HL Deb 06 July 1966 vol 275 cc1090-177

4.0 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, to turn from the security of Scotland to the security of the NATO Alliance, I am sure that we are all most grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for bringing us, as he called it, up to date on the latest Government thinking with regard to the situation of NATO. I am sure all your Lordships were moved, as I was, by the very warm tribute that he paid to our United States friends at this time, because they come in for a few hard knocks as a result of their commitments around the world. It was very good to hear from him an account of just what they have meant to us in the last twenty years. The noble Earl went into some detail about what I might call the "nuts and bolts" of NATO reorganisation, the siting of the new headquarters, the abolition of the Standing Group, the Command structure, and so on. I do not propose to follow him in these, although, of course, I appreciate their importance.

I feel particularly happy to take part in a debate which has been initiated by my noble friend Lord Avon, because I owe him personally a deep debt of gratitude. It was he who offered me my first post in Government, and this, in turn, was the beginning of nine years very close association with the Foreign Office, years which I found immensely rewarding. We recognise Lord Avon as a tireless champion of the Atlantic concept. From his wide experience and historical perspective he has always seen the fundamental unity of purpose that exists on the two sides of the Atlantic, and it was he who wrote, at the birth of the Atlantic Treaty Organisation, that unless an Atlantic Community already existed it would not have been possible to sign the Atlantic Treaty.

We have heard from him, and from the noble Earl, Lord Longford, a full and most interesting account of the circumstances in which the Treaty came into being. I suppose, to set it in its simplest terms, the main reason for setting up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was to give the nations of Western Europe a feeling of security; and, as the noble Lord said, it is to a great extent because the Organisation has so successfully achieved its purpose that there is now some question as to whether it is worth preserving. Certainly it is true to say that, whether or not General de Gaulle was President of France, and whether or not he had decided to take France out of the Organisation, the time had come to re-assess the purpose of NATO and to reorient its work.

It seems to me that, in spite of the present quiescence in Soviet foreign policy, it would be most unwise to dismantle an Organisation which has given those of us who live in Europe a feeling of confidence that war will not break out—a feeling which we have not known for the last forty years. That is no mean achievement; and an indispensable element of that confidence has been the total commitment to our defence of the United States of America, by far the most powerful nation in the world. If for any reason that commitment were withdrawn, then Western Europe on her own would find herself confronted by an array of Communist Powers to the East, having at their disposal a total of 185 divisions, 11,000 aircraft, nearly 400 submarines, many of them nuclear-powered and many of them fitted with the capability of firing missiles from under water, and 750 medium-range missiles trained on Western European targets exclusively. I wonder how long Soviet foreign policy would remain quiescent in the light of the formidable imbalance of military power which would thus be created.

I do not think we need to deploy any very sophisticated arguments to show that we shall need the active support of the United States in Europe for as far ahead as any of us can now see. What is, of course, undeniable is that recent French actions have made it more diffi- cult for the United States and Canada to give Europe such support. In the first place, the natural lines of communication for our allies lie across France. Secondly, the territory of France is needed in order to achieve the optimum dispersal of our air power. Thirdly, France was able to provide the ideal site for the political and military headquarters of NATO. Fourthly, the withdrawal of France largely eliminates the possibility of organising a defence in depth. I do not attach very serious importance to this, since we have for some time been committed to a forward strategy designed to hold any aggression as close to the Eastern borders of the Federal Republic as possible. It does, however, mean that in the event of a conventional attack—though at present the probability of this seems rather slight—there would be bound to be an increase in the likelihood of an early escalation of the use of nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, the damage to the military effectiveness of NATO is by no means disastrous. It seems probable that an arrangement can be made for the retention of two French divisions in Germany, and I am sure that France has no intention of giving up her rights and her obligations in Berlin. Of course, action will have to be taken to reorganise the military infrastructure of the Alliance. This is a tiresome thing, as well as being expensive; but it will certainly be done since it is the firm intention of the other fourteen members of the Alliance to do it.

I do not propose to go into some of the detailed problems which arise as a result of the French actions, about which we have heard from the noble Earl, Lord Longford. It seems to me that more serious may be the damage that has been done to United States public opinion, and the further damage that could be done if recent events encouraged the Soviets to believe that the Western Alliance had embarked on a process of disintegration. It is the kind of mistake which they are very prone to make, since it accords very closely with the Marxist dogma that internal contradictions must inevitably bring capitalist States into conflict with each other. Surely it would be a great pity if, by our own actions, we were to prove Karl Marx right for once.

To revert to the other danger I mentioned, the United States are suffering from a chronic balance-of-payments crisis. Rightly or wrongly, they feel that they are carrying an unfair share of the burden of civilian and military aid throughout the world; and on top of this they are ever more engaged in a shooting war in South-East Asia. In such circumstances, words or actions by any of her European allies which display hostility towards the United States and her interests can only make it harder for the President and his Administration to persuade the American people that they should continue to carry out the burdensome duty of helping to defend Western Europe.

I have tried to describe some of the unhappy circumstances which surround NATO at the present time. Taking them into account, it is clearly necessary for Her Majesty's Government to decide, first of all, what their attitude should be towards France; and, secondly, what their attitude should be towards the future of NATO. As regards our attitude towards France, I have to confess that I find myself totally out of sympathy with the methods now used by the French in pursuing their foreign policy, although by no means out of sympathy with many of the objectives of that policy. I seriously question the desirability of referring to France in terms which sound as though she were a miscreant who deserved to he punished. That is why I should not be inclined at the present stage to move the NATO Council out of Paris, so long as the French Government are happy for it to stay there, and so long as they do not seek to make its efficient functioning impossible. I appreciate what my noble friend said about the establishment of NATO in London originally, but, in view of the fact that it is now in Paris, and the French Government have not asked for it to be removed from Paris, I do not think we gain anything by suggesting—and certainly not by the British Government's suggesting—that it should be moved across the Channel to the heart of the Anglo-Saxon countries; namely, London.

No doubt we could this afternoon, if we wished, explore what seem to us to be the inconsistencies of French defence policy, but I do not think it would be wise for us to do so. In any case, there are plenty of highly intelligent and extremely articulate Frenchmen who understand these matters with great clarity, and I suggest that it would be better to let them debate these problems with their own Government, without too much assistance from this side of the Channel. However much we may think that certain French policies at the present time are misguided, there are many matters on which we do agree and a great area in which we should seek their co-operation and good will. Above all, General de Gaulle is at one with us in his implacable hostility to Communist expansion. We might therefore, when perhaps we are feeling irritated by certain French actions, remember the words of Mr. McGeorge Bundy when he was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month. He said: The spectre of a deal with Moscow is sheer fantasy, as far beyond French power as it is contrary to French intentions. I am sure that the correct way to handle the crisis, which has been created at least to some extent by French actions, is for those fourteen members of the Alliance, including ourselves, who still attach a high value to NATO, so to conduct our affairs that the Organisation retains the confidence of our peoples, and demonstrates through results achieved why it deserves their confidence. I think it is a fair generalisation to say that up till now the chief concern of NATO has been to build up its purely military capability, and I have little doubt that in the circumstances of the early years of NATO this was undoubtedly the right course. But now the time has come to switch the emphasis from the purely military to the political and diplomatic fields. This, indeed, may be one reason why there is something to be said for not moving the Council alongside the new SHAPE headquarters. For too long the Council has tended to be regarded as a political appendix to SHAPE, instead of the other way round.

What, then, are the political and diplomatic fields in which NATO should exert itself in the next period of its existence? I suggest that they can be grouped under four headings: first the German question, in general, and Berlin, in particular; secondly, disarmament and arms control; thirdly, other aspects of East West relations, of which East/West trade is probably the most significant; and, fourthly, our attitude towards the Third World. I think it would be simpler if I dealt first, briefly, with the last two points.

Successive British Governments have sought to increase contacts with the Communist countries through trade. We believe that such contacts have a political value, as well as being, in Britain's case, an economic necessity. We should press on with the expansion of such trade, but it is still important that we should co-ordinate our policies in this field with our allies in NATO because cutthroat competition in credit terms and in loans to Communist countries will not benefit any of us in the long run.

Similarly, we should continue to seek Allied agreement on the strategic list of banned goods, although I hope that this list can be very severely pruned. I remember that when I had some responsibility for these matters in the Foreign Office, we used to return to the charge every year trying to get a cut in the strategic embargo list. This was at a time when the United States Administration took a much harder line about trading with Communist countries than they do now. I hope, therefore, that we may have an assurance from Her Majesty's Government that they are doing everything they can to get the list shortened, within the bounds of prudence. Shortening the strategic embargo list is not, of course, going to bring about a significant expansion in trade, but I do not think we ought to underrate the political irritations caused by the maintenance of some of our existing restrictions.

I want to turn now, for just a few moments, to our attitude towards the Third World. It would be substantially true to say that now only the United States and Britain have military commitments outside the NATO area, and in present circumstances I believe it to be quite unrealistic to suppose that other NATO countries would be prepared to share our responsibilities elsewhere in the world. They might take more into account the burden that is imposed upon Britain and the United States; but, I repeat, I think it unrealistic to suppose that they are going to share any of these commitments with us. This does not, of course, mean that they should be denied the right to be kept informed about actions which we, or the Americans, might take outside the NATO area, but which could none the less have a significant effect upon them.

Several noble Lords who have already spoken have discussed what is the correct forum in which these wider discussions should take place. I think that, in general, the Council is the right place, but we must bear in mind that on some occasions it may look as though action which we are taking in some other part of the world is at the behest of NATO; and this is not necessarily advantageous. I think the idea of discussing some of these outside problems in smaller groups is one that is well worth examining. It is difficult to have a good and serious discussion with fifteen nations participating, some of whom may, for perfectly good reasons, have very little interest in a particular topic. Another important aspect of this attitude to the Third World is aid to the less developed countries; and here again the policies of the Atlantic partners will be far more effective if they are harmonised. It is generally accepted that this can be better done through the O.E.C.D., but I think that NATO has not only the right but also the duty to discuss in the Council the broad principles of foreign aid.

I come now to those two major items which mostly concern NATO, and the first one with which I want to deal is disarmament and arms control. I am sure we all feel a deep sense of disappointment at the almost total lack of progress since the partial Test Ban Treaty was signed in the summer of 1963, and I beg the Government not to be quite so mesmerised by the idea of a non-proliferation agreement. It seems to me that at times so much attention is paid to this one topic that other matters in the field of disarmament are not, perhaps, getting quite sufficient attention. It is true that the multiplication of nuclear powers is a real threat to world peace, but declarations of intent are themselves not likely to stop this process. The existing five nuclear Powers already pursue policies of non-dissemination, although two of these Powers would not in any case sign a treaty on the subject at present.

What, in fact, we are seeking is to persuade other Powers to commit themselves never to make nuclear weapons of their own, nor to try to acquire them. But what compelling incentives are held out to them? Precious few. The only one that seems likely to be effective is an undertaking by the existing nuclear Powers that they themselves are serious about measures of nuclear disarmament, and measures which apply to themselves. And there appears to be little sign of this even from the British Government, which represents a Party which for many years expressed the keenest desire to cast aside a British nuclear potential.

But my theme is that there is a much wider field of disarmament to be tilled: an extension of the Test Ban Treaty, of course, if we can obtain it; and, perhaps even more important, a drive to halt the anti-ballistic missile race before it is too late—for if either the Soviet Union or the United States entered into this business on what I might call a moderately effective scale (and that would be a very massivescale) the cost would be absolutely astronomical. In addition, if either of these countries tried to protect themselves with anti-ballistic missiles while not extending this protection to their allies, all kinds of new and divisive political tensions would arise.

However, to return to matters more directly germane to this debate, it now seems to be generally accepted that there is little likelihood of open military aggression in Central Europe at the present time. There is a rough military balance. That being so, why is it necessary for the Soviet Union to maintain twenty divisions in East Germany, four more in Hungary and two more in Poland, on one side, and for the United States of America to keep six very large divisions and Britain two divisions in Western Germany, on the other, while both sides continue to maintain vast armouries of so-called tactical nuclear weapons? It is a gigantic waste of resources for all concerned. I believe NATO should address itself to the achievement of substantial military reductions on both sides, supplemented by the widespread stationing of observer teams, representing NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, in both Eastern and Western Europe.

This brings me on to the whole question of the future of Germany—the main unfinished business left over from the last war. I should have thought that by now it had been convincingly demonstrated that the policy of direct military confrontation, coupled with minimal East-West contacts, which we normally associate with the names of Mr. Dulles and Dr. Adenauer and with the Hallstein doctrine, did nothing whatever to bring about the reunification of Germany. Gradually we managed to move away from this position under the consistent urgings of, first, my noble friend Lord Avon, then Mr. Macmillan, and then President Kennedy; and it is perhaps a little ironic to recall that this movement was for years strongly resisted by the French Government. Recently, there appears to have been a profound change of attitude in the Federal Republic of Germany; and, as for General de Gaulle, he somewhat belatedly strongly espoused the cause of a détente—a policy so long urged upon him by both Mr. Macmillan, when he was Prime Minister, and President Kennedy.

I would add straight away that I have the strongest reservations about General de Gaulle's method of proceeding. Without a shadow of doubt, any new approach to the East on the subjects of Germany and security in Central Europe should be made only after careful debate and in agreement with the rest of the Alliance. This should not be too difficult. Denmark and Norway have been crying out for such an approach, and I see no reason why we should expect serious opposition from elsewhere in NATO. Undoubtedly the worst way to embark on such an initiative would be through a multiplicity of individual national approaches, thus enabling the Soviet Union to play one ally off against another. By this I do not mean that individual countries should not go and discuss these matters in Eastern Europe or in Moscow, but that they should go and discuss them after they have reached an agreement about what their objectives should be. Because, if we have a whole series of separate approaches, with different objectives, it would almost certainly end up by making the Germans the chief arbiters of the fate of Central Europe. It would mean reverting to the methods of the past which were so singularly unsuccessful in preserving peace in the first forty years of this century.

It seems to me that the most sensible approach to the German problem would be for us all to consider what we should regard as a satisfactory picture of Europe in ten or twenty years' time, and the part that a reunited Germany ought to play in that Europe. I would say straight away that the idea of a reunified Germany of over 80 million people, with a special status involving compulsory neutrality and with unique restrictions attached to it which were not applicable to any other nation of its size and power, is totally unrealistic. Such a Germany would, after all, be the third most powerful nation in the world, and it cannot seriously be supposed that its people would for long accept what they would regard as humiliating curbs on its freedom of action thirty years or more after the end of the last war. Such a solution is, to my mind, sheer fantasy.

Fortunately for us, up till now few Germans have wished to see such a solution. The three main Parties in the Federal Republic, representing over 90 per cent. of the population, have made it their objective to integrate Germany into a Western Europe unified, not just for economic purposes, but for political and defence purposes also. Is this not a development to be welcomed profoundly, and does not Britain have a major part to play in this historical process—a part which the Germans, along with so many other Europeans, wish to see us play?

The argument most frequently heard in this country against encouraging such a process is that a reunified Germany welded into Western Europe would be unacceptable to the Soviet Union. It is to my mind quite likely that reunification on any terms will be opposed by Russia for some years yet, in which case we shall have to concentrate on measures which will improve the atmosphere between East and West and so pave the way to reunification in a more distant future. But I have not the slightest doubt that a reunified and totally independent Germany would be far the least acceptable solution to the Soviet Union and to all the other countries of Eastern Europe.

It could be shown that the solution I have outlined need not be alarming to the Communist countries if we had contrived to bring about a Europe in which conventional forces had been radically reduced on both sides of the Iron Curtain; in which tactical nuclear weapons had been similarly reduced, or even eliminated; in which United States forces in Europe were, at most, two divisions, and British forces, at most, one division, with equivalent reductions by the Soviets in Eastern Europe; in which mixed East-West teams of observers were stationed widely over the whole area, with their work supplemented by joint aerial supervision and by overlapping radar; and, finally, in which, so far as the Western Powers were concerned, political and defence decisions were taken by the Alliance as a whole and not by a national German Government. Would this not make Europe a pretty safe place in which to live? Would not the nations of Eastern and Western Europe have a reasonable conviction that military action or military pressure one against the other had ceased to play any part in their relationships? Would this not, in turn, lead to a massive increase in peaceful intercourse between East and West? And is this not what we all desire?

It may be that I have been into too much detail about these long-range problems, but I have a profound belief that we are at a watershed in post-war history. Are we to allow NATO slowly to disintegrate, and with it the whole movement towards closer co-operation between the nations of the North Atlantic which has brought us security and an unbroken increase in our people's prosperity? Are we really going to revert to the kind of suspicious nationalistic approach to our problems which brought war and destruction on a global scale twice in the first four decades of this century? If that is the course now to be set in a world where nuclear weapons are ever more widely spread, then truly we may be heading for Armageddon. Surely, this country should take the lead in expressing unshakable belief in the continued need to think in Atlantic terms. For NATO was not conceived simply in negative terms, as a piece of machinery to defend Western Europe militarily, but as the framework within which we should (and here I use the words of the Preamble to the Treaty): safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of our peoples founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. This task is not be done solely by deploying military units of optimum sizes, a theme eloquently dealt with by the American Secretary of State, Mr. McNamara, when he spoke on May 18 to an audience in Montreal. This task will be done by steadily expanding the scope and methods of co-operation between our like-minded nations; by pursuing political initiatives to reduce the likelihood of conflict within the NATO area; by pursuing vigorously the cause of disarmament; by Britain playing a full part in building unity in Western Europe while strengthening Europe's links with her transatlantic partners. If NATO were seen to be actively engaged on such a policy, it is my belief that there would be an overwhelming response from the vast majority of its members, and we should need to have no fear for its future.

4.32 p.m.


My Lords, in rising for the first time to address your Lordships in this debate, I have been influenced by two considerations. One is the respect I have for the noble Earl who initiated this debate. He and I have been associated, in the Parliamentary sense, for more than thirty years. We do not belong to the same Party, and in the past we have had at times strong differences. But I hope he will permit me to say that I have come to regard him as having been one of the great Foreign Secretaries of our time. He played a conspicuous part in the Geneva Conference of 1954. Indeed, he was one of those responsible for the Conference being convened. If only the so-called 1954 Geneva Agreement had been implemented (as was the desire of the noble Earl and of those associated with him) the tragedy of Vietnam, as a result of which millions of the inhabitants of that unhappy country are suffering untold cruelties and miseries, would never have occurred. I would pay this tribute to the work of the noble Earl in that part of the world.

My second consideration was the fact that I was a member of the Government of my noble friend Lord Attlee at the time NATO was born. I think the noble Earl, Lord Avon, would agree with me that at the time when he, my noble friend Lord Attlee and others represented this country at the Conference at San Francisco, where the United Nations Charter was drafted and signed by more than 40 countries, there was nothing in the minds of any of the leaders of this country, or indeed of the United States, to suggest that it would be necessary to establish a defence system such as NATO is in order to contain the Soviet Union. What happened, as your Lordships know, was that almost from the first day that the fighting was over, as the late Sir Winston Churchill wrote, the Russians constructed what he called the Iron Curtain (the first time the phrase was used) right across Europe. From that moment the policies of the Soviet Government caused grave anxiety in the minds of the leaders of the other Allies who had been associated with them during World War II.

My Lords, I first came into contact with this problem when I entered the Air Ministry in 1947 and went on the Defence Committee. There are other noble Lords present in the Chamber to-day who will endorse what I say as to the effect upon our minds of what was (or was not) taking place. First, there was the Communist take-over of Czechoslovakia. Then there was the fact that the Soviet Government had maintained their armed forces at almost the same strength as they had been at the end of the war; whereas the armed forces of the United States and of our own country had been considerably reduced as a result of a large-scale demobilisation. In June, 1948, the Western Allies (principally the United States and Britain, and, to a lesser extent, France) were faced with a major crisis as a result of the Soviet Government blockading Berlin. We were then faced with the responsibility for sustaining the lives of the 2½ million people living in that great city; we were faced with the possibilities of admitting that we could not carry out our responsibilities, of withdrawing from Berlin and, possibly, from Western Germany or of going to war. As a result of the outstanding success of the air-lift carried out by the transport squadrons of the U.S.A.F. and the R.A.F., we were able to inflict, if I may use that term, the first major political defeat that had been sustained by the Soviet Government.

In those circumstances, the idea of this defence system facing the Soviet Union was mooted, and its realisation was very largely due, as the noble Earl said this afternoon, to the efforts of the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, under the direction and guidance of my noble friend Lord Attlee, the then Prime Minister, in co-operation with the members of the United States Administration. In April, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed and, as a result, for the last 17 years what President de Gaulle has described as "a state of rigid confrontation" has existed between the armed forces of the Soviet Government and the members of the Warsaw Pact, on the one hand, and the armed forces of NATO on the other.

I want to say, frankly and unequivocally, that I agree with what the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, have said as to the vital importance of not dismantling NATO. I believe that during the past 17 years it has been a bastion of peace; it has contributed to the development of peaceful co-existence, and it has enabled steps to be taken in the direction of European unity—because, without NATO, there would have been no Council of Europe and, in my view, the Common Market structure would not have been in existence to-day. Therefore, a great deal has been achieved as a result of the existence of NATO.

But surely that does not prevent us from considering whether we must have this "state of rigid confrontation" indefinitely. While we should not lower our guard, surely we ought to be prepared to consider alternative systems, or even modifications—I think the word used was "flexibility"—in the confrontation that takes place between the Warsaw Pact Powers and NATO. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, and in a more modest capacity I myself. came during the time of the Coalition Government to know something of the qualities of General de Gaulle as he then was, and his Free French Forces. I believe that President de Gaulle is a man of outstanding qualities as a leader and a statesman, but I believe him to be wrong in his attitude towards the present military command structure in NATO. His policy of replacing an integrated command by 15 or 16 separate commands, all no doubt pledged to resist aggression if the occasion ever arose, would, from the point of view of efficiency, be a retrograde step. On the other hand, the French have made it quite clear that they do not seek to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. It may be that in three years' time, when any member State will have the right to denounce the Alliance, something will have happened to influence France to withdraw from NATO; but I very much doubt whether it would be in their national interest to do so, or whether that is likely to take place.

My Lords, I am much more interested in the proposal—if it has reached the stage of being a proposal—of the Soviet Government that there should be a pan-European security conference. The late Ernest Bevin, or rather I think it was the late Sir Winston Churchill, said that it was always "better to 'jaw' than to go to war "I have never been afraid of going into international conferences. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, has had more experience than I, and he will know that unless the ground has been properly prepared it is likely that a conference will fail. I believe that unless the ground is properly prepared a pan-European security conference will fail. But I hope, and I should like Government spokesmen to give some indication of their attitude, that the Government will be sympathetic to the proposal, provided that all the necessary safeguards exist.

I should like to impose two conditions myself. I agree with most of the previous speakers in the debate that it is futile to suggest that the United States should take their troops back to their own country. I am old enough to remember the impact on my mind and on the minds of others, like the noble Earl, who were in France in 1916 when we knew that United States forces were coming to augment our efforts against the vast German armies that existed at that time. Some of us have said that there would have been no Second World War had the United States changed their policy from one of isolation to one of international co-operation, as they have done since. That may be hypothetical, but, none the less, I doubt whether anyone would suggest that Hitlerite Germany would have been brought to its knees if the United States had kept out of the Second World War. It may be that America had no choice after Pearl Harbour.

I believe that permanent peace and stability in Europe, to say nothing of other parts of the world, is not in present circumstances a practicable proposition, in a world where arms exist to the extent that they do to-day; with nuclear weapons; with 20 million men under arms and £40,000 million being expended each year on maintaining arms. To suggest "Yankees, go home!" seems to me nave and irresponsible. No doubt some of the people who take that view were among the first to welcome the liberating forces of the British and the French and, above all, the Americans who provided the largest number. So I suggest that if we are to have a comprehensive system of selective security for the whole of Europe, the United States, and possibly Canada as well, must be associated with it.

Secondly, any such system would have to have teeth. The noble Earl will remember what was called the gap in the Covenant of the League of Nations, which paralysed the League whenever there was a crisis which justified the use of armed force on behalf of the League of Nations. The same thing has occurred with the United Nations Charter. As the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, will know, the Soviet Government refused to co-operate in establishing a military defence committee, authorised to be set up under Chapter 7. As a result the United Nations to-day is weak and ineffective. When an occasion arises it has to try to organise ad hoc forces for the preservation of peace, whereas the intention at San Francisco was that the United Nations should have adequate police forces at its disposal for the purpose of maintaining world peace. Therefore, as I say, these essentials should be borne in mind if we are to enter into a pan-European security conference.

My Lords, it may be argued that what I am saying is unrealistic; that it is too early to consider the creation of a European security system covering all 24 European countries. In that case, I should like to identify myself with what was said by the noble Earl about the need for greater flexibility. I should like to see, first, a non-aggression pact between NATO and the Warsaw Pact Governments. I should like to see the resuscitation of what we call (I do not know whether the noble Lord also calls it this) the "Eden Plan" of 1955. I should like to see the resuscitation of the Gaitskell Plan, which was summed up in the word "disengagement ". Fourthly, I think there is a great deal to be said for considering the plan of Mr. Rapacki, the Polish Foreign Secretary, for a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe. These are possible methods of ensuring a lessening of tension, and a greater relaxation and an improvement in the international climate of Europe.

I do not believe that we can just sit down and do nothing in the hope that this rigid confrontation—and it is a rigid confrontation—will end. Some indication has been given of the vast number of forces deployed, for example, by the Soviet Union, on the one side, and the British and Americans, on the other. The noble Lord who has just spoken said nothing about the eleven German divisions also deployed. The forces on both sides amount to hundreds of thousands of men, in fact several million men, who cost vast sums of money each year to maintain. I believe it the duty of the leaders of all countries to consider whether it is possible to bring about a relaxation in this rigid confrontation.

Finally, my Lords, may I say that in my view we must not overlook other parts of the world when seeking to build up an efficient system of security in Europe. I am not going to deal with the analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, of the question of disarmament, but I believe that we have to work towards the avoidance of the tragedies of Vietnam and of the Congo, of the state of tension in the Middle East and of the dangerous potentialities of the situation which exists between India, Pakistan and China. I believe that we have to work towards a transformation of the United Nations into a world security authority with adequate powers to keep the peace and enforce the peace. I notice that my noble friend who is in charge of disarmament is not here. Perhaps he will be told what I have to say about the problem of disarmament.

I do not believe that we can build up an effective system of world security, with full powers placed at the disposal of the United Nations, except in a disarming world. I think that it is completely unrealistic. Sooner or later, if we are going to advance towards a more permanent system of peace, we have to face up to the problem of disarmament. It is all tied up with the question of confidence. Germany is still divided and there will never be permanent security in Europe, never mind other parts of the world, until Germany has been reunited. I believe they have every justification for their claims. On the other hand, if they are united, there will be 70 to 80 million of them. I believe that a reunified Germany, with the background of a united Europe and of a system of collective security, would be much less of a threat than it would with the background of Europe as it exists to-day.

I should like to conclude by expressing my own thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Avon, for initiating this debate, because while in a sense it was confined to the problems of NATO, it has ranged to problems affecting world security and world disarmament. The noble Lord, Lord Harlech, referred to the need for economic policies. How right he is!—becausethere is not going to be permanent peace so long as two-thirds of the world's population live on the margin of subsistence. All these are problems which face us. I believe that the peoples and the Governments of NATO have a great part to play in solving some of these world problems.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, I am very glad that it falls to my lot to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, on his eloquent maiden speech. His father, Mr. Arthur Henderson, was the first Foreign Secretary with whom I came into personal contact, and I have vivid and agreeable recollections of that time. The noble Lord has a lifetime of experience of politics; he has had long periods of office and, as he has shown in his speech this afternoon, he brings his long experience to bear in bringing into focus the questions before us. The powerful solo of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will now become a fraternal duet, which I am sure will be harmonious to the ears and stimulating to the minds of your Lordships. It is true that at the moment they are divided by the noble Lord, Lord Snow, which may suggest that they represent two cultures, but I am sure that this is not the case. I hope we shall hear often from the noble Lord, Lord Rowley.

The nearest thing we have had recently in this country to what the Americans call "a great debate" in the foreign field has been focused on our relations with Europe. There have been campaigns and manifestos, in which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has played an active and prominent part. Much less attention has been focused on the problems of the Atlantic Alliance, or perhaps it is that less impact has been made by the discussions which have taken place. Now the great debate on our relations with Europe has reached, I think, a broad consensus, with all political Parties and the majority of independent persons in agreement that we should join the Community, if essential transitional provisions to cushion the effects of adherence to the Treaty can be negotiated. So I think that on the question of our relations with Europe the strategic issue is settled, and we are concerned essentially with the questions of timing and tactics—vital indeed, but questions which I myself would leave to the Government to probe and explore.

But the question of Europe is inseparably connected with the problems of NATO. It is, in fact, just one of those problems. Our entry into the European Community would be, for me at least, a means to an end rather than an end in itself, and it is on these wider problems concerning the strategy of the Western Alliance that a great debate is needed. Here in this country we do not seem to be so well prepared for such a debate. My impression is that our organisations dealing with Atlantic affairs, though individually they do good work, are fragmented, divided and rather weak, and they are probably short of funds. Or else, like the NATO Parliamentarians, they meet only intermittently and have no effective continuing organisation.

There is a contrast here with the situation across the Atlantic. There the Atlantic Council, powerfully sponsored, brings together all the organisations and individuals interested in Atlantic matters, with the exception of the Organisation for Atlantic Union. The Atlantic Council supports the Atlantic Institute in Paris. The Atlantic Union, though more advanced and more idealistic in its programmes, enjoys, nonetheless, considerable support in the United States, particularly in Congress. In Congress itself two resolutions, calling broadly for the strengthening of the Atlantic Alliance, are being considered, with hearings before Congressional Committees. After Vietnam, it is, I believe, as the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said, the most important subject under discussion in the foreign field. In Canada, there is similar interest and activity, stimulated by an important speech made recently by the Canadian Prime Minister.

It is my impression that very little of all this activity penetrates to this country, nor am I aware of any comparable stirring of thought and inquiry here. Maybe NATO and the Atlantic Alliance are two of the things that we take too much for granted. It is for these reasons that I particularly welcome the initiative of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, in moving this Motion, and it is a pleasure to me to follow in debate one whom I have so often followed in conferences and negotiations

We in this country have to approach the problem of the Atlantic Alliance on two alternative assumptions: either that we are able to join the European Community in the relatively near future, or that we continue to be excluded from it by the French veto or for some other reason. On the first assumption, a major point is: what, after becoming a member of the Community, is to be our relationship with North America and other parts of the world? We speak rather vaguely about the Common Market being outward looking. But this is not the sort of thing which is capable of precise definition, which can be written into a Treaty, or which can even take the form of a reservation. Yet we have somehow, I submit, to make it clear that we cannot commit ourselves to the concept of a European grouping bent on detaching itself from, or becoming antagonistic to, North America and, therefore, further weakening NATO.

There are some influences in the Common Market which would like to see it set up as a rival focus of power to Washington, and to give it what might well become an anti-American bias. Even if it is not guided in that direction, it will naturally develop an outlook and an ethos of its own. Such, indeed, is part of its purpose. But a European Community which drifts apart from the United States and Canada will have taken a wrong turning; and I find it impossible to see what tangible benefits could be gained by treating the Atlantic as a dividing, rather than as a unifying, ocean. In defence, finance, and trade, our future and that of the other Western European countries lies in staying within a wider Atlantic community, whatever modifications or technical changes may prove to be necessary in its organisation. I do not suppose there is much dispute about this in this House, though T sometimes wonder whether the staunchest advocates of the European idea give it sufficient weight. But the problem of how to establish this point and this position in negotiations is not an easy one.

My Lords, one of the disappointments of NATO has been the relative failure, in spite of many efforts, to bring Article II of the Treaty really alive. In practice, the economic and financial discussions bearing on the health of the Alliance have taken place elsewhere than in NATO—in O.E.C.D., in the Group of Ten, in the GATT and in the Kennedy Round. Perhaps the difficulty of working out economic and financial policies is inherent in an organisation devised primarily for military purposes. What the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, said about diplomatic and political questions is even more true of economic and financial questions. But the existence of the Alliance, and its instrument NATO, depends for its success on the political, economic and financial environment in which it has to operate. I am sure that in the military sphere it is important that, faced with the French withdrawal from the organisation, every effort should be made to preserve as much as possible of the integrated command. But so long as the NATO forces in being retain their credibility, perhaps some improvisation as regards the arrangements for their control—what the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, referred to as "the nuts and bolts"—can be accepted, at least for some time.

Quite apart from the political questions, which have already been covered by previous speakers, it is essential to the health of the Alliance that the NATO countries should hold together on financial and economic policies. The issue of international liquidity has been debated endlessly in the Group of Ten. Now it seems that, mainly due to the French attitude, these discussions have bogged down. Is anything better to be hoped from the Kennedy Round? We are told that the Common Market countries have taken up a position which will enable these negotiations to continue. But is there a real prospect of progress? I ask that because if we are to be obstructed militarily and stymied financially and commercially in the foreseeable future, then the prospects of maintaining the Alliance in its present form are rather poor. Progress on these questions is urgent in any event.

But what is to be our course if the United Kingdom continues to remain outside the European Economic Community and the French continue to exclude themselves from NATO? At the present moment, in NATO we are, I understand, following the policy of the empty chair. But this has only a limited usefulness. The longer the chair remains empty, the less likely it is that the absentee will return to sit in it. The seat gets colder, not warmer; and on our side, waiting for Go dot is a demoralising occupation.

It is always tempting to stick to existing lines of policy, even when they become blocked in every direction. But howlong should we sit on our hands and watch the main policies of the Alliance gradually crumble? Should not serious thought be given to alternative policies, even though they may seem to be second best? Both the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, referred to several policies which might be discussed or considered; and I agree with them that anything which was worked out without the participation of the French would, indeed, be second best.

In the economic field, there has been recently a strong revival of interest in Canada and the United States in the possibilities of a free trade area between the United Kingdom and other EFTA countries and the United States and Canada. I will not pursue these examples further. I certainly hope that anxious thought is being given to alternative policies within the administration, though the Government may not be in a position to say so. We cannot continue indefinitely to wait for Godot.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, I must first seek your Lordships' indulgence in this my maiden speech for such sins of omission or commission as I may commit. I may say that I ask for that indulgence rather less for the sins of commission, for they usually are more pleasant in themselves. I am aware, also, that reminiscence is one of the signs of increasing age, and sometimes even of incipient senility. However, I should like to refer to the fact that some twenty years ago I made my maiden speech in this Chamber on the nationalisation of the Bank of England; and I might as well confess that I thought that this would lead to a battle Royal with your Lordships' House, and that from it we might get a reformed Second Chamber. I was rather disappointed. But I am bound to say that, even now, if a reformed Second Chamber were thought desirable, I should feel constrained to vote in favour of it—although I must say that my moral resolution has already been sapped to some extent by the charm of the House and the friendliness of its inhabitants.

If I may now turn to the subject of NATO, I remember the report to the House on its formation, and I must admit that I was not particularly enamoured of it, because the formation of one power bloc has always led to the formation of other power blocs. This has been inevitable in history, and will remain so. I recognised the inevitability of it at the time, in the circumstances in which it was formed. But I thought then, as I think now, how little our civilisation had learned from this problem of the balance of power; that after two World Wars arising from the establishment of the balance of power, we had still run into it again, for the third time. I blame no-one: in the circumstances, it was inevitable, whether it was due to Russia's suspicion of America's decision to maintain alone the secrets of atomic weapons, or to American suspicion of Russia's desire to keep her large armies intact on the frontiers of Eastern Europe.

You can start from either end, but the fact remains the same: we are faced with the inevitability of the formation of power blocs. While the blocs exist in fact, though perhaps not in name, the Warsaw Pact was the inevitable result of the Atlantic Pact. What we have to look at now is what are the possibilities of getting away from it.

I must confess that I view this task with some degree of pessimism. We were getting along very nicely until Vietnam. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, said that we should not necessarily dissociate what was happening in Europe from what was happening elsewhere, and I think that that is very true. I do not think that any move can he made now about settling the difference between the Warsaw Pact countries and the NATO countries until we see what sort of pattern emerges in South-East Asia. But what we require to know (and this is where it is highly important) is that the British Government will spare no effort to get people back to the conference table at the earliest possible moment.

This carries with it certain other problems upon which we ought to have some degree of clarity. I can see, for example, no possibility of this getting to the conference table so long as what was Henry Ford's dictum remains: that you can have any coloured car, so long as it is black. So long as the dictum is likely to remain that South-East Asia, and Vietnam in particular, can have any form of Government they like, provided it is not Communist. I think there is no way out. Nevertheless, the conference table is highly necessary at this time, because I think from this we can begin to get to the beginning of the end of NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, and can look towards some more united form for the future. I say this advisedly, because let us look at the countries that are likely to be the strongest supporters of the Warsaw Pact. They are, apart from the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. These are the countries which have the greatest fear of a resurgence of Germany. These are the countries which are particularly against the reunification of Germany; and one can understand this.

It seems to me—though I know this will be regarded as heresy—that it is high time that, in order to get this degree of flexibility, to which the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, has referred, we must get to the stage at least of de facto recognition of the East German Government. I know that this will not be accepted in a very open way, but I regard it as essential. I have been reinforced recently in this particular view, because I was at a Landkreis celebration in West Germany, and I asked the chairman of one of the large county councils there, whose county is divided by the dividing line between East and West, what he thought the future held. He said that he could see no short-term solution to the problem. And remember that he could look out of his window on to the minefields and the barbed wire. He said that he thought the increasing prosperity in East Germany would probably lead to a lesser desire on the part of the East Germans to escape to the West. I asked whether he regarded this increasing prosperity as a factor, and he said, "Undoubtedly". He thought from this that there would be increasing contacts; that the process would be necessarily slow, because there would not be fear in East Germany of mass desertions to the West. This might well lead us to reconsider the question of some sort of recognition of East Germany. It may be that de facto recognition is not the right term; it might be some other type of recognition. But there is a body there which has to be recognised for the purpose.

It seems to me that this would then be the beginning of break-through between the Warsaw Pact countries and the North Atlantic Alliance. I do not underestimate the difficulties. I do not underestimate what sort of an outcry this would lead to. But if we are to look for flexibility it is no good looking for it within narrow confines. We must look at it in its broader sense. Though what we do may raise a great shout at the present time, we must remember that it is those things which raise so much noise at a particular time which before very long become accepted facts. Therefore if any moves are to be made, it seems to me that they must be in this direction.

I believe also that we should look particularly at the position of France and General de Gaulle. I have talked to some Frenchmen who say, "You don't like de Gaulle's policy. But the General won't last for ever. "But nothing succeeds like success, and the departure of the General would not necessarily mean a change in French policy. I think we have to face up to this fact of friendship between Russia and France and a unity of purpose there with regard to Vietnam. The General does not approve of American policy in Vietnam, but they are much more likely to approve and link with Russia in this aspect. I do not think we can ignore this; it is not a factor that we can wipe out as not happening. We therefore have to bear this in mind as probably a permanent realignment of French policy, so far as Europe is concerned, and it may well be the forerunner of something we shall ourselves be doing in the long run. I would add that I hope we may begin to make these moves rather in the short run.

At this time of flexibility, which has now been introduced because of the changes of policy in Europe, even in spite of Vietnam we could get perhaps some move made there, which would lead in the end to a better understanding and spirit in Europe. This in itself would be a fine gesture indeed, and I hope the Government will be able to pursue not merely the military realignment of NATO—because that in itself is sterile and can lead to no future. Nor need we think we can pursue disarmament to any great extent so long as these Pact countries exist. So long as they exist there may be a reduction of armaments in some form or other, but in my experience, and from what I have read of history, nearly every reduction in armaments has led to refinement in armaments. In other words, no one gives up real power. They may alter the basis of it, but what they look for is greater efficiency in the weapons they produce. Disarmament on that basis will not be worth much to us in the long run and is not likely to conduce to the continuance of this civilisation. My Lords, I am afraid that I have already detained your Lordships longer than I should. I appreciate very much the kindness with which you have received me and the indulgence you have granted to me.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, we are having a notable experience to-day in the quality of the maiden speeches. Of course, it is a very great pleasure to those of us who knew noble Lords like Lord Pargiter in an earlier form in another place, to welcome him and find the really striking vigour which I knew many years ago. I should remind the House that one of the notable aspects of this debate to-day is the number of noble Lords who themselves took an active part in the First World War and who still show great vigour. Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, was at Gallipoli—I think I am right in saying that—and the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, was also in the First World War.

I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, that we very much enjoyed his speech, and I think he will find, together with all noble Lords who have come from another place, that whatever may be said about your Lordships' House, and whatever criticisms may be made of it, this is an admirable forum for the sort of speech that he has made to-day, which was well up to the very high quality of the debate, with which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, should be well satisfied.

In this, I hope fairly short, intervention on my part, mainly concerned with the military aspects of the French withdrawal from NATO, I do not think I am really called on to discuss the speeches that have gone before. We have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Harlech—again I am reminded of this galaxy: three ex-Ambassadors have already spoken. It is quite remarkable, and if I may say so their speeches were not merely ambassadorial but extremely constructive and interesting and I think there is very little between us on the issues and the way they have been ventilated. Indeed, I think this has been an illuminating and useful debate from that point of view. It helps us to clear our minds and one thing stands out firmly—namely, the complete determination of your Lordships to give full support to NATO; a determination which, of course, Her Majesty's Government feel as strongly as any previous Government have done.

As my noble friend the Leader of the House has said—and I owe him an apology as unfortunately I was unable to hear his notable speech—we do not question the right of the French Government to take, within the framework of their treaty obligations, the action they have thought necessary. Of course we regret that action, and I hope it will be noted across the Channel just how generously many of your Lordships have faced up to this problem, which has caused a great deal of stress and anxiety; I think all the speeches have been understanding and charitable, if I may say so. But, of course, it is now our task, undertaken in conjunction with our allies, to do our best to assure the continued well-being and strength of the Alliance and to do what we can to refashion it to accord more closely to the needs, not only of to-day but of the future.

My purpose this afternoon is to consider mainly the military implications of the French action and to describe the steps which have been taken, or need to be taken, and to show how we see the Organisation developing. When we last considered in detail the situation within NATO—during the debate on the Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech—we already knew about the French Government's intentions, and I think it is striking how much progress has been made in the ten weeks which have passed since that previous debate. We have learned little more about the French intentions, but we have also been reinforced by the determination and unanimous accord shown by all our allies to preserve and modernise the Alliance.

On the previous occasion I drew attention to what, to me, was one of the most exciting sides of NATO—namely, the international spirit, the capacity of officers and men of different nations to work together in the utmost harmony; and I must say it is an additional cause for regret that the French are leaving, for they undoubtedly made their own special contribution to the development of that spirit. I should like to take this opportunity to acknowledge this, and to regret that the very close ties that have been established between French personnel of all ranks and their allies are now being broken. I do not doubt that there is a good deal of sorrow among the French in this respect.

Let us look at the present position. First of all, all French ground and air forces in Europe hitherto assigned to SACEUR reverted to French national command on July 1. Military headquarters and forces under NATO command now situated in France will have to move out of that country by early next year, and we have to face the possibility that in the future NATO'S forces may not have free access to French ground, air and sea space. It was agreed at the NATO Ministerial Meeting at Brussels last month that there should be discussions between France and her fourteen allies on the future tasks and missions of French forces in Germany, including command arrangements in war and cooperation with NATO forces in peacetime, and these have begun in the North Atlantic Council. Preliminary Franco-German talks on the status and stationing rights of French forces in Germany have also opened in Bonn, but were adjourned until further progress had been made in the negotiations in the Council. Until progress has been made the contribution which French forces may make is bound to be uncertain and the NATO military commanders have had to make plans to redispose the forces available to them.

It has been claimed by some that more serious than the withdrawal of the French forces assigned to NATO—the divisions in Germany, squadrons of tactical strike, fighter and reconnaissance aircraft—would be the possibility of the loss to NATO of French territory as a field of manoeuvre and as a safe route for supplies. But we have never contemplated—nor have our allies—a war in which falling back upon French soil was an acceptable strategy for the Alliance. NATO'S strategy is and remains the forward defence of Western Europe. Its commitments and deployments are based on that forward strategy and are related to the use of whatever force and weapons may be necessary to achieve it. Thus the contingency in which French territory itself becomes the battlefield or the main area of manoeuvre is so remote that it needs no further consideration.

But this is not to say that assured free access to French territory and air space for NATO forces and for the complicated network of supply, or the infrastucture, is not extremely valuable—any more than it would be right to claim that the significant military capabilities of the French armed forces could be discounted. These and other matters form the substance of the negotiations now opened between France and her allies. Whatever their outcome, however, the effect on the military posture of the Alliance will be in no way disabling.

Apart from these general considerations, there are the moves I mentioned. Already two United States C 130 squadrons have been redeployed from Evreux in France to Mildenhall. The headquarters of the 322nd Air Division, which controls U.S. airlift operations throughout their European Commands, is also being moved, from Chateauroux to High Wycombe. The speed with which this deployment has been, and is being, effected is just one illustration of how well nations within the Organisation can cooperate. This flexibility and speed of deployment is rather a striking argument in favour of the NATO Organisation.

My noble friend Lord Longford dealt in some degree with the question of the military headquarters, and I will not go further into this, though I would mention a point which has been made by other noble Lords on other occasions, that the French withdrawal might provide an opportunity for some streamlining and reorganisation. This opportunity is in fact being seized. Already there is a drastic revision of the form of headquarters structure in the central region. Where previously there were three headquarters—the major Allied Forces, Central Region, command and its subordinate land and air commands, Landcent and Aircent—now there is only to be the one command. Here again, the speed with which agreement on this change was reached shows the willingness of member nations to adjust to changing circumstances for the general good of the Alliance.

The North Atlantic Council relies primarily, of course, on the Military Committee. This Committee—and noble Lords will recall this apparently complicated arrangement—meets twice a year in Chiefs of Staff session when the Chiefs of the Defence Staffs of the member nations themselves meet to discuss issues of major military policy. Between these meetings the Committee meets in Washington in permanent session, the Chiefs of Staff being represented by high-ranking deputies, and of course the executive day-to-day responsibilities were carried out by the Standing Group. As my noble friend Lord Longford said, we have taken the opportunity to disband the Standing Group and its place will be taken by the International Military Staff.

We are thinking in wider terms than just reorganisation. In the past NATO has on occasions suffered from the disadvantage that the civilian staffs under the control of the Council have been situated in Paris and the supporting staff for the Military Committee has been in Washington. It is our aim, in order to strengthen the politico-military dialogue within the Alliance, to co-locate the Military Committee and Council machinery as soon as this proves practicable. These are some of the problems that immediately face the Alliance, and I have shown some of the ways in which they are being tackled.

My Lords, I would now turn briefly to what is really the crucial question on which France and her allies have been differing, and that is the question of integrated military structure and command. NATO is a defensive alliance and its prime aim is to deter war. But, to be effective, deterrence must be credible, and in the frightening context of modern war this requires that the peace-time military organisation is one designed for integrated command in war and that in peace-time its detailed military and logistical planning is based on the assumption of joint war-time efforts. I am sure every one of your Lordships will agree with this. But it is important to emphasise that this is one of the major issues on which we are differing with the French. I will not take up your Lordships' time further on this question, but if anyone wanted to have a suitable quotation one could do a great deal worse than quote some of the statements of the late Lord Is may on the subject of integration.

I know that one of the arguments that have been put forward against continued integration is that successful arrangements have been made between naval commanders of French and NATO forces. Noble Lords will recall that the major part of French naval forces were withdrawn from NATO to national command three years ago, but there were arrangements which envisaged co-operation rather than integration in peace and war. The naval situation is quite different. The argument we have to bear in mind is that, even in modern war, conditions at sea are not comparable to those that would apply in the land battle. Apart from the relatively narrow coastal waters, the areas of possible naval engagement are in the wide oceans beyond territorial frontiers. But, even so, whereas it proved practicable in the Atlantic and Channel areas to agree on co-operative plans between NATO and French Commanders, this was not the case where naval forces in the Mediterranean were involved. On land I cannot conceive the situation which would permit co-operative arrangements, such as those which have been accepted in certain of the sea areas, to produce the co-ordinated and speedy reaction which would be necessary and which only integrated command can provide.

There are a number of other points that I should like to mention very briefly. It is obvious that the attitude of Her Majesty's Government and our general policy, as indeed that of all political parties, towards NATO remains unchanged. The security of these islands still depends primarily on preventing war in Europe, and we regard the continuation of a strong North Atlantic Alliance as vital to our survival. Indeed, noble Lords have pointed to the success of NATO in leading to a decline in the threat to peace,. and of course this springs very greatly from the existence of NATO. So we shall continue to provide forces for integration within the Alliance while still meeting our commitments outside Europe.

It is not of course—and again this needs stressing—only a military organisation in which we are interested. We know that the NATO Council provides a very valuable forum. Those of your Lordships like the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, who has played such a notable part in the NATO Parliamentarians, will know the wide range of NATO interests. It is a point of some significance that there is very valuable basic research going on under NATO auspices in the fields of oceanography and meteorology, and even in certain biological fields; and this type of co-operation is going along parallel, of course, to the bigger efforts of bodies such as O.E.C.D.

Let me refer very briefly to the problem of nuclear sharing, which is one of the most important problems within the Alliance. The primary problem here is to meet the legitimate demand of the non-nuclear members of NATO for a greater say in planning and policy for the nuclear deterrent on which their security depends while at the same time avoiding any dissemination of nuclear weapons. This was the basis of our proposal for an Atlantic Nuclear Force, the A.N.F., which has been the subject of detailed discussion with our allies. There has been no mention to-day of the Atlantic Nuclear Force—perhaps the Opposition thought they were being tactful in not referring to it. But there have been important developments, and more recently in another direction we have played a full part in the deliberations of the Special Committee of Defence Ministers which is studying the problem. This Committee has set up three working groups, on which the United Kingdom is represented, to study the exchange of intelligence and other data, communications and nuclear planning.

The third of these, the Nuclear Planning Working Group, has discussed the philosophy of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and is examining ways of improving Allied participation in planning and consultation. We have been assisting our Allies in the consideration of these broad questions by presenting to them the conclusions we have drawn from war games undertaken by the scientific and military staffs at the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment at By fleet. Good progress is being made in all these fields, and it is noticeable that these matters are now being discussed within the Alliance on a pragmatic and realistic basis. This is important not only for the defence of the West but also as a contribution to the reduction of the danger of further proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Committee is to report to the NATO Council at the end of the year.

Another major question is that on force planning. The Alliance is taking steps to make more effective force planning, under which countries set out their plans for defence contributions for several years in advance and relate these plans, in joint consultation, and within the NATO context, to the contingencies which the Alliance may face. Only by means such as these can we hope to shape, in the long run, the contributions which the various members make and so correct the imbalances which arise, and realistically plan the most effective overall forces within the constraints of available manpower and money. Within the context of this exercise, we may well have to review in the light of changing circumstances the broad strategic concept that will govern future plans. Here, we have to stop basing our plans on artificial levels of forces for which Governments are not prepared to pay, and instead must concentrate upon the best use of likely resources and achieving a proper balance between conventional and nuclear forces within the framework of a strategy which makes sense in the conditions which now apply.

I have explained some of the developments which have occurred since the French Government decided to revise its position within the Alliance, and I hope I have given some further information on the way in which we and our allies are shaping our plans to meet the new circumstances. Negotiations continue between France and the other fourteen members of the Alliance, and we must wait the outcome of these discussions before we can reach any final judgment. We hope that France will find it possible to remain within the Alliance, on terms which will be as satisfactory or mutually agreeable as possible. But I think it is clear, from what I, and indeed other noble Lords, have said, that we can assure your Lordships that the Alliance is reacting constructively to the new French position, and that its military effectiveness is being maintained.

There are wide questions related to the future of NATO. The noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, particularly asked whether something could be said about the progress of the "Kennedy Round". I think he also said that he thought the prospects for the Alliance were poor unless progress was made. Whilst I accept that the prospects for Europe, and, indeed, for the peaceful progress of the world, depend greatly on improved arrangements in the field of international liquidity, I am convinced that NATO will continue, I believe effectively, and will not be dependent for its future success upon the "Kennedy Round". I fear that at the moment I have nothing to offer the noble Lord in regard to the "Kennedy Round". Perhaps his analogy to Godot applies equally to the "Kennedy Round" as it does to the empty chair at NATO. But I am sure that the views which have already been expressed will amply confirm, to anyone who may wonder, that there is no weakening of spirit in this country with regard to our alliances and in our determination, with our allies, to protect freedom. I am sure that any doubts will have been notably weakened by the speeches we have so far heard this afternoon.

5.44 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to take part in this debate with very great pleasure, for the opening speech by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, showed that he was still in excellent form, and gave us a tremendously good start to the debate. We have also listened to two maiden speeches, both of which I found quite fascinating. I have listened many times to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and now we have the noble Lord, Lord Rowley. I think it is the first time in history that we have had two brothers in this House. Both of them will, I know, be listened to with the greatest interest.

I was also most interested in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter. I was delighted to think that, in the few weeks since he has sat on these Benches as a Member of your Lordships' House, he has been converted from the days when he sat upon the green Benches in another place and when, he tells us, his views on the House of Lords were different. I hope that he will not now be tempted to commit hara-kiri, and that none of us will be forced to do so, either. I hope that he will address this House many times: we shall be most interested to hear what he has to say.

My Lords, I rise in this debate simply because, ever since 1958, I have been a member of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, and it is from that angle and that point of view that I would beg the opportunity to address your Lordships. The noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, has already referred to the Parliamentarians' Conference. He is quite right when he says that in the United States of America the Atlantic Council and the Atlantic organisations are financed much more generously and have much more opportunity for following on their work than the Parliamentarians' Conference. As he rightly says, the Parliamentarians' Conference meets only once a year, and has Committee meetings once a year, and we are dependent on the contributions from the various Governments. I think we are hampered by the fact that those contributions are inadequate, and perhaps our views might be heard more effectively if we had rather more support from the different Governments who are members of the Conference.

Nevertheless, I think that it is a useful Conference and, if I may, I will point to one or two of the contributions which we can make from that Conference. In spite of what General de Gaulle has said, and in spite of what we have heard from noble Lords to-day about the French position, I was impressed, last time we met in Paris, with the fact that several of the French delegates spoke strongly against the present policy of General de Gaulle. They spoke, I imagine, without any fear or favour, of being criticised, and although the delegation was a divided one, in that some members of the French delegation were strong supporters of de Gaulle, it was encouraging to find a number of people who spoke up against the policy of the French Government to-day. They were against either the break-up of the Alliance or the disintegration of the NATO defence forces.

Secondly, I have always felt, sitting around the table in Paris (or sometimes in New York, when we have met there) conscious of the fact that this Alliance is still the only European Alliance of which the United States is part, in which politicians from the United States, both Congressmen and Senators can, and do, come to Europe and at those meetings in Paris, discuss many problems, both military and civil, with fourteen European nations. I think there is no other assembly in Europe, no other treaty organisation, no other grouping in the Western World, in which this actually takes place. This seems to be an absolutely key fact, and a crucial one; and if we Europeans ignore this important point we do so at our peril.

I think it was Lord Rowley who said—and I entirely agree with him—what might have happened in the last sixty years if the United States had been part of an integrated defence force in Europe, opposing the Germans in the wars which we have so recently lived through. General de Gaulle often reminds us that he does not consider us true Europeans, and that United States forces should not be stationed on French soil. The other day, on July 1, I happened to be listening to the radio and heard a discussion coming from Carlisle between two men who had fought at the Battle of the Somme fifty years ago; they described the terrifying and terrible experiences which they had both gone through. It is interesting that in this debate we have many noble Lords who took part in the First World War. I remember vividly—I was not very old but I do remember it—a song which ran through the music-halls of the day. It went something like this: "The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming, over there." That song was current at the time when the American forces came into Europe to join us in our cause. But to-day we are in the remarkable position of having the Yanks, not coming but actually here, and nothing could be more disastrous than for a nation to pursue a policy which could possibly seem to suggest to the United States that their forces are other than welcome or are not an absolutely integral part of the peace-keeping forces of the world to-day.

In these defensive alliances, which many of your Lordships took part in framing, we have for the first time for centuries seen the soil of Europe cultivated by its swords being turned into ploughshares and its spears into pruning forks, with a success that has not happened in many long years. I believe that if we can only preserve this Alliance, not only now but in the future and for many years to come, we can look forward to continuing peace in Europe, at any rate.

At the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference we take the opportunity to discuss not only the defence side of NATO but also, and more important still, the political aspect of the NATO Alliance. Important members of the United States Assemblies, among them Senator Javits and Congressman Wayne Hayes and many others, have come to the Conference and put before us their ideas on how we can continue the integration of the forces and how we can pass from the basis of defence to a political basis for the Alliance. It would be nothing short of tragic if, after twenty years in which this Alliance has been built up, it were to be swept away overnight. We had there sitting at that conference table forty to fifty parliamentarians from all the fourteen countries—a small nucleus, as it were, of all those Parliamentarians sitting down and speaking freely. The French delegates who spoke againstde Gaulle would, I feel, speak as strongly in their Senate and in their Chamber as they spoke at that conference in May. I believe that in time their views may well have a great influence on the French political scene.

The person who impressed me most when I listened to the discussion was a young German M.P., who made a most moving plea to the French not to break up the Alliance. He said that as a young man he had grown up during the Nazi regime, he had been conscripted into the Nazi forces, along with hundreds of thousands of others, and when the war was over he and his companions had dedicated themselves, above all, to try to prevent any recurrence of that kind of terrible nationalism from which they had suffered and which they knew to be so disastrous. Above all, they wanted the West German forces to be integrated into the Western Alliance. He turned to the French and he said—I am paraphrasing because I have no record of his words, but I remember them very clearly: "If you take your forces out, then inevitably you will be forcing us Germans into being the strongest European Power. All the old fears and suspicions will rise again and we shall be back in the bad old days to which the new Federal Republic of West Germany are determined never to return." This seemed to me to be a real cri de coeur.

Here was someone begging the French not to put the clock back, because it is very easy to do that. The General can, with a stroke of the pen, put the clock back. It would be quite disastrous if this were really to happen and if we were to be thrown back fifty years. So we felt that the important thing in our discussion was to strengthen the parliamentarians' side of the NATO Alliance, so that people could go back to explain and to raise these matters in their own Parliaments in order to influence the elected democratic assemblies of Europe. We return in November to discuss again the possibility of forming a kind of Atlantic Council of parliamentarians, a body which would be able to report direct to the NATO Council, and a body which would have more power and more strength. I very much hope that we may find something in that idea so that our voices can be heard in the various Parliaments of Europe.

One realises the great difficulty which faced the Treaty-makers in 1949 in framing a Treaty which had within its make-up the powers of reforming itself. I remember very vividly many times when I was a delegate to the United Nations longing for some reforming force from inside those committees, inside the structure of the United Nations, which would enable it to meet the changing circumstances as they came up. But, over and over again every time we made any suggestions for reform they met with no support since it was thought that they altered the status quo, changed the balance of power, when in point of fact things were being altered willy-nilly by the fact that so many new nations were joining the United Nations. It is difficult to devise a treaty which has within it a reforming element.

Members of your Lordships' House have said that to-day the threat from the Soviet Union is not as great as it was in the 'forties. Nevertheless, I think many of your Lordships have said that as long as we have the Berlin problem, the problem of a divided Germany, and the difficulties which face Europe to-day, there will always be the possibilities of trouble which the Soviet Union could at any time stir up if they wished to do so. I am not suggesting that they do wish to do so, but they could do so; and if the American forces were on the other side of the Atlantic, if we were to return to the situation of fifty years ago, having to make special bi-lateral alliances, that undoubtedly would be the moment at which the Soviet Union could take advantage of the weakness of the Western European Powers. I also think that we are sometimes apt to think in terms of the frontiers of NATO being in the West, but when you see sitting round the Parliamentarians' Conference-table representatives of Turkey who are equally concerned with the security of their frontier on the far Eastern part of Europe, that is to say on the Russian frontier, you realise that that is a different situation from the one that faces the Belgians, the French, and the Western European countries with their frontier on the Rhine.

Furthermore, there are difficult problems inside the NATO Conference which are discussed almost in a friendly manner. I am thinking of a discussion to which I listened between Greece and Turkey. They are nations which we know are not working very closely together one with the other, and yet they are sitting round the conference table and supporting the Alliance. This is another political aspect of the Alliance which is of great importance: you find united on the Alliance nations which might not be united on other matters. That in itself is one of the ways to keep the peace.

I was tremendously impressed last year with the speech made by Senor Brosio, the Secretary General of the NATO Alliance. He said: There is no doubt that the Atlantic Alliance is an Alliance of sovereign and independent States, and it must remain so; but the policy of those States must take account of the fact that the Alliance exists. If the Alliance is not animated by a common spirit, it is in danger of becoming a dead letter. Moreover, no State in the Alliance as it is to-day, and certainly no European State, is any longer in a position to conduct a world policy on its own and to act alone as a counterweight to the power of the Soviet Union—or, looking twenty years ahead, the power of China. I hope that no Government—and so far we have heard both from the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that they are as concerned with the NATO Alliance as we are on this side of the House—will take action which will not strengthen the Alliance, and that our foreign policy will be based on NATO, not only in 1966 but for many years to come.

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, this debate, opened by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, is extremely opportune. A great deal of ground has already been covered, which will enable me to strike out half my notes and, I hope, get somewhere near to Lord Egremont's Motion for a five-minutes speech. I will try to do so by confining my remarks to one aspect of the situation as I see it—namely, the military aspect—because, although I should be the first to agree that NATO must be politically and economically strong, nevertheless if I try to talk about all these problems generally I may miss my point.

It should be no surprise to anyone in your Lordships' House that this French withdrawal has taken place. I remember speaking here not quite eighteen months ago, and actually striking out of my notes that the French would be likely to withdraw altogether from the NATO structure of command. I did not say it, because I thought I would be tactful; but in fact it has now happened. After withdrawing their Mediterranean fleet and, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, various other withdrawals, the French have now withdrawn altogether and made themselves into what I call, for want of a better phrase, a second-class member of the Alliance.

Although France is still a member of the Atlantic Alliance she has, for practical purposes, withdrawn from NATO, because the great aspect of modern alliances which is different from pre-war alliances (this point has already been touched on by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton) is that it is no good saying nowadays, with these intricate modern weapons and colossal systems, "I will be there on the day." Not only do you have to be a member of the Supreme Headquarters and of the integrated command headquarters, but you have to be integrated right the way down in a number of very large-scale activities.

Sticking to the military side, since its inception seventeen or eighteen years ago NATO has been divided, roughly, into the conventional side and the strategic nuclear side—the conventional supported by the tactical nuclear. The first part has not created great controversy, but the second part—the control of strategic nuclear weapons—has. It is that, plus the growing economic strength of Europe, which has put the big question mark into the NATO Alliance and made discussions so extremely complicated over the last ten years. It has to do primarily with the control of the weapon; the last-minute decision whether or not to use it. Of course, the targeting and the planning have to be gone into earlier, but the difficulty has been over the decision at the last moment; and the veto, whether we like it or not, remains in the hands of the United States. Incidentally, the present Prime Minister agreed not long ago, in another place, that it was there and should remain there.

Under these conditions, there are four different possible solutions to the NATO problem, I will take up just a moment of your Lordships' time to remind you what they are. The first is to set up a Multilateral Force, or an Atlantic Nuclear Force with much the same object; that is to say, to satisfy various Allied aspirations and to help the Europeans feel that they are part of the decision-making machine. The danger of this solution is that it does not add anything at all to the nuclear strength of the Alliance, and it impedes the Soviets at Geneva from ever agreeing to a non-proliferation treaty.

The second solution is for independent nuclear forces belonging to Britain and France to continue to be independent. We in Britain gave up that idea some little time ago—the French have not. Whether we do or whether we do not, that solution is a weak one, because independent European nuclear-strike forces are purely marginal in strength and divisive. They might not act together on the same day, for example. The third solution is to pool these various European deterrents and nuclear forces into a European deterrent force. That has been discussed over and over again, and the conclusion which I have reached is that it is a highly complicated mechanical process and unlikely to work. The last solution is to leave the NATO structure roughly as it is, with, undoubtedly, the veto on the nuclear strike in American hands. That is a solution with which many of us, including myself, are satisfied.

There is one feature (it has been mentioned by several noble Lords this afternoon) which transcends all these arguments and is common to all these solutions which I have suggested; that is, that the Americans must remain in Europe. This, curiously enough, is a unanimous recommendation. I was reading a rather involved account of a European Committee which investigated this problem, and they were absolutely unanimous; and that unanimity is really an admission of its necessity. If British and French nuclear forces kept themselves independent, they would be only marginal and would not affect the situation: first of all, because, they would be too small, and, secondly, because they would be too vulnerable. If we had a very strong Polaris force there might be something in the argument; but we have not. Conversely, there is the other side of the coin on this American participation in Europe, and that is that the Americans cannot defend their own way of life without defending Europe. That is sometimes forgotten. They need Europe as an ally just as much as the Europeans need America as an ally. Incidentally, this remark applies also to Asia. The Americans not only need allies, but could do with a few more in Asia at the present time.

Now that we are faced with this very difficult NATO situation—the undoubted fact that it has been weakened by the unilateral action, without consultation, of the French—the temptation is to act upon it rather dramatically and suddenly. I therefore entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Avon, when he says that this should make us think very carefully, and that we should act steadfastly and as flexibly as possible. I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, who said that the actual mechanical business of reorganising NATO to meet this new situation is a job for the Government. No amount of tinkering will add to the NATO Nuclear Force. The French action is based on out-of-date military policy; and although the threat, we all know, is less imminent than it was, the fact remains that it has not yet disappeared. There are 20 Soviet divisions in East Germany, and 700 medium-range ballistic missiles aimed at Western targets.

So if we are now faced with this task of reorganising NATO, I think we should give the Government every possible support, because it is a complicated task which must be conducted behind closed doors. It must not be, as the NATO discussions so often have been, in open court; whereas the discussions about the organisation of the Warsaw Pact have been highly confidential, and we have had a job to find out about them. These discussions should be behind closed doors, and we should strengthen and patch up the NATO structure as much as we can, remembering that it is very easy to destroy something but not at all easy to build it up. I therefore feel we ought to stay with the NATO structure as it is, make the necessary adjustments, and do our level best in an extremely difficult situation, remembering that NATO has been a great success in Europe. Its performance over the last seventeen years has undoubtedly been one of success, and we rather wish we had had a "NATO" in Asia. It may not be very long before we need a "NATO" in Asia, with a supreme headquarters and assigned forces, which we have not yet got.

6.13 p.m.


My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Avon, for introducing this debate. It is a pleasure to be able to congratulate my noble friend and immediate neighbour on this Bench, Lord Rowley, who speaks with great authority on these problems—almost a lifetime's authority—and also to congratulate my noble friend Lord Pargiter, with whose speech, I may say, I found myself in extremely close sympathy. I fact, if I had known that he was going to make it, I do not think I should have felt obliged to worry your Lordships further. But as I am here, I propose to speak shortly; and, since I am going to make an uncomfortable speech, I shall, for once, use notes more carefully than I normally do. If one is going to be uncomfortable, one had better be accurate.

I have listened with attention to the debate this afternoon, and to the debate we had last week about Europe. These two themes are obviously inter-connected. NATO by itself is an organisational device, primarily a military device. I think many of us would feel that it has little further meaning without French participation; that any development of NATO, or any substitution for it, except in the narrow military sense, will have to be able to be reconciled with French policy; and that we shall do more harm than good unless we are ready to listen—and listen not in a state of frozen impenetrability or self-righteousness—to French thinking.

I will go further: I do not believe that we can sensibly consider NATO without considering where our world policies are leading us. This was a point which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, himself made. By "our", I mean not only this country but the United States and Western Europe—that is, the policies for which we are either directly responsible or for which we have accepted an indirect responsibility. I want to say straight out that in my view these policies are leading us into great dangers—not immediate military dangers. If betting were permissible about the Apocalypse, I should bet against it in the short-run. But there is danger of losing our best hopes, if not our only hopes, for a decent world; and there is the long-run prospect that the Apocalypse may conceivably happen, probably not to us but to the next generation.

Summer in London, as your Lordships know, is the foreign visiting season. During the last two months I have had the pleasure of entertaining a large number of foreign visitors—many Americans, some Soviet citizens, East Europeans, West Europeans, people from Asia, and so on. A number of these visitors have been well-informed, deeply concerned, responsible men of sober judgment. I said that I had had the pleasure of entertaining them, and, for the sake of their personal presence, that is true. But there was another side, which was the opposite of pleasure. I have been struck by the darkness in which, almost without exception, they view our present world and the next two decades. I fully share it. For the last months, for two or three years past, the future of the world has seemed to me more sombre than at any time since 1936—and I have chosen 1936 very sharply and deliberately.

I have been struck, also, by the similarity of the fears which are now in the minds of a good many responsible men from various countries in the world. I made a speech in New York in 1960 about nuclear proliferations and nuclear dangers. A good deal of that speech I should make again to-day, but I now realise that I exaggerated the part played by chance or accident. I laid too much stress upon it. I believe—and I find many from different countries who believe with me—that the real danger is something quite different. It is that, taking certain assumptions for granted, sensible and honourable men make a decision which is possibly rational and certainly defensible; this leads them to another decision, also possibly rational and certainly defensible, and so on; until, at the end of this process, they arrive at actions which are sheer disaster to themselves and to everyone else.

The best and wisest man I ever knew was Albert Einstein. His political diagnoses and prophecies in the 'forties and 'fifties have turned out—it is dreadful that they should have done, and it would have been the last thing that he would have wished—more accurate than those of any man then living. He used to say, shaking his great head, thinking of just this process of rational or defensible decisions taking us nearer and nearer to catastrophe, "There is a weird inevitability about it all". It was like Jehovah brooding over a world he should never have made. I think even his supremely strong spirit lost its hope before the end.

But despair is the greatest if sins. One has got to throw that temptation away. Can we beat this process? Is there any discontinuity we can achieve? Is the system of thinking which we have enshrined in NATO, apart from its obvious practical purposes in the past, which I should be the last person to deny, capable of being shifted to good ends—that is, ends that are not only militarily valid in the short-term but which will help make a real peace? It is, or it ought to be, a platitude to say that the only hope for real peace rests in an understanding between the United States and the Soviet Union. By "understanding" I mean something more positive than what one may call hostile coexistence. It had been obvious long before the end of the last war, in fact since the middle of the last war, that unless this could be achieved there was no hope of good things. The best we could expect was that we should avoid the worst. There was no conflict of practical interests between these two super Powers; the conflict was to an astonishing extent ideological. And this ideology was sustained very strongly on the Western side as well as on the other. We must not speak as though all the ideology comes one way. I suspect that to another century this ideological war will be as hard to sympathise with as we now find the Thirty Years War.

I repeat that we have been pretty wooden on our side. In this respect the Anglo-Americans are indistinguishable. We have assumed in a mindless fashion that Communism is one single entity, coming from the same cause wherever it shows itself, utterly incapable of development or change; that is, we have tried to divide the world into two—just sharp black and white, like that. Nothing is more an over-simplification in terms of the real world; nothing is more dangerous.

The first condition for understanding between the United States and the Soviet Union is that there should be different centres of influence—capitalist, Communist and hybrids, scattered round the world. This doctrine the Americans call polycentrism. Many of us believed in it even in the days of a cold war which seemed to us in part artificial. The very fact, by the way, that the Anglo-Americans invented phrases such as "the cold war", showed how we help crystallise the condition. Now a good many more responsible non-Communists are becoming polycentrists—including General de Gaulle. His initiative last month was what many of us have been longing for for years—not necessarily in the way it was done, but in the fact that it should have been done at all. He has had many deep insights; this was one of his deepest.

I should like to echo what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said about him last week, and what the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said this afternoon. The General's initiative may be awkward; it may not fit in an orderly fashion with the processes which, as I have said, have been going on with weird inevitability for so many years. But since those processes are in danger of leading us to the most absurd conclusions, we should not shed many tears because they are interrupted. We should even be willing to bear being called by the corporate term of "Anglo-Saxons"—and that, to me, is the greatest crime of the General. After listening to last week's debate, and to this, I am beginning to believe for the first time, literally for the first time, in the European Community—not without qualification in Lord Gladwyn's sense, but certainly in the General's. So at least these debates have made one change of heart.

It is for this reason that it seems to me axiomatic that in anything we do with NATO, anything we do now, we should not be overmastered by the Anglo-Saxons' interia which is formidable: much less should we stand on our dignity; awkward associates are often the wisest and strongest. We ought here and now to avail ourselves of the French insights. I believe that in that way, and probably only in that way, can any Atlantic or European organisation help and not hinder the Americo-Soviet understanding which must be our ultimate hope.

But even there, we have to keep our social and human imagination active. I am especially glad that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, made this point in his own speech; and it was taken up by Lord Harlech. The United States pre-eminently, and to a less extent, the whole Atlantic Community, are the privileged countries of this world. We have an advanced technology with all the material advantages that brings. We are rich. The majority of our fellow human beings are poor. The Soviet Union has with effort and suffering acquired an advanced technology, and its people are now becoming rich. It would be in the long run fatal, first morally and then practically, if the rich Atlantic peoples behaved like a privileged enclave behind a stockade, using our technology to keep out, and if need be exterminate, the less fortunate outside. There are signs that without realising it we are falling into just that psychological trap.

My Lords, advanced technology has many advantages. We need it to spread world-wide, so as to take away the grosser miseries of hunger and premature death. But I am becoming increasingly afraid that it has also disadvantages. It tends to remove, in certain curious ways. the reverence for life. As one trivial example, there is the way we all accept technological death by motor accidents as though it were something absolutely removed from human control. The Americans lose 70,000 a year, which would be the losses in a serious war. We lose between 6,000 and 7,000 a year. That reverence for life has gone. We shrug it off. We shrug off death. And we shrug off the evil consequences of technological war; consequences which threaten any hope of the Atlantic Community coming to an understanding with Russia, which threaten even more profoundly our final hope of living in peace with our fellow human beings at present poor.

I do not want to say much about this; but if I said nothing I should feel less than human. The chief feature of war fought by an advanced technology is that it is indiscriminate. The more powerful the weapon—whether it is a biological killer, high-explosive bombs, fission bombs or hydrogenbombs—the more it kills at random. There is no escape from this. Nearly everyone in this House knows something about bombing. We have assisted at it, in the French sense; we have been able to study what our own so-called strategic bombing did. We know as well as any people alive the lies we told and the hypocrisies with which we comforted ourselves. So when an advanced technological country fights a primitive one it is bound to commit—there is literally no escape from it—more atrocities on the innocent than the other side can possibly do. This is another example of Einstein's weird inevitability. And this is, of course, the situation in Vietnam. I want to impress on noble Lords opposite—and perhaps on some of my noble friends—that that is one deep reason why some of my noble friends here, for whom I am speaking, and certainly I myself, feel that our world is growing darker.

My friends and I are sober-minded people; we are not at all inexperienced in these matters. We were apprehensive about China long before it was fashionable to be so. Those statements I am sure noble Lords will accept. We know as well as any noble Lord here that in a civil war of the Vietnamese type there will be atrocities on both sides. We have had to learn something about war; but we also know that, inevitably, far more of the innocent must be killed by indiscriminate technological weapons. I do not want to sound alarmist in the immediate sense. It seems to me unlikely that at present, in our lucky enclave, we are in physical danger. Other kinds of danger are more difficult to judge, but I regard the future much more gravely.

My Lords, I will leave aside the other kinds of impalpable danger that we may be inflicting on our own spirits and our own societies. I am sure that, in a much more prosaic fashion, we are laying up trouble for ourselves. Political memory in our English terms lasts about a fortnight; historical memory is much more difficult to rub out. For instance, the working-class in this country has not forgotten the slump of 1931. Or, when one goes into any home in Russia, one has the impression that the Hitler war might only have ended yesterday—a point which I wish noble Lords would sometimes realise for it explains a good deal of Russian policy. Or, again, in the South of the United States a war which ended 100 years ago can still show wounds. All these historical memories are affecting to-day's political life. I am deeply afraid that the historical memories left by the manner in which advanced technologies fight their wars will affect political life for the rest of this century. I do not believe that you can talk to almost anyone from Asia to Africa, however benevolent, however detached, and doubt it. And a good many Asians and Africans less benevolent and less detached know that for a spirited country acquiring an advanced military technology is not too difficult—an advanced consumer technology is far more of a problem.

It is obvious that the present balance of technology is not permanent. That should he enough to make us reflect. One can imagine a situation in which the Atlantic Community became a kind of large-scale Byzantium, trying desperately to keep up its defensive skills. That would not be a specially good fate or end for NATO. It is not one that most of us would think satisfactory. We may be able to avoid it, if we take advantage of this period of violent change to get rid of the preconceptions in our minds and try to think. We shall not think effectively, though, unless we eliminate the clichés and the stereotypes. I do not think there is any human activity so littered with clichés and stereotypes as international relations. If we are to make anything useful of NATO, we must think it out from the beginning, without the cotton wool. We have a chance to do that, just because so much is breaking up around us. Noble Lords and I and my friends differ on many things this afternoon, but one thing on which we are all quite clear and quite agreed is that this is a critical time when decisions must be taken. It is one of the times when the worst mistake of all is to go on imperturbably as though nothing was happening.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down may I ask whether, as he said I did, he accepts the ideal of the formation of a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals?


My Lords, that seems to me a rhetorical phrase, and I find it rather hard to attach a precise meaning to it.

6.34 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps I should explain that I am rising because it is not possible for the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, to participate in the debate at this point. I wish very sincerely to express my appreciation to the noble Earl, Lord Avon, for giving us an opportunity to discuss this issue to-day. He has travelled far in order to open this debate, but I think that all your Lordships will feel that the debate has been tremendously worth while. We have often had political disagreements, but may I say that it was good to see the noble Earl in such fine physical form and voice to-day.

My Lords, I expected that when I rose this evening I should have to begin by saying that mine would be a lonely voice in the debate. I am following the noble Lord, Lord Snow, and I want to say to him how much many of us appreciate the contribution which he has made. The noble Lord expressed in philosophic and literary terms the thoughts which many of us, in a cruder way in a political sense hold so deeply. May I renew what the noble Lord Snow said about the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Pargiter, and associate myself with him in his appreciation of the point of view then expressed. I was not present when my noble friend Lord Rowley spoke but, knowing his contribution in another place, I am perfectly sure that his speech also was of great value.

The plea that I want to make to your Lordships' House to-night is that we should appreciate that we are now living in a different world from the 1940s when NATO and the other military alliances of the world were established; and I believe we must adjust ourselves to that changed world. We are living in a changed world, first, because we have had the great emergence of the nations of Asia and Africa to sovereign status with their membership of the United Nations and the contribution which they are making there to world affairs. We are living in a changed world in the second place because of the new power of China and its significance, not here in Europe, but in the Far East. We are living in a changed world in the third respect because in the 1940s while the cold war and the fear of Russia was the dynamic conception in international relations, to-day it is not so. If the world is threatened by war to-day, it is not so much directly because of an opposition between the West and Russia as to the division in the world between the underdeveloped nations and the developed nations; between the peoples of the world who are hungry and the peoples of the world who are rich.

If war comes with Russia, or with the Communist countries, it will be incidental to the ideology of West and East. It will arise front circumstances, as are now indicated in Vietnam, which go deeper, to the issue of the conflict between the underdeveloped and the developed nations. I believe that we have to do some fundamental rethinking of our whole conception of international policy to appreciate the new world in which we are living and to begin to pursue policies in international affairs which reflect the world of to-day and not the world of 20 years ago.

I was very interested in what the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said with regard to France. I am perfectly sure that the noble Earl would agree that the weakness which has come to NATO because of the large withdrawal of French support is not just due to the fact that General de Gaulle is now President of France and its leader. What has happened in France is part of the historical process, of which we also are part. It was due to the psychological situation in France at the end of the war. It was a country a little humiliated, divided, and it found in General de Gaulle a champion of its new self-reliance and of its position in the world. What is happening in France to-day is the emergence of a national psychology which is determined to raise the status of France and which feels humiliated by American power in Europe. While the tendency to resent American power in Europe has taken its extreme form in France, it is inevitable that the same psychology should exist in other parts of Europe as well.


My Lords, does the noble Lord feel humiliated by the presence of American troops in Europe?


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, I do not want to be interrupted in my main argument, and I will continue. It is possible that, as I proceed, I will deal with the point he has in mind. I was arguing that this psychology in France, which resents American domination in Europe, is not limited to France. It is widespread among many peoples in Europe. And when we think of the military alliance of NATO we must understand these under currents of feeling, which are finding extreme expression in France and which are to be found in many other countries as well.

I want to submit to this House not only that NATO is weak as a result of these circumstances, but that to-day NATO, 20 years and more after its formation, is becoming out of tune with present tendencies. Indeed, it is becoming obsolete. I believe that history is passing it by. It was formed in the 'forties because of the fear of Russian attack on Western Europe. Does anyone fear that now—or rather, does anyone fear that out of European causes of war Russia will attack Western Europe? It may happen as a result of occurrences in other parts of the world. It may happen because of what is happening in Vietnam at this moment. But the original purpose in establishing NATO was to have in Western Europe a military force which would be prepared to meet the danger of Russia attacking Western Europe.

I say to this House that that view is now obsolete, that that view is not in tune with present developments in foreign affairs. No one believes that to-day, except as a consequence of events outside Europe, Soviet Russia is likely to attack Western Europe. This has wider aspects. Britain, America and France have their troops in Western Germany. They went there to meet an attack by Soviet Russia upon Western Europe. To retain them there now is completely out of keeping with the changed situation I have described. In my view our concentration in Europe now should be on ending the division of Europe between East and West, between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. We are living in a period of history when the opportunities for this are opening out. It is not only NATO that is weak; it is also the Warsaw Pact.

I thought that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, did not take a serious enough view of the attitude of Roumania. This is not only the attitude of Roumania; it is finding expression also in other Eastern Communist countries, where demands are being made for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for an effort to secure a European security pact to replace the Warsaw Pact and NATO. It is not only on the NATO side that these tendencies are taking place, but on the side of the Warsaw Pact as well.

I come into strong conflict with the noble Earl, Lord Avon, in reference to the proposal for a European conference. I am not going to delay my speech by describing the efforts that have already been made to hold such conferences. There have been efforts to hold both cultural and economic conferences. My one regret is that the policy of British Governments has been to deter those efforts to bring about such all-European conferences. Where I differ from the noble Earl is on this. He insisted that America should be present at a European conference. Why? America has for its own continent its Organisation of American Unity. America would resent any suggestion of a non-American country being present at an O.A.U. Conference. I believe we have to establish in Europe the same sense of self-reliance, the same determination to deal with our own problems, the same belief that if European issues are to be settled, they are to be settled by Europe itself without the influence and without the domination of America. I believe we have to approach these problems in this spirit, if we are going to find a European solution.

We have the Strasbourg Assembly. America is not there. The Assembly represents the Governments of Western Europe. At this very moment a conference of Governments of Eastern Europe in the Warsaw Pact is meeting. Here, in West and East, there are the possible bodies which might together have the all-European conference which would begin to settle the problems which are ours in Europe. Why not get together? Why not extend this so that those who are outside these two bodies—Yugoslavia, Sweden and the neutral nations of Europe—might attend also?

I am arguing that our military alliances at present linger from the past and do not reflect international affairs to-day. We are speaking about NATO, but I believe that the same is true of SEATO and of CENTO, those military alliances in Eastern and Western Asia, which are so ineffective. Our participation in them means that sometimes we are opposing the progressive and dynamic changes of our time, and become identified with Governments which are withstanding the uprising of the peoples in their own nationhood and in their desire for economic emancipation.

I want to urge, in conclusion, that the safest guide for this country is not to make our first object the obtaining of allies. I believe that the first object of our Government and country should be to determine the principles of their approach to foreign affairs, and then to apply those principles in the policies they pursue. New, progressive and creative forces are now arising in the world—the emergence of the nations of Africa and Asia, to which I have referred—seeking not only their political freedom, but freedom from military and economic domination.

Then there is the emergence of China, which will not be met by seeking to contain Communism, but only by seeking to find a basis of co-operation with a different social pattern in the world. If there is criticism of the ideology of China to-day—a criticism which I share—again, we have to see it as a part of the historical process. It was the ideology of Soviet Russia in the early days, because Soviet Russia was isolated. It is now the ideology of China, because China is isolated. We must break down that isolation by seeking to open the doors for China's entrance into the United Nations, and seeking to cooperate with her in every conceivable way where that co-operation will break down the barrier between her and the rest of the world.

The present Alliances—even NATO, and certainly SEATO and CENTO—are be- ing held by people scattered about the world as representing old, dominating forces against the new, progressive, creative forces of the world, and a progressive Britain will fail if it just relies on alliances of that kind. My plea is that we should decide our principles and policies; that they should be directed to peace, to disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, to co-operation between nations, whatever their social pattern, the removal of the gulf between rich and poor nations, and the recognition of the need to build the authority of the United Nations, and to accept that authority. If those were made our principles in all our policies, we should draw to ourselves the progressive forces of the world; they would become our natural allies; and certainly we should find great support among the new nations which have their representatives at the United Nations. My Lords, I believe that if this country would adopt a foreign policy of that character we could become the moral leaders of the world towards peace, towards freedom and towards justice.

6.55 p.m.


My Lords, this, I think, has been one of the most notable and memorable days in this House for many a long month. We have heard an extraordinarily fine speech from the noble Earl, Lord Avon, in introducing the debate. We have heard from some of the architects and constructors of NATO itself. We have had two most notable maiden speeches this afternoon from two of my old colleagues from another place, and I should like to say to my noble friends Lord Rowley and Lord Pargiter that they have truly distinguished themselves on their first appearance in this House. They made able, experienced, real Parliamentary speeches, and I congratulate them both. Then I find myself following this most notable speech by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. One cannot always agree with what the noble Lord says, but one can agree with how he says it. Before that, if I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Snow, gave us an outstanding speech. Part of it, to me, at any rate, was something like verbal science fiction; but I think I shall defer my pronouncement upon it until I have had the opportunity of reading it to-morrow morning.

I have felt during this debate to-day, notable though it has been, that there was an air of depression around: depression because France had torn NATO asunder; depression because we feel that we are not acting up to the spirit of our age. I, and all of us, have lived with NATO for the last 17 to 20 years. It was born of the "cold" war, as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has said. To-day the measure of its success in Europe is the fact that we have had 20 years, it is true, of uneasy peace; nevertheless, we have had peace.

I turn for brighter tidings to the communiqué which was issued by the fourteen Ministers following the NATO Council of Ministers at Brussels on June 7 and 8 last. I know that these communiqués are often mere bromides, but this one, I think, is realistic in most parts. There is very acceptable reading and encouragement in this document. Paragraph 2, in fact, reiterates what they hope to achieve in the continuance of their efforts in NATO. The Council reviewed the state of the Alliance. After a frank exchange of views, Ministers agreed that the maintenance of the Atlantic Alliance is as necessary to-day as ever, in order to safeguard the freedom and the common heritage of their peoples founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. That is what my noble friend Lord Brockway wants, and it is what the Ministers want.

Perhaps your Lordships' depression was slightly shared by the Council of Ministers, because I find that in paragraph 6 of this communiqué they said—and I think this is a notable paragraph: In view of the basic aims of the Soviet Union, the level of its armed forces, and its continuing allocation of a high proportion of economic and technological resources for military purposes, the Ministers concluded that it is imperative for the West to maintain adequate forces for deterrence and defence. With this I heartily agree. This was partly the reason why NATO came into existence some 20 years ago. This is why I believe that NATO, though somewhat reduced in value to-day, should continue, and continue to make its defence efforts. This means that America is still needed. Of course, America is in the Alliance through its self-interest. But that self-interest includes the peace of the world, and that is not a bad thing to show self-interest in. Europe is still the front line of American defence, and the North Atlantic Alliance in fact covers a wider area than Europe.

A few moments ago my noble friend Lord Brockway said that he considered that Europe should disentangle itself from American military support, and that it should remember that it was Europe. I think this is taking too narrow a view of the world to-day. We are all good Europeans as well as British, and, equally, we are all good supporters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation which includes the physical territory of North America and the Americans and their defence. Therefore, I feel that Europe is one of the cornerstones of American and NATO defence.

The cost to America of membership of NATO has been untold millions of dollars, and we should not hesitate to say, "Thank you" on this occasion when we are taking stock of our NATO Alliance. Even if the American presence is not exactly popular to the British man in the street, it has grown onus. It has given us additional confidence, and to-day we accept it. As one of the previous speakers said, there is a need for NATO in American terms. It has been accepted by the American man in the street, and in the dollars of taxation which go with it. Cold-war confrontation has been accepted by the Americans, and it has led to the maintenance of peace in Europe. There is always the danger—and I believe it to be a very real danger—of America again going isolationist. This constant nagging and knocking at America by many people in this country is something of which we should beware, in case the Americans grow cold on us.

I conclude this section of my speech by saying that I consider that NATO has been one of the major peace-keeping efforts in the post-war world. It has been an outstanding example of international effort. Now, unfortunately, the withdrawal of France, or the part withdrawal of France, has thrown it into the melting pot, and that is really what this debate is about. Expensive bases in France are being uprooted. Expensive and well-organised headquarters in France have had to go, and SHAPE has had to reshape itself. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, told us to-day, the movement of these bases from France to this country has been a notable exercise in logistics. Already American forces have arrived in East Anglia, where they are most welcome. Already they have arrived in my old constituency of High Wycombe, and I feel sure they will be accepted there as friends and colleagues, as in the past.

But it is difficult for us to understand why President de Gaulle has had to take this attitude to NATO. NATO has given France protection when it needed it most. It helped to restore the self-confidence of France after the war, and it has contributed to France's economic recovery. Here I must speak out. I am not one of those who had the honour and privilege of knowing General de Gaulle when he was in this country during the war. I did not fall a victim to his charm and his personality. But I will say that, speaking entirely of my own accord, it is my view that NATO has not given President de Gaulle full fling for his ego. It has not given him the gloire which he seeks in the world. There has not been enough liberty and equality in it for him, and there have not been enough atomic secrets for him, either. One can understand why he has moved on.

As many noble Lords have said, the heat is off in Europe now. The Soviet Union is better behaved in Europe, and Eastern European countries have more freedom to act. We all know this. So does General de Gaulle. But he, unfortunately, prefers to desert his old friends and go seeking new ones. Is the time not ripe for all of us to have a new look at Europe, a wider Europe, a Europe where East is not so Eastand West is not so West? Is there not a "wind of change" blowing in Europe? Here I agree with my noble friend Lord Brockway. Europe must not always remain divided. These questions come to us not only from the West and the type of conference which the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, mentioned, but from the East also. Hence the conference which has been taking place during the east few days at Bucharest, and which issued its communiqué yesterday, which recommended more effort to get East-West relations, and the discussion of such, improved. This is why we have détentes by Poland and Roumania.

This movement by the countries in the Eastern bloc, the Warsaw Pact, has been going on because of the admitted freer and easier present-day Russia. Russia is permitting them to talk more than she has in the past. So we can say that there are rumblings in Roumania and Poland, just as there have been in France. But in my view we should not rush into new groupings, and we should not show the cold shoulder, either. Our minds must remain open. New ideas can come from Bucharest as well as from Brussels, so when the Council of Ministers meets again at NATO in October, let them question themselves whether East is still East and West still West.

I am happy to find that they have included this in the very communiqué to which I have referred, in which they say: Ministers directed the permanent representatives to continue to examine closely the prospects of healthy developments in East-West relations"— this sounds a bit "bromidish", I believe— and to prepare a full report on these questions.…This report, which should deal with all possible initiatives in this field, would cover, inter alia, problems connected with European security and German reunification. So in fact they are preparing the way for a closer scrutiny of this problem.

We, to, are asking questions and are searching for answers. The Defence Review cast its searchlight on the British cost of defence in Germany, and we have not the answer yet—at least, not the answer we want. Perhaps Germany feels it is part of a larger corner-stone in the NATO Alliance, following the semi-withdrawal of France. Perhaps she feels herself now to be much more necessary to the Alliance, so she feels she can be a reluctant subscriber to our costs of defence in Germany. I hope we shall insist on collecting the cost of patrolling Western Germany. I believe we should not encourage too many essays at German reunification, and we should keep the German mind away from thoughts of nationalism. There is no doubt that there is a possibility of the resurgence of German expansionism. German ambition is still one of the great fears of Eastern Europe, and I believe this is what will defer, for many a long year, any question of German reunification.

NATO, with its sense of a united Europe from the military and security points of view, is still the best antidote to the fear of German resurrection and I believe the fourteen nations should continue to keep it so. On the other hand, I believe that we should not let France go too easily. She may be an uneasy partner now, but she still has an important role to play in the defence of Western Europe. Let de Gaulle flirt with the Soviet, but already perhaps he has learned that the Russian bear is not exactly asking to be cuddled. Marianne may be a bit fractious for him at the moment, but going East will not necessarily win him back her favour.

There is clearly a fluidity in Europe at the moment, but before we think of breaking up proved arrangements let us be sure that European security can better be served by some other organisations which have been so freely canvassed in the last hour or so. In my view NATO must always remember its vital role in bringing East and West closer together, and always be prepared to take political initiatives. In this way it can best deny any aggressive intent and can best prove its peaceful purposes.

7.12 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will probably think it rather impertinent of me to contribute to this debate in which so many distinguished politicians and diplomatists have spoken. I belong to the next generation, of which my noble friend Lord Snow, spoke, threatened perhaps by the Apocalypse of which he spoke. I shall have to live for a long time with the problems of NATO and its relations with the Soviet bloc, and I speak because I am very concerned about the future. I want to ask some fundamental questions about NATO which most of your Lordships, with the exception of my noble friend Lord Snow and my noble friend Lord Brockway, have taken for granted.

First, what is the purpose of this Alliance? Is its existence as justified in 1966 as it was in 1949? If so, why is it justified; and for how long? I feel that the answers to these questions are far more important than the comparatively petty domestic issues of streamlining the organisation or coming to terms with France. You may say that the purpose and justification of NATO are obvious. We are threatened; we wish to defend ourselves against, and preclude the possibility of, military aggression from the Soviet bloc, which we believe would be launched against us if we did not prepare ourselves to meet it. I believe that this apprehension is illusory. The conditions of modern warfare, the change in attitude of the Soviet leadership and the ideological differences between Russia and China have been such that for years the danger of invasion by the Warsaw Pact countries into the NATO countries has been no greater than the danger of an invasion by NATO into the Warsaw Pact.

I want to take up my noble friend Lord Haire of Whiteabbey on his quotation from the Communiqué issued on June 9. The words he quoted were In view of the basic aims of the Soviet Union, and its continuous allocation of a high proportion of economic and technological resources for military purposes, the Ministers concluded that it is imperative for the West to maintain adequate forces for deterrence and defence. I want to ask my noble friend whether he cannot imagine that at a meeting of the Warsaw Pact Ministers a paragraph from their communiqué might read: In view of the basic aims of the United States and its continuous allocation of a high proportion of economic and technological resources for military purposes, the Ministers concluded that it is imperative for the East to maintain adequate forces for deterrence and defence. Would he not think that just as valid a position for the Warsaw Pact countries to adopt as the statement he quoted?


My Lords, if I may be permitted to answer the noble Lord, it is not my wish to prolong the NATO Alliance one minute longer than it is needed; nor is it my wish to prolong the Warsaw Pact one minute longer than it is needed. But for the moment both sets of Ministers apparently believe that it is needed, and they might both very well include that paragraph in such a communiqué.


But, if that is the case are we not in danger of getting into a vicious circle? If we arm ourselves because they arm themselves, can we blame them for arming themselves because we are arming ourselves; and can we blame the impartial onlooker for saying that the two of us are fools? I think the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, touched on this aspect. If we are not fools there must be something more fundamental which divides us.

Unfortunately this is so. There is an insidious ideological argument ingrained in the thinking of many of the citizens, and I am afraid of some of the Governments, of the NATO countries. My noble friend Lord Snow eloquently described the danger to which this kind of thinking can lead. I should like to put what I might call the anti-Communist case—I hope that I can put it clearly. It would go as follows, anti-Communist speaking to a Communist: "I find your system of government repugnant and evil. You have established it by terror and you maintain it by imprisoning anyone who criticises it. Moreover, the system itself is one in which the individual is made subservient to the State, which is a notion I detest. Finally, you say that you wish to impose your system, by force if necessary, upon the world. For these reasons I am ready to fight you, and I suspect any overtures of peace which you may make to me".

This case, which I hope is a fair statement of the anti-Communist case, contains four propositions. First, that the Communists have committed atrocious crimes. True. But Stalin died thirteen years ago, and our relations with other non-Communist countries, like Germany or Japan, have not been notably affected by their past history. The second proposition is that the Communist Governments are totalitarian. True. But Portugal and Turkey remain members of the Alliance, and I can say from my own personal experience in Hungary that I am quite certain that the power of the State there is exercised with far greater liberality than it is by dozens of régimes and juntas supported, rightly or wrongly, by the Americans in South-East Asia and in South America.

The third proposition is that the Communist Governments are Socialist. True. But surely, my Lords—and here I speak principally to the leaders of my own Party—is this not a reason why we should be taking the lead in a rapprochement with the East? In my own conversations with the Hungarian authorities I found a sympathy which was extremely stimulating, because in so many fields our aims were almost identical. Fourthly, the anti-Communist would allege that the Communists wish to take over the world by force. This, I say, is false. I doubt whether any Kremlinologist would claim that this ambition forms part of the Soviet canon of principles in 1966.

I have made it clear that I do not believe that there is any ideological case for continuing this confrontation. I would go further and say that there is a grave risk that the NATO Alliance, lacking a genuine military justification, is being shored up by a bogus ideological conflict. I would urge the Government to he completely impartial and open minded in this respect and to stick by their impartiality and open-mindedness even though they find it is not shared by some of their partners.

My Lords, I would end my speech with two general conclusions. First of all, in the absence of any broad reason, military or ideological, which justifies the existence of either Alliance we must turn our minds actively to the one local point of tension, Germany. For years we have been sitting and looking at Germany and waiting for a miracle. So far as I know, no specific proposal for a solution of the German problem has been seriously discussed or put forward by ourselves or by the Americans, by the Germans or by the Alliance. We should throw Germany willy-nilly into the centre of the international debate. We should posit all the alternatives. We should welcome ideas from wherever they come. The partition of Germany is not the cause of the cold war but the effect of it. If the cause has disappeared surely we can settle the results.

My second conclusion is that initiatives for a solution of the whole problem can be more effectively taken by one or two countries acting independently than by fifteen collectively. When my noble friend Lord Chalfont said last month in Paris that NATO should be used as a basis for negotiations with the East I was most interested I asked him a Question about it. But on reflection I feel that this does not go far enough. Many noble Lords have said that the United States must be brought into any negotiation on a settlement of Europe. Ultimately this is true, but that does not prevent us from going out and seeking ideas, talking with the Swedes, with the Poles, with anyone who shares our desire to end this confrontation, and in doing so we should clear ourselves of any suspicion that we share that kind of anti-Communist prejudice which I have described. I am convinced that we can take the lead in hammering out a peaceful and harmonious settlement of European problems. My Lords, I end by saying this. Twenty-five years ago we were allied to the Russians and opposed to the Germans. To-day we are allied to the Germans and opposed to the Russians. Can we not start working for the day when we shall be allied to both?

7.24 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to follow the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, who preceded me, but I would suggest that perhaps he might read to-morrow the speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, because a very great deal of his remarks in regard to the Warsaw Pact have been dealt with very fully in those speeches, and the rest of his speech would then be irrelevant if he agreed with what those noble Lords said.

To-day your Lordships have been treated to a wonderful wealth of talent from all parts of the House, and I think this is very largely due to the fact that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has come down to open this very important debate upon NATO. I know I reflect the views of your Lordships, wherever you may sit, in saying how very pleased we are to see him in such excellent order, and also to have the benefit of his speech to-day with the authority which anything he says on matters pertaining to foreign affairs always carries. I will make certain references to his speech later on in my remarks.

But first I want to go back. The only reason I have any authority to take any part in a debate of this kind among these great ones is because during the last eight years I have been closely associated with the NATO Parliamentarians. I believe—and I shall try to prove to your Lordships—that they, or some body equivalent to them, have a great future part to play in helping the NATO Governments in the years to come. I confine the beginning of my remarks to the NATO Parliamentarians, and follow the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, who has been a regular attender at our conferences, again, I think, for eight years.

Many noble Lords in different parts of the House have come out on delegations, and they will appreciate the work that has been accomplished. Sometimes it has been frustrating, at other times highly successful. But the one thing I am absolutely convinced of is that during this period of eight years, quite clearly, without much Press publicity, we have been able to influence international events for the benefit of the Alliance and of Europe and of the Western World. The fact that there is not a great deal of publicity has been all to the good, because when events do come off it is not hot news and therefore not given publicity. It is only when things are radically wrong one gets a great deal of publicity.

This body has been able to help. It is a curious body because it is an unofficial body but backed by the Governments of NATO countries. We have only one conference each year, usually held in Europe, in Paris, but every five years we go to North America. Last year we were in New York; in 1959 we were in Washington. We very seldom take votes, but, as I say, good results have been achieved at our deliberations. So much for the background of this body. I think they may be able to help in the days and years ahead.

This year, 1966, is a critical year for our Alliance, due to the communication of the French Government—and I underline the word Government—in their Note of March 12 to their NATO partners. In effect, as your Lordships are well aware, but putting it in one sentence, the French Government, while wishing to remain a member of the Alliance, are divorcing themselves from the NATO organisation machine, which means from the infrastructure of the Alliance, and that brings with it very serious technical and other problems. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, this is all very distressing; your Lordships in all parts of the House are very distressed by these events. But I can assure your Lordships that, in our experience (and the noble Baroness Lady Elliot of Harwood touched on this), this view is not held by all, or indeed I would say the majority of, the French Parliamentarians; not at all. In our deliberations we found very much the contrary: that there was great anxiety even amongst the members of General de Gaulle's own Party.

I should like to quote two sentences from a statement made at the French branch of the Atlantic Treaty Association on March 30: Even if one could be certain of the peaceful intentions of MM. Brezhnev and Kosygin, we still remain at the mercy of one of those palace revolutions which in a matter of hours changes the ruling team in the Kremlin. What do we know of the intentions of their successors? That was from a body officially recognised by the French Government, the French branch of that Treaty Association.

The conclusions, therefore, on this line of argument are, first (and I think your Lordships would agree with this), that it would be foolhardy to the utmost degree to dissolve the military organisation and the political solidarity of the West; and, secondly, as a converse to that, as a united body the Atlantic Powers are now well placed to promote economic and possibly political agreement with the Soviet bloc.

Here, I should like to give your Lordships one last quotation. It is from Signor Brosio, the Secretary-General of NATO, for whom I have a great personal regard, and who is doing a difficult job extremely well. In an address to the Royal Institute of International Relations in Brussels on March 31 of this year (I quote this to show the mistaken belief that NATO and the NATO Councils are a lot of reactionaries, which is far from the truth) he used these words: Some think that it will soon be the right moment to offer to the Eastern European countries our economic co-operation, a kind of new Marshall Plan, which could lead to a definite form of political understanding. Why not?… Then he went on to say: … provided we do not expect economic agreements to lead automatically"— that is the operative word— to political agreements, a result which the recent experience of the European Economic Community shows cannot be assumed…But there is one point on which I must insist … If everybody recognised that the problems posed by the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe can be solved only by agreements negotiated in common, and not by the individual initiative of this or that Power, there is no problem, even the most difficult, which could not be mastered. In other words, if we continue to be united and continue to act as a united Power, in the view of the Secretary-General there is much that we can do at the present time in regard to East/ West relations. This was touched on by my noble friend Lord Harlech, who went into considerable detail in his views on how that situation might develop towards a gradual lessening of armed forces on both sides in Europe. I am certain that Her Majesty's Government will take note of what my noble friend has said. It would be more optimistic about events—and it is difficult to be optimistic at the present time.

It is true to say that all fifteen members of the Alliance are in agreement that there is still need for a military alliance for the collective security of Western Europe and the Atlantic areas. So far so good. Then we get to the difficulty that the French Government is not agreed that an integrated command structure is essential. Although there may be many reasons given by many different people for this, surely the fundamental reason is that the Alliance has been such a success over the last period of years. If the Alliance had been creaking and had not accomplished much that it had set out to do over the last ten years, none of this would have arisen. It has arisen only because of the enormous success of the Alliance, which was created largely by people like the noble Earl who spoke first to-day, Mr. Ernest Bevin, and others. It has been so tremendously successful, and we are getting into difficulties because of its success.

In spite of everything—in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield said—I come back to the only thing that we as an Alliance can do at the moment, namely, to advocate a policy of the open door and the empty chair so far as France is concerned, hoping that wiser counsels will prevail—and the sooner the better. It would not be right for me of all people to go into the details as to how long—


My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I was not opposed to the policy of the empty chair. I said that that was the policy which we seemed to be pursuing, but that it was not a policy which could continue for long, because the empty chair tended to get a little cold.


My Lords, of course I accept that at once. Lord Sherfield accepted the policy, but he asks, "How long is it to operate?". The only people who can really be the judges of that are Her Majesty's Government of the day. But at the moment I am certain that that is the only possible commonsense line to take.

May I refer, although not in great detail, to a few of the speeches which we have heard during the debate? There was one sentence in the speech from the noble Earl, Lord Avon, to which I want to refer, because it is, so to speak, in my field. While I accept and agree with all he said, he made one remark which is not much reported in the Press. He said that the grain reserves have completely changed since the Alliance came into being. How true is that statement! I understand that at this moment, of the great grain countries of the world, Canada has no reserves; the United States has one year's reserves, which they do not consider enough; Australia, because of drought, has none at all; Russia is still a big importer. Then, what is by far the most important element of the whole thing (Lord Shackleton will be interested in this), the rice eaters are getting less and the wheat eaters are getting more in number; and once the rice eaters begin eating wheat they do not go back to rice. This may be one of the great factors in the future in relation to the changes that have taken place. I would thank the noble Earl, Lord Avon, for having brought this point to the notice of your Lordships, and would ask Her Majesty's Government to take particular note of it. Because, as I see it—I do not want to be despondent upon this; it is nothing really to do with NATO, but is a world problem—if we now have one really bad harvest in North America the situation may be most serious.

Your Lordships do not want to hear many words from me on the other speeches. I know that the House greatly enjoyed the speech delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Harlech. I thought—and your Lordships will probably agree—that it was most thought-provoking: it was full of interest, and should be studied by all of us. I have no doubt that Her Majesty's Government will take note of it. Again, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton—he is one of the old members of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, so he knows how we go on—was full of technically interesting matter, and I look forward to reading it. Certainly I shall not try to make any comment on it, except to say that I was pleased to hear him say, with the full force of Her Majesty's Government, that they are continuing in full support of NATO. Coming from him that is a most important statement.

In the new situation which has been created by recent events new problems of a very urgent character must be considered. I have jotted down a few, many of which have to a certain extent been answered by members of Her Majesty's Government. As to the location of NATO Headquarters, the noble Earl, Lord Longford, told us that this had now been fixed to be in Brussels, and that the Standing Group was gradually to be run down. In the circumstances, that would appear to be a satisfactory arrangement. The question of the location of the NATO Council is full of problems, and it is not for me to argue one way or the other. My noble friend Lord Harlech put a very balanced case for possibly having the NATO Council in London. He said—and I think this is important—that it is not for us to ask them to come, but London might be a suitable place if they all wanted to come. Against this is the military argument—


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend, but I actually came down against having the Council in London.


I apologise to the noble Lord. It was some other noble Lord who came down on the other side. At any rate, there are arguments either way. All these difficult problems—and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, touched on the integration of command, and so on—are matters of great importance, although in the context of world affairs they are, perhaps, matters of detail. It was extremely good to hear Lord Shackleton say that, in his view, in spite of the difficulties, the military efficiency of the NATO Organisation would not be unduly harmed. If one has got as far as that, one has gone a long way indeed.

In the present situation I come back to where I started. I am strongly of the view that a Parliamentary assembly—I do not necessarily call it a NATO Parliamentary Conference—will become more important than ever and can help NATO Governments. As recently as May of this year we held in Paris our usual week of Committee meetings of NATO Parliamentarians; this was after these events took place. Far from the French not attending the Committee meetings, they arrived in great force, among them supporters of General de Gaulle's Government, those who opposed him, and those who took a neutral view. They took part objectively in our debates, they made very good contributions, and as a result of our deliberations in the Economic Committee, the Military Committee, and the Political Committee we gave advice and instructions to rapporteurs to prepare papers on these various problems for consideration by the full Conference in November. It might interest the noble Earl, Lord Avon, to know that practically all the points he put forward for consideration were raised at our discussions in May. So that although it is an unofficial body, it is thinking quite seriously about these matters. Whether they reached the right solution on them remains to be seen. If we can get them supported by the French and passed on to the NATO Governments, which physically have to take responsibility, then I feel we should be doing useful work.

Then there is the problem of whether this body of Parliamentarians should remain unofficial or should become an official entity. Here again, there are arguments on both sides, but I think the time has now come when the NATO Governments should seriously consider how we can get an Atlantic assembly of Parliamentarians in support of the Atlantic Alliance and give it a limited amount of authority. My personal view (this is not necessarily the view of NATO Parliamentarians) is that the ideal situation, looking a good way ahead—and I am not suggesting this could happen yet—would be a merger of Western European Union and the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference. To me, that seems to add up and make sense. The reason I have never pressed this or suggested it to my colleagues before is that in the Western European Union it is the Six plus us, so we have been able to try to help the discussions over European matters. Eventually, I believe a solution on these lines would be the right one. Certainly the NATO Parliamentarians are not tied to any particular title—it could be called the Atlantic Assembly or what you will—but I believe the time is coming when a body such as I have outlined should be set up.

It would seem to me and to many of my colleagues to be a waste of time to discuss the defence of the Western world without our colleagues in North America taking part. Those of us who have been on tours of North America and Europe know only too well how small the world is. One gets out of a plane in Omaha, the Headquarters of Supreme Air Command, and the whole world is within communication in a matter of seconds. One feels very despondent when one comes back and hears people saying that it does not matter what happens in America. These matters take place in a matter of seconds. I was pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Haire of White-abbey, pay tribute to the great mass of wealth expended by our colleagues in North America on behalf of the free Western world. This goes on all the time, even as we debate here to-day. It would be a sad day for the Western world if our friends in North America suddenly got fed up with Europe and packed up and went home. That would be a very bad thing indeed. My Lords, I have talked for longer than I intended. I am sure your Lordships all feel that this has been a worthwhile debate. I will end as I began, by thanking the noble Earl, Lord Avon, for moving this Motion in such an excellent manner.

7.58 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a remarkable debate, and I should like to open my contribution to it on a personal note. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, was a distinguished soldier before I was born. He was a brilliant politician when I was still at school. He was a distinguished statesman while I was still a very un- distinguished soldier. And, clearly, from his performance to-day he still is a distinguished statesman.


Hear, hear!


To find mystelf now replying to a debate initiated by him in your Lordships' House is, for me, a moving experience and one I shall recall with pride wherever my own political fortunes lead me. He introduced his Motion with the skill, urbanity, wisdom and compassion which are characteristic of him. I believe I reflect the feeling of your Lordships' House when I say that it is largely due to his stimulus that this debate has followed the valuable and instructive course it has.

My noble friend the Leader of the House, who has asked me to apologise for his unavoidable absence, mentioned in his speech to-day that it is wrong and a misconception to consider the North Atlantic Alliance purely as a military defensive organisation. This point has come up many times in this debate to-day. This is an Alliance concerned not only with defence, with the deterrence of aggression, but with the whole question of improving East-West relations, the question of releasing the tensions in Europe and the Atlantic area—with, in fact, the question of détente. It is on this aspect of NATO, NATO as a basis for better relations with the Eastern European countries, that I should like to concentrate.

The change of political climate in Europe, to which many noble Lords have referred, is part of a great transformation in the whole power structure of the world. As someone has suggested, by the end of this century and probably earlier the great Soviet-American confrontation will no longer be the dominant and decisive factor in world affairs. The growth of China, the outcome of the ideological and political struggle between China and the Soviet Union, the great explosive increases in the populations of the developing countries, of Africa and Asia, the terrible and agonising racial frictions of the world—these are the problems which will confront us in the last quarter of this century.

We have heard mentioned many times the problem, as it has been called, of China, and we have even heard it said that China is a threat to the future peace of the world. I wonder whether it is not time to inquire more closely into the aims of China, and not to make quite so many facile assumptions about what the intentions of the Chinese may be. We know a good deal about the capabilities of China; we know very little about China's intentions, and my view—and the view of Her Majesty's Government—is that until China is brought into the great community of nations, and into the debates and discussions that go on about international affairs, we shall not know what China intends to do and we shall have no means of influencing its intentions or its aims.

Several noble Lords seemed to feel when they were speaking that they were lonely voices crying in the wilderness. The noble Lord, Lord Snow, in what I consider to be one of the most remarkable speeches that I have heard in your Lordships' House, made the point, cogently, that we must not be guilty of any form of moral asymmetry. We must not think that the other side is always wrong and that we are always right. I would say that he need have no fear that he is a lone voice crying in the wilderness on that score. I would agree with him entirely that this form of moral asymmetry is the most dangerous of things in international relations; so, also, is the feeling that there must always be an enemy—the Manichean view of international affairs that requires us always to have someone to be hostile to and to be hostile to us.

But I think we must be very careful about the way in which we work towards our détente with the Eastern European countries. I think we have got to examine our methods very carefully. I must say at once that, although I believe very strongly that a basis of our foreign policy must be, and is, better relations with the Eastern European countries, I believe, too—and Her Majesty's Government believe—that NATO has a very important part to play in this. This does not necessarily mean that only NATO can play an important Hart; that only collective action should be taken. But we are convinced that the only worthwhile progress in this field will be made from a basis of agreement within the Western Alliance. This progress may come sometimes in the form of multilateral action, sometimes on the basis of NATO, and sometimes from bilateral action from direct contacts between Governments. This détente is only the first step in a long process which we hope will eventually lead to a world disarmed and subject, as we have heard to-night, to the international rule of law.

This world will, of course, be a world from which military alliances will have been abolished by their sheer irrelevance, for the process of détente and disarmament will, of course, lead to the gradual and progressive erosion of military alliances. But I think the important point which we should bear in mind is that this process cannot be achieved, and probably will not even be assisted, by the actions of a single Government in the West unless that Government is operating in full concord with its allies. This, I believe, is what the Prime Minister meant when he said on his return from a recent visit to Moscow—and, indeed, he said it to the statesmen with whom he was talking in Moscow, because I heard him say it—that he was conducting his talks from a position "four square within the Western Alliance".

The whole complex of East-West relations has figured prominently, as many of your Lordships will know, in the recent Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels. I think that this itself reflects the general feeling, that the present political and economic situation in the countries of Eastern Europe—we have had references to Roumania and Poland—this new flexibility in the situation of the countries of Eastern Europe, is opening up new prospects for the development of the West's relations with them. The communiqué issued after the Brussels meeting stated that the Ministers had specifically charged the Permanent Representatives in Paris with the task of examining closely the prospects of healthy developments in East-West relations, and to prepare a full report on these questions. Her Majesty's Government are determined in every way to act constructively in this new situation with which we are faced, but I think it would be unwise to assume that any solutions will be found quickly to this problem. There are very profound divergencies of view, there are profound differences of ideology, there arc great conflicts on such matters as how best to achieve a lasting European security.

Perhaps I might take a few minutes to examine some of the possibilities that exist—and, first, that exist in the realm of multilateral action; that is to say, action that can be taken by the Alliance as a whole. First of all, I believe that, if we are to take the best advantage of the new situation that faces us, we must be prepared to take comparatively modest and undramatic steps at first, in order that we can in the long run achieve larger and more ambitious measures. One course of action, which may seem to many of your Lordships to be very modest indeed—and it is only multilateral insofar as we have been discussing it with our allies—is this question of a general Statement of Principles by the countries of Europe. This idea was put forward by the Foreign Secretary at a recent Ministerial Meeting in Brussels.

This statement would be an attempt to build on what is common to the countries of Europe—on their common interests and their common European experience—and to do this despite the obvious difficulties in reaching solutions to other, deeper, more serious problems. The statement would, if possible, include general political propositions and would cover co-operation in other fields—the cultural, scientific and economic fields. This idea is at the moment being examined by the Permanent Council of the North Atlantic Alliance, but what we have in mind is a statement which can be acceded to, agreed to and subscribed to by countries inside and outside the major Pacts; by the countries of Europe, whether they belong to NATO, whether they belong to the Warsaw Pact, or whether they belong to neither.

I think the next possibility for multilateral measures is that which the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, in his remarkably detailed and interesting speech referred to as the problems of arms control and disarmament—perhaps more generally now known under the general heading of European security.

Before dealing specifically with the problems of arms control in Central Europe, on which matter the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, is an expert of unequalled wisdom, I should like to take him up on something on which, I am afraid, I fundamentally disagree with him—that is, his reference to the question of non- proliferation, and his suggestion that the Government were in some way obsessed with this problem, to the exclusion of other problems of disarmament. I would say that the search for an end to the spread of nuclear weapons is not simply a matter of a non-proliferation treaty. The Government believe that the basic and most urgent problem in disarmament at the moment is the control of nuclear weapons. We believe that unless these weapons are brought under control, and under effective control, and unless their spread is stopped, the dangers of nuclear war will increase immeasurably.

We therefore engage, with others with whom we discuss these matters, in a total, comprehensive, non-proliferation strategy, which involves not only the signing of a treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons but other matters, such as bringing to an end the underground testing of nuclear weapons and, of course, the essential measures which must go with that—the measures which must be taken by the nuclear Powers themselves. Of course, no one can expect the non-nuclear Powers of the world to remain for ever bound by an obligation not to become nuclear Powers while the five nuclear Powers go on adding to their already vast stockpile of nuclear weapons. This arms race has got to stop as well; and I can make it absolutely clear now to the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, and to your Lordships' House, that Her Majesty's Government will be willing to take part in any procedure to that end, provided that it is multilateral and provided that it is undertaken also by all the other nuclear Powers.

Perhaps I might mention another important point which the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, made: the question of the deployment of ballistic missile defences. Here, Her Majesty's Government are in complete agreement with every word the noble Lord said on the subject. The deployment of these so-called defences—"so-called" because there is no effective defence against ballistic missiles—would produce a new turn in the spiral of the arms race, which would be economically ruinous to those undertaking it and (what is more important to some of us) hideously dangerous because of the instability it would cause in the structure of the world.

Perhaps I may refer briefly now to the actual proposal for the establishment of demilitarised zones of some sort, or nuclear-free zones, in Central Europe. This was referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and, again, by the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, who produced what I thought was a remarkably detailed plan for arms control in Central Europe, which I shall study with very great care. But I think I should say that, although I believe that these arms control measures could make, as he suggested, the most important contribution to the security of Europe, and, by an extension, could bring about an easing of East/West tension, I do not believe—and I am sure he does not believe—that they can be considered in isolation from the political problems and from the political background.

The forces and weapons that are deployed in Europe are there because political problems have not been solved, and I am convinced that substantial progress on the sort of arms control, demilitarisation, and de-nuclearisation that he has talked about will be achieved only if the political problems are tackled as well—and these include problems like the reunification of the two Germanies. This, I think, is the cardinal weakness of the sort of proposals that have been put forward in the past, by many people, but proposals usually associated with the names of Polish statesmen, like Rapacki and Gomulka. They all propose far-reaching arms control measures in Central Europe and far-reaching changes in the military situation in Central Europe without any progress at all on the political side. For this reason, I believe them to be unacceptable.

I think that we have to regard this important matter of how we organise the military structure of Europe, and what steps we take towards disengagement, thinning out. de-nuclearisation, or whatever one might like to call it, as we look upon any other measure of disarmament; and we have to see that, while we are achieving it, and in the process of achievement, we do not upset the balance which now exists. If, in achieving measures of disarmament, we upset the military balance, we shall perhaps have done far more harm than good, and we shall have done it very quickly indeed. As we always ask in all our disarmament proposals, we must ask in this case for adequate verification, for inspection to see that these measures are being carried out; and, so long as the people with whom we negotiate are reluctant to agree to that verification, it is very difficult for us to go forward.

My Lords, nothing I have said means that we are content with the situation as it stands. We are not; indeed, we have supported a number of proposals for a more secure system of military arrangements in Europe. We have proposed the establishment of observation posts to guard against surprise attack—a measure which we thought would increase confidence in Central Europe, to which subject the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, referred in his quite excellent maiden speech. I believe that we can move forward on this question of arms control in Central Europe, if the countries of Eastern Europe will agree to see some movement in the political problems of the European area. Your Lordships may know that I am myself proposing to pay a visit to Warsaw in the near future, at the invitation of Mr. Rapacki, the Polish Foreign Minister, and I shall be discussing there with him the possibility of some sort of movement in this whole area of European security.

Of course, one of the proposals which has been put forward for dealing with this complex of questions is a conference on European security. This idea has been mentioned many times in your Lordships' House to-day. It was raised again recently by Mr. Gromyko, the Soviet Foreign Minister, but so far he has done it only in the most general terms, and I think that one of the things we must do—and I hope we shall have an opportunity to do so—is to ask him to explain a little further what are his ideas on this matter. But in my view we must approach this idea of a European security conference with the same caution as we should approach the arms control proposals. And while Her Majesty's Government certainly would not exclude the idea of such a conference, we believe that it would be useful only if a number of conditions were fulfilled.

The first is that there must be the most careful preparation for such a conference. There is nothing worse than an ill-prepared conference which achieves I nothing. One is usually left in a much worse situation after the conference than when one went into it. Secondly, this conference must cover the major political problems of Europe, and it must cover the problem of German reunification. We do not believe that any conference that ignores that problem can be of any use in the context of European security.

Thirdly—and here I shall find myself in agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and at odds with my noble friend Lord Brockway—we believe that this conference must be attended by the United States. No progress can surely be made on European security now or in the foreseeable future without the participation of the United States of America. We believe, fourthly, that there must be an agreed NATO position on this conference before we go into it. We do not wish to go into a European conference as 14 or 15 diverse countries carrying out single and unilateral policies. We shall see whether there is any common ground here, and we shall hope quite soon that some movement can be made on this.

But, as I have said, quite apart from the inherent difficulties of arms control in Europe, the problem could not be separated from the question of German reunification. Significant progress on one is impossible without progress on the other. As the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said, one of the important factors in the whole of this matter is to keep close and confident relations with the Government in Bonn. We believe that the division of Germany is an unnatural one, and as long as it remains it is bound to inject constant instability into the very heart of Europe. We recognise—and this is perhaps the crucial point—that a solution to this problem is going to involve a major change in attitudes now held by the Soviet Union and the East European countries. I think it would be unrealistic to believe that these attitudes can he changed quickly. We understand fully the basis of these attitudes, but in our mind the basis is past history and past fears, and in our view they do not accord with the facts of the present.

An example of this is the problems with which I am constantly faced in my negotiations in Geneva in attempting to get agreement with the Soviet Union on a treaty of non-proliferation, to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. One obstacle stands constantly in the way, meeting after meeting, week after week, month after month. It is the fear of the Soviet Union that the Western Alliance is engaged in the nuclear rearmament of Germany. False as this may be—for it is false; we have no plans or arrangements for the strategic control of NATO affairs—the Soviet Union believe it; the people of Poland believe it; and for the moment it stands in the way of serious agreement on this problem.

I believe that another important contribution to the creation of a climate of greater confidence in Europe would be a straightforward bilateral improvement in relations between the Federal German Republic and the countries of Eastern Europe. I think the Federal Republic of Germany has made it clear that it seeks such an improvement, and this I believe was clear from what was said in the Federal Government's note, the so-called peace initiative, of March 25. Everybody to whom that note has been addressed has not yet reacted; but our understanding is that not all—at least not all the replies which have been received were negative in tone. The very fact that there can be a difference in reaction in East European countries to an initiative of this sort from West Germany is itself encouraging.

I thought, and Her Majesty's Government thought, that the proposed talks which were to have taken place between S.E.D., the main Party of East Germany, and S.P.D., the Social Democratic Party of West Germany, was another development of interest. The offer for these talks came origanally from Herr Ulbricht; but unfortunately, as your Lordships will seen, these talks have now been cancelled for reasons which, to say the least, I find thoroughly unconvincing.

Perhaps I could now look very briefly at the chances of bilateral contact. Of course there is great scope for bilateral contacts on the level of high diplomacy. We can only build up trust and confidence by having these meetings between the countries of East and West. But as I have said, all of these need not be multilateral. I think it is within this pattern of bilateral contacts that we should look at the visit to the Soviet Union of General de Gaulle and of M. Couve de Murville. I should like here to endorse what the noble Earl said about the need in all that we are doing now, and in all that we are trying to do, not to exacerbate our relations with the French people and Government. I think this matter is of great importance. In this pattern of bilateral contacts I think the British Government are playing a full part. Your Lordships will recollect the visit paid to Moscow last year by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. Later this year, the Foreign Secretary is going to Bulgaria and Roumania. I myself went to Moscow three times last year and I shall be in Poland later this month. We have followed a consistent and, I think, in a modest way, fruitful policy in this field.

My Lords, I should like to refer briefly to the possibilities of increasing East-West co-operation in trade. Perhaps, before I do so, I might take the opportunity of assuring the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, that the strategic embargo list to which he referred is indeed under constant review, and we ensure that it is kept as small as we can possibly keep it consistent with the requirements of Western security. I think, that while the political field in all this may obviously attract us more, the increasing East-West co-operation in trade and in economic and cultural matters is of enormous significance. Already in these fields there is much from which we can draw encouragement. The Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe have very substantial earnings of sterling from their many exports to this country.

There is no doubt that those countries from which we have been buying considerably more than they have from us have been taking steps to increase the scale of their purchases t and this is a welcome development. These countries will in future be anxious to export manufactured goods to us on an increased scale as well as the raw materials which we have been buying in the past. Indeed, this process has already started. Successive Governments in this country have always been united in the belief that peaceful trade between the two economic systems is greatly to the advantage of both sides. I think it is true to say that this country has indeed led the world in taking measures to facilitate trade of this kind.

I had hoped to be able to spend a little time on the matter of cultural relationships, but time is getting on. I need only mention some of the outstanding highlights in this sort of exchange. There have already been the visits to the Soviet Union of the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Royal Ballet. There have been the visits to this country of the Bolshoi Ballet and the Leningrad Gorki Theatre. I think all these exchanges are bound to do an enormous amount in breaking down the suspicions and bettering the climate of confidence between the countries of East and West Europe.

My Lords, I have not had time to mention all the excellent contributions made to this debate this evening. To me, it has been most instructive and illuminating, and I cannot think of one contribution that did not fully adorn it. Perhaps I might, before coming to my few concluding remarks, make just one reference to the subject of the NATO Parliamentarians mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and the noble Baroness opposite. Of course, we regard the activities of NATO Parliamentarians as being of great value and importance. T think I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and the noble Baroness that the NATO Parliamentarians in their present activities and future plans will get all the support the Government are able to give.

My Lords, I have tried, I hope in a relatively short time, to show the range of issues and our policies in the field of détente and in trying to get better relations with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. I believe that this field is the most important and complex in the whole field of foreign affairs. Our approach is one of urgency. It is also one in which there is no false optimism and no false hope for quick solutions. But it is an urgent matter, because in nuclear matters there is very grave danger in delay. This was a point brought out, among other important points, in the remarkable contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Snow. The problem in the nuclear field, particularly in the matter of the spread of nuclear weapons from country to country, will get harder, not easier, with the passage of time.

Of course, the remarks made by a number of noble Lords about the obsolescent nation-state concept are true. Eventually we must get away from what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, called 19th century nationalism, the old concept that the world can forever go on as a mess of nation states, armed to the teeth and prepared to use their arms in the pursuit of national interests. Of course, we must move out of that. We must move out of it as quickly as we can, towards a world in which there is a decent respect for international law; where nations behave towards each other with the same moral standards as individuals are supposed to behave towards each other. But that, my Lords, is not for to-morrow or for next year. We have in fact to assist, if we are to survive, at a political revolution, which is the only way in which we can take account of the scientific revolution which has brought about nuclear weapons and all the other improvements, if that is the right word, in military technology.

To my mind, to come back to where I opened these remarks, the first step must be the relaxation of this tension between the Soviet Union and the West. We must free ourselves from the prison of the cold war. But, again, I believe that if we want to do this, if we want to persuade the Soviet Union that it is worth their while as well as ours to do this, we must be able to talk to them from a position of strength. I have negotiated with the Soviet Union for a short time. I have not the experience of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, but my conviction is that the Soviet Union negotiates from strength and expects the people with whom it negotiates to be strong. For that reason, although I believe passionately in the eventual achievement of a disarmed world under the rule of law, from which military alliances have been removed, I believe that in taking the first step towards that, we must do it as a country four square within the NATO Alliance.

8.22 p.m.


My Lords, it is now growing late and I shall not detain your Lordships for more than a very few moments, but I think it would be ungracious if, at the conclusion of this very remarkable debate, I did not try to express some thanks to those who have made it the success that I truly believe it has been. We have just had a brilliant wind-up from the Government. I thought that the pieces were picked up with remarkable skill. Disarmament always struck me—I had to bear the burden, like the noble Lord, at one time, and as did the father of the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, in very difficult circumstances—as one of the most exacting tasks which anyone could undertake. The noble Lord, Lord Harlech, who has left the Chamber for a moment, has also contributed to-day, I think, most useful thoughts on this topic. In fact, I think that the House feels that ministerially we have been very well treated indeed in the three speeches that we have had.

The critics, such as they were—I do not mean by that that they were not important—and to the extent they were critics, I think may be met, too. Their anxieties about the negotiations between the Warsaw Pact Powers and the NATO Powers I think are truly more imaginary than real. If the Warsaw Powers are in a position of greater freedom than I, for instance, allowed them to be in my speech, that will soon appear. There is nothing to stop contacts, as I understand the Government's position between us and them; and the greater the freedom they enjoy, the better the chances of the Government's making progress with their allies. Nor do I think that there is any real difference between us about the way in which NATO should work in these negotiations. All I said at the beginning was that I did not think we ought to stop individual Powers carrying on their contacts with any of the Warsaw Powers, provided that they co-ordinated them in advance within the NATO family. I think that is generally accepted now as being the position we are all in.

My Lords, I must say just a word to the two maiden speakers. It seems rather odd to call either of them "maiden speeches", since I have heard the speakers so many times in another place—but that is the tradition. All I will say is that I am sure we enjoyed hearing from them. It was curious, but here we are, three of us now, all, with one or two others in this House, veterans of the First World War—which seems for a moment to be getting so much publicity of diverse kinds.

Before I close I should like also to say one further word about a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Snow, by implication at any rate, and by one or two other speakers. This is that question of the "have" and the "have-not" Powers. I think we are all conscious of the extent to which, unfortunately, that problem is getting worse rather than better. But, at the same time, I do not think it true to put all the blame on the "have" Powers. The "have-nots "have one or two things to do for themselves. For one thing, they have perhaps to import fewer arms and devote more energy to growing some food. I wonder exactly what is going on at this moment in the Horn of Africa, for instance. I am told that our Russian friends, who have been held out as models in some respects—they are not as good as all that, you know—have been apparently pouring arms into the Horn of Africa. What for?—except to make trouble between the Somalis and the Ethiopians, and the Kenyans on the other side. I am told that the Negus gave a great dressing down to a Soviet dignatory who is very well known to many of us in this House. I should have liked to be there, because I am all on the side of the Negus in that respect. One has to keep the position in balance. We, the richer Powers, have to do everything we can, but we ought to make plain that others have their part to play too.

My Lords, with much regret I want to refer to one other matter before we close this discussion. I cannot avoid it. It was raised in a debate last week. It is the question of E.D.C. During the debate some allegations were made, and I must, I fear, reply to them very briefly, because they affect the position of some people who cannot reply, including Sir Winston Churchill himself.

The position, briefly, is this. E.D.C. began as an attempt to meet the need to bring in Germany to make her contribution in rearmament. It began in the days of the Labour Government, with a statement, made in September, 1951, by the late Lord Morrison of Lambeth and the American and French Foreign Secretaries in Washington. That statement, briefly, was, "We will do all we can to help this organisation forward." I think the thing was fullest said: "We will do our best to associate ourselves in a practical way with the organisation." But there was never at that time a question of membership—none at all. When we took over in November, I spoke (still it was in this House that we had the debate: we were still here), and I endorsed everything said by the Labour Government on this topic in Washington. In other words, we were continuing their own policy. There was never a question then—and the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, one of my colleagues, has been kind enough to come here—there was never a question in the Government, to the best of my knowledge, of our actually becoming members of E.D.C. at any time at all. If anybody got any other impression, they got a wrong impression. I only mention that because the noble Lord, Lord Boothby—I did send him a little note to say that I was going to do this, but I quite understand that he probably did not get it because I sent it only today—said, —Avon and Salisbury were both against us well, that is not important— Churchill was ostensibly in favour, but had not the guts to stand up to them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 275 (No. 28), col. 765, 29/6/66.] The statement is so ludicrous that it hardly deserves quotation.

On the other hand, I am told that sometimes—I have had some experience of these things lately—the history books pick up unexpected things. So I should like to make it quite clear, in the presence of my colleagues, that that was not the position. It so happens that Sir Winston did not like E.D.C. Whether he was right or wrong, never mind. He did not like it; he did not think it was a good form of organisation at all; and in fact he called it, as is perhaps well known, "A sludgy amalgam"—which was quite a Churchillian description. But I do resent that in this House statements like this should be made, and I merely repeat, in the presence not only of the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, but of one or two other people who know about the facts of this matter, that there were no divergencies on this topic. We inherited a policy well-stated by Lord Morrison of Lambeth, and we stuck to that policy. We did everything we could to help the French with E.D.C., and E.D.C. very nearly broke the heart of the French nation; that is my view. There are some people who think that it destroyed the Fourth Republic, so bitter were the divisions inside France herself. At any rate—and this brings us to NATO—the final result was, not without British help, that the whole business was wound up within NATO.

I still think it was a fortunate thing that the rearmament of a great nation like Germany took place within NATO and not in a smaller organisation, because the knowledge of the United States' presence there (and this is one of my answers to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway) was a comfort to some of those who are frightened of German power still—and they exist all round Europe. I am not suggesting that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is one of them. Not to understand this is to miss the heart of our problem to-day. We have to allay these fears. It will take time, and it will be done by wise statesmanship. I hope that the unity of this House to-day will carry us a step forward along the road we all want to travel. I beg leave of the House to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.