australia, us and New Zealand in an Australian base, and with us and perhaps some Americans in Diego Garcia. One cannot foretell when one might have to go there. But it takes time to prepare these things.
Suppose that the Joint Staffs of the countries concerned—Australia, New Zealand, America, us, and, I should hope, Japan (though I am afraid that this is some way off)—examined that and said, "So far as we are concerned, we 176 think this is a credible, practicable project which would work, and which strategically makes sense and will be a convincing deterrent against overt aggression". And also suppose that the United States of America, ourselves, Australia and New Zealand met at top level and said, "We agree. This, if we are not wanted, if we are asked to go, is our long-term policy, to deploy this credible deterrent off Asian soil". I suggest to your Lordships that if that were done it would have a very good effect, and the sooner it is said, the better —for these reasons.
First, the Chinese would be genuinely relieved that it was not the intention, in the long term, to retain powerful bases on their doorstep. Secondly, the people of South-East Asia would say, "The West are not going to get fed up, fold their tents and leave us in the lurch", and those who have stood against Communism would be much fortified. Thirdly, we should have an aim to go for, instead of a series of empirical decisions, for which there is always a fondness but in which there are great dangers. Also, having got a scheme of that kind, I believe that our own critics, and the critics in the United States, and the critics among the Communists and others of Western policy, would be greatly disarmed, because of an unequivocal statement that it is not our policy to remain in the long-term in South-East Asia when we are not wanted —and there are a great many people who suspect that we and the Americans are going to do exactly that.
To make such a declaration would also, I believe, improve the chances of getting a settlement, both in Indonesia and in Vietnam. And I cannot see any real reason why this cannot be done—except, of course, that we are apt to say, "Don't bother the Americans while Vietnam is on", and the Americans are apt to say, "Let us win the war and think afterwards". I maintain that that is a most dangerous policy. It may be that, before the war in Vietnam is over, something else will flare up. If we knew our aim, we should know what to do. If we are aimless and empirical, we may go and get dangerously involved again. Therefore I commend to your Lordships this suggestion that we should be quite clear where we are going in South-East Asia, and we should 177 evolve a long-term policy. By doing so we might do a great deal to disarm the dangers of what is now an exceedingly unsettled and explosive part of the world.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, it is a great privilege indeed for me to be able to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Head, on his first, very much delayed, speech in this House. He is by now an old Member, but we have not heard him here before, for reasons which I think we all understand. I understand that he has been cogitating over this speech for some six years, and it is indeed a welcome speech to-day. I admired greatly the breadth and understanding of what the noble Viscount said to us. It is something which we shall deliberate upon for some time to come, and everything he said was well worth saying.
The noble Viscount is so experienced and practised a speaker that it is almost impossible to congratulate him upon his speech, but I realise that every maiden speech in this House must be an ordeal to the person who makes it, even though the noble Viscount gave no sign of any ordeal in his speech. One would have thought he had been speaking in this House for years. Nevertheless, in spite of his guise I think it must have been an ordeal to him to address your Lordships for the first time; and he has certainly acquitted himself with the greatest possible credit. It is to me a special pleasure, because we were colleagues in another place, and I welcome every new face from the other place in this House. Indeed, it is becoming a very familiar place for me, because I am seeing so many old friends from another place, and I welcome an additional one. This is not the time to make any comments, other than laudatory, on the noble Viscount's speech, but we look forward to hearing him again, speaking from his vast experience; and then we may be able to say what we think. Frankly, I can find nothing wrong with what he said this afternoon.
In his opening remarks, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, commented, quite rightly, on the fact that in the time we each thought it right to take up the attention of the House it was quite impossible to deal with more than a limited number of subjects. He selected 178 a number, and by some coincidence the particular matters selected by him were exactly those that I had myself chosen to discuss. He spoke so reasonably on each of those that I do not find much to disagree with in what he said. Indeed, I wonder whether, having heard the speeches this afternoon, there is not the beginning of a bipartisan policy on foreign affairs. Certainly there ought to be, and from what we heard about Rhodesia this afternoon, and from the various speeches from different parts of the House, there can be no serious difference of opinion. Certainly I am not going to exacerbate one.
I wish to say a few words about the Common Market. I am glad to find that, generally speaking, the aims are now accepted. I think most people would wish to join the Common Market if it were possible, and the speeches of the Foreign Secretary yesterday and of my noble friend this afternoon will be most encouraging. However, there are one or two things which they were not able to make clear to us, and I think it is only right that we should say quite plainly where we have some doubts. Neither the Foreign Secretary nor my noble friend dealt with the particular difficulty which they themselves foresaw in earlier weeks, certainly during the Election and before, in connection with joining the Common Market. This was the question of a common foreign policy and the abandonment of sovereignty.
In speeches made from time to time by members of the Government it has been made clear that if we join the Common Market we must retain our sovereignty and also our independence in foreign policy. I am not arguing whether those matters are desirable or not. It may be most desirable that we should retain our independence in that way, but that is inconsistent with the Treaty of Rome, and it is inconsistent with joining the Common Market. If we really want to insist upon our independence and to repudiate supranationality, then it is hypocritical to pretend that we really want to join the Common Market. I should have been glad to hear from my noble friend, or from the Foreign Secretary yesterday, what were the true intentions of the Government in that respect. This is not a bargaining point; it is not a debating point at all; it is a fundamental question of 179 principle. And while I quite realise that when you are about to enter into negotiations you do not disclose your full hand, there are certain principles upon which you have to make up your mind; and we, and those with whom we are to negotiate, are entitled to know what those principles are.
I hope that we shall not embark on negotiations unless we know that we shall be welcome; we cannot afford a second humiliation. As matters stand at present, it is still open to France, or any other member of the Common Market, to impose a veto on our entry. Therefore, I should welcome a cautious approach, feeling our way and making quite sure that, when we do make a formal application, it will be acceptable. But even before we make this application we must get the position clear as regards the Commonwealth and fellow members of the European Free Trade Association.
As regards the Commonwealth, we must make up our minds whether we want to sacrifice the Commonwealth for the sake of entry into the Common Market, or whether we are going to make every possible effort to maintain the Commonwealth and make it consistent with our membership of the European Economic Community. I do not think we are in a position to say to the members of the Community that they must take steps to accommodate the Commonwealth. I believe that is our own responsibility, and that before we actually make our application we must make our own arrangements with the Commonwealth and satisfy them that our entry into the Community will not be damaging to their interests. It is conceivable that we may have to make a choice between the retention of the idea of the Commonwealth and entry into the Common Market, and that would be a very difficult choice indeed. I feel that the existence of the British Commonwealth is of such great importance to the world that if I had to choose between retention of the Commonwealth and entry into the Common Market I should vote for the retention of the Commonwealth. But at least we must face up to the possibility that we may have to make such a choice. Best of all would be to make every possible attempt to reconcile the continuance of the Commonwealth with membership of the Community.
180 The same applies, to a lesser extent, perhaps, to the European Free Trade Association, except, of course, that we are pledged to membership of EFTA. We joined them in times when we found it difficult to become members of the Community, and I think our good name is involved in playing the game with them and not letting them down by joining the Community without first making satisfactory arrangements with them. I believe that can be done, and I have no doubt that it can be reconciled.
There are other difficulties that I see in joining the Community. There is the question of agricultural policy. But I should say that these difficulties are of a minor character, and although certain problems might be created here in raising the cost of agricultural products there would, of course, be a saving, though not necessarily a corresponding saving, in the subsidies that we are at present handing out. This may well be the price that we shall have to pay for the much greater opportunities that the Community will offer to us in the way of increased trade and improvement in our competitiveness.
I want to say a word about NATO, which was one of the matters with which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, dealt. I was for a time a member—I am not sure whether I still am—of the British Parliamentary delegation to NATO. I was a member for two periods, and I had the opportunity then of judging the value of NATO, and particularly the attitude of various of its members to it. I am bound to say, and to say quite frankly, that I was never happy about the attitude of the French. They were always courteous, but they made very little contribution to the deliberations. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, has just entered the Chamber. I was talking about NATO, and nobody knows more of the NATO Parliamentarians than does the noble Lord. I was always under the impression that the French were not particularly interested in the whole thing. They came and they were courteous, friendly and hospitable, but they showed no particular interest, and it certainly came as no surprise to me that they decided to take their forces out of NATO. I suppose the logic of it is that they really do not feel that NATO to-day is serving a useful purpose. I do not think that anything can be gained by 181 further approaches to France on this matter, except to see that the arrangements are tidily ended, and without bitterness or recrimination.
A number of things flow from this. The first is that it gives us an opportunity of reviewing our attitude to NATO and what we are seeking from it. It has been pointed out that NATO was first created as a defensive force against Soviet aggression. I think it is to-day recognised that that idea no longer exists, or, at any rate, that the danger of Soviet military aggression is so slight that we need not take NATO as seriously as we did before. But there are other roles for NATO than merely military defence, and I should like us seriously to initiate, if necessary, consideration of what the new rôle of NATO should be. I think it is still possible that the Soviet Union may wish to permeate countries, to instil in them the doctrines of Communism, and, by providing assistance, military, financial and technical, and in other ways, to create an influence over them; and we must combat that. But that is a very different rôle for NATO than the one which has existed up to now. I am not prepared to say at this stage what would be the result of such further consideration; but that we ought to give serious consideration to it I have no doubt.
There is another matter which perhaps it might be indelicate to talk about at this moment, but I am going to do so because I understand that discussions are taking place behind the scenes—I refer to the new headquarters of NATO. At present they are in Paris. They are housed not in the kind of building that I should have chosen if I had a voice in the matter. The building is inconvenient, out of the way and not really satisfactory. But I think it is fairly obvious that it would be quite unsuitable for the headquarters of NATO to continue in France after the French have left it, and new headquarters will have to be sought. I think that there is a strong case for these headquarters to be in London, and I should greatly welcome that.
As against any other large city, London seems a most appropriate place for the headquarters of NATO. We have a great deal to offer in the way of the important facilities that will be required, and I hope that the Government will stake out a strong claim, 182 if it does become necessary to move the headquarters, for those headquarters to be in London. Perhaps I might even put forward a suggestion as to where they should be. I will not mention a particular site, but there are quite a number in the Royal Borough of Kensington which I think would be admirable. I will not go beyond that, but I hope that, if it becomes necessary to move, we shall find ourselves moving to London, and in a more convenient location than the existing NATO building is in relation to Paris.
Finally, I want to say just one word about Vietnam. The Government promised in the gracious Speech that they will persevere in efforts to secure peace in Vietnam and to promote the stability of South-East Asia. I fully concede that the Foreign Secretary has done everything possible to initiate discussions between the United States and the Vietnam nations concerned in the war which is taking place. I believe that recently, but perhaps not earlier, they have made no pre-conditions as to whom they are going to talk to. What can we do? Certainly, it is desirable—I think it is vital—to end this war. I would regard the war in Vietnam as probably the least popular of any war that we have ever been interested in or concerned with. It is even becoming increasingly unpopular in the United States itself, as we can see from the various movements that are taking place there. Your Lordships may have seen on television the discussion at the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States, when not one member spoke in favour of the continuance of the war. The United States is getting more and more involved. I think that to-day there are some quarter of a million men involved in the war there, and the number is growing; and the amount of money spent is vast.
I think that, to some extent, our influence has been greatly weakened by the fact that it is believed by those whom the Foreign Secretary has approached that we are partners in this war. It is true that we are not actually participating, but Australia is, to a limited extent, and so is Canada. We are certainly supporting it, and it is felt that we are partisans in making an approach for negotiations. I do not know how we can disengage ourselves from this position. But if one is coming forward as one who is seeking 183 peace, one's hand is not much strengthened by being recognised as almost a party to the dispute that is going on. If, somehow, we could become less favourable to the war that is taking place, and take a more objective view, I think our views would be much more heard and listened to, with the possibility of negotiations taking place.
I do not want to say more than this at this stage, because, with the noble Viscount, Lord Head, I believe that this will not go on indefinitely—nothing ever does. Somehow, the common sense of the world—of the United States, of the Chinese and of others—will find a solution. Our objective should be to find the solution as quickly as possible. I want once more to repeat that I feel happy about the tone of the debate here on foreign affairs. It appears that the opinions expressed on different sides are not seriously apart, and that we are gradually moving towards a bipartisan policy or—should I say?—a tripartisan policy. If we can achieve that, I think it will be of benefit not only to this country but to the people of the world as a whole, and it will certainly add to the influence which we can exercise in various parts of the world.
§ 5.18 p.m.
My Lords, after listening to the standard set by the most recent maiden speech, I rise for the first time in your Lordships' House with some considerable call on my reserves of courage, and am now passing through the ordeal phase mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. However, I appear here with a sense of humility, too, in introducing this voice of mine in the place of another not only overwhelmingly more deserving of being heard in this House but also many leagues more able in making a worthwhile contribution to your deliberations. I therefore lean heavily on your Lordships' courtesy in absolving me from attaining, in this first speech, the high standard set for me by my father, or indeed the splendid example set to-day by the noble Viscount, Lord Head. I find myself in a practical difficulty, too, in that from past maiden speeches, except the one to which I listened recently, I presume that custom behoves me to observe the best traditions of your Lordships' House. Furthermore, I have in my short apprentice 184 ship here already come to understand that your Lordships, in general, subscribe to the view that words should be for the transmission of thought. These criteria, by custom, leave me with little indeed to say of a pertinent and detailed nature; hut, at the risk of encroaching upon your Lordships' patience, I should like briefly to expound some views of mine gleaned from a passing experience of some years in foreign fields and, latterly, from the stance of a senior staff member of an inter-governmental financial organisation primarily concerned with investment policies in whole ranges of industries in just over a hundred countries in the Western World, some of which I believe will be in your minds throughout this debate.
Wherever and in whatever context we range throughout the foreign field, logic and reason will inevitably bring us face to face with the two fundamentals of modern national survival—the drain upon our resources, on the one hand, which invariably means money in terms of spending whether in defence manpower programming abroad, or official or governmental activity abroad, or either short or long term programmes of private endeavour. Clearly, whatever is decided to be done abroad by Britain will have to be interpreted by us here as the degree of eventual draw-down upon the Exchequer and is, at first sight, I venture to suggest, often seen to be only distantly related to the second unequivalocal fundamental, which is this country's balance of payments.
Although some years ago "balance of payments" was a term only in the usage of financial and economic experts, today it seems to be a term used very often, frequently and popularly, so that all of us have become aware of it, some of us rather painfully. So perhaps your Lordships will forgive me for emphasising that the balance of payments or the degree of profit margin of this country is built upon the activities of residents of this country, and, what is even more important, by residents of all nationalities living and working in this country, even if the enterprises for which they work are owned by foreigners—that is, provided that those enterprises or those foreign nationals are subject to the control and the direction of our Government. It may be an oversimplification to define the draw-down on our resources, no matter how distant that 185 draw-down may seem to be, as money spending, and our present-day productive effort as money-spinning; but it will serve to define the gap with which I am concerned, and with which all our foreign friends within or outside this country are equally as concerned if they are in economic relation with us.
The gracious Speech drew attention to the very great effect that the quality of true foresight in foreign affairs plays in the narrowing of this gap both by control of the drain on resources, on the one hand, and by its great leverage potential for contributing handsomely to the balance-of-payments position, on the other hand, and especially the latter by means of our goodwill positioning abroad. True foresight recognises as basic that the widely variable degree of goodwill we possess from place to place abroad is stimulated by anything from whimsy, at one end of the spectrum of international reaction, to acceptance of hard fact at the other end, but hard fact often coloured locally by either oblique interpretation or expression more related to parochial inducement and ambition—or may I say perhaps a convenient bending of the truth? Furthermore, benders of the truth have more reason to proclaim loudly and long their theses and themes to those about them than those who stick rigidly to fact, and wherever they may be, in local capitals, in inter-governmental assembly, or in private discussion; but it is much more difficult to do so in the face of an authenticated fact in black and white.
My first plea, therefore, is for a much more rapid, more pertinent, and more decisively regular distribution of hard and pointed fact from a Government source, authenticated by the Government and despatched to whatever part of the world that fact is related, even to whatever inter-governmental agency that factual action or decision may be relevant. Briefly, I urge a rapid crescendo in our public-relations programme in the foreign field in our money relationships all over the world, including gold, our development aid programmes, our contributions to inter-governmental and group government proposals, by cash, credits, or by the wisdom of our technical engineers, and the stand which this country has taken, and will increasingly take, in the furtherance of practical British achievement abroad. My experiences, few as 186 they are, persuade me to feel quite convinced that a practical furtherance of the distribution of authentic fact into foreign capitals—among the lay people of foreign capitals, as well as the specialists—will greatly contribute to our international liquidity and the beneficial effect of that liquidity upon Britain's trading.
Since 1950 the value of world trade has just about tripled, and since 1959 it has increased by something over 40 per cent. It has been almost wholly dependent, in terms of international liquidity, upon sterling and U.S. dollars, if international liquidity can be defined as the term given to the world's supply of reserves of gold, or of currencies which are freely usable internationally. While it is my belief that this form of liquidity is adequate, and although I understand that inquiries are still being pursued on whether that is in fact so, in this context we have heard in the gracious Speech that efforts are to be made on negotiated terms to conjoin Britain with a wider community. That is a situation which cannot be other than welcomed wholeheartedly, but which will also call for very close practical and continuing advanced study of European liquidity in relation to sterling, and the placing as a business entity of its liquidity in relation to that of the surrounding world; probably in relation to U.S. dollars.
Consequently, my second and final plea in this instance is for caution in any negotiation for conjoining until this is done, and until it is established unequivocally that there is a welcome for us; that a place exists for us on a base of participation, which cannot be equally fulfilled by any other member; and that the long-term outlook holds specific and bold promise for us in this country first, and later for our traditional trading friends. I thank your Lordships for your courtesy in listening to me.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE FOR THE ROYAL AIR FORCE (LORD SHACKLETON)
My Lords, there has been such a degree of interest, and, indeed, agreement in this debate, that my own intervention will be of a fairly short nature, aided, I may add, by the fact that I have severe toothache. I would first of all, on your Lordships' behalf, 187 wish to congratulate my noble friend Lord Hall. His father was a much loved figure in this House, and a man, as we know, of the very greatest distinction. I sympathise very much with the noble Viscount finding himself in the position in which he does, but I can assure him that from now on his anxieties can be at rest. He chose to discuss a rather difficult and interesting aspect, which bears directly on foreign affairs, and which we would do well not to forget.
There has been no detailed discussion —partly because on other occasions we have been debating economic questions —on the economic aspects of foreign policy. I found myself in agreement with much of what the noble Viscount said. First of all, there was the great importance of getting across to the world, through the various media at our disposal, the facts of our policies and of our achievements. It may well be that we ought to be doing more but here, of course, we are, as always, limited by available funds. However, there are many in the Government who are deeply interested in this aspect of the matter, and certainly the noble Viscount's plea will be noted.
When the noble Viscount came to the question of international liquidity, I was sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, was not here with his loud "Hear, hear" to support his remarks. But, of course, in the context of the Common Market, the future position of sterling, and the solution of this chronic problem of imbalance of payment as it affects this country, will be one of the most important subjects. These are aspects on which co-operation with Europe and other countries is so necessary. I will not attempt to go further into this, because there are those who would say that it would be too damaging to sterling. But it is my view, if I may speak personally on this particular point—and I have always hoped for this—that any advance into a wider community would relieve sterling and, therefore, this country, of the tremendous burdens which we carry and the penalties which we pay as a result. Therefore, I think that the noble Viscount can be gratified by the importance of the subject which he raised.
I had intended to speak to your Lordships mainly about certain aspects of 188 foreign policy seen, as it were, "through defence eyes". But, of course, it is worth remembering that we had a debate last March, only a month ago, before the General Election—it seems about two years ago—on the subject of Defence. We then had that notable speech from the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, which was so helpful—at least to some of us—as well as being a very accurate and valuable speech in itself. I would start by making one point which I think we must always bear in mind, which is that our military forces exist in, and need to be adapted to the needs of, a very unstable world. All the speeches we have heard have emphasised that instability. This points to an even greater degree of flexibility, to a need for mobility and quick reaction in our military forces.
This afternoon I propose to deal primarily with the question of confrontation in the Far East and with NATO. By "NATO", I mean NATO in all its aspects, although I think my noble friend Lord Walston may be dealing also with some of the political questions of NATO—at least, I hope he will do so, and I hope equally, in case he does not, that he will forgive me for dealing with it a little myself. In the gracious Speech your Lordships will have heard that Her Majesty's Governmentwill continue to give full support to the maintenance of the North Atlantic Treaty and its Organisation, which they regard as a necessary basis from which to promote greater stability in East-West relations".I am sure that this commands the support of the great majority of the Members of your Lordships' House.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in an interesting speech, also lent support to NATO, but I disagreed with him on one point in which he implied that it was just possible—and he may not have meant this that NATO need pay less attention to the military aspects of its role, and that the risks having diminished therefore we need to devote less effort to it. It is precisely because NATO has been so successful that the risk has been diminished, and our intention is to continue to support NATO. This is also the intention of others of our allies, as exemplified in the declaration by the Heads of the fourteen Governments on March 18. This reaffirmed that NATO and its Organisation were essential to the 189 security of the countries concerned. It is worth noting that the declaration acknowledged the efficacy of the alliance as a deterrent, not only in purely military terms, but also as a practical symbol of the readiness and determination of member countries to consult and act together whenever possible.
There is no doubt in my mind and, I know, in the minds of a great many others, that NATO has worked; that it has been a success. Since 1949 the westward advance of Communism has been contained, despite the potential pressure that still exists, as exemplified by the Berlin crisis of a few years ago, and, indeed, by the recurrent troubles over access to Berlin. No one who has been to Berlin and seen the Wall—and, my Lords, I feel that every legislator ought to go to Berlin and see the Wall for himself—and has looked over the Wall, as I did recently on a very snowy afternoon, can he in any doubt about the existence and the reality of the pressure from the East. It is one of the most depressing and most shameful symbols of division that have ever been created.
My Lords, as I say, granted the success of NATO, there is no argument for bringing it to an end; and the Declaration of the Fourteen refers to the continuing need for an integrated and interdependent military organisation in peacetime. This has to be credible, and it means having credible land forces, air forces and, indeed, naval forces as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I will not take up your Lordships' time by describing (because we have dealt with it at such length) the size and nature of the British contribution to NATO and its organisation. As noble Lords know, there has been an interesting development through the creation of a mobile force, the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force, to which this country contributes. The effectiveness of this Force is maintained by annual exercises, and its existence is designed to illustrate the ability and willingness of the Alliance collectively to respond quickly to a threat to any member.
Having said that, my Lords, I still agree that the military threat to Europe is a great deal less; and, of course, NATO is very much larger than the military force alone. Indeed, it is very much larger—and some people may think regrettably—than the teeth arms employed.
190 We have a large complex of headquarters, covering Allied Land Forces Europe, SHAPE—one could go through the list almost interminably—and, of course, they contribute effectively to the success of NATO. But, my Lords, seeing NATO at work makes one think that there is scope for some measure of streamlining and some measure of reorganisation. I think it is likely that the entirely to be regretted occasion of the proposed French withdrawal from NATO will at least provide an occasion for some measure of streamlining and reorganisation.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked me to say something on the steps that the Government were taking towards meeting this situation. I am afraid there is not much I can say to-day, for the simple reason that the work is in fact going on—and I do assure the noble Lord that I am not evading this issue. A number of working groups have been set up to study the consequences of the French attitude and the reorganisation of the higher structure of NATO. This is clearly a matter of urgency, and will be dealt with both at official and at Ministerial level; and, as the noble Lord knows, in June there will be a Ministerial meeting at which the matter will be reviewed.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, might I interrupt the noble Lord? I must apologise for only just having returned, but I wrote to the noble Lord and told him that I should be a little late. Are any of these discussions taking place with the French, or are they only by committees in NATO from which the French are debarred?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I would rather not be pressed further on this. There are discussions going on with the French, but I think it is worth noting that French officers and officials find themselves in an exceedingly difficult position at the moment. I think I would rather leave that. Let me say that we are, however, determined to carry these discussions through to a successful conclusion.
My Lords, of course, the basic difference between the French and the remainder of the Allies is that the French hold the view that the existence of the North Atlantic Alliance is itself a sufficient guarantee of protection; that the Allies will get together in due course; 191 that our new attitude, which is induced by our experience in the last War, when we found the preparations at staff level inadequate, is in fact based on an old concept—this is what they would argue —and that it is not necessary to have the degree of organisation that we consider essential. I am sure that all your Lordships will agree (as, indeed, do all the other NATO countries) that it is quite vital that one should have a proper NATO organisation.
My Lords, there are some very interesting by-products from the existence of the NATO organisation. Seeing NATO at work recently made me think that it is really rather a tragedy that sociologists have never taken a look at the NATO organisation. The capacity of officers and men of different nations to work together in the utmost harmony, and with a degree of what might be called almost international esprit, is one of the exciting sides of NATO. This was notable from the very early days, and the noble and gallant Field Marshal will remember the extent to which this spirit was engendered. It is still, I am glad to say, very strong in NATO; and, despite the difficulties that may exist organisationally and politically, I still believe there is a valuable social experiment going on in NATO to-day.
My Lords, before I leave the subject of NATO I should just mention one of the great issues that concern members of the Alliance—the question of controlling nuclear weapons. Last year the Council set up a Special Committee of Defence Ministers to study ways and means of improving consultation and extending Allied participation in nuclear planning. The United Kingdom is playing a big part in these deliberations, and to-morrow and on Friday my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence, together with the Defence Ministers of Germany, Italy and Turkey and the Secretary General of NATO, are meeting in London, under Mr. McNamara's chairmanship, to discuss some of the problems involved. This concern of the Alliance with the control of nuclear weapons is just another aspect of the continuing and vital interest of Her Majesty's Government in disarmament.
I think the most one can say with regard to NATO and the attitude of the 192 French is that one hopes that this will be a passing phase. I think this is one of those cases where it is probably better that one does not indulge in recrimination, however deeply we may regret events. I am sure it is the view of everybody in this country, and of every Party, that the closest friendship and cooperation with the French people should be maintained, preferably in the North Atlantic Alliance but, if it is impossible to achieve it within that Alliance, in some other form of organisation, but ultimately coming together in a much wider measure of co-operation in Europe of a kind about which my noble friend Lord Longford and others have spoken.
Now, my Lords, I should like to turn, very briefly, to the Far East, and to do this against the background of the very remarkable speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Head. I remember that Lord Head was one of the nine Ministers of Defence of the previous Government. Regrettably, his tenure of office was one of the shortest of them all, because I can assure him that he was highly regarded by the Opposition. But, of course, the loss to this country in the field of defence led to a gain in other fields; and his work, both in Nigeria and in Singapore, has been of the greatest value. Not the least of the value of this has been the distillation of knowledge and experience which came out of his speech to-day. He provided a most interesting and valuable analysis. So much of what he said was, I think, agreed with by practically everybody in this House.
I will not attempt to deal with all the points made by the noble Viscount, beyond pointing to one difficulty. What he said in relation to the policy we should follow in the Far East, and in other areas of the world, is very much in line with the policy of Her Majesty's Government: the policy that we do not stay in a country unless we are wanted. But, of course, there is room for argument as to whether one is wanted or not; and this difficulty still remains. It is certainly true that, if we are wanted in Singapore, we shall remain in Singapore. I myself hope for a continuation of the excellent and friendly relations which have been so much a part of the British position in the Far East. This is one area of the world where least of all has there been any desire on any 193 large scale on the part of the local inhabitants for the British to depart. It is clear that our presence there is still desired.
I was asked, I think by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about the talks with Lee Kuan Yew. I would say that we welcomed the opportunity to exchange views when he was here. The talks, needless to say, were of a confidential character; but it is certainly true that there is the closest accord in our thinking—the thinking of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence, and that of Lee Kuan Yew—as to the problems which have to be faced in the area; and there is a great measure of mutual understanding about the factors which are likely to influence the future of our base at Singapore. The immediate problem, of course, is still whether Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore can live together in harmony. Here again I do not dissent from anything that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said. It is now eighteen months since he spoke as a member of the Government; and I remember that we used to tease the Opposition that they found it difficult to adapt themselves to their position in Opposition. But the noble Lord's speech to-day was, I thought, a most admirable statement of the position and very much represents the views of the Government.
My Lords, I have really nothing more to say on the prospects of peace with Indonesia. I thought that the noble Lord summed up the situation exactly. It is more hopeful. It is too early to anticipate that confrontation will come to an end: obviously, the situation is more fluid—but at the most terrible price for Indonesia. Although we may be gratified at the change in the policy that may result, the penalty paid in the number of Indonesian lives that have been lost is a very high one. We must all hope that we shall see an end of confrontation, and that we shall return to the friendlier relations that existed in the past.
Here again, the analysis of the noble Viscount, Lord Head, in relation to the history of colonial rule in that part of the world was very skilled indeed. I will not add to what he said, except to suggest that we must always bear this history in mind when dealing with coun- 194 tries like China. One remembers the "Opium wars" and other less attractive aspects of British colonial policy. I do not know whether to call it British colonial policy; but it was certainly British policy and British action. Some of the feelings that may exist to-day are rather more explicable if we bear that in mind.
The organisation of military operations in that area in the future is something to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, also referred. Discussions have been held with the Australian Government, conducted both in Canberra by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence earlier this year and, more recently, in London with the Australian Minister for External Affairs. These have led to agreement to examine the practical possibilities of stationing troops in Australia. I must say that this examination is without final commitment on either side, and final commitment cannot be entered into without final agreement as to the need. But we must wait until we see some of the major political and military uncertainties in South-East Asia beginning to crystallise, as some of them, we hope, may.
I would reiterate what my noble friend Lord Longford said: that there is, in fact, no disagreement. There may conceivably have been on the part of the Australians a natural suspicion that our desire to get out of Singapore was primarily actuated by the need to meet the £2,000 million target. I should like to emphasise that this is quite untrue. It was a realistic recognition of the case that the noble Viscount, Lord Head, gave us: that it might not be possible for us to remain in Singapore, and that it was therefore sensible to take the necessary precautions and to think about the consequences if that eventuality should come about.
I shall not detain your Lordships any further. I hope that I have answered the particular points about which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked. I do not doubt that we shall have further opportunities—and, I think, fairly soon— to discuss some of these questions; but I must say that I was greatly encouraged by the degree of agreement between noble Lords in all parts of the House as to what the policy should be. Even the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, I found, was in not quite 195 such an extreme position with regard to our East of Suez policy as I had thought.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I was not conscious of having said anything contrary to what I have said before.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I thought the noble Lord's speech suggested that even the Liberals have begun to approach the common ground which exists with regard to the East of Suez policy; and this was to be welcomed also. I was a little surprised by one remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. I thought he called us the "self-appointed head of the Commonwealth"—I think he used some phrase like that. It seemed to me a rather odd phrase. We might, of course, be the hereditary head of the Commonwealth; but I really do not know what he meant by that phrase.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, what I meant, although perhaps I expressed myself badly, was that there was no longer any possibility of the Commonwealth being run from London as a great many people think it ought still to be.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, that is very different. That is rather a gloss on what he said. But I will not pursue this further, beyond saying that I am gratified that the views of the more moderate members of his Party have begun to influence him also in regard to this matter.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, may I first express my admiration and sympathy with my noble friend Lord Shackle-ton who has delivered his speech under circumstances of some physical disability, and may I express the hope that the treatment he received will make him happier personally, though it could not make him happier in the efficiency with which he has stated his case. I wish especially to apologise to the Leader of the Opposition, to the spokesman for the Liberal Party and to the Leader of my own Party the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for the fact that I was absent when they spoke. It was due to physical circumstances which I have not yet been quite able to discipline.
I was present during the debate to listen to the quite remarkable speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Head. I sat in a humble position in another place when he 196 was Minister for War and I then greatly admired the ability with which he spoke, though very often I differed from the conclusions which he reached. I have since debated with him at the Oxford Union, and I should like to say that I was deeply impressed by the contribution which he made to-day. With a great deal of what he said I find myself in agreement. Other matters which were raised by the noble Viscount were so fundamental and thought-provoking that I should like to give greater consideration to them before making a comment upon them. It would be an impertinence for me, a comparatively new Member of this House, to congratulate him upon his maiden speech, but if he is able to contribute to our debates the independent and stimulating view he expressed in that speech the whole House will welcome the fact that he is now to be present in our midst.
Perhaps I should say a word about my noble friend Lord Hall and his maiden speech. I acknowledge at once that I am not an expert on economics, and still less of an expert in the realms of finance, but I appreciate that what this country is able to establish in its economy and in its financial relations with other countries will be a determining factor in its foreign policy. I am quite sure that the whole House will welcome the contributions which the noble Viscount is able to make in this regard.
My Lords, I regret that I was not present during the earlier part of this debate. During the part to which I have listened I have been a little startled by one fact. It is the disregard paid to the most essential feature in all foreign relations to-day. That feature is that there is now in the world a development of scientific arms which could destroy all human life upon this planet. My noble friend Lord Shackleton made some reference to nuclear control, but I do not believe that any of us can begin to discuss foreign affairs without appreciating the fact that there are stocks of nuclear weapons both in Soviet Russia and in the United States of America which might destroy all human life on this planet. I appreciate the development, to which I shall be referring later, that there are now better relations between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, which makes the cold 197 war of less importance, and therefore the danger of a world nuclear conflict perhaps less urgent. But I submit to your Lordships that when it is in fact a reality at this moment that there are stocks of nuclear weapons which could destroy human life all over the earth, we have to pay regard to that fact and we have to pay regard to the dangers.
Those dangers are, first, that there may be an escalation of present conflicts, illustrated by what is happening in Vietnam; the danger of accidental war which, despite all the scientific controls, may still run berserk; and, thirdly, the danger, of which we have become more recently aware, of internal accidents to the aeroplanes which carry these destructive weapons. Unless the Governments of the world will take control of this new scientific means of destruction of all human life, that danger to us all must remain.
My Lords, I wish to pay my sincere tribute to our present Minister for Disarmament. I do not think that any of us who have heard him speak publicly, or who have met him privately, can doubt that he has a real dedication to the task of seeking to end the extension of nuclear weapons in the world. Not only has he that dedication: he has a quite exceptional ability, and what I particularly welcome—because it is exceptional in the sphere of foreign affairs—is that he has the courage in these respects to be independent of pressures from the United States. He will be back in this House next week, when I shall be putting a Question to him on these matters, but I could not speak on foreign affairs to-day without paying my tribute to him. I think that the success of the courageous efforts which the Minister for Disarmament is making is dependent on three factors. It is dependent, first, upon an increasing accord between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Secondly, it is dependent on the policy of the Government of the Republic of France, which at the moment is unilaterally developing its nuclear arms. It is dependent, thirdly, upon the future of the policy of the peoples of the People's Republic of China, which also has established nuclear weapons and is proceeding over the years to the creation of a missile force.
198 I want to look at these three factors in turn. First, in regard to the improved relations between the United States of America and the U.S.S.R., which all of us welcome, I would say that there is one factor which is seriously prejudicing them to-day—the war in Vietnam. I do not propose to discuss that this afternoon; I shall be opening a debate on Vietnam next Tuesday. But I met representatives of the Russian Foreign Office in Moscow last year, and I have no doubt at all that the war in Vietnam and the support the British Government has given to America in Vietnam is very seriously prejudicing, not merely the spirit of the accord between the U.S.A. and this country, but also the practical proposals towards disarmament and the control of nuclear weapons which are being considered at Geneva. Despite this, I think that there has been an extraordinary change in opinion in Soviet Russia on all matters relating to the cold war.
I was tremendously impressed by the annual May Day message which the Communist Party of Soviet Russia issued this year. Usually it placed China at the head of the nations to which it issued its greetings. This year it places France at the head, for reasons which I will describe later, Britain comes second, and the U.S.A. third. And there was this remarkable paragraph in the May Day message:May the co-operation between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union widen in the interests of preventing a new world war and in the name of the preservation of peace.Such a declaration would have been impossible even three years ago, and it indicates the new hope that some approximation of opinion between the Soviet Republic and the U.S.A. may lead to a decrease of the tension of the cold war, in spite of what is happening in Vietnam.
I turn to the second difficulty, which is that France is independently developing its own nuclear weapons. I find President de Gaulle of France not only one of the most fascinating of modern statesmen in the different aspects of his policies, but also a statesman who has this great contradiction: that apparently in home affairs he is authoritarian, dictatorial, limiting the expression of democracy, whilst in international affairs he is more "with" the dynamic tendencies of our time than any other Western statesman 199 I know. One remembers how, even during the war, in his speech at Brazzaville he high-lighted the end of the French Empire in Africa and the coming of colonial freedoms. One remembers how, in the most extraordinary way, although he was brought to power by the O.A.S. in Algeria, he recognised the independence of the Algerian people. To-day he is standing for two tendencies in international affairs, which I have no doubt the future will endorse. The first is the view that, because of the decreased danger of war in Europe between the West and the Soviet Republic, co-operation between West and East in Europe is possible in a way that was never realisable before. This is one of the reasons why Soviet Russia has now placed France at the head of the nations in its May Day message.
Some agreement between East and West Europe is also a condition of the solution of German reunification. I do not pretend that that is near. A difficult road with many obstacles has still to be trodden. But I am glad to welcome the initiative which the German Social Democratic Party has taken in proposing that there should be joint gatherings between the Socialists of West Germany and the Communists of East Germany, on the condition that publicity shall be given to their respective views so that the peoples of both West and East Germany may begin to understand their opposing views, and perhaps, with understanding, come nearer to a solution.
General de Gaulle wisely takes the view—and I may remind my own Front Bench it was the view of Hugh Gaitskell and Aneurin Bevan—that the solution of the German problem is a neutralised and disengaged Germany; indeed, not only a Germany neutralised and disengaged but an area in central Europe which would be wide open. I would suggest to the members of our own Government, as they begin their new course with a majority behind them, that if we are to expect Germany to accept denuclearisation, this Government, as well as France, must give a precedent in ending dependence on nuclear arms.
I had not intended to make a reference to the European Community, but after what has been said in the House to-day. I think I must do so. I believe that 200 realistically we must face the fact that, if we can bring together EFTA and the six nations of the Common Market, it would be a progressive step. But I should say that, in addition to the difficulties about our own agriculture, and particularly about the trade of New Zealand, which is so dependent on this country, there are three warnings which should be sounded in the probings which are taking place. The first is this: the bringing together of the European Governments of the West would not be ultimately beneficial to the peace of the world if it became an alliance of the West against the East, and, therefore, that in any movement towards a European Community of the West there must proceed the kind of proposals that I have already indicated for coming to some conciliation and peace.
Secondly, I would say that British entry into the European Community must not be at the expense of the developing territories of the earth—and I do not refer only to the Commonwealth countries, which have preferential Customs arrangements with Britain. One of the tragic facts of the last six years in all the developing countries has been that, with all the aid which has been given by Britain, by America and by the United Nations, the standard of life of the people has not risen. It has sometimes remained level, but it has not risen because the industrial nations of the world have taken their products at reduced prices, which has meant that the incomes of the peasant population has been falling. There is a great danger, which I beg our own Government to face, that in establishing a community of Western European Powers, thinking of their own development, they may become a stronger bastion of industrial nations which require foodstuffs and raw materials from the developing nations, and a greater power to keep their standards down rather than lift them up.
Thirdly, I want to say this. The Treaty of Rome spoke not only in terms of economic co-operation; it really established political union. I am one of those who want to see wider federations and wider federations will come in Europe. But I give this warning. It would be absolutely disastrous for this country, as indeed for other European countries, to 201 move towards a political union which necessitated not only similar home policies, but similar foreign policies, until there is much more approximation in the ideologies of European Governments and peoples, and much more basis for a common social pattern. France, Western Germany, the social democratic countries of Scandinavia, Britain, with its mixed economy, which we hope will become more socialised—where is the political unity there? I would therefore say to the Government that, when they approach the problem of bringing EFTA into association with the six nations of the Common Market, they have to appreciate that the evolution of any political union must depend on an approximation, not only of its economic, but of its political, ideologies.
Then there is, finally, the difficulty of China. I think that if we are to look at the problem of China from an historical standpoint, rather than under the immediate pressures, we must see that her ideology at this moment is very similar to the ideology of Soviet Russia in the early days of the Russian Revolution, and that this ideology is a reflection of exactly similar circumstances. Soviet Russia was isolated, boycotted. Soviet Russia, in the beginning, was expressing its revolution in rather crude forms. China to-day is isolated and boycotted, and beginning her revolution in rather unsophisticated forms. I take the view that as the Chinese People's Republic becomes concentrated upon its own construction, and as a new generation arises in China, her ideology will change in the same way that the ideology of the Soviet Union has changed. But if that change is to take place, it must be as a reaction to more rational and liberal policies followed by the West, and particularly the United Nations.
I make a strong appeal to our own Government—which was the first to recognise the People's Republic of China, and which has, rather belatedly, voted, independently of America, for the acceptance of China into the United Nations—to make this a real, dynamic issue within the United Nations. For how long can we go on recognising the population of the Island of Formosa as representative of China? I believe that a changed attitude by the West and the United Nations on that issue would 202 encourage elements which are in China, and which, reflecting past changes in Soviet Russia, will change the ideologies which are now expressed at Peking.
I did not intend to speak for so long, but I must make one other reference to the situation in South-East Asia, and it is to Indonesia. There was the fear in Asia of Communist China in the North and the great archipelago of Indonesia, with its 100 million people, in the South, with its Communist tendencies. The situation in Indonesia has changed and the significance of that fact will be tremendous in Asia. It is going to be significant upon China. It must be significant in relation to the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia. Mr. Malik, the Foreign Secretary of Indonesia, in his Press conference on April 4, said that the policy of confrontation would continue but Indonesia would always be open to negotiations for a peaceful settlement; and Nicholas Turner, the well-informed correspondent of the Guardian, stated on April 25 that Mr. Maliklet it be known privately that his intention is to end the confrontation as quickly as possible".Members of the Government may be aware that in this House I have pleaded more than once for a reconsideration of the whole problem of Indonesia and Malaysia. I have pleaded for it because I believe that there must be a reconstitution of the frontiers there. I was delighted to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Head, speak of the fact that in the vast island of Borneo—the fifth largest island in the world—the old colonial frontiers are absolutely out of date, dividing peoples and tribes which are one, and families which are one. The time is coming when in that whole region we should begin to look at this problem again, and go back to the very hopeful proposal, made at Manila before Malaysia was established, for a wider confederation which would include all the peoples in that area.
My Lords, I want to conclude by saying this. I have spoken of the dangers of nuclear weapons. Perhaps the most ironic fact of our period in history is that the same scientific instruments which create nuclear weapons can so largely contribute to ending the hunger and poverty which are in the world to-day. It has been four months since I have been able to address 203 your Lordships. I first went to India. I flew from Bangalore to Bombay, across the great famine area, and there, instead of the green fields, there was the red and the grey and the yellow earth, with no cultivation. By accident I have since spent two months in Algeria, where again I saw drought, with sheep dying and the people denied, in the destruction of the harvest, the one sustenance of their whole year.
Yet these same weapons—which are now concentrated, not only in the Soviet Union and in America, but also partially in our own country, in France, in China, for the destruction of life—these weapons could so bring the deserts of the earth to fertility that the problem of hunger and of poverty in the world would be ended. I am asking my friends in the Labour Party, of which I am a loyal supporter despite some disagreements about policy, and whose victory I so much acclaimed at the last Election as the hope of this country and of the world—I beg of them to think of foreign affairs not only in the terms of military groupings and military alliances, of threats from here and threats from there, but in terms of the great and constructive possibility of using those instruments, which are at present desecrated in the armaments of destruction, in the consecrated task of ending poverty and hunger in the world.
§ 6.37 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF ABERDEEN AND TEMAIR
My Lords, I wish to address your Lordships about one paragraph in Her Majesty's gracious Speech from the Throne. It is the paragraph which states:My Government will continue to promote the economic unity of Europe and to strengthen the links between the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Community.The noble Earl the Leader of the House mentioned the necessity for a close relationship with EFTA, and that point was also referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I do not think it seems to be generally realised what a terribly difficult position we are in at the present moment.
The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in addressing the House yesterday, referred to the amount of work for the export drive that has been encouraged by the 204 Government, through the Board of Trade, by the British exhibitions which have been taking place, for some years now, in every part of the world. Reading that comment, one might think that all this work had been done from Government sources. I should like to mention my interest, at least in any matter worth speaking about. I wish to declare that I was a director of British Overseas Fairs. I was one of the first directors when it was formed in 1954 and I remained, taking part in all the exhibitions which took place from then until I retired from that board, not wishing to become an octogenarian passenger, and so I was not present at the last three exhibitions. All those have been supported by the Board of Trade.
The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd then went on to speak about the great work done by the City of London. The City of London has had some stands in a great many of those exhibitions, but there then came out, almost in conversation, the fact that there had been a fire in the exhibition which is about to open on Friday in Oslo. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said it was a terrible thought that it should be suggested that there had been arson in such an occurrence. I can explain that in this exhibition the City of London have not, in this case, had a pavilion within the periphery of British Overseas Fairs. It was a separate pavilion some little way off. I hesitate to doubt the figures given by a Minister of the Crown, but I think Lord Shepherd said it cost £40,000. My own figure was £4,000. However, we will leave it at that.
Why should that take place? Why was there a fear that it might be arson? The reason is that there is very severe regret—I put it at more than regret—in Norway because of what has happened recently. I refer to the temporary charge on imports which was established on November 20, 1959, and became effective on July 1 the following year. That was intended as a temporary charge, but as with so many Government charges and measures, temporary charges are apt to continue. Actually the dates I have given were the dates of the establishment of EFTA. This T.C.I. (temporary charge on imports) came into force in October. 1964, and it was then reduced to 10 per cent. But the complaint is that that 205 was a flagrant breach of the Stockholm Convention, which came into force in 1960. Because it applies to manufactured goods, the T.C.I. affects only 30 per cent. of Norway's exports, but the effect on Norway is disproportionately high because it is so large a share of her total exports. So there has been a great deal of bad feeling in Norway. It was even suggested at one time that the exhibition would have to be cancelled. That will not be the case. The exhibition will be opened next Friday by the President of the Board of Trade, in the presence of the King.
But the position is such that the Norwegian police have strengthened the force to look after any trouble that might occur in the exhibition. Further, there has been a great deal of investigation by the Norwegian police as to how the fire was started. I have here a telegram saying that they are quite convinced that it was not an accident, and that in fact they have discovered some material, I think a can, which was not there when the work was completed. They consider that the senior member of EFTA, by breaking the rules unilaterally, without consultation, has caused a very severe position.
One of the first exhibitions with which I was concerned, more than thirty years ago, was a British exhibition in Buenos Aires. When I was there I was impressed by the fact that when Argentinian people made any agreement between one another they would shake hands and say palabra inglesi; that meant to say that you could always depend on the word of an Englishman. It meant something that was going to last and which you could trust. Here is a terrible thought: that this agreement has been broken without notice and without any discussion. The President of the Confederation of British Industry wrote a letter, which was published, to the President of the Board of Trade saying what a terrible thing this was and urging that this charge should be abolished as soon as possible. It is not possible for that to happen during the exhibition because the meeting of EFTA will take place at Bergen at almost the closing time of the exhibition.
That exhibition will go on in spite of the knowledge that several orders have been cancelled because of this state of affairs. I have a telegram here from 206 the managing director of British Overseas Fairs saying that the feeling is that overwhelming success for Britain will come from Norwegian industries. They say that their quarrel is with the British Government and not with British industry. However, it makes one feel that that palabra inglesi does not apply now. Possibly you think a term quite often used in France applies:perfide anglais—incidentally, that did not apply to Scotland because the Scottish and French nations have for centuries been such friends. That is the kind of thing that is brought up on any question as to the reliability and dependability of those who have entered into an agreement. I do not wish to detain your Lordships any further. There is a great deal that could be said about this trouble at some time. The exhibition will take place in the presence of the King, and His Royal Highness Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh will spend two or three days at the exhibition.
Finally, I would remind your Lordships of what is said in two publications. I think of the Fifteenth Psalm, which sets out how a person should behave if he is to be trustworthy. One of the sentences in the Psalm is:He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.Finally it says thatHe that doeth these things shall never be moved.There was another version:He shall never fall".To come to more recent times, I think of the well-known poem of Rudyard Kipling, If. In it he describes very much the same sort of thing as the Fifteenth Psalm does, and it ends:And what is more, you will be a man, my son.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before I begin to speak on Her Majesty's gracious Speech, may I add my congratulations on the two remarkable maiden speeches of great wisdom from the noble Viscount, Lord Head, and my noble friend Lord Hall. I hope Lord Head will make up for his six years' absence from this House by making more speeches of the kind he made to-day.
207 I wish to-day to speak briefly on only one aspect of the gracious Speech, Britain's entry into the Common Market provided essential British interests are safeguarded. The words in the gracious Speech are very carefully chosen. It is with some trepidation that I venture to speak on this subject. It is, after all, a hazard for anyone who is not an economist to speak on this very complicated legalistic subject. Economics has become the white magic of the Western world. A new foreign language has been evolved, and words and phrases are incanted which are meaningless to the ordinary man and woman. My Lords, now that the propaganda for entry into the Common Market has been gathering momentum since the Election, it has been accompanied by a massive publicity campaign in some newspapers. All the high pressure advertising techniques have been employed, and there have been many sermons from the Mount of High Holborn preaching salvation by joining the Common Market.
But the British public have but little idea still of how such a momentous step would affect them in practical ways. It is conceded that the cost of living would rise, but sometimes I long for a homely detail for example, just what effect going into the Common Market would have on the price of cheese. It would be salutary if those who press so hard for joining would be more explicit on the immediate effects of such an important step, and would not dazzle us with the promise of the big market on our doorstep. Too often when anyone raises an anxious query about the terms of entry, he is brushed aside by a vague phrase about sticking to the rules of the Rome Treaty, as if we were about to take part in some European sports contest.
If my approach to the Common Market is neither evangelistic nor crusading, I believe with many people that the time has now come for us to start seriously negotiating the terms of entry. I believe that, in our present economic situation, nothing short of this exposure to the blast of greater competition from Europe will make us face up to the economic facts of life. This will be strong medicine for our economy and, like any drastic treatment, may have painful side effects; and the cure may be long and painful, too. But there are no miracle cures for our economy. All the competition in the 208 world will not produce the goods unless we all work harder.
Most people to-day would wish to work towards the greater integration of Europe. I do not believe that economic obstacles are insurmountable now; but I believe that the political difficulties are great, and that there are dangers in taking precipitous political steps. This is where I am not so starry-eyed as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. We witnessed the painful disillusionment when Mr. Heath tried so hard to arrange a hasty marriage by proxy between Britain and the Common Market. Though many of us believe in promoting the greater integration of Europe, we also believe in the Atlantic Community, and eventually in World Government. These should not conflict with one another. The political situation in the world and in Europe keeps on changing. So I cannot understand the mystique of the number "Six" in Europe. General de Gaulle believes in no such superstition. He has managed to split the European Community by attacking the Rome Treaty and NATO, thus killing two birds with one stone—one economic and one political.
Why not a Greater European Community which would include EFTA? These are the questions which baffle the non-experts and non-economists like myself. But I believe that the Greater European Community is the only genuine integration of Europe for which we must work in years to come. I believe that the economic hurdles are not impassable for us, but I think the political ones will not be so easy to clear. Our greatest problem to-day in the world is not the Common Market; it is the gap between the rich and the poor nations. We should never lose sight of that. By helping the developing nations with trade and aid, we are not only helping to keep the peace in the world but helping to build up the markets of the future.
For all these reasons, I believe that the Government's cautious approach to joining Europe is responsible and also far-sighted. I hope I shall not be accused of being partisan when I say that I am glad that it will be a Labour Government which will tackle the transition of our economy when we join the Common Market, for, though we hope that Britain will be more prosperous as 209 a result, we also know that some people may weather the harsh winds of competition, but for others it may be just stormy weather. Finally, the Government will have both a tough and a delicate task, throughout the negotiations and after. But what remains as true today as it was in 1962 is that unconditional entry means unconditional surrender of many things which we believe in and hold dear.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the two noble Lords to whose maiden speeches we have listened with so much pleasure and interest in this debate. When my noble friend Lord Head, announced what he was going to describe to us, I thought it was going to be a strange and exciting hybrid animal. He called it a "longterm ad hoc policy for South-East Asia and China". The policy which he did describe was, I think, an eminently sensible one, which, with but few exceptions, nearly everybody in this country would wholeheartedly support.
Although it may take a long time, it must be our long-term objective to arrive at a permanent understanding with China. Our country has always been in favour of the admission of the Peking Government to the United Nations, although it was only about three or four years ago that we summoned up enough courage to vote against the Americans on this issue in the United Nations. That, of course, does not mean friendship for, or approval of, China. In fact, one of the reasons often advanced in favour of China's entry into the United Nations is that the horrible atrocities of which the Chinese have been guilty, in Tibet and elsewhere, could be so much better, and perhaps more effectively, dealt with if the delinquent was a member of the United Nations and could there be brought to book. But if we are to be secure against destruction, it must be our long-term objective to bring into a system of world security and disarmament this country of, we do not know how many people—sometimes it is said to be 600 million, and sometimes 800 million; but certainly about one-fifth or one-sixth of the world population.
At the same time, as my noble friend said, the small countries of South-East Asia who do not want to lose their free 210 dom and independence, must be protected against the aggression of stronger counttries than themselves who may endeavour to deprive them of their liberty. Although it may be a great sacrifice in many ways to us, it is a moral obligation upon us to do what we can to help them, and to help the Americans to defend their liberty.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
Does that mean that the Opposition support the sending of British soldiers to Vietnam?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
That is an entirely irrelevant question, if I may say so. The reason we do not send British troops to Vietnam, although the Australians do, is that we are one of the co-Chairmen of the 1954 Geneva Committee. The Americans understand perfectly well that it would weaken the possibilities of peace by negotiation if one of the Chairmen of that Committee were to send troops to support the Americans in the field of battle. We have agreed with the Americans that our part on the military side is to defend Malaysia, which is one of those countries that need protection against aggression by stronger neighbours.
I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, will allow me to mention the very great affection which I had for his late father, as Member for Aberdare in another place, where I was his colleague for fourteen years, and later on in your Lordships' House. He was a man who was very highly regarded by all Parties, both as a British statesman and also as a Welsh patriot who loved his country. I hope that the very great ability and distinction with which the noble Viscount has spoken this afternoon will be regarded by the Party opposite as at least some practical vindication of the hereditary principle.
I should like also to congratulate the Government on their wonderful enterprise in putting up no fewer than three Front Bench speakers to take part in this debate. We are very grateful for the attention they have paid to this debate, and look forward to hearing what is still left. But from this Bench we do not intend to compete in this respect with the Government, either in time or in content. We do not intend in any way to enter into an oratorical contest. All 211 that I intend to do is to pursue, for a very short distance indeed, one or two of the points which were contained in the full and courteous reply which was given by the noble Earl the Leader of the House to my noble friend Lord Carrington and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who questioned him about the highly important subject of the Common Market.
The noble Earl rightly said that this is a free country and all are free to express their opinion. That is very true, and we are trying to persuade the Government to do just that—to express their opinion freely. I sympathise very much with the difficulty of the noble Earl when we press him to do that, because I think we all know that he agrees with us on the question of the Common Market. We can sympathise with the difficulty in which he finds himself, and I think he tackled it in a praiseworthy manner; that is, in trying to interpret the utterances of the Prime Minister in the most encouraging sense that is possible.
The noble Earl talked about recantations. We know from past experience what happens. If we cross-examine and catechise and probe the noble Earl on this question, the only result we can achieve is to compel him, with utmost pain, reluctantly to confirm one or other of the more nullifying conditions which the Prime Minister insists on expressing from time to time. I ask your Lordships: can that do any good? I doubt if it can. I think that the undertones of the noble Earl's speech were intended to suggest that it might even do harm. That came into my mind when he spoke of recantations.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I take the noble Earl up on one point? As he knows, I have to leave in a few moments and may not hear the end of his reply to my submissions. I would think it a very great mistake if the noble Earl were under the impression that the Prime Minister took one point of view and other Ministers took another. We have had three statements this week from Cabinet Ministers, one on behalf of Mr. Brown who is ill, one by the Foreign Secretary, and one by me this afternoon. I should be much surprised if those views expressed were not those of the Prime Minister.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, as the noble Earl has to leave, we ought not to delay him long. What the noble Earl has said recalls to my mind that he compared the movement of Government opinion on this matter to Cardinal New-man's dissertation on the development of doctrine in the Church of Rome. The development of ecclesiastical doctrine very seldom proceeds at what one would call a breakneck speed: it more emulates the iceberg in the pace of its movement.
At the time Cardinal Newman wrote his book on the development of doctrine it so happened, as the noble Earl will remember, that one rather significant landmark in the development had been reached. Pope Pius IX had lately made a proclamation in which he stated that Protestants and other Christians who did not belong to the Church of Rome would not necessarily be condemned to everlasting punishment in a future life if on the Day of Judgment it could be satisfactorily shown that their separation from the Church of Rome was due to invincible ignorance. This, I believe, put some British Catholics in a slight dilemma, because, they felt it possible that if they instructed their Protestant friends so efficiently and carefully that they removed their ignorance but did not succeed in persuading them to join the Church of Rome, they might unintentionally inflict irreparable damage on their future prospects. I thought the noble Earl had similar feelings about some of his colleagues in the Cabinet on this issue.
I entirely agree with what the noble Earl and the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said about negotiations. Of course, no country in the Common Market has ever entered it without negotiation. Negotiation is an essential preliminary for entry into the Common Market, and we all know what our negotiations will be about. I do not think the antithesis between the Commonwealth and the Common Market is a true one; I think that it is more or less fictitious. The two are almost entirely irrelevant to each other. As we still believe, in the long run all Commonwealth countries would benefit enormously in their trade from our membership of the Common Market. In our negotiations in 1962 we 213 got the most wonderful terms for all the African members and most of the Asiatic members of the Commonwealth. They were to be admitted on the same terms as the French.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
New Zealand is not in Africa. The longest part of the negotiations were concerned with Canadian and Australian wheat, and with New Zealand butter. On that we had got to the point of obtaining agreement in principle that special arrangements would be made for these commodities. It was when we got that arrangement and agreement in principle that General de Gaulle broke up the negotiations—in my view, as I have said in this House before, because he thought that the negotiations were going to succeed, not because he thought they were going to fail. He had always hoped that they were going to break down on these points. When he saw that they did not break down he decided to break off negotiations.
As for EFTA, no one has ever had any doubts about that. Any doubts on that score are purely fictitious. It was always understood that we would not enter until our EFTA partners could be admitted at the same time, either as members or as associates. Those who were not members of NATO for political reasons might have had to be associate members. As for having an independent foreign policy, I do not know whether any of your Lordships think that Britain would be likely to want to pursue a more independent foreign policy than is now being pursued by General de Gaulle and one more antagonistic to the views of the rest of the Community, which I should have thought was contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Rome.
As for economic policy, there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome to prevent nationalisation and there is a certain amount of nationalisation in France and Italy. But it seems to me that if we go shouting about the place, that we will not join unless we are allowed to have a separate economic policy, whatever our intentions may be, the only effect of repeating that over and over again will be to prevent negotiations from ever being allowed to start.
214 On agriculture, which is perhaps the most difficult of the problems, it is not a question, as one of your Lordships, I think, said, of protecting our own farmers, but of not giving them too much protection. Under present Common Market rules the price of wheat would be so enormous that farmers like myself and some of my noble friends would all get so much money as to be tempted to grow perhaps too much wheat. I have heard it said that our wheat acreage might go up to four million, which would be economically undesirable, and possibly some arrangement will have to be made about agriculture.
But what I should like to impress on the Government is that the E.E.C. had not decided their agricultural policy in 1962. Had we joined in 1963, as we hoped, we should have been able to take part in the final settlement of the E.E.C.'s agricultural policy. As it is now, I think one must say that, whatever our views about modification might be, it will not be any use trying to have negotiations about the Common Market if we insist on having an agricultural policy which is based on deficiency payments rather than on a levy. I think that, in principle, we must accept the agricultural policy which they have; and that is why it seems to me that if we are sincere about our desire to join the Common Market we ought now to start changing our agricultural policy along these lines.
In view of the lateness of the hour I shall not try to stand between the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and your Lordships. I will only express again the hope that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and his colleagues who think with him will not relax their efforts to promote the development of doctrine, with as many recantations among their colleagues as may be necessary, to achieve our early entry into the Common Market for the benefit not only of Europe but of the whole Free World.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD WALSTON)
My Lords, we will, of course, never relax our attempts to promote our doctrines, wherever they may be. We even have hopes that one day we shall be so successful that some noble Lords opposite may 215 realise the true worth of the doctrines which we preach from this side of the House.
But without developing that theme I should, at the outset, like to pay my tributes to the two maiden speeches that we have heard. It is hard, when one is the third or fourth speaker to do so, to find a new form of words to express the sincerity of the appreciation that we have for my noble friend Lord Hall and the noble Viscount, Lord Head. They were both, in different ways, admirable speeches to which we had been looking forward, and in the case of the noble Viscount, Lord Head, for a very long time indeed. His speech was worth waiting for and we are grateful to him. I am also delighted to see that my noble friend Lord Brockway is back again, and not only to see but to hear from his speech that he has fully recovered his normal vigour. We have missed him in the past, and although we have had some good debates on subjects that are close to his heart, they would have been even better had he been with us.
I think the best way of winding-up this interesting debate is to re-state again, in general terms, what our long-term political aims are. The noble Viscount, Lord Head, rightly remarked that in South-East Asia we must have a long-term policy. I am sure he would agree that that policy should not be confined only to South-East Asia, but that our whole foreign policy must be based on long-term objectives. Those are, to put them briefly and perhaps in an over-simplified fashion, the achievement eventually—and these are very long-term aims—of world peace, World Government and an international peace-keeping force to ensure the peace throughout the world; and, on the more positive side, not simply the prevention of war but the actual creation of a richer and a better society.
We cannot sit back, when eventually we have achieved peace, and say, "Now carry on with it". We must still do all that is in our power— and at that time it will be very much more than it is at present—to destroy poverty, to destroy the starvation of which my noble friend Lord Brockway so rightly reminded us, and in its place to give the opportunity for everybody throughout the world to 216 develop the potentials which are in them, and not allow the development of those potentials to be confined to just a small number of relatively rich people living in relatively prosperous parts of the world. As I said, those are long-term aims and we cannot expect to achieve them in our lifetime. But we are making progress towards them, and we are doing it primarily through international organisations of one kind and another.
It is extraordinary, if one looks back over the years, to see how these international organisations have proliferated. Of course, the United Nations is the main one among them and we are—there is no need for me to repeat it here — wholehearted supporters and adherents of the United Nations in all its activities. We disagree with some of its members at times. We may disagree with some of its majority decisions at times, just as all of us, in our individual capacities, disagree with the majority decisions—I think even noble Lords opposite occasionally disagree with the majority decisions—of the electorate in this country. But that does not make them any less ardent supporters of our system and our country and our Parliament, and that is our attitude towards the United Nations.
We also support the various other more regional organisations which are designed to these ends—the maintenance of peace, the prevention of war and the abolition of poverty. I should like to emphasise that the most constructive and effective rôle of the United Nations has not been the maintenance of peace (although it has achieved remarkable successes in that sphere) but in its economic and cultural activities, and in the spread of techniques through the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the I.L.O. and so on, spreading benefits throughout the world. In addition, of course, there are, as I say, the various regional organizations—SEATO, CENTO and NATO; and ours is the only country that is a full member of all those three organisations. To all of them, in different ways, we give our support and contribute leadership.
I will only briefly mention NATO, as it has been referred to very adequately. My noble friend Lord Shackleton—fully recovered, I hope, from his recent operation, 217 which seems to have taken place with the utmost speed—dealt with this subject very fully, but he indicated that he was leaving something for me to say, although I am not quite sure what it was. I think that all I need do with regard to NATO is to re-emphasise its rôle. NATO was first set up because the member countries realised that modern warfare and the threat of modern warfare required more than simply alliances. The days were past, it was felt then—and they are still more past to-day—when all you needed to do was to sign a treaty of friendship or alliance, wait for the war to break out, and have so many divisions or so many ships of the line to put at the disposal of your allies. Modern warfare requires intensive planning and collective developments of weapons, techniques and logistic support of all kinds. NATO was set up in order to achieve that; and the need for it is just as great to-day as ever it was, even though, by its very success, the threat of the particular form of attack that NATO originally envisaged has now receded.
We accept fully that NATO in its present form may well be in need of various alterations, improvements and modernisations, and we are always prepared to carry on the process of consultation with our NATO partners in order to achieve this aim. It would be unfortunate if the impression got about that, because of our reaction to the unfortunate initiative of the French at the present time, we were opposed to any change. That is very far from the case. But we do believe that it is essential, for the peace and the welfare of the Western world, and of the world as a whole, that NATO should continue, and that it should be strong. No matter what the future holds, we shall adhere to its principles with all our allies who are associated with us in it.
My Lords, another of these organisations of international character which has been mentioned, and properly mentioned, at considerable length by many speakers is, of course, the European Economic Community. Here, again, I think my two noble friends—and I hope that in his remarks the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, in speaking of the plethora of Front Bench speakers on this side was not in any way regretting it—have already covered most, if not all, of the relevant points and 218 answered most of the questions. Certainly I think they have answered, if not entirely to his satisfaction, the queries raised by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. But I should like to take up the three points which were made by my noble friend Lord Brockway. He first of all said that, whatever benefits might come from a closer integration of Europe through the Six and ourselves, it would be of no benefit at all if it was carried out at the expense of the other countries of Europe. With that, I am in entire agreement, and I think that my noble friend Lady Gaitskell also made the same point. The Six is only a stepping stone. There is nothing mystical about the Six, and I hope never will be about the Seven, because I hope it will not be joined solely by us but by most, if not all, of our EFTA partners. From there it can progress on into a still wider European Economic Community, embracing all the countries of Europe, East and West.
§ LORD WALSTON
So far as the Urals, or even further, if some people wish it. There is no limit, so far as I am concerned, to the size of the European Community.
The second point my noble friend made —and, again, I am in complete agreement with him—was that this should not be at the expense of the developing countries of the world; it must not be a rich man's club. We must ensure that European wealth, experience and industrialisation, whether they are made use of by individual countries or by a collective group of countries, are used not only for the benefit of those people who live in Europe but for the benefit of the whole world—and, in particular, for the benefit of those areas of the world which need it most. He further pointed out the dangers or difficulties of Britain integrating with Europe so long as there were dissimilar foreign and domestic policies within the countries of Europe. On that, I cannot agree with him. The fact that there are differences of political opinion and economic opinion in this country does not mean 219 that we cannot be an integrated country, and the fact that there are differences of opinion among people living in other countries in no way presents an impediment to a proper democratic association between us.
My Lords, carrying on with the practical proposals and actions which we are taking to achieve these long-term aims, I should like to touch very briefly on disarmament, again raised by my noble friend Lord Brockway. As he said, he will shortly be pursuing this matter further with my noble friend Lord Chalfont, and that is the proper occasion for a debate on it. But I would emphasise once more the progress which we have made and the attempts that we are making for still further progress in this very vital field. In the past, there has already been achieved—and we give full credit to noble Lords opposite and their friends for this —the partial Test Ban Treaty, which was a step towards disarmament. We are now working—and my noble friend Lord Chalfont in particular is working with the greatest energy and skill—to bring about a non-proliferation treaty. That is the second step towards it: first of all, to prevent the testing of new weapons; and, secondly, to prevent existing weapons from getting into any more hands than those which already have them. Thirdly, we hope to go on from there to an agreement for a reduction of present stocks of weapons; and finally, of course, the abolition of all nuclear weapons. That is going rather further ahead than we can look clearly at the present time, but those are our realistic aims.
Now to the positive side: aid, and what we can do for foreign countries, for the poorer countries—and I agree wholeheartedly with all those speakers who have underlined this as being one of the main objectives of Her Majesty's Government's policies in overseas countries. I have already mentioned the United Nations, what it is attempting and what it is achieving. I will only reiterate that we give our wholehearted support both in good will, in our talk and with our money in order to promote its activities and also through such other organisations as the Colombo Plan, the Asian Development Bank, the various other regional organisations all designed to this end and, of course, through our own Ministry of 220 Overseas Development, which is working within the confines of a stringent budget to ensure that all the money we can afford is wisely and profitably spent in a way that will bring maximum benefit to those people whose need is greatest. There is no doubt that, so long as the gap between the rich countries and the poor countries continues to grow, as it does at present, we shall have to wait a long time before world tension is released and world peace is assured. One of the best methods by which this can be achieved—and I hope that within the next years we may be able to make some progress along these lines in company with our richer friends from the richer countries—is in agreements on commodity prices and particularly those commodities produced in the developing countries.
My Lords, I have kept the subject of South-East Asia until the penultimate part of my speech. I am in some difficulty here because we shall be discussing—it or, at least, Vietnam—at a later time. Therefore, as no noble Lord has specifically raised this matter I propose to ignore it tonight. That does not mean to say in any way that we do not consider it one of the most important aspects of the whole picture of South-East Asia. The speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Head, was, as I said at the beginning, a magnificent example not only of clear expression but of clear thinking behind that expression. I would say that the policy he adumbrated was in no basic respect different from that of Her Majesty's Government. The question is, of course, how to arrive at that ultimate policy. The difficulty, as my noble friend, Lord Shackleton, pointed out, is to decide who it is that really represents countries and who it is that wants you to stay. Some people want us to stay and others want us to go. So long as there are no free elections —and in few of these countries is there a likelihood of any genuine free elections—how can we decide to whom we shall listen?
But we must always be on our guard —and I thank the noble Viscount for making this clear—against (and I wrote down his words) "unwittingly helping existing reactionary régimes against more liberal régimes". I think that was the phrase the noble Viscount used. It is a danger which we all see happening and against which we must always be 221 on our guard; for even a régime which appears at one time to be an admirable one can unfortunately, after achieving power threaten to become a repressive and authoritarian regime. Our policy must always be directed towards supporting, in so far as we can, the will of the majority, towards supporting those régimes which are going to give the maximum freedom to people to make their own choice and to lead their own lives.
We do not wish to impose our own particular dogmas on the people of South-East Asia. They are different from us they are many miles away from us; they have their own civilisation, their own traditions stemming from different origins. It would be foolish as well as wrong for us to try to say that such a method worked in the West and must work also with them. We have no desire to do that. We want to give them the opportunity of choosing their own way of life and at the same time improving their own economic standards.
With regard to China (and the noble Viscount was right to point to China as being the key country in this great complex of South-East Asia), I am sorry that he was not here when we had a debate on February 10 on this subject. Perhaps he would allow me to read from the OFFICIAL REPORT my won closing remarks on that occasion:To sum up, our intentions against China are in no way aggressive. We will resist their imperialistic ambitions wherever they may appear. But on the internal side, so far as their own country is concerned, as long as they stand within their own boundaries we shall do all we can to help them in their economic and cultural progress. The more contact we can have in that way, and the more we can work together, the greater, I hope, will be the chances of our avoiding future catastrophe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 272 (No. 34), col. 960; 10.2.66.]I recommend to the noble Viscount that he may read some of the other speeches of noble Lords on that subject.
Finally, my Lords, let me once more reiterate, and perhaps amplify a little, those ultimate objectives of which I spoke at the beginning and try to suggest that there is some progress that has been made. We have our visions, and occasionally those visions come rather close to reality. With your Lordships' per 222 mission I should like to read a somewhat lengthy quotation:I can see the day when there will be a great confederation of the independent and self-governing English-speaking nations, made clearly recognisable and effective to the outer world by some new form of international corporation … Step by step this power will advance, binding the nations together, not severing them. For it will be based upon ideas, which unite, and not upon race, which severs. And all those who share these ideas are ipso facto a part of this union … Then we shall be prepared to make an end of war; because behind the great humanitarian idea there will be the power to safeguard these ideas …Let us allow our 'dream' to materialise still further. I can see this great Confederacy of the future established permanently … And here will be sitting the great Court of Arbitration … Here will be assembled, always ready to carry into effect the laws enacted, an international army, and an international fleet—the police of the world's highways. No recalcitrant nation (then and only then, will the nations he able to disarm) could venture to oppose its will to that of this supreme representative of justice … The function of this capital to the great Confederacy will not only concern war; but peace as well … Science and art, which are ever the most effective bonds between civilised peoples, will there find their international habitation, and here will be established the great international universities, and libraries and museums … Thus will the World's Peace be insured, the nations be brought together, and the ancient inherited prejudices and hatreds he stamped out from the face of the earth.My Lords, that was written by my father in 1898 and I think we can now look—nearly 70 years later—to some progress from that idea then put forward. Another thing which should also give some cause for optimism and take our eyes away from the failures which are so often concentrated upon when we talk of these matters, is to look back to 1939, 21 years after the end of the First World War. To-day is 21 years after the Second World War, and I think that however pessimistic we may be, however much we see the clouds threatening, we must all agree that not only is the peace of the world more likely at the present time than it was 21 years after 1918, but that the methods of settling disputes, the forms of co-operation and the aid given by one country to another, all give us very great cause, if not for complacency, at least for optimism for the future of the world. My Lords, those are the objectives which we have and which Her Majesty's 223 Government will try to pursue in the years ahead.
§ Moved, that the debate be now adjourned—(Earl Jellicoe.)224
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.