§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, in some ways it is a pity (though I realise it cannot be helped) that we should be debating foreign affairs before we have had a day on the economic situation. For there can be no doubt that in large measure the problems which confront us around the world are due to our economic weakness and the Government's failure to find a solution. I will say in passing—though no doubt my noble friend Lord Jellicoe will have more to say on this subject—that there is not much sign in the gracious Speech of anything more than good intentions and platitudes in that direction. I must also say, and this is not an agreeable thing to say, that I do not recollect a time in my lifetime when British prestige abroad has been so low or this country has been held in such low a regard. I recollect that the Foreign Secretary once said that now, once again, Britain's voice was being listened to in world affairs. I fear that nothing is more untrue than that remark, and that our relations with our friends and allies have deteriorated and weakened in a way which I, for one, find alarming. I shall have more to say about that later.
But the problem which concerns us above all at this present time, and it has been highlighted by the speech of M. Couve de Murville and the statements said to have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, at his Press conference in Lausanne the other day, is that of Britain's entry into the Common Market. I do not think it is necessary for me to say yet again that I am wholeheartedly a European; that is to say, I 158 think it essential for the future of this country that we should join the European Economic Community. Europe without Britain is as incomplete as Europe without France; and to imagine the perpetuation of such a state of affairs over any length of time would gravely damage the fabric of the Free World—for a strong Europe, united with Britain as a leading member, must be a vital ingredient in the balance of power between East and West.
Broadly speaking, I think that, with one or two notable exceptions, there is an overwhelming majority in support in both Houses. Therefore, we on this side of the House have supported the actions taken by the Government, though naturally we have no responsibility for them or for the sequence of events. But I should like to ask the noble Lords who are going to reply one or two broad questions.
When the Prime Minister—and it will be recalled that it was the Prime Minister personally—decided to make exploratory journeys round the capitals of Europe to test opinion, presumably in the conversations that he had with the French he was faced with the same objections which were raised last week by M. Couve de Murville. I have no doubt that he sought to answer them as best he might, and they seem to me to be capable of answer. What then were the reactions of the French? Presumably the Prime Minister felt that he had satisfied them, since otherwise he would hardly have come back to this country and almost immediately afterwards made public the decision to seek membership of the Community; for the timing of the application is the Government's, taken on their inside knowledge of the situation. But if he did not feel that he had satisfied the French, what policy did the Prime Minister envisage would overcome their objections? Did he propose to rely on the advocacy of the other five to overcome French objections, or did he think that General de Gaulle was bluffing?
These are questions which are becoming increasingly of importance, for if the French really mean what they say, and in fact intend to veto our entry—and it seems to me that events are heading that way—the Government must make it abundantly clear what they intend to do. Oddly enough, I agree with something which I read in the Daily Express when it said that it is no good just saying that 159 we will not take "No" for an answer. That is an attitude and not a policy. I believe that is right. Surely the Government will have to make their position a good deal plainer than it is to me at the present time.
I know what I would do if there were a French veto. If we were faced with yet another French refusal to accept Britain as a member, I would make it abundantly clear that we regarded this as only a temporary encumbrance to our eventual membership—as surely it will be. There is—and I say this with great respect to some very eminent people whose judgment I greatly admire—no alternative policy for Britain which can be substituted for membership in Europe. I do not believe that any closer economic situation with the United States or the old Commonwealth countries is a practical proposition; nor do I believe that it would be welcomed by the other parties concerned.
If, indeed, it should be that once again the answer is "No", we must set to work to restore our economy by our own efforts, to seek to overcome the great economic difficulties which will be put in our way by our exclusion, but to do it on our own, by our own determination and with our own resources, and make it clear to our friends on the Continent that our ultimate aim, whatever General de Gaulle may say now, is to become a member of the European Community.
If that is the right policy—and I believe it is the right policy—it is most unfortunate that the sort of headlines which we read on Sunday and Monday have been allowed to gain credence. All of us who have been Ministers know how much more difficult it is to deny statements of that kind once they are made; and, alas!, one can visualise how gratefully those headlines were received in some circles in France. In the first place, it is totally unrealistic to suppose that Britain could, or would, do any of the things which were reported—withdrawal from NATO, for example, or recognition of East Germany in a fit of pique. It is really inconceivable that foreign policy could be conducted in so childish a fashion—at least, it used to be.
I am extremely loth to blame the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, whose name 160 has been associated with these rumours. We in this House know what a conscientious and able Minister he is. But this cannot be just a question of misunderstanding. Headlines of that kind cannot possibly come about unless there is some substance of truth behind the story, and certainly not from someone like the noble Lord, who was an experienced correspondent before he became a Minister and knows better than most of us, I think, how to operate at this level. Ministers in this Government—and I am not particularly talking about the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—are very inclined to fly kites. There are a good many premeditated leaks to the Press, leaks to one or two of the most specially favoured correspondents, and with a special purpose—to alter the climate, or to set the climate, or to find out what the climate is. These are dangerous manœuvres and it looks very much as if, on this occasion, it was a manœuvre which has been conspicuously damaging and unsuccessful.
Whatever the result of our application to join the Common Market—and I confess to being gloomy about our prospects at the moment—our relations with our friends and allies around the world will be of the utmost importance in the next few years. Are these alliances in good repair? It does not seem to me that Anglo-American relations can be said to be at a very high and very happy level. The decision by Her Majesty's Government to announce a date for their withdrawal from our positions East of Suez can hardly have helped. If we in this country, and having first-hand knowledge of our economic problems, find it impossible to understand why the Government should announce years in advance what they intend to do in a set of circumstances which they cannot conceivably know anything about, how much more difficult it must be for the Americans.
I do not find it at all strange that we should now be treated in Washington as being of no more influence than the other countries in the Western Alliance. Our special position surely has been because we were helping to contain Communism, not only in Europe, but in the Middle East and in the Far East as well. That gave us a rather closer relationship with the Americans than other countries enjoyed; not because we 161 spoke the same language, but because they thought we were better allies. In my view, it was to the advantage of Britain that that should be so. By their announcement about Singapore and Malaysia, and by some of their other actions in the Middle East to which I shall come, the Government seem to me to have abandoned that position and received nothing whatever in return.
But it is more particularly about Anglo-Australian relations that I wish to speak for a moment, and my excuse for doing so is that I have been associated with Australia over a number of years. I would say that I am not at all happy about the way things are going at the present time. Some of it is our fault and some of it is not. There are, I think, four reasons which, taken together, cause grave anxiety in Australia about Britain and her intentions in Australia and the Far East generally. The first is the fact that for the very first time Australia is engaged in a war in which no British soldier is fighting alongside the Australians. It is a war which seems to the Australians vital to their security and safety, and they find it difficult to understand why Britain is not alongside helping them as they used to help us.
My Lords, I do not share that point of view, but I understand it, and I should find it much easier to convince the Australians of our determination to remain as an important part of the defences of the West against Communism in that part of the world had the Government not decided to announce their decision to leave the Far East. If that decision caused some consternation in the United States, it certainly received a good deal of unfavourable publicity in Australia: for ever since the fall of Singapore in 1942 the Australians have been doubtful about Britain's intention to play a continuing part in the Pacific area. Time and time again British Ministers have reassured them, and only a short time ago, in Canberra, Mr. Healey gave in effect a pledge that we would not leave that area. My Lords, coupled with our non-participation in Vietnam, the abandonment of British positions in South-East Asia is a great psychological shock to the Australian and New Zealand people.
Thirdly, there has been the decision to apply for membership of the Common 162 Market. I think that on this occasion the decision has been less misunderstood and less criticised than it was previously; nevertheless, it seems to the Australians yet another indication of a loosening of ties and of interest in the Commonwealth, and, in particular, in Australia. I personally do not think that that is so; nor do I share the indignation voiced by some of my Australian friends about Britain's decision. After all, Australia—and quite understandably—has had to look to her own economic problems. If she sells wool and minerals to Japan she must allow Japan access to her markets—and she has done. The same is true of her relationship with the United States and her increasing dependence on American defences and American weapons, as opposed to British ones. These things are not all one way, although they may seem so from an Australian standpoint.
Fourthly and lastly, there is the restriction on the export of British capital to Australia. Your Lordships will know that at the present time there is an enormous boom in Australia. Great discoveries of metals, ores and oil are being made almost daily. It is a most exciting and stimulating time for the Australian people. But they have not got sufficient capital of their own to develop their enormous potential, and they look for help from outside. Broadly speaking, this means the United States and ourselves; and until only recently we provided much more of that capital than did the United States. The restriction of capital, although this may be a temporary necessity and understood by some of the more sophisticated Australians, is totally misunderstood by large numbers of them, who think that this is yet another example of Britain's increasing apathy to Australia, Australians and the South-East Asian and Pacific area.
My Lords, I am well aware that we have been, and still are, going through an economic crisis, and that some restrictions on the export of capital have been necessary. But what worries me is what seems to be the antipathy of those in authority against investment of British capital overseas. And, much more serious, there seems to be a growing disenchantment in Whitehall, among civil servants and Ministers, with the old Commonwealth. This is the impression that I get. This attitude is very disturbing, and 163 I hope to hear from one or other of the noble Lords who are to reply this afternoon some encouraging words about investment overseas. For overseas investment brings with it a fall-out of the sale of capital goods, and a good deal more in influence and prestige.
All these four reasons which I have given—Vietnam, Singapore, the Common Market and capital restrictions—add up to a great deal of uneasiness. I believe that Australia is one of the coming countries of the world; that her future and her potential are truly limitless. I beg the Government to do something to mend the fences which have so sadly been broken in these last two years. There is an abundance of good will in Australia for this country. Do not let us throw it away for the wrong reasons, or through lethargy. For while Australia will hold a very important position in the Pacific area, Britain still has enormous interests there, and our influence can still be of great importance, if only the Government will recognise the need and be prepared to do something about it.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, will the noble Lord forgive me for one moment? Can he tell me how he can reconcile that with his attitude in recommending us to go into the Common Market, which means the destruction of the Commonwealth? Because you have got to withdraw from Asia to get into the Common Market. All the arguments he has put forward to-day are absolutely fallacious.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I do not accept that that is the choice, and I do not accept that that would be the result. But perhaps we could debate it on another occasion. Sad though I think it is, I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government on their own can settle the issues which divide Israel and the Arab world. Nor do I think that by themselves they can ensure the opening of the Suez Canal. But I shall be interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, what steps they are taking to achieve this end, for I have heard of none recently.
At Question Time earlier on questions were asked about our relations with the United Arab Republic. All of us wish to see good relations with the Arabs and with the United Arab Republic—and, 164 goodness knows! we have gone enough out of our way to achieve that in the last few years. But I must admit to your Lordships that I have some grave misgivings about the activities of the Foreign Secretary with regard to Egypt and President Nasser. I should have thought that there was ample evidence on hand in the Foreign Office and elsewhere to convince even the most starry-eyed that the policy of President Nasser and the Egyptian Government has been for many years directed against Britain and her colonial possessions and protectorates. Indeed, I would suppose that there is no one man or one country which has done more to undermine our position in the Middle East by every means, including terrorism, bribery, subversion and murder. Even now, Cairo Radio is still pouring out vicious propaganda about the British in the Gulf States. British subjects have been illegally held, and even now—I can give the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, this information—compensation is still due to British subjects for property illegally held from them by the Egyptians. I do not understand why Mr. Brown should think that President Nasser has changed his spots, or that a kind word from him will alter the situation.
My Lords, as I see it—and it is best to be frank about these matters—President Nasser has suffered an overwhelming military and political defeat at the hands of the Israelis, and he has been discredited and humiliated in the eyes of his Arabian neighbours. How agreeable for him, then, to be wooed by the British, and how even more agreeable for the British to be seen to be restoring him to the position of importance that he once had! No doubt the crowning success of this achievement would be for us to lend a large sum of money to President Nasser to put him on his feet again. My Lords, what a nonsense! I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, or the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, will deny that there is any truth in the rumour that such a loan is contemplated.
To me perhaps the most distasteful part of this story is the events which have led up to the present situation in Aden and South Arabia. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is to make a Statement later to-day, but since I shall not have the opportunity of doing anything other than comment after my 165 speech is finished, I cannot end without some mention of this. Over the past years at the instigation of Egypt (and of Egyptians over the Yemen border) British civilians and soldiers doing their duty in that colony have been brutally murdered. In order to preserve law and order and ensure a proper transition to independence, they have undergone great dangers and great discomforts. They have been shot at by two organisations, both of them labelled by the present Administration at one time or another as terrorists—FLOSY and the N.L.F. Now these two organisations are meeting—and meeting in Cairo of all places—to decide which, or what combination of both, is to become the next Government of South Arabia.
Even now British soldiers and innocent civilians are being shot in the streets of Aden by these two organisations. God knows why!—since everyone knows that the British are going to move out. The Federal Government to whom we gave our support has collapsed; the Federal Army is deeply divided, and the only thing that we can be certain of is that those who were loyal to Britain and gave her their support may retain their lives but certainly not much else. I do not blame the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for this; indeed, I think if he had been asked to go there earlier there is a good chance that none of this would have happened. But I cannot disguise from your Lordships a feeling of deep humiliation and distress at what has happened, and is happening, in South Arabia; and a very large part of it is undeniably the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government and flows from the decisions they took at the beginning of their term of office.
My Lords, no one who looks round the world and sees it from a British standpoint can be happy with the position of Britain, British interests and British influence. Some of the blame for this lies with all of us. We have as a country recently been much too much inclined to run ourselves down and take ourselves at the valuation of others who are not very well disposed towards us. We seem to have lost our self-confidence and are beginning to believe those very articulate writers and commentators who are continually reminding us of their opinion that we are a second-rate Power and no 166 longer of any account. Of course, we must be realistic about our changed situation; but surely the time has come to stop this state of denigration and stop believing it. But at the same time we must have from the Government a policy designed firmly to retain Britain's influence, to protect her world-wide interests and restore the image of this country tarnished, I think, by lack of leadership, by mismanagement and by weakness.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, it looks as if we are going to have to face all kinds of troubles abroad during the present Session; that is to say, during a period—and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—when our prestige, for one reason or another, seems to be at rather low ebb. There will almost certainly, of course, not be any major war. Both the super-Powers are absolutely determined to prevent this; and prevent it I believe they will. I have already discussed with your Lordships on a previous occasion what seems to be the effects of the so-called "balance of terror"; namely, the ability of both super-Powers to knock each other out at one and the same moment should war break out. This balance still holds, though possibly it may be affected one day by the introduction of what is called a "credible" anti-ballistic missile system (A.B.M.), which, as we all know, is still quite a long way away.
The effect of the balance of terror, therefore, is the maintenance of the territorial status quo in all areas where the two giants are actually confronting each other and a rather grim balance of power in areas where they confront each other more or less at one remove, the result of which, in those areas, is that neither of their protegés is allowed to be knocked out completely; therefore a sort of draw is inevitably imposed. If anything demonstrated the truth of this theory—because it is only a theory—it was, and is, the behaviour of the two giants during the crisis in the Middle East, where Britain and France themselves can now only play—regrettable though it may be—a minor role. Even if they combined they could hardly expect to play a major role in the Middle East. I should have thought that that, for once and all, was proved by Suez. Only if a European Political Community establishes itself 167 can the voice of Europe still be heard in vital matters affecting peace and war—whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. So I expect we may have all kinds of crises arising during this Session; and I should hope that the United Nations—and we must trust that this will be so—will play a greater role in their settlement than they have done up to now. It is possible that if we now combine to reinforce the authority of U Thant this may have a good effect, and I am sure the Government will do everything to reinforce his authority if they can.
Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam continues on its hideous course, and here, too, in the absence of any concerted European policy, our voice, I am afraid, has absolutely no effect. We can only hope that by one means or another the war will effectively be over by, or immediately after, the coming American Presidential Election, which happens in almost exactly one year from now. There is some reason to suppose that, for purely political reasons, this may come about. Anybody who has the interests of the Western World at heart could not, I think, wish the Americans to be forced to withdraw all their forces in humiliating circumstances; but, equally, nobody—on these Benches, at any rate—could believe that the present policy of bombing the North and threatening to escalate the war further will have anything except a definitely counter-productive effect.
My Lords, while on foreign policy generally, I may say that we congratulate the Government on their determination to evacuate Aden, even (if we may believe the Press) in advance of the timetable; and in this they may be assisted—I think they will—by the recent withdrawal of the Egyptian Army from the Yemen, which is surely a good thing in itself. It will not be long—as the Liberal Party thinks, at any rate, with all due respect to the views of the Tory Party—before the Government announce some similar withdrawal from the Persian Gulf and give up any proposal for the construction at great expense of staging bases in the Indian Ocean such as Aldabra. We await such developments with interest. But, naturally, in all these things the time will depend on what happens in Europe. We also congratulate the Government on their admirably firm 168 handling of a potentially explosive situation in Hong Kong.
But, my Lords—and this is, as you know, my "King Charles's head"—it really all comes back to one problem; namely, whether we can join the European Economic Community and then form, or attempt to form, some political entity in Europe with the E.E.C. as its base. Noble Lords will not, I am sure, accuse me of having been particularly optimistic about the likely reaction of General de Gaulle to our application; but there is no doubt that if we can successfully insert our toe in the door and then keep it there for at any rate a while, we shall eventually end up as members of E.E.C.—although it may take longer than some people think. This, naturally, is what the present crisis is all about: for the General himself realises perfectly well that if he can keep our toe out of the door we may, in the long run, be forced to adopt something other than a purely European policy, and this is precisely what he wants.
Well, my Lords, what could those other policies be? I suggest that there is no more harm in discussing them now than there has been in discussing them, as we have frequently done, during the last ten years or so. I remember alluding to them myself in this House as early as March, 1961, and nothing which has happened since has affected my own judgment: that the alternatives to joining the European Economic Community, always supposing (and this is an important proviso) that it continues to exist, are twofold. I might describe them shortly as follows.
In the first place, we might become a neutralist country with a highly directed economy. This is sometimes known as the super-Sweden solution. It would naturally involve withdrawal from the Atlantic Alliance which, in turn, would involve the withdrawal of our armed forces in Europe. The first sign of a step in this direction might well be, I feel, the institution of some system of imports control, which would no doubt in its turn imply a return to some form of wartime austerity, at any rate for the time being. It need hardly be said that this might well, if it were done, encourage protectionism like nothing else in the United States and elsewhere. Altogether 169 this solution seems, to us here at any any rate, wholly lamentable, and might well end up in our becoming some kind of associate of the Soviet Union—which may, incidentally, be the ultimate fate of France if she is so misguided as to allow her great chief to take her out of the Atlantic Alliance altogether. Nobody now suggests that Her Majesty's present Government would contemplate anything so disastrous as this. I am sure that they would not.
In the second place—and perhaps much more likely, or less improbable, shall we say?—we might become an increasingly close associate of North America and Australia, perhaps in some kind of Free Trade Area. This is undoubtedly possible economically and prehaps some may think—some do think—even desirable from the point of view of the maintenance of a reasonable standard of living in this country; even though, as a very broad generalization—but it is fundamentally true—we should probably find ourselves making the trouser-buttons while the Americans made the computers. But would that really matter? For we might, I suppose, ultimately be part of a large prosperous community in the same way that New England is now part of the United States. The so-called "brain drain" would naturally not be curbed, it would indeed be encouraged; it would have to be. The bond of language alone might hold us all together and eventually make us collectively some great force in the world. I would not deny that.
Such a system would be naturally consonant with the continuance of the Western Alliance, even if France should pull out of that; though if she did, I think that the Western Germans would be faced with a grave decision, namely, whether to put the Franco-German Alliance in front of everything else or not. The greatest disadvantage of such a system, as I see it—and it would be a real one—would be that we should presumably have no political representation at the centre, which would, naturally, be in Washington: that is, until the United States Congress agreed that we should become an actual part of the United States, or possibly of some larger political federation.
At this point I think I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that both these solutions are almost out of the ques 170 tion for the time being—at least we sincerely suppose that they would be. I cannot say that they would be always, but I think that they would be now. For the real difficulty about both those solutions, my Lords, is the question mark which would continue to hang over Western Europe, and indeed over Europe generally. Would it be possible for the present Six, under the leadership of France, to conclude some kind of European settlement direct with the Soviet Union; or would it be more likely that the Soviet Union would exploit the contradictions in Western Europe in order to impose some kind of Russian hegemony?
If noble Lords have not done so already, they may be interested to read the report of the late Foreign Minister of Denmark, Mr. Per Haekkerup, which was published recently in the Council of Europe, on the present position and future prospects of the European Economic Community. This is, in my opinion, a first-class analysis, and Mr. Haekkerup comes to the conclusion that it is by no means inevitable that the Six will continue in being anyhow as a Community. If they are to continue, so he says—and I think he is right—they must make progress towards some kind of economic union, and that at the moment, as we all know, is anathema to the present ruler of France.
My Lords, I should also like to mention a recent article by M. Maurice Duverger in Le Monde in which he comes to the conclusion that in order to avoid what he calls American "colonialism" the Western European States, incapable, as he thinks they would be, of constructing a real Political Community, would have, in practice, to call in the Soviet Union for the purpose of rationalising their economies and inducing their great industrialists to form larger groups. That is what he says. These are disquieting symptoms, my Lords, of a certain tendency on the other side of the Channel to look East rather than to look West, a tendency which may yet prevail if by any chance General de Gaulle is successful in permanently excluding us from the European Economic Community.
Now, my Lords, if it were only to draw attention to such depressing possibilities as these that the noble Lord, 171 Lord Chalfont, who saw the journalists recently at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Lausanne, then I cannot see that he did anything but good. It would, of course, have been different if he had suggested that Her Majesty's Government had actually contemplated an alternative policy on the lines perhaps of the ones I am suggesting. But there is no suggestion, I think, that he did. Indeed we have had the Prime Minister's solemn assurance in the House of Commons the day before yesterday that he did not.
Everybody who knows anything about foreign affairs knows that the alternatives to our joining the European Economic Community would be bad for us in many ways, just as they would be bad from the point of view of our European neighbours. Presumably, therefore, we should go in either of the directions indicated only if our efforts to enter the Community had definitely failed, if another Government had come into power, or if our failure to enter had resulted in some crack-up of the present E.E.C. But what in any case we should not do—and here I have a certain sympathy, I think, with Lord Carrington's colleague, Mr. Quintin Hogg—is to leave our Continental friends under the impression that if they are terrorised by the French Government into acquiescing in what is actually an illegal veto on negotiations, we can all just carry on as if nothing had happened. On the contrary, they must realise that we should be entering a highly dangerous period in which only one country could possibly stand to gain, and that would be the Soviet Union.
So what we must do now is what the Government are, in fact, doing; namely, to make every conceivable effort to get negotiations started. If the French really place a veto on the negotiations, then before allowing ourselves, as it were, by the force of things to be pushed away from Europe, we might perhaps in the first place try to negotiate with the Five. In any case, as the Foreign Secretary previously did, we should certainly be well advised to raise the whole question again in Western European Union. We probably may not, even so, be able to count on the Five exercising real pressure on the French, but if we made a great fuss, they would probably exercise 172 some pressure. The thing would be to keep the idea alive, at least during the coming critical period, when it is to be expected that General de Gaulle will do his best to take France right out of the Alliance, which would in itself of course, produce a changed situation, depending on whether he succeeds or fails. The more during this uneasy period we could declare our desire to construct a real European Political Community the better it would be; and this, too, I am quite certain, is the best card to trump the General's ace.
Admittedly it may be difficult to pursue this path indefinitely. In a way it is a question of a vicious circle. We cannot, we are told, join the Common Market until our economic situation has been put right; and we cannot put the economy right until we join the Community. But really it is a contest of wills, and the stakes are very high. We must therefore put everything we have on the table—indeed, we have now almost done that by stating our willingness to discuss the role of sterling and to take measures, in common with our prospective partners, to solve our balance-of-payments problems together. If we could finally abandon our Great Power pretensions—and here, I am afraid, I differ from the noble Lords on the Opposition Front Bench—that would help, too; but everybody knows that we shall not be in the Indian Ocean very much longer anyhow. There is thus no reason why we should not discuss defence, too, from this particular aspect.
But there is another card that we could play if we wanted to—and in a sense it might only be making a virtue of necessity; that is, the proposal for a delayed entry into the E.E.C. which, I need hardly say, with the utmost emphasis, has nothing to do with what is called "association". It is a different thing. Association seems to me to be out, for the simple reason that an associate has no control of policy and no certainty of entry. Besides, how could the Six agree to a complete abolition of tariffs on industrial goods while Britain retained a competitive advantage owing to being free from all agricultural obligations? How could that work? And if there was not to be free trade in industrial goods, what exactly should we get out of association? The idea is 173 bogus, and it is probably known to be bogus by those who put it forward.
But the delayed entry idea is not bogus. It means essentially that Britain would have certainty of full membership at the end of a period of time, during which her economy could be slowly geared to those of the Six, and theirs, of course, to ours. It also contemplates close consultation with the Six during the interval. It might well not be agreeable to General de Gaulle, though there are those who say he might accept it, or something like it, in the last resort if it were really pressed upon him by the Five. But, in any case, if he vetoed even this, there would probably be a crisis in the Community, and again we should be confronted with a new situation.
The proposal to this broad effect which I outlined last June was, as your Lordships will be aware, immediately repudiated by the Foreign Office. Perhaps they were then labouring under some delusion as to the effect on the Walls of Jericho of the first blast of the trumpet. Perhaps they really did—wrongly, as I think—equate the proposal with some kind of association. Anyhow there are many variants of the idea, and I hold no copyright. All I do say is that it seems to me that we are approaching a time when it, or something like it, might at least be considered. In June this was not official Liberal policy; nor is it now, in the sense that it has not been the subject of any Party resolution. But I have consulted some of my friends, and I believe that it would be generally agreed in Liberal circles that, so to speak, half a loaf would be better than no bread. Much would depend, of course, on the actual nature of the arrangements.
So, in a nutshell, our attitude on these Benches is as follows. We strongly support the Government in the efforts they are making to enter the E.E.C. We approve in general of the way they are going about things. We should hope that they could lay greater emphasis on their desire to construct a real Political Community in Europe of a frankly supranational character. And, lastly, we hope that they will not discard a priori any plan for circumventing or, alternatively, frustrating the evident desire of the present French Government, in the pursuit of their nationalistic policy of dominance, to place a veto even on the 174 start of negotiations for a lasting democratic union of the Six, the British Isles and Scandinavia, the centre, so we must believe, one day, of a still wider Europe.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD SHACKLETON)
My Lords, the gracious Speech has mentioned a great many aspects of foreign policy, and I shall not attempt to deal with them all, though I shall probably touch on a few more than did the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in his meritoriously short but rather unhelpful speech. Indeed, I hope that the noble Lord is well—I know that he has not been well lately. I thought that his lack of confidence and tetchiness was of a kind that, if it had come from the, Labour Party when we were in Opposition, it would have immediately have brought cries of lack of patriotism. So often this has happened in the past with the noble Lord that I do not think there would be much point in my attempting to reply in the same sort of tone, because I regard a debate on foreign policy as an occasion when on the whole we refrain as much as possible from making—
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I hope that we have not yet reached the stage when it is unpatriotic to disagree with the Government.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I never thought so, but so often, when the noble Lord was in the Government, he used to arouse the utmost fury of my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough by actually accusing him of lack of patriotism. I am certainly not doing this to the noble Lord. I am just saying that he is in rather a tetchy mood, that is all.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
Certainly, my Lords, if he accepts it on behalf of his noble friend. The noble Lord jumps round between Benches. Now he is speaking officially for the Opposition. I shall leave the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and deal primarily with four 175 main subjects—Vietnam, NATO, the Middle East and particularly Southern Arabia—and leave to my noble friend Lord Chalfont the subject of Britain and the European Communities.
It is not possible—and we never find it possible in these debates—to cover every aspect. On previous occasions areas of the world like India and Malaysia have played a major part. Not so long ago we had a good deal of discussion on China. It is not because these areas are not of the utmost importance that I do not cover them to-day, but because I think your Lordships will for the most part want to concentrate on those areas of the world which are of immediate concern from the policy point of view.
I should like to begin, therefore, by talking about the Middle East. During the last few months the Middle East has never been wholly absent from our minds. At the moment we are witnessing an uneasy truce in Arab/Israel hostilities—a truce broken by incidents of great gravity, which serve to remind us how important it is to work rapidly towards a lasting settlement in the area. The passions and the bitterness surrounding the Arab/Israel dispute, unfortunately, make it unrealistic to expect either to find quick solutions or to expect direct talks between the parties concerned in order to reach solutions. Her Majesty's Government continue to look to the United Nations, and I think there will be no difference even with those who have little confidence in the United Nations that it is the most suitable and indeed the only organisation to help us find a way out of the impasse. We believe that the Security Council is the right forum for this, and most other Governments share this view.
At the moment, talks are going on in New York which will, we hope, lead to an early meeting of the Council. If the Security Council could pass a constructive resolution—and, fortunately, there is a considerable measure of international agreement on the need for such a resolution—a major step will have been taken towards securing peace in the area. Such a resolution, to be successful in that aim, would have to be very carefully balanced. There is no simple clear-cut solution here. For example, while recognising 176 the principle of Israeli withdrawal, it would at the same time have to acknowledge that Israel's withdrawal must be linked to the Arab States' recognising the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. That would be a start, but only a start. But we hope that from such a reasonable and practical basis there would flow the work and decisions which would result in the settlement which is vital for the future peace and stability of the area.
We have always thought—and we said this in May, even before the fighting started—that a really constructive element in working for peace in this area would be the appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations of a representative to go to the Middle East, to contact the parties concerned and to make suggestions. We hope, therefore, that any resolution passed by the Security Council would provide for a personal representative to be appointed by U Thant, and that the resolution itself would supply the balanced statement of principles which could act as a framework within which the representative could act.
Britain has a general and important interest in the peace of the Middle East. We also have a particular interest in one aspect; namely, the Suez Canal. Certainly our interest, which is considerable, has not lessened in the past decade. But we must remember that there are others involved, and they include many developing countries East of Suez who are seriously affected by the closure of the Canal. In our view, the particular problem of the Suez Canal has to be seen as part of the larger problem of the Arab/Israel dispute, and at the moment it is difficult to see how there can be progress in solving the problem of the Canal without progress towards a general settlement on those lines which I have mentioned.
There is, however, one aspect of the problem of the Canal which could be dealt with separately (it is one that noble Lords have several, times raised in this House), and this is the release of those ships which are now blocked in the Great Bitter Lake. There are four British vessels there, but ships of no fewer than eight nations are in fact involved. Perhaps one of the encouraging, if minor, aspects of adversity is the very high 177 morale and mutual support that is to be found among the crews of these ships. The adversity in this case has at least produced something of an international entente among the nations concerned. We have suggested to the authorities of the United Arab Republic—and Sir Harold Beeley did this most recently two weeks ago—that the southern part of the Canal could be cleared in advance of a general settlement to enable these ships to leave. The United Arab Republic authorities have undertaken to examine this suggestion carefully.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, raised a number of points with regard to our relations with Egypt. I do not dissent from him in what he has said about the hostility that has been shown to this country; not do I wish, in the interests, I hope, of constructive debate, to trace the causes of that hostility. Certainly there have been incidents since the war which could have given rise to hostility, and the noble Lord will be aware of some of the things that I mean. But I think we should all be agreed—at any rate, I hope that we should, despite some of the questioning that took place this afternoon—that a step towards the reopening of negotiations, the reopening of diplomatic relations and the exchange of ambassadors can only be helpful at this moment.
I am afraid that I am unable to answer the noble Lord's question about a possible loan, because, apart from items that I have seen in the Press, I have heard nothing at all of this. As to whether there is anything in the offing, I should have thought at this moment that it would be rather surprising if there were, because I should have thought that it was exceedingly premature.
I should like now to turn to South Arabia. I do not propose here, either, to go into the past history. We debated this in the past, and there was a real difference of opinion, between some of us, anyway, on what was the correct national policy to follow in that area. I hold very strongly that the policies that Her Majesty's Government have followed in the decision to withdraw from that area without a defence treaty are correct. But I do not think your Lordships would wish now to debate this again, because we have debated it so often. I should 178 therefore like to deal with the present situation.
As your Lordships know, I have been closely involved in this, and we are at the present moment facing very important decisions before independence. The High Commissioner, Sir Humphrey Trevelyan, returned to London for consultations a week ago, and in the light of his discussions with the Foreign Secretary the problems before us were sufficiently clarified—and this is an area of the world where it is exceedingly difficult to clarify anything—for certain decisions to be taken. I will come to those in a moment, but first I should like to set out the background to these decisions, and I wish to set them out as objectively as I can. Since our statement of Government policy on South Arabia in the summer, the situation in the Southern Arabian peninsula has been radically changed. First of all, the Government of the United Arab Republic has decided to withdraw its forces from the Yemen by mid-December. I personally am confident that this is not only taking place, but will be complete very soon. And in South Arabia itself the Federal Government has ceased to exist.
In the aftermath of the events of June 19, which were themselves exacerbated and partly brought about by the general tensions arising out of the Arab/Israel war, the prestige and standing of the Federal Government suffered a considerable blow from which it never recovered. During the summer a ground swell of revolt grew in the up-country States. The tribes, which were generally believed to be the basis of the authority of the State rulers and of the Federal Government, acquiesced or actually sided with the nationalist groups, and the traditional authorities accordingly disintegrated. I do not propose to analyse this, unless your Lordships wish me to, in any greater detail, or to apportion blame for these events. The situation in the States is still far from clear, and nationalist political labels which have been adopted are in many cases really only covers for old tribal divisions. In general terms, however, the National Liberation Front, which is much more of an indigenous nationalist movement, led the revolt and has established ascendancy in almost all the Federation and in the Eastern Aden Protectorate. One of the things which 179 I must say has surprised me was the rapidity with which these feudal authorities collapsed, and with them went men, some of whom may not have been very worthy, although some were men for whom I personally had a considerable respect.
South Arabia was saved from total disintegration only by the ability of the Federal civil servants, including some of the British, and especially of the South Arabian forces, to hold the structure together, despite the fact that the South Arabian forces are themselves considerably divided on the same tribal and factional lines as the country as a whole. It was for this reason that the army refused—and volunteered the fact—to take over political control. In their view, however, the nationalists—and I must put in my own interpretation here: by "the nationalists" they mean the National Liberation Front and FLOSY; I have used the word "nationalists" in another way—had become representative of the country as a whole, and they pressed upon the High Commissioner the need for Her Majesty's Government to recognise them as such and to express our readiness to negotiate with them. Her Majesty's Government judged this was the right course to pursue. I have no doubt that it was the right course and that any other course would have led to chaos and ended any chance of a political settlement. The High Commissioner issued a statement accordingly on September 5. The South Arabian forces immediately called on the two factions to resolve their differences and to form a common front for negotiations with the High Commissioner.
It is now two months later, and we still have no one to negotiate with. It was a month before the two factions started their meetings in Cairo—and, quite frankly, I do not see why they should not meet in Cairo just as well as anywhere else. The great problem was to get the National Liberation Front to go to Cairo at all. We heard only last night that these talks had resulted in agreement on all matters so far discussed. The announcement issued by the factions last night said they would shortly reach agreement on the composition of their delegation to negotiate with us. We naturally welcome this, since it is what we have 180 been pressing for since the beginning of September, and we look forward to negotiations at the earliest possible date. Indeed, we have always sought talks with all parties.
I have, if not to the satisfaction of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, given the Irish analogy for the desirability of talks with people, whether they are called terrorists or not, and he will not expect me to follow the exchange we had on this subject on another occasion. I can only say that both the United Nations and ourselves have constantly tried to bring them to the conference table. We hope that at last this will come about, and that the threat that the divisions in the country would split the South Arabian forces should now, if all goes well, be averted, although it cannot be expected that old rivalries will evaporate overnight, and difficulties will certainly persist. But it is interesting and important that here again the inheritance of British training and steadfastness of some of the South Arabian military leaders has played a major part in averting a disaster.
This is the context in which our policy has to be reviewed in the light of the two main objectives which I in this House, and the Foreign Secretary in another place, reiterated on June 19. Our policy then, as now, was to withdraw our forces in good order and to seek to establish a united, stable and independent South Arabia. The Egyptian withdrawal from the Yemen—and in some ways Egyptian troubles in the Yemen have been at least as bad as, if not worse than, ours in South Arabia—and the transformation of the political scene with the collapse of the Federal Government, have caused us to look again at how we can best secure those objectives, and to take new and firm decisions.
Our first decision is based on the judgment that our continued presence in South Arabia cannot contribute to a political settlement. The radical nationalists, whether with or without other groups, have rejected any help which we might have been able to give, and they must solve their own problems. Our prompt withdrawal is therefore the right course to adopt in the interests of the people of South Arabia. On the military side, our forces can be removed from the country at any time after mid-November. An early withdrawal will reduce the 181 dangers that they may become involved in, and suffer casualties from, attacks by South Arabians on each other or on us. I echo the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about the senseless killing that is still going on at this moment, killing which to us seems quite inexplicable and tied to a misguided sense of a particular political purpose—the fear that anyone who does not kill the British is inevitably a British stooge.
An early withdrawal will reduce the danger, and the South Arabian forces, in the opinion of their own officers, the High Commissioner and the Commander-in-Chief, will be in a position—and again I stress, in the changed circumstances when the risk of possible aggression has very largely disappeared from across the border—to take over full responsibility for internal security any time from now, without the backing of British forces.
So the Government have now decided that the independence of South Arabia will take place in the second half of November, and all British forces will be withdrawn from South Arabia at that time. We shall fix a precise date for independence and withdrawal by the middle of this month. Which date within the second half of November it will be will depend on events and on whether a few days either way within that period will help us start negotiations with an emerging Government. In any case, we accept that some things which would normally be expected to be settled before independence might have to be left pending.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question about that matter, because he is making a very important statement, and I was not in a position to know what he was going to say. Does that mean that the Government have decided to withdraw from South Arabia without knowing to whom they are going to hand over and before negotiations begin?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
It does indeed, my Lords. It means that we consider we are not in a position to help the South Arabians any more by our presence. But we still hope—and I hope the noble Lord will accept this—that there will be a Government. One of the factors—and I sincerely stress this—that has helped bring the various forces together has been the 182 imminence of the British withdrawal. There is still time. This is a concept I put most sincerely. The deadline is itself a meaningful thing in this particular context.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord how the Government can say they will fix a date for independence when they do not know with whom they will be treating?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I do not think I will again say what I have just said. I have just said to the House that the Government are going to withdraw and South Arabia will be independent. I hope very much that there will be a Government to exercise independence.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, nobody doubts the noble Lord's hope. But suppose there is not a Government at that time. To whom will Her Majesty's Government hand over? It is a very interesting point.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
It is so interesting that it seems to me to be quite obvious that if there is not a Government to hand over to, you do not hand over to a Government.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I congratulate the noble Lord on his powers of comprehension, and I hope that this is now understood. I hope that noble Lords, having taken this point, will see that we do not believe that our continued presence is likely to facilitate the establishment of a stable Government. I agree that there could be arguments on this, but I am convinced, and indeed I do not know anybody in a senior position in south Arabia to-day who would doubt, that this is the only policy open to us.
The second decision relates to our offer of a deterrent Naval and Air Force for a period after independence. This offer was designed to meet, in the difficult period after independence, any threat of organised military attack across South Arabia's frontier supported by modern air power. I explained this to your Lordships and in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who I think talked about gas warfare—at any rate, other noble Lords have done so. This was the danger of attack from across the border, and in this changed political situation, 183 both in the Yemen and in South Arabia, it is no longer necessary or appropriate to provide this aid. Therefore we have cancelled our plans for naval and V-bomber deterrent forces, though a substantial naval force is concentrated at Aden to cover the period of our withdrawal and independence.
Thirdly, there are the questions of the financial support offered to the Federal Government for three years after independence and the offer of support for the Eastern Aden Protectorate forces, and this extra support that we promised last June has been an important factor in keeping the Hadrami-Bedouin legion together and preventing chaos breaking out. These intentions were always subject to the condition that they could be reviewed if political circumstances changed.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I may not have an opportunity to put questions to the noble Lord when he has finished speaking. I thought I heard him say that the Nationalist forces had rejected such aid as might be offered. I should like to know whether that also applies to financial aid?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am sorry: there may be an ambiguity there. The word "aid" was used in connection with bringing the country to independence and in the formation of the Government. We do not know whether, in fact, they would reject such aid, and it was always subject to the condition that it could be reviewed if political circumstances changed. However, the Government consider that it would not be right to take a decision on these matters now, but that they should wait until the future is clearer. The formation and attitude of a new Government will be important factors, but it is clearly impossible to prejudge this at this moment.
My Lords, I am trying to grasp all the points which I know have worried the Opposition in the past, and I am sorry to take so long over it. Finally, there is our undertaking to try to obtain the internationalisation of Perim under the United Nations. I have, with regret, to inform the House that although the Secretary-General is not yet in a position to reply formally to our approach to him, both he and the Chairman of the U.N. Commission have said that the proposal could 184 not be entertained because it was contrary to the letter and spirit of the U.N. resolutions, under which Perim is part of what they call the territory of Aden. The delegates of all 13 Arab Member States at the U.N. have also rejected the proposal in a formal communication to the Secretary-General.
In these circumstances there can be no doubt (I am convinced of this; and I was convinced of it at a pretty early stage after we began our efforts) that the proposal cannot succeed when it comes to be debated at the United Nations. The Government have made it clear that there can be no question of our continuing responsibility in Perim after the independence of South Arabia. Subject to confirmation that this is the will of the inhabitants, the island will therefore stay with South Arabia.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, the noble Lord says:Subject to confirmation that this is the will of the inhabitants, the island will therefore stay with South Arabia.Can he say what steps will be taken to confirm that this is the will of the inhabitants? And if it should turn out not to be the will of the inhabitants, what will be done about it?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, without in any way suggesting that there should be a "phoney" plebiscite, I would say that all the evidence is that the inhabitants will elect to belong to South Arabia; but there will in fact be consultation.
I should like to say one further word in conclusion; and in this connection I hope noble Lords will acquit me of any desire to ride out on the responsibilities that this Government, and indeed any other Government, have had for South Arabia. We are now seeing the closing chapters in regard to the British responsibility, and, whatever mistakes have been made (and I have been careful not to criticise the previous Government on policy), it is right that we should recognise certain factors. In the first place, we really ought to recognise—and I am sure your Lordships will—the achievement of individual, and in many cases forgotten, servants of the Crown. It is my hope and expectation that the work which they have done for South Arabia will not be 185 lost. It is another example of the enduring contribution derived from the traditions of the old British Empire when men, some of whom went out to serve either their own interests or those of their own country, made their greatest contribution in serving the people among whom they lived.
The final stages of the withdrawal, sad though some of the circumstances may be, and particularly the tragic loss of life—and of course there is still that risk—has a credit side; and again I think we should recognise the particular contribution of the incomparable British Army. Without their steadfastness and restraint (and this comes through in every observation of what has happened at crucial moments) there would have been wholesale loss of life. I have said this before, but I think it cannot be said too often: few people in this country realise how near the brink South Arabia has been, and perhaps still is, and how much we owe to those who have borne these heavy responsibilities.
My Lords, South Arabia after independence will have serious problems to face, but responsibility will now lie where, in my view, it should lie—with the people of South Arabia themselves—and the risk of foreign intervention, which has concerned so many of your Lordships in the past, has now greatly receded. I hope that a time will come when the misunderstandings will be removed and we shall be able to welcome South Arabia to the international community of nations. I hope that we can look forward to the revival of the great port of Aden—it is tragic to think of Aden now, with its activity so enormously reduced—and also to the economic progress of the country in peaceful conditions in the interests not only of South Arabia but also of the whole area.
My Lords, may I ask one question? If it comes about that no date for independence can be set, because there is no emerging Government in the South Arabian Federation to which we can hand over independence, is the noble Lord saying that Her Majesty's Government have no further responsibility in the matter and that it is entirely up to the inhabitants to settle their own particular fratricidal affairs?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I think I could go on almost indefinitely 186 trying to explain this to the noble Lord. I appreciate that he has in mind that there should be a formal act of independence and a handing over to the Government. This is clearly the right and proper and usual way. What I am saying is that the British will withdraw; and they will withdraw because we believe that in the present circumstances our continued presence in South Arabia is more likely to increase the risk of fractricidal strife than reduce it. And certainly, as I have said before, I see no other policy that is possible. I hope that I have answered the noble Lord on that point.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves this subject, would he kindly inform the House whether the Government will find some means of providing for the protection of the British High Commissioner and his staff, if complete chaos results?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, this is certainly a matter of very great concern to the Government. The British High Commissioner will, of course, be withdrawn on independence; but there is every intention and hope to leave a British Embassy. It is hoped that a number of British will remain. We know that there are in the oil refinery a number of British living at the present moment under the protection of one of the terrorist groups as well as the South Arabian Army. It is always a responsibility of Her Majesty's Government to provide the protection necessary, even though that may mean only the withdrawal of the individuals concerned.
I hope noble Lords will not ask me to speculate too far on this point, because I still hope that it will be possible to have—indeed, the Government are making plans on the basis, that we shall continue to have—an Embassy, and that there will be expatriates working in Aden. For, as always, the disaster that will confront any country if it suddenly loses all its expatriate civil servants will be even greater.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves Aden—before the Government do—would he not also add to his words of praise the Aden police force, which is under British officers but is a mixed force, and which I think in difficult circumstances has carried out 187 in an exemplary manner a peacemaking role and very dangerous role?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Lord has asked me a very delicate and difficult question. I think what he is asking for was incorporated in my general praise for all those, British and official, who did in fact play such a stalwart part.
My Lords, I have something to say on Vietnam, but I think perhaps my remarks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will have to be reserved to another time. All I will say is that we have here a tragic situation which carries with it the constant danger of escalation. It is a basic assumption of our policy that a solution to the war in Vietnam, if it is to be lasting, cannot be achieved by military conquest. I do not think there is much difference between us on this. A solution must come through negotiations leading to a settlement that will secure the legitimate interests of all concerned. I do not doubt that noble Lords will accept that the Government have been engaged in constant activity to try to reduce or end this horrible conflict. Time and again the Foreign Secretary has called upon his Soviet co-Chairman to reconvene the Geneva Conference. Time and again the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, in discussions with colleagues from many other countries, have pursued the question of a settlement in Vietnam and have taken initiatives, either of our own or in support of others.
But there cannot be a movement towards a settlement, let alone a settlement itself, unless there is a willingness to compromise on both sides. I must say that it appears clear to me that the Americans do not lack this willingness. They have made it clear that they will talk to-morrow if only the other side will also talk. I am forced to believe, from the very best indications that we have at present, that Hanoi has not yet grasped the fact that the interests not only of North Vietnam but also of South Vietnam can best be served by agreeing to negotiation. We hate this war and we want it stopped. But there is not necessarily an easy solution to something which is hateful, and especially a problem as complex as this. I can only say that Her Majesty's Government will do their utmost, by official, unofficial, private or 188 public initiative, with all the Governments concerned, to enable us, or anyone else, to help to mediate, and in this it is of importance that we should adopt a position in which it will be possible for us to play this role.
We have frequently debated the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. I mention it again only because it is again stated in the gracious Speech, as it has been year after year, that the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a cardinal point in British policy. In our debates in your Lordships' House I am sure we are united that this is as it should be. A year ago NATO went through a difficult period, but we have managed pretty successfully to adapt the Alliance to the consequences of the French withdrawal. If the Alliance is to become an even more constructive body, then we must improve our consideration and our methods in framing an approach to a détente, and we believe that when the situation calls for this then political consultation must play an even greater part in NATO than it does at present. That is why we think that some of the present studies associated with the name of M. Harmel are of great importance for the future. This particular study will be completed in time for the NATO Ministerial meeting in December. We hope the NATO Ministers will then be able to agree on a statement which will show the Alliance to be a lively and vigorous organisation.
I shall have to leave to my noble friend, Lord Chalfont, questions of nonproliferation, and indeed major questions of disarmament. I should like to conclude only by saying that I do not share Lord Carrington's (may I call it?) lack of confidence, or pessimism—I do not wish to put words into his mouth or misinterpret his attitude. I certainly do not lack, and I do not believe Her Majesty's Government lack, confidence in the role that the British must play. I am supremely sure that we have a very important part to play in the world, and surely there can be no doubt among us that the British have a great contribution and we must continue to make that contribution. I share the views of those noble Lords, of whom there are a majority, that the right place for this country is now in Europe. But that does not mean that we must turn our back on 189 the rest of the world, and it does not mean—and I repeat this to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—that we must run down our own effort and contribution. The British have carried a very heavy burden in different parts of the world, and if it seems wise and in the interests of the world that we should seek to curtail responsibilities we are no longer in a position to fulfil, that does not suggest that we have not a consistent foreign policy which the Government will continue to pursue and which will benefit not just this country but the world.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, may I put a question on Aden to the noble Lord? Does it mean that the hand-over will be constitutional, or a pragmatic recognition of the true situation?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, it strikes me that it is going to be a pretty abrasive affair altogether. It certainly will not be a constitutional handover, because there is no Government to hand over to, and there are all sorts of very tricky problems involved. But it is certainly pragmatic in the sense that we have accepted the realities of the situation.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
My Lords, having spent nearly thirty years in the two Commonwealth countries of Australia and New Zealand, and knowing their feelings towards the mother country, I have no doubt in my mind that Britain's membership of the E.E.C. would mean the end of the British Commonwealth; and this has been made abundantly clear by the uncompromising reactions of Commonwealth leaders. I can refer back to Accra in September, 1961, when every single one of the Commonwealth countries expressed opposition for both political and economic reasons. In London in September, 1962, 14 out of 16 Commonwealth countries expressed their opposition, and so on up to the present time.
Only last week Sir Robert Menzies, a sincere and far-seeing statesman, agreed that if we go into the Common Market and accept the Treaty of Rome unconditionally, it will be bound to interfere with many of our internal affairs, including social services. I heard that same man in 1939 announce that we—I repeat "we"—were at war with Germany. They 190 came in their thousands from both Australia and New Zealand to help the Motherland, as they did in 1914.
Surely our first duty, before anything else, is to be loyal to these countries who have never asked anything from Britain, but have given us much and lost much in the lives of men in two World Wars. Therefore, I cannot accept a policy which must lead to Australia, Canada and New Zealand particularly, being given much less favourable treatment by Britain than we give to continental Europe. Common Market advocates suggest that Britain has no choice but to join—that we must move in or face economic stagnation. Such is the case at the present moment. We are faced with economic stagnation.
This defeatist attitude is not based on facts, and staying out of the Common Market would be no disaster. Only a small percentage of our exports go to the Six compared with what goes to the Commonwealth. The economies of Europe and Britain are directly competitive—the importing of raw materials and the exporting of manufactured goods—whereas the economies of the Commonwealth countries and Britain are basically complementary. We buy their raw materials and food in exchange for our finished products and services, including shipping; and so to my mind there is no natural outlet for British goods within the six countries of the Common Market.
The negotiations now in progress in Brussels are confined, I believe, to trade and agricultural problems. The political issues are not being discussed, and so it seems to me that the Government are content to abdicate our position as head of the British Commonwealth, to become a one-seventh or one-eighth part of an intended United States of Europe. If the consequences of the integration of the Common Market involve the continental member States, with an essentially similar legal structure, what will be the consequences for Britain as a party to the Treaty of Rome?
The Treaty of Rome is a continental Treaty, based on continental concepts which differ from British concepts of law, order and good government. Many of the Treaty's concepts, and even some of its words, have no equivalent under British law. I apologise to your Lordships. I am afraid I have lost some of 191 my speech. However, in conclusion, I should like to say that the vital issue is one in which country comes before Party, and as a true and loyal Britisher and a staunch Commonwealth supporter I say to your Lordships from this side of the House, "Long live Great Britain and the Commonwealth."
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HEAD
My Lords, at the start of my remarks I should like to congratulate the noble Earl who has just spoken. I think that we can derive nothing but benefit from hearing remarks from one who knows Australia as well as he does. I stand second to none as a fan of Australia. I am also aware of their views at the present time, and I think that the more matters concerning Anglo-Australian relations are kept before the House and the more we are aware of them, the better. I sincerely hope that we shall hear again from the noble Earl. Not long ago I made my own maiden speech here, but it never gets any easier or less alarming. I should like, without any presumption, to commiserate with the noble Earl on his complication over notes. I, too, have encountered this tribulation and, quite seriously, after a certain amount of effort and worry I finally gave them up and, as he did I may well break down in my speech. I should like to commiserate with him, and assure him that this misfortune can in no way detract from the force of his speech; and I am sure we should all wish to hear from him again in the near future.
First of all, I should like to associate myself with the remarks that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, made about the good nature, restraint and efficiency of the British Army in Aden. My own experience over a long time with the Army is that there is no Army in the world which is as good, under really trying circumstances, at showing great restraint, retaining its sense of balance and its sense of humour. Although I have not been to Aden, I am quite certain and convinced that everything he said about the Army is completely true.
A situation of gravity and immediacy confronts the world to-day, and over it all hangs the shadow of the possibility of total war and the bomb. I feel that in this general climate of the world situa 192 tion your Lordships may feel that the subject on which I venture to address you in this debate may be inopportune or even ill-chosen, but my excuse for raising it is that I am proposing to talk about a bomb which, unless quite radical steps are taken, is bound to explode, bound to kill hundreds of millions of people and to bring illness and suffering to countless other millions. But the reason that there is no mention of this in the gracious Speech, the reason that it is not spoken of very much, and the reason why the Press say little about it is, firstly, that this particular bomb will not drop on us in the Western world and, secondly, it is unlikely to explode before about twenty or thirty years have elapsed. Therefore, there is every reason in this difficult world for putting it in the "Pending" tray. There is every reason to think, "Well, maybe it will be all right on the day." There are no electoral votes in it, nor, frankly, is there enormous interest in it.
Your Lordships will no doubt have guessed that I am referring to the terrifying increase of population compared to the barely perceptible increase in the production of food in the world to-day. I do not wish to bore your Lordships with this problem, but I venture to address you because I think that if everybody ceases to talk about it, if we let it slip from our minds, it is cumulatively a situation for which we will never forgive the statesmen of the world to-day for letting the next twenty years go by—and that is the period when it is possible to do something about it. Leave it too long, and it will be too late. Leave it too long, and enormous sums of money will be spent on remedial efforts made by growing extra corn and in building ships to deliver it to relieve famine. That effort is merely remedial, but if started now we could achieve far more.
I do not wish to bore your Lordships with data and statistics—I think it was Disraeli who said "Bore them with statistics", but I think they are difficult. Nevertheless, experts who have been studying these matters, even allowing for birth control, and making all allowances for the trends since the war up to the present time and projecting that trend onwards, feel that the population in the world from now to the year 2000 will 193 almost certainly double; that is to say, it will grow at about 60 million a year. It is a terrifying thought, and is very difficult to assimilate. I have been addressing your Lordships now for some five minutes, and if it brings it home at all I would point out that during the course of my remarks so far the population of the world has increased by 1,500 people. Some noble Lords may say, "You'd better sit down". But the consequence is not due to me: it is going on day and night, and gradually increasing because it is doing so at compound interest.
In the past many people have cried, "Wolf!" about this—the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr used to talk about the subject with great effect—and perhaps sometimes overstressed its immediacy. But the point is that if the population of the world doubles, dramatic consequences follow. If one takes the cities of the world and remembers that urbanisation is increasing, whether it be in the underdeveloped or the developed countries, I would invite your Lordships to try to imagine Calcutta double its present size—or Tokyo, for that matter. There are problems of this kind in many countries. Canada has the problem, as we have, of effluent polluting our rivers and seas. One ingenious gentleman says that the total annual effluent of the world is a mountain four miles long, four miles broad and four miles high. That is a very big effluent mountain and in the year 2000 it will be twice the size.
The biggest problem of all, of course, is what we are going to eat. There are the people who say: "Something will turn up. The scientists will produce something. We can live on plankton from the sea, and we shall be all right." Shell are making a protein out of mineral oil, but it is so disgusting that no one has been able to eat it. There are the people who think that something will turn up, but hardly anybody who has studied the problems will disagree with the view that if we allow too many years to go by we shall not be able to cope with the problem. The experts are at one on the fact that, for the first time in the history of the world, man has his destiny in his own hands. We have sat on this planet, we have fought one another and been very wasteful of natural resources, and in the past have got away with it. 194 There has been room, and great resources have been available, but if the population of the world is allowed to double we could create a kind of cancer of overpopulation that would ruin our own world.
It is a little paradoxical that when this fearful problem is before us—and it is—man is literally turning his back on it. And billions of pounds are being spent, and the best brains directed, in going to look at a lot of small, uninhabited, sterile, satellites whirling round the sun, while we allow this threat in relation to over-population to continue. It is easy to say that my sort of attitude is alarmist or rubbish, that all this is twenty or thirty years ahead; or to say, "We shall all be dead by then". For I doubt whether many noble Lords will be here in the year 2000.
§ VISCOUNT HEAD
Well, I will with draw that—perhaps I am unduly pessimistic. I will say that there will be a good number of noble Lords who will not be here then, but not the present ones.
I doubt whether ever before people have been put in a position that, if in the next twenty or thirty years they do nothing about the population problem, they will put the generation which is now at university, or just leaving it, in an almost impossible position. That generation will say, "Why didn't they do something about it while there was still time?". If from the grave one can answer, the reason would be, "The immediacy of the fearful problems which confronted us, our own economic problems; elections; that it was a matter of politics; that there was not a vote in it, and that nobody has much money". These are all perhaps arguments which could be used, but when one has before one a situation such as that and nothing is done, they will not sound very convincing to those who follow.
It is quite beyond the scope of my remarks to go into the matter of cures. Of course there is the question of birth control, which could be extended; and perhaps something could be done in the way of taxes to limit population. There are the problems of how to plan cities, how to deal with effluents, and so on; but 195 I will not go into all those matters. I propose only to make a few remarks based purely on personal experience on the question of the growing of food for this vastly increasing world population.
At the outset I would say that the majority of the countries concerned have been colonial territories. When any Americans go to these colonial territories, in the really backward areas, they are startled to find peasant agriculture exactly as it was 200 or 300 years ago. What is typical of practically all the colonial territories—and I am not blaming the Colonial Powers—is that they concentrated on exportable cash crops, such as cocoa, groundnuts, oil palm, and they ruled by indirect rule, leaving the Sultan or Sheikh to run the country, so that peasant agriculture was never touched. All over Nigeria and Malaya one finds peasant agriculture still at the stage it was 200 or 300 years ago. One finds this also in Indonesia, in the ex-Dutch Colonies and in the French Colonies as well.
It is said, "Well, some twenty years have passed since the war, with vast amounts of aid being poured into the emerging countries. Surely that has helped". My Lords, it is sad, but it has not helped in regard to agriculture—or it has helped only marginally. Agriculture is the Cinderella of aid. You may have a lovely five-year plan for some emerging country, and along come the donor countries and say, "Our steel industry is in a bad state; we will supply railway engines and lines." Somebody else says, "We should like to export some turbines, so we shall put in a dam." In one case the Americans said, "Our telecommunications industry is rather weak at the moment. We will build you a whacking great broadcasting station and a T.V. station"—right out of priority. So they all nab these things.
When it comes to an agricultural scheme, what the Treasury (whether the American Treasury or our own) wish to avoid is a scheme with a very small offshore-purchase element. But there are a few who agree to help in agricultural schemes. A scheme is prepared for a small part of the territory, with a few lucky workers and their families being brought into an enclave, and the scheme is set up at a very high cost. But that 196 expertise and knowledge does not spread throughout the country. Therefore the peasant system of agriculture, which has remained the same for 200 years, remains very primitive. It is perhaps a nice place to take V.I.Ps, but it is expensive and not a great deal of good for the whole of the country concerned.
Your Lordships may say, "When you are talking about this vast problem and are getting down to agricultural settlements in developing countries, you may be getting down to too much detail." But I promise you that this business of improving peasant agriculture is the nub of the food problem. Population is another matter. Your Lordships may well ask, "What is the answer?" I venture to say that there is only one way of improving world-wide peasant agriculture, and that is by what is called "extension services". That is really a grand name for a man, who has tenacity, knowledge, and has been educated, going round on a motor bike. Your Lordships may say, "That is all very well, but how do you know that it would work if it were done?" Well, of course, it has been tried already, but the pay is too small, the education is inadequate and the quality of the men is often inadequate. A man has to be "a hell of a chap" to convince someone who has been farming in a country which has used the same methods for 200 years to change his methods.
But I maintain that it can be done, and for this reason. In both Nigeria and Malaya the British-American Tobacco Company (out of self-interest, I admit, but it is none the worse for that) said, "We will grow tobacco." Then they said, "How shall we do it? Shall we grow it in a plantation and run the whole business ourselves, or not?" They decided not to have a plantation, and said that they would teach the farmer to grow his seedlings and would then buy back the tobacco. So they had an extension service—and they had a good one. They had education; they paid the people well; they bought motor-cycles; they picked very good people, and they started off the scheme. The farmers grew the tobacco and dried it, and the scheme was a success. But the significant point is that in Nigeria and Malaya, where the tobacco areas were—and they were very small—the whole standard of peasant agriculture went up. The reason was 197 that when those men went around the farmers said to them, "My yams are awful," and the extension man would ask them, "What did you grow last year?" When the farmer replied, "Cassava", he was then told, "You cannot grow yams after Cassava."
All I am saying, my Lords, is that it is now 22 years since the war ended, and no decent extension services anywhere in the world—India, Nigeria or anywhere else—have been set up. What has been done? There have been marvellous schemes of research, marvellous schemes of educating young men. But they want to go into the laboratories; they want to keep their white coats, and they do not want to get their hands dirty. So the application of the knowledge that comes out of the universities is not reaching the present farmer. This has gone on for 22 years, and if it goes on for another 22 years we are not going a yard towards solving this problem.
Much has been done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, but, quite frankly, it is not a satisfactory organisation. A lot has been done by aid, but bilateral aid is a ghastly mistake. First, people think that they are going to get kudos from it, and they hardly ever do. Secondly, if you talk as a nation about aid you are up against trouble if you want to be tough with the recipient country. The biggest success since the war has been the World Bank, and that is multilateral aid. Apart from my remarks about the extension service, if we could have multilateral aid and if it could in-corporate a lot of the F.A.O., and if the nations of the world got together to help grow more food, I believe it would be very inspiring to this troubled world.
I hope that I am not being Utopian or thinking World Government wise. But man has this ghastly problem and has hardly scratched the surface of it after 22 years, and he has only about thirty years left. It is not worth a vote in the Election. Hardly any of our leaders talk about this, because it is boring and the voters are not interested. I make these remarks solely because I hope that even one or more here to-day may say something more about it. I know that things have been said already, but we must continue to say it. If not, I believe that we shall be letting down the generation now at the universities; and if they say 198 in the next twenty years that we have done nothing about it, then we shall prove to be a generation which history will condemn.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I am happy to be the first from these Benches to congratulate my noble friend Lord Buckinghamshire on his maiden speech. It may not have been entirely consistent with the strictest standards concerning controversial subjects, which some people feel we should practise in this House, but I am quite sure that the sincerity and the force with which it was delivered make us all feel that we look forward a great deal to hearing further from my noble friend.
I am extremely tempted to follow the noble Viscount who has just sat down, because he has raised a subject that is not only of enormous importance—and I am extremely glad that he did—but very close to my own heart. But I think I should refrain from that temptation, strong though it is, and confine myself, in this debate on foreign affairs, merely to two parts of the world. One of them is Vietnam, which has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and, in passing, by my noble friend Lord Shackleton, and the other is Africa. Australia I shall leave out.
Whatever our views about the war in Vietnam, there is one thing on which I think all of us are agreed, and that is that we are friends and allies of the United States and share all important values with them. They are fighting in Vietnam right now, and we must do nothing whatsoever to make their job any harder. But because we must not make their job any harder, because we are their friends, that does not in any way mean that we must give 100 per cent. allegiance to everything they do. It is the duty of a true friend to criticise in an honest way, if he thinks that criticism is going to be of help. We must speak the truth, even though it is not always palatable. I am certain that the Americans cannot win in Vietnam by force alone. They have the force to do it. They could do it if they really wished; but, thank God, they do not wish. They are not prepared to use the overwhelming force which they have, and they have quite rightly decided that this 199 battle must be fought with at least one arm tied behind their back.
The Americans themselves have often said that this is a battle for the hearts and minds of people. My Lords, you cannot win people's hearts and minds by bombs. This is not 1945: this is a new type of war. This is a war of subversion and infiltration, and it is only the road to disaster to think that the methods which were successful in 1945 will automatically be successful, if applied with some more force and some more strength in the conditions in Vietnam to-day That is something which I should be happy if the noble Lord, Lord Carrington (I am sorry that he has just left his seat) were to remember and to remind his friends in Australia about.
The noble Lord rightly said that we are not in this war in Vietnam fighting side by side with the Australians. It is the first war in which they have participated where we have not been with them, and they have not been with us. But, I repeat, this war cannot be won by soldiers, by bombs and by the methods of what is technically called "modern warfare". The fact that we are not fighting in the trenches or in the air with them, does not mean to say that we are not engaged, and do not want to be engaged, in this whole conflict which is taking place throughout South-East Asia. But I am quite sure that there are far more effective ways of giving help to our common cause than simply by aiding in the purely military effort.
Perhaps also, in passing, I may remind the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, when he talks of Australia now turning more to Japan than to the United Kingdom for their trade, that although that is true—and nobody can blame them for doing that—this trend started when the Government of which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was a member—a Conservative Government—took, and quite rightly in my view, the initial steps of trying to get into the Common Market.
The important point that we must bring home to the United States and to many of the people there (though many of them know it already) is that the only way this war can be won is in the villages and the hamlets of Vietnam and among the peasants—those people who 200 are today producing the food about which the noble Viscount, Lord Head, spoke, and who must produce still more food for themselves and for the coming generations. It is perfectly correct to say that bombing gives marginal advantages, but in my view these advantages are grossly exaggerated by the generals, who learned their fighting in the last war. It also gives great disadvantages, and these disadvantages are recognised by very many wise Americans, both in Vietnam and in the United States itself. But, unfortunately, most of those people are not in the highest positions.
My Lords, sooner or later the United States must take the decision to stop the bombing. It is a question of timing, and I freely admit that only those who have full access to all the information can decide when the time is right. I am not attempting to stand up here to say that the time is right now, or was, or will be, although I have a strong suspicion that the time was right some months ago. If it was not then, if it is not now, it certainly will come very soon. It will require very great statesmanship on the part of the United States to recognise this time and to have the courage to act. For the sake of our friends and for the sake of the whole world, I hope that that statesmanship will not be lacking.
Now, my Lords, let me turn to the continent of Africa, starting with South Africa itself. First of all, let me repeat what I think all of us here would agree: that to us in this country apartheid is repulsive. It is a repugnant theory and it is a repugnant practice. The people of South Africa must not be in any doubt at all about our wholehearted condemnation of it. But, while we condemn it, I do not believe that it does any good whatsoever for us to attempt to ostracise South Africa. Ostracism can do no good: it can do only harm. We must keep our contacts with South Africa at all levels: at governmental level—and I am glad that those contacts have been going on recently—at the business level, at the cultural level, at the level of sport and in every way in which it can be done.
I know that many of my friends condemn Her Majesty's Government for encouraging trade with South Africa. I believe that such people are wrong. After all, we trade with Russia, we trade with China, Spain, Portugal, Cuba, and 201 with many countries of whose methods of government we disapprove, whose activities we consider against all that civilised nations should hold true and dear. But we trade with them, and I believe that it is right for us to trade also with South Africa. After all, as individuals I hope that none of us would remove our trade from a shopkeeper because we knew him to be an alcoholic, an adulterer or a homosexual, or that he was practising some form of life that we held to be abhorrent. Because if decent society—and we consider ourselves, rightly or wrongly, to be decent society—turns its back upon individuals of whom it disapproves, what possible chance is there of any reform at all? It is only by contact with decent people with decent views that there can be any hope of improvement. It is the sin that we should hate, not the sinner. That is something that in our dealings with many countries in the world, including South Africa, we must never forget. We must not forget, either, the feeling of isolation among the liberals (using that word in its widest sense) in South Africa. We owe to those courageous and lonely people all the encouragement we can give, and I am quite sure that contacts with South Africa are, to them, an encouragement.
As to Rhodesia, I do not think it would be suitable to dwell at length on that country, but I am happy to know from the gracious Speech that Her Majesty's Government still stand firm on their earlier policies. The sanctions there, we all know, are far from perfect. They have not achieved the effects that many people hoped they might. They harm the Rhodesians; and among them, of course, many hundreds, many thousands, of innocent people are harmed—and that is sad. But I am afraid, my Lords, that it is one of the inevitable consequences of U.D.I. After all, bombing and blockades, which harmed many innocent people, were the inevitable consequences of the last war.
Sanctions hurt us, too. There is no point in denying that. People tell us that they cost us something in the neighbourhood of £80 million a year. That is a significant amount, particularly in our present economic situation. But surely economic considerations are not all that a great nation should be concerned with. We do not act solely because it is to our economic or material 202 benefit. There is a thing called honour, my Lords, and we are compelled by honour to do what we can for those 4 million of Her Majesty's subjects who are not followers of Mr. Ian Smith. Can anyone really assert that our honour is rot worth £80 million a year—that is 30s. per head of the population, something under 9d. a week? Surely nobody can really suggest that we should sell our honour for 9d. a week.
South Africa and Rhodesia are the two headline subjects of Africa, but we must not let ourselves be hypnotised by them and forget all the rest of Africa. In that vast area South of the Sahara there are over 30 countries, and something like 200 million people. They are all, or almost all, struggling to emerge from a primitive life to a life of sophistication and what we call civilisation. We have already helped them a great deal. Possibly the noble Viscount, Lord Head, would not think we had helped them in the right way, but we have given a great deal of help, and we must help some more—far more—and in different and better directions. But our help is not confined only to material help. That is welcome, and we give all that we can afford, but they need other help, too.
There were many people in those emerging countries who had great hopes of a Labour Government. They believed that we in the Labour Party shared common hopes and common ideals with them. We do; but—and I have to say it, unhappily—we have failed to give them the sympathy and the understanding that they expected from us and that they deserved from us. I am delighted that my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary is out there now. There can be no better understander and proponent of the British Government's policies than he, and I am very happy that he is going to many of the Commonwealth countries. I hope that his visit will be followed up, not only to Commonwealth countries but to other African countries, by many of his colleagues. Because there must be far more of these contacts, far more frank talks between us, far more a sharing of problems, so that we realise better what they are trying to do and where their difficulties principally lie, and so that they can understand why it is that we are not doing all to help them that they hoped we would do.
203 Our Ambassadors and our High Commissioners have a large part to play here. They cannot do it all by themselves, but they can do a great deal. Many of them are admirable people, but it is a fact, I am afraid, that even now we are still inclined to send senior, elderly and often unsuitable people out there. We are sending sucn people, nearing the end of their career, out to these posts, where, instead of these experienced and (shall I say?) European-type diplomats, what is needed is a young man, younger than the normal Ambassador or High Commissioner, with vigour and understanding and able to get about (if not on the motor cycle that the noble Viscount spoke about) and to travel through the country with enthusiasm and sympathy for his surroundings. We have made some of those appointments, I know, and they are good. I hope my noble friend, when he comes to reply, can assure us that more of such appointments will be made.
Of course, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America—and I am sorry that nobody has so far mentioned Latin America—are all vital areas of the world and perhaps, for the immediate future, are more important than Africa and what is taking place there. But our job is not to concern ourselves solely with the problems of to-day and to-morrow; we must look ahead, for there is little we can do to affect what is going to happen to-day and to-morrow. What we can do, if we are lucky and wise, is to affect what is going to happen the day after tomorrow and the day after that. That we must think about now. In Africa there is virgin territory and people with new ideas, new hopes and new ambitions, struggling to create a new and better system based on the experience, the successes and the failures of the older parts of the world. It is here that we can, and we must, help.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, may I first apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, if I am not here at end of the debate. I have accepted an invitation from his Ministry for this evening, and I may have to slip away. May I also offer congratulations and sympathy to the noble Earl, Lord Buckinghamshire, on his maiden speech. 204 May I tell him that on the second occasion I spoke in public I completely lost my notes—and that was the best thing that ever happened to me. He has got over the first hurdle and will enjoy the next—as I know we shall also. Following on the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Head, on the fascinating and vitally important subject of the shortage of food may I say that I was at the I.C.I. factory in the Midlands a fortnight ago and their overseas salesmen told me that famine was coming, not in the year 2000 but in the year 1975. So I am afraid that we must move faster even than the noble Viscount advocated.
My Lords, I do not think that at any time in my experience—in a humble way; but going back a long time—of foreign affairs, has our foreign policy appeared to be in such complete ruin. Where are our friends? Who are our friends? What is our country's future? Where is the voice of Europe? These are the questions which we may ask, but they are questions also being asked by the ordinary man and woman in the street who are becoming interested in and involved in the European question.
Recalling Lord Grey's remarks in 1914, it would really seem as though the lights of Europe have gone out at the moment—although only temporarily, we hope. The essential principles of foreign affairs appear to have been mislaid, and when the Government act they act so clumsily that it seems to be with a total lack of appreciation of the feelings and values of other countries; as, for instance, in our recent approaches to Cairo. Was that quite the right moment to start these negotiations?—with the whole of the Israel and Middle East questions unsettled. It seems to me that the (what shall I call it?) bonhomie of our Foreign Secretary is hardly a sufficient substitute for strength—and strength is the only thing the Egyptians understand. That is what they are getting from Russia at the present time. There were also the unfortunate remarks last week in our Press and in the European Press. Here I must say that I have great sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for I fear he was the victim of circumstances. I do not think the Press was to blame; I think the blame lay very much elsewhere.
205 There is an important factor in foreign affairs which I believe to be worth consideration. Looking round the world, what do we see? It is not enough to take into consideration the physical strength on land, sea and in the air; there must be the will to survive. Nothing less than this would have brought us through the last two wars, and nothing less than this would have given the Israelis victory over the Egyptians. There is a danger in a country being too large. There is advantage in good geographical boundaries and a homogenous population. I believe that these two facts have been part of our strength in the past and we should cherish and bear them in mind.
Countries can be too large for comfort. It is difficult, for example, to promote a national will in the U.S.A., with its immense territory, an undigested population, a colour problem—and not even a national paper. Russia, too, has her troubles from size in a similar degree, and her subordinate countries now seem to be fraying round the edges rather like old lace. China, with a vast multitude, hungry, undisciplined and losing their way between differing war lords; India, in danger of splitting and appearing to be turning her back on the West and leaning over more heavily on one neighbour in the North, while, with good reason, becoming more and more suspicious of the other. I think it is sad that for almost twelve months the Indian High Commission in London has been without a head. There is an excellent Deputy High Commissioner, but no High Commissioner. I am wondering why London now does not seem to be so important. Africa, where the boundaries (accidentally set by the Colonial powers) cut across strong tribal and national feelings will take several generations to solve their parochial problems. South America, a very neglected continent, with its roots in our European civilisation but still in the throes of reaching stable democratic solutions; and lastly Canada, Australia and New Zealand, fortunate in their homogeneity, although the older country tries to drive two horses.
So, My Lords, back to Europe and the small compact nations. If they could speak with one voice they would command attention and regain immense importance in the world at moments of crisis and uncertainty. It is strange that 206 General de Gaulle, who has experienced so much strife in his life, does not realise that Europe split in half must remain an impotent and silent body ignored by the big Powers. The leadership he has assumed is valueless because it does not carry conviction in moments of danger. We saw this in the recent Middle East crisis. The elements for the will to survive are there in NATO, in W.E.U., in the Assembly at Strasbourg and so on. Trading and economic alliances are all very well in peace time but are too easily disrupted in times of war—and I am not one of those who think that the millenium has already arrived.
Surely, therefore, the first duty of any Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary is to reorientate their policy so that the will to survive is fostered and strengthened, not only by the provision of proper measures of defence but in the spiritual forces in a nation which give it strength to carry on in the darkest days. This is what carried us through the wars; this is what gave us the victory, and this will to survive should also be the impetus to bring Europe together, and that as soon as possible.
My Lords, that we have a deep-rooted survival quality bred in us by our history, by our geographical advantage and by the compactedness of our people I have no doubt. I am not sure that the present Government are encouraging that quality. It is better to survive with friends, and friends who are close at hand will be vial if war comes, because it will be fast and furious. The German Chancellor has recently been our guest. I am sure that he is a friend—and I have the privilege of knowing him personally. How tragic that at this moment injudicious words, so easily misinterpreted in European countries, should perhaps shake his confidence and undermine the help he cal give us. We must trust that nothing more will be said which may give General de Gaulle any encouragement or justification for his lack of confidence in us. A unified Europe presents security, prosperity and an interesting future for our children, and I would conclude with the words of Chancellor Kiesinger who said, "Where there is a will, there is a way". Let there be a combined European will for survival, and our future will thereby be assured.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I rise with considerable diffidence to take part in this debate. I suppose that is not my normal state of mind when addressing your Lordships' House, but on this occasion I feel that I ought almost to offer an apology. I am going to speak on two matters which my noble friend Lord Walston has already touched on; namely, South Africa and Rhodesia. I do so because during the Recess I spent six weeks in those two countries. Although I cannot claim that six weeks is an adequate time to enable one to speak with authority, I can say that it is a considerably longer time than has been spent in them by a good many people, in the Government and outside, who have made important decisions about them. I should like to give some of my impressions, and certain tentative conclusions at which I have arrived as a result of those impressions.
First, I should like to say something about Rhodesia. From the Press, and everything one had heard here, I anticipated that it was an almost daring thing to go to Rhodesia at all at the present time; that one would be received at best in an unfriendly spirit; that people would be resentful against anybody from this country and that one would be cold-shouldered. In fact, I found the very reverse. The people of Rhodesia are most friendly, most cordial, most eager to retain their relationship with this country and most distressed at the possibility of having to break it off. I did not find them hard-bitten or dogmatic about the position and the relationship between our countries. They were very eager to talk about it. In fact as soon as they discovered that my wife and I were British they immediately opened up the subject. This is true of all sections of the community—humble workers, shop assistants, shopkeepers, professional men and businessmen. They were all alike, as I found, in their desire to maintain friendly relations with this country—in fact, not merely friendly but affectionate relations. I have never come across a people who felt as well disposed towards this country as the people of Rhodesia.
Most of the people to whom I spoke were either immigrants from this country or first-generation Rhodesians. Of course they regard Rhodesia as the loveliest country in the world, and very few, 208 I think, would wish to come back here. Nevertheless they did want—and I wish to emphasise it again—to retain their ties with this country. Rhodesia is one of the loveliest countries in the world, as anyone who has spent a few days in Salisbury in jacaranda time will appreciate. I hope that some of your Lordships may know that jacaranda time is when the jacaranda trees are in full bloom; and they are probably one of the most beautiful trees in the world. I think that Salisbury is the loveliest city in the world.
Naturally, my Lords, I made inquiries about the effect of sanctions. I will not say that some of the people had not heard of sanctions, but their effect was certainly not visible in the shops of Salisbury and other towns that I visited. One could get anything one liked in the shops, including, in a pharmacy for instance, goods (possibly old stock, but at any rate it had come from this country) provided by Boots. There was not even a shortage of petrol. Nominally there was some kind of rationing, but in actual practice there was no shortage at all. People were always prepared to give you a lift for any distance or take you round the country for a drive to see beautiful Rhodesia. Therefore there was not quite the resentment against sanctions that one would have expected.
My noble friend Lord Walston sought to justify sanctions because he thought that to stand by the 4 million Africans was the honourable thing to do. I will not for the moment argue whether or not the imposition of sanctions is desirable. All I would say is that it is not effective. A measure of this kind, which in the last resort is designed to starve out the population of Rhodesia, can be justified only if it is entirely successful. And, so far, the imposition of sanctions is almost completely ineffective. I understand that in the last few months imports in Rhodesia have gone up, and not down, as one would expect. It is true that a large part of the tobacco crop is unsaleable, and to that extent the tobacco growers have been hit rather hard. But apart from that—and I spoke to a large number of leading men in the country—sanctions have had practically no effect at all.
The relationship between the white people and the black is very different in Rhodesia from what it is in South Africa. 209 In South Africa you find in open spaces seats marked, "For non-Europeans only". Noble Lords who know Salisbury will know Cecil Square, a lovely square at this time of year. There are seats there, and I actually saw, on a number of them, black and white people sitting together; and I saw black and white children playing together. There is not in Rhodesia the kind of relationship between the two races that exists in South Africa.
In Rhodesia, there is universal education of black people. There are secondary schools and universities which are multiracial. The position is that it is not possible at present to give the black children full primary education. There are not enough schools and not enough teachers. But so far as I could gather, progress is being made, and the Rhodesian people are conscious of the fact that more has to be done; that more schools have to be provided, and more teachers trained; and that children of the black races should have the opportunity of full-time education.
It would give the attitude of the majority of white people I spoke to as progressive and broad-minded. I deliberately did not try to see any official people, because my wife and I were there on holiday and did not want to give the impression that we had any official or semi-official object in visiting the country. We did not even see Sir Humphrey Gibb. We kept right away from any official persons; but we saw a large number of other people. From what I gathered even Mr. Smith himself is taking a pretty progressive view. His trouble is that he has a number of reactionary members of his Government who are putting pressure upon him, which I am afraid he is either not strong enough, or able, to resist. I have no doubt that, left to himself, a settlement could easily be arrived at; and I have equally no doubt that if all the Rhodesian people, black and white, were free to express their own opinions, there would be no difficulty in arriving at a solution.
Greatly daring, I should like to say a few words about what I think should be done. The first thing we need is flexibility in our discussions—flexibility on both sides: on our side and on the Rhodesian side. It is no good our going along with five points, and saying, "Here 210 you are; I have two days to spare. You have to accept these five points, or there is no settlement." In all friendliness and affection, I ask: is it any good for the Prime Minister to say that he has very little hope of a settlement being arrived t? If, as a condition of settlement, the other side have to accept every one of his conditions in advance, then it is obvious that we are not going to get a settlement. But, as I say, if there is flexibility on both sides I am satisfied that a settlement is possible.
One of the conditions that we laid down, I understand, is no independence before majority African rule. I made a point of seeing as many black people as I could, and I must say, with the greatest affection for them all—and they are very nice chaps—that they are not really ready to make decisions on forms of government. I do not think that the time has yet arrived when they can be trusted to take part in majority rule. I understand that at one time the Prime Minister appreciated this, and would have been satisfied with an assurance that genuine steps were being taken as quickly as possible to fit the people of Rhodesia for majority rule. Why he has departed from that, I do not understand. But if we were prepared to accept that, and if we were satisfied of the sincerity of it, I think that we should be going a long way towards arriving at a settlement.
I would say to the people of Rhodesia that it is in their own interest to arrive at a peaceful settlement, agreeable to all sections of the community. The white people in Rhodesia are outnumbered by something like eighteen to one. Nobody in his senses can imagine that this is a position of stable equilibrium and that it will last for ever. The domination of the white people could not possibly last for ever, and unless a settlement agreeable to all parties is arrived at, there is very little hope for Rhodesia. I think that most of the people I spoke to realise that, and are most anxious that a settlement should be arrived at which would be acceptable to the whole of the people, and not merely to a section of it. They recognise also—and this is another condition—that much greater progress has to be made towards equipping the black people to take their part in government than is being made at the present time. It may well be that we may offer them 211 some assistance in this direction. I think that if we did offer them some kind of help it would be money well spent.
Above all, I think that we should put an end to sanctions. Sanctions which are useless, futile, are not going to bring about what we have in mind. Sanctions, as a means of putting pressure on a people, our own kith and kin, are a hateful thing. What they mean is that we are trying to starve the people there into submission. As your Lordships well know, we shall never do it. I am quite satisfied that they will do anything rather than submit to starvation.
There are only three ways in which this matter can be settled. The first is by force, which we have already ruled out—and quite rightly. Nobody would dream of exercising force in Rhodesia. The second is by means of sanctions, which are simply another way of exercising force, and the third way is by arriving at agreement. I hope and believe that at the present time this is still possible, provided that we are flexible in our attitude towards the matter. It will be a deplorable thing if this very fine people—and they really are the salt of the earth—are forced into hostility towards this country, forced away from their present attitude into taking action which would entirely separate them for all time from the Commonwealth and set them up as a Republic. I hope and pray that this will not be necessary.
I should like now to say a word or two about South Africa. I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, in the attitude which he thinks we should take towards South Africa—and I would say very much the same thing about Rhodesia. When you see apartheid at close quarters, and you see the South African people at close quarters, you realise that the situation is not so easy as it looks from London. It is a far more difficult position. I do not know whether apartheid is the right solution; I am inclined to think it is not, especially as it is being administered at the present time. I will not go into that in any detail. I would say, however, that I met hardly a South African who did not take exactly the same view. They are really groping very much in the dark. I think they are quite sincerely trying to do what they think is right.
212 To them apartheid seems to be the best possible solution and making the best of a bad job. To my great surprise and relief, I found very few people who were confident that it was the right solution. They were quite prepared to regard it as an experiment; to try other things; to improve their methods, and generally to see if they could find a peaceful and sensible solution to what is indeed a great problem. It is no good our pretending that it is not a problem: it is a very serious problem indeed. I feel, after my visit to them and the many contacts that I made there, that the greatest help we can give them is to show some sympathy and understanding of their problem, while not forgetting, of course, our responsibility in Rhodesia, as my noble friend said, for 4 million black people.
I hope your Lordships will forgive me, and that my noble friends will forgive me, for taking a line which I am afraid will not enhance my popularity with my noble friends, but I felt it right to say this. I feel it right, even in a speech on the humble Address, to say things which are not always palatable to one's noble friends. If I were to stand up and make a speech which was agreeable to all my noble friends I should be wasting my time and should be far better employed doing something else. I felt that it might be helpful if I gave vent to my own feelings and experiences, and I sincerely hope, certainly as regards Rhodesia, that good may come of it and that we shall be able to arrive at a helpful solution.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, what has surprised me about the present Government is their curious sense of timing. Nor has the example set by them always been very happy, containing too much of the maxim: "Do as we say and not as we do." This lack of perception of what people think and feel has bedevilled much of their effort, both at home and abroad. I know it is easy to be critical, but it is not unfair to challenge Her Majesty's Government, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington did, and as other noble Lords have done, to point to any part of the world where it can be said that this Government have improved respect for this country by the policies which they have pursued. May I ask them if they would make a start at trying to change this—and perhaps the courageous 213 words of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who has just sat down, suggest a field in which a new start could be made.
This failure of Her Majesty's Government is not because Ministers have not been well-meaning. They have been rushing from country to country explaining their motives and expressing good will, while at the same time evading the practical issues. They must be exhausted as a result of the efforts they have made, and from their travels. It seems to me to be the latest example of bad timing that this moment should be chosen to dissipate further the energies of Ministers and occupy valuable time on the pressing problem of removing what the noble Earl the Leader of the House on Tuesday called the emotional obstacle which your Lordships' House, in its present form, presents to our constructive future. It is hoped by the Government that it will also occupy some of the time and energy of the Opposition, who might otherwise concentrate on the really mundane problem of restoring prosperity to our country.
For the rest, in order to be as brief as possible, I shall confine myself to asking a few questions on matters which baffle me. Once again the gracious Speech starts with a reference to support for the work of the United Nations. I believe that the present Government once said that they wished to make this support the keystone of their foreign policy, or words to that effect. At the moment, Her Majesty's Government have, I understand, felt it necessary to dissociate themselves from the recommendations of two committees of the United Nations to which they object, and in one of these cases to question the constitutional competence of the committee to discuss the matter at all. These two resolutions concerned, of course, Gibraltar, in one case, and Rhodesia, in the other.
My Lords, I understand that our Foreign Minister, on his last visit to New York last month, indulged in what I am sure he would describe as some plain speaking on what he felt was unjustifiable harassment of this country, which pays, as he observed, one of the largest contributions to the expenses of the United Nations Organisation. Unfortunately I was unable to find any report of this speech in The Times. I make no complaint about these matters, but I would ask whether the reference in the gracious 214 Speech to the United Nations may not, in the circumstances, suffer from an economy of truth calculated to lull us into undesirable complacency.
I want to ask further, and even more insistently, as problems keep coming up in this fast changing world, of which the trouble in the Middle East is just one example, whether the United Nations is fulfilling a constructive mission as an organ to secure peaceful change under proper safeguards, or has it, because of lack of leadership, become obsessed with the maintenance of the status quo, however unrealistic that may have become? I did not feel reassured by the hint given by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, on the thinking which might be reflected in a resolution to be sponsored by the Security Council. King Hussein was rather more specific in the same sense in an interview last night with David Frost.
May I now refer briefly to the repeated demands for the opening of negotiation on our application to join the European Economic Community, over which so many words are being poured out in public and private, and semi-private or semi-public? May I try to make two points again, and seek help from Her Majesty's Government by asking a few questions? I have never accepted the view, held by many, that the attitude of the French Government is purely negative and, in particular, inimical to cooperation with this country. I believe that there is substance in some of the questions involved which are outside the scope of any negotiations envisaged under the Treaty of Rome.
It has been known to the British Government at least since 1963 that the international monetary system was not generally considered to be functioning satisfactorily in current conditions, and that the French Government, particularly, felt it was not being operated by some other Governments in accordance with the rules commonly understood by bankers to be basic for the maintenance of a reasonable equilibrium in national accounts. Although the French Government led the request for a review without any restrictions imposed on its scope—and I repeat those words: without any restrictions imposed on its scope—the need for a review was agreed by most experienced bankers on the Continent. My 215 Lords, this is no minor matter. It is upon a sound basic mechanism, honestly operated by Governments within agreed rules, that the expansion of world trade depends.
The American Administration, on the other hand, is inflexibly opposed to any review of this far-reaching character; that is to say, without any limitation for its scope. And, so far as I can judge, the British Government are still taking the same line, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer now seems to suggest that the role of sterling, one of the reserve currencies, could be discussed as a concession to French fears. So I would ask Her Majesty's Government whether they really believe that the role of sterling could be discussed in isolation. Would not any such discussion also involve the other reserve currency? Anyway, I do not believe that the French Government would be interested in such a limited proposal, which, if mixed up with our application, would be, I suggest, discussed in the wrong place and in the wrong setting. The French Government, as we all know, does not approve of the gold exchange standard because the use of a national currency also as a reserve currency enables the country concerned to avoid monetary discipline and spreads inflation. Perhaps at this point I may be permitted to apologise for the fact that I cannot be present next week for the conclusion of this debate, as I have an engagement in the United States for the purpose of discussing this particular subject.
My Lords, our attitude has surprised and disappointed the French, for we were credited with having traditional wisdom and experience in this field. The French Government has at least refrained from suggesting that the British Government should fight the Americans on this issue, which, although it might be considered tit-for-tat, for what we seemed to think that the Germans should do to the French, is not the way to resolve differences on a complicated issue.
I would remind Her Majesty's Government that they have applied to join a Community. So long as Her Majesty's Government even appear to be playing one member against another, I believe that they will find their entry barred. Does not the suggestion that they will 216 not invoke Article 108 in their favour demonstrate to the logically-minded that Her Majesty's Government have not yet grasped the Community idea, of which Article 108, pledging mutual help, is an essential bastion? Further, I would ask, do they not agree that to seek to exclude capital movements, except temporarily, with a realisable and practical plan to free them, as the Commission in Brussels would insist, makes nonsense of any statement that they accept the Treaty of Rome, of which it is an essential provision for the realisation of economic unity?
I find it difficult to understand the extreme irritation and obvious annoyance of Her Majesty's Government. I understood that the decision to apply was taken after a careful survey of advantages and disadvantages had convinced the Prime Minister (who up to that time thought otherwise) that the balance of advantage was in favour of membership. In the view of the Prime Minister it was the prospect of political co-operation that made the move worth while. Why then the storm over what has happened? Could we be told, for example, how many British companies need for their survival a market of 200 million people, and how many of those who need to talk in such terms have already made arrangements while the Governments have talked and quarrelled? Or are the Government themselves disappointed because they cannot secure the services of Monsieur Jean Rey and his colleagues, to advise them on the management of the economy of this country?
Many people recently have been telling us that there is no alternative for this country but to join the European Community. If this is so, why do we talk of negotiations at all? If such an opinion is held by any member of the Cabinet I suggest that that member should resign forthwith, so that if and when there are negotiations, they can be real negotiations without any empty or unworthy threats.
I notice that in the present impasse Her Majesty's Government wish to strengthen our ties with the EFTA countries. The Times on Saturday carried a leading article in favour of a proposal for European citizenship started among the EFTA countries. This was discussed at the first meeting of EFTA Parliamentarians in 217 Strasbourg in September, 1963. Unfortunately, one of the Scandinavian countries was not very kindly disposed towards this suggestion at the time, but now The Times has taken it up perhaps Her Majesty's Government would arrange for it to be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the EFTA Ministers. I am sure that there would be a much greater chance of making progress with the Community if countries at present outside it could make some imaginative contribution to the European ideal, and I regard this proposal for European citizenship as an imaginative contribution to the European ideal.
But surely, in the end, a European community can be built only if the members of the Community are agreed on a common policy on fundamental issues, and it is not unreasonable for the extent of such agreement to be explored before an answer is given to any application for admission to it. There is, for instance, a great deal of divergence of opinion in the EFTA countries, who certainly do not speak as one. One way of improving the chances of our current application would be a greater degree of common thought and action among EFTA members. So may I conclude by suggesting that this aspect should also be carefully considered at all meetings of EFTA Ministers?
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, this debate has been noteworthy for a very important statement by my noble friend Lord Shackleton with regard to the policy of Her Majesty's Government as to independence for South Arabia. As I understood him, he indicated that towards the middle of this month the British land forces and the British administration will be withdrawn from Aden, and from that day, so far as we are concerned, South Arabia will be an independent country.
Some doubts were expressed by noble Lords opposite, including the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, as to the consequences of carrying out such a policy, and I am bound to say that I should be most disturbed, and should regret it very much, if we had to leave a vacuum in South Arabia by reason of the fact that there is not even a provisional Government to which we could hand over some degree of authority. On the other hand, it is not our fault if there 218 is a vacuum, except in so far as we do carry out this policy. For months, if not for years, the political leaders (apart from those who control the Federation) have been pressing us to leave the country, and I believe it was stated this afternoon that the two main parties, the N.L.F. and FLOSY, are actually meeting in Cairo at the present time with a view to arriving at an agreement to form a Government to which we can hand over. If they do not agree to form a Government to take over over the independence far which they have been agitating for years, that cannot be held to be our responsibility. It is a form of blackmail, that we have to remain there until they see fit to form an alternative Government to which we can hand over authority.
I very much welcomed the statement made by my noble friend. I agree that there might be some consequences which we should all regret if there were a state of anarchy. I personally would rather assume that there is sufficient intelligence in the minds of the leaders of the N.L.F. and FLOSY to come to an agreement. But in any event there will be a number of British subjects who will be left, for example, in Aden. I hope that I shall be corrected by my noble friend Lord Chalfont, when he comes to wind up, or by my noble friend Lord Shackleton, if I am wrong when I say that I remember a statement made in this House to the effect that part of the understanding was that we would leave naval forces, including an aircraft carrier on which there would be a commando unit, within sailing distance of Aden as part of a measure of reassurance to the new Government that would take over. That, of course, was part of an agreement with the Federal Government, but I have no reason to believe—certainly we have not been told this afternoon—that that naval force would be withdrawn. And I hope I am right in assuming that if there were any question of the safety of our Legation, or whatever it would be or of British citizens living in Aden, being jeopardised as a result of our withdrawal, this force and these very fine commando troops would be available to go in and safeguard the lives of British subjects who remain after we have officially left. I hope that is so.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I used my words very carefully. I said that 219 a substantial naval force is concentrated at Aden to cover the period of our withdrawal and independence. It will also give, I think, very great reassurance to those Europeans and British who remain there. This commando carrier force, as opposed to the strike carrier force, was always going to be there for that purpose. But obviously it was not so desirable to underline that precautionary aspect of it at an earlier stage.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, I appreciate that statement. I should still like to suggest that it will be an extraordinary position if the rival political parties do not reach an agreement and take over the Government—what sort of Government they will make is another matter, but that is their business—of South Arabia from the date on which we evacuate troops and take away our administrative officials.
My noble friend also made a very interesting statement with regard to the Middle East problem. He said that a resolution was being considered at this time by the Security Council which had two main principles. The first was that the State of Israel should be given de jure recognition by the Arab States; and the second that the principle of Israeli withdrawal should also be accepted. None of us knows at this moment whether that resolution will get through the Security Council there is some doubt as to whether it will. But assuming that it does, in my opinion it will be a great step forward in dealing with this very difficult Middle East problem. I believe that if the Arab States would recognise the existence of the State of Israel it would transform the situation overnight.
For twenty years the Arab States have acted on the basis that there was no State of Israel. I do not believe for one moment that the Israeli forces under the instructions of the Israeli Government are going to consider withdrawing from one inch of territory they now occupy unless they get that recognition of their existence as a nation which is essential to the security of their people. After all, the United Nations has a direct responsibility because it was the United Nations which created the State of Israel twenty years ago. And the fact that the Israelis occupy territories to-day much greater 220 than those that were allotted to her by the United Nations General Assembly is not due to a policy of Israeli expansionism: it is due to the fact that, following three wars with her Arab neighbours, she has been victorious and at the time when the cease-fires were arranged occupied the territories she occupies to-day.
Obviously, therefore, unless the Israelis are given some guarantee as to their future security, it is going to be extremely difficult to persuade them, or for them to agree, to go back to the boundaries which they occupied on June 1. But if they are given this recognition of their existence as a State, that presupposes they will have the same rights as any other nation of free passage through the Suez Canal when the Canal is cleared. That is why I disagree with noble Lords on the other side. I believe that it is essential—and I say this as one who is a friend of Israel; and I have shown that I am a friend of Israel—for us to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt. If we are going to play any part in influencing a settlement, we cannot pretend that Egypt is not there. And, after all, there are many examples of Governments which have treated us extremely badly, going right back to the days of the cold war.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to the vicious attacks—and he is right—that have been made over the Cairo Radio with regard to this country. I can enumerate half a dozen other countries which in the last twenty years have allowed their radios to carry vicious attacks upon this country, starting with the Soviet Union. Yet our relations with the Soviet Union have never been so good as they are to-day, and those vicious attacks did not prevent our having our Ambassador in Moscow. Therefore I hope that the Government will pursue this policy.
I am afraid that it is going to take some time before we get all these problems resolved, and when the time does come, if it does come, I believe that not only the United Nations must play its part: I hope that the proposal of Her Majesty's Government that U Thant should send a special representative will be accepted by the Security Council. I do not think he is going to be able to carry out the role of mediator in the first place, but I think he could carry out the role of conciliator to prepare the way 221 for subsequent direct negotiations, which up to date have been refused by the Arab States, although the Israeli Government have been willing to accept them.
No reference has been made in the debate to-day to what I think is a problem that has the most appalling consequences for the future of mankind. About a week ago the Secretary-General published a report which was written by 12 scientists, scientists from Communist countries and non-Communist countries. They included, from our own country, Sir Solly Zuckerman, one of the ablest scientists in the Western World; an American scientist, Russian, Polish, Indian—numbering together 12. This is not a propaganda document, but it makes grim reading, and it shows that the world is almost living on the brink of a holocaust, a disaster which, according to them, could destroy our civilisation. I am not a scientist and I could not refute them, and I doubt if there is anyone else who can refute them.
They point out in this very grim document that a 20-megaton bomb is available in the nuclear arsenals of the two super-Powers, Russia and the United States; and that a 20-megaton bomb, if it were exploded in the air over a city the size of London or New York or Moscow—and they cite the case of New York with its 8 million people, the same as ours in London—might well kill 6 million out of the 8 million. They say that the 40-megaton and 50-megaton bombs have been successfully tested, and that if they were used in any numbers hundreds of millions of people might be killed. They also say that there is no reason why 100-megaton bombs should not also be tested and find their way into the armouries of these two great Powers. They also point out that, in addition to France and Britain and China, there are six other countries who are well able to become nuclear Powers on a more modest scale.
For the last two or three years my noble friend Lord Chalfont has played his part and has done everything he could to forward the achievement of this Agreement for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. I should have thought that this book would have galvanized all 17 Governments who are at Geneva, and other Governments, into ensuring that an agreement is reached for stopping this 222 possibility of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
I hope that my noble friend will refer shortly to the conference which is to be held in June next year, a United Nations conference of the non-nuclear Powers. I imagine that will be a conference representing a large number of countries, perhaps 100. How can they hope to make any progress if no agreement is reached on the present draft non-proliferation Agreement which is on the table at Geneva? I hope moreover that he will be able to give us a little encouragement as to the possibility of bridging the difference between the United States and Russia, so that this Agreement can be arrived at.
Finally, may I make this one short point? Two British pilots were recently hijacked along with their machine. They were held in Algeria, a member of the United Nations, for a period of three months without ever being brought to trial. No attempt was made to bring them to trial. In my view, the time has come when the Statutes of the International Court of Justice should be examined. Why cannot we have an international writ of habeas corpus which would mean that when a national is held without trial by the Government of another country there should be a right to go to the International Court? All I am asking tonight is that Her Majesty's Goverment should consider this proposal and, if they think it is a worthy one, should put it to the Legal Committee of the United Nations for their examination. There may be insuperable difficulties—I do not know—but surely it might be worth considering whether the International Court of Justice Statutes should not be revised to give them jurisdiction and power to take action in these cases.
My last observation is this. The young people of this country and of many other countries are cynical and disillusioned because they have the knowledge that in the last fifty years there have been two world wars costing millions in lives and untold treasure and a lowering of the economies of many of the countries concerned. They know that to-day there are two great Powers with nuclear arsenals stocked with nuclear weapons which could destroy our civilisation. If we want to encourage them to look forward to the future on a basis of ideals, 223 we must do everything we can to make them realise that by starting on the road to disarmament and creating one world under the rule of law they and their generation may have something to live and to work for.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, one of the difficulties in a debate on Foreign Affairs is that it covers so many subjects. One is interested in Europe, in the Middle East, in Aden and Southern Arabia, and intensely interested in the United Nations report on nuclear weapons to which my noble friend Lord Rowley has referred so eloquently. It is therefore difficult to decide on what issues in a limited time one should address your Lordships. I have selected Vietnam and Rhodesia. I was a little doubtful about Rhodesia, because strictly it is not within the sphere of Foreign Affairs but rather that of the Commonwealth Office. But associated with it is South Africa and Portugal and the United Nations, and the speeches which my noble friends Lord Walston and Lord Silkin have delivered encourage me to refer to it as well.
But first Vietnam. I think the whole world is now becoming stirred in its conscience by what is happening in Vietnam: not merely the awful deaths and deformities of children and others by the napalm bomb and the fragmentation bombs, but the news this morning in such a responsible newspaper as The Times that the Americans are now considering using Polaris missiles in that war.
I have been distressed by the attitude both of the Government and of the Opposition on the issue of the Vietnam war. The Opposition has particular reason to take pride in the fact that it was Lord Avon, when he was Foreign Secretary, who was one of the architects of the Geneva Agreement. That Agreement laid down in clear terms that Vietnam deserved recognition in its integrity as a union; laid down definitely that all foreign forces must be withdrawn from its territories; laid down that there should be an opportunity for an election for that union, and laid down that Vietnam should be neutral between the two great military blocs. I believe that the principles of the Geneva Agree 224 ment are still those upon which the problem of Vietnam should be solved.
I have been perplexed that the Opposition, one of whose leaders was the author of that Agreement, and still more that our Labour Government should in this war have supported the American Government which, in its actions, has repudiated that Agreement from A to Z. America was at Geneva and did not accept the Agreement, though its spokesman did give the promise that they would not obstruct it by forceful means. Geneva appointed an independent Commission, composed of Canada, India and Poland, to supervise the application of the Agreement. I have read its annual reports from its appointment in 1954 until 1959, in every one of which it placed the major responsibility for the breach of the Geneva Agreement upon the American Government.
My particular concern with my own Government is that they have retreated on this issue. They did at one point dissociate themselves from America when its Government bombed in the neighbourhood of Hanoi and Haiphong. They have gone back on that. They have failed to make any condemnation of the much more flagrant attacks on civilian populations of which America is now guilty. Last week, not in the neighbourhood of Hanoi but in Hanoi itself, there was the heaviest bombardment of civilians, both by night and by day, that there has been during the whole period of the war, and our Government—who in the first instance dissociated themselves from attacks in the neighbourhood of these cities—have been absolutely silent upon that event.
I speak with great confidence tonight, as I am quite sure that in what I am saying I reflect not only the great majority within the Labour Party itself, as was indicated at the recent Labour Party Conference, but the great majority of British public opinion which is politically alert. The attitude of the Churches has been splendid. The universities of Great Britain, not only students in aggressive action but the professors in every university, have spoken out. The United Nations Association, a neutral body, has come out in the strongest terms, as have the Trades Union Congress and the youth movements. At this moment our Government, as well as the American Government, should be aware that the majority of alert 225 public opinion in this country is against the continuation of the war in Vietnam and is against the association of our Government with the American Government in the continuation of that war. And it is not only public opinion in this country; it is international opinion. During the recent discussions in the General Assembly of the United Nations there has been overwhelming support for the proposal that the American Government should stop, permanently and unconditionally, its bombing of North Vietnam, with a view to bringing about talks for peace.
We have the right to ask whether this step will bring about the negotiations which we desire. It is repeatedly stated that Hanoi has rejected constant offers by the American Government for negotiations. That is just not true. As far away as January 28 last, Pham Van Dong, the Prime Minister of North Vietnam, said that if the United States wished for talks it must stop bombing unconditionally. He described this asa very important diplomatic move of ours. It shows that we are ready to talk, as the United States claim it is ready to talk, at any time. We have made clear our views on this subject.I myself have heard from official representatives of North Vietnam and from the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam a similar statement: that if America will stop its bombing of the North negotiations can begin. U Thant has said this. Is there any one of your Lordships who believes that U Thant would take the responsibility of making such a statement unless he had evidence which was overwhelmingly behind it?
Nevertheless, I want to make my appeal to Ho Chi Minh, the head of North Vietnam—despite the fact that this statement has been made repeatedly during the last twleve months—to say it again now in such an authoritative way that it will so gain international attention that it may be possible for the negotiations to take place.
My Lords, because of the time I will omit other considerations from my speech, but on the problem of Vietnam I conclude by quoting from The Times in its issue of August 15 last. It said:If he"—that is President Johnson—wants a settlement, which is the only sensible thing to want, then he must pursue it 226 openly and realistically, which means as a first step a stop to the bombing of the North and an attempt to reduce the level of the conflict in the South.Surely I can suggest that our Labour Government should be as outspoken in the cause of peace as is The Times newspaper. I ask them tonight to support, openly and publicly, the appeal that America shall stop its bombing of North Vietnam, permanently and unconditionally, so that peace negotiations can begin. I am asking the Government now not only to make that statement publicly but to bring pressure upon Washington to carry it out, to seek co-operation with the Soviet Union in carrying it out, and to go to the United Nations—the General Assembly and the Security Council—in order to ensure that the utmost international pressure is brought to bear in achieving this hope of peace.
In turning to Rhodesia, I must make some reference to the speech which has been delivered in this debate by my noble friend Lord Silkin. As one who has constantly been in minorities, both in another place and in this place, I do not complain at all because he expressed views in this House which he holds sincerely, even if the majority of his Party do not agree with him. But I am a little surprised—in view of his own record, the reasons for which we quite understand, in opposing racial discrimination in this and in other countries—that he should have made the speech to which we have listened. I want to congratulate him, if I may, upon the white people whom he met in Southern Rhodesia. I think it must have been partly due to the fact that like attracts like, and the charm of himself and of Lady Silkin will have drawn such to them. I think the friends he met must have been rather rare, because the Rhodesian Front Party has carried its elections by overwhelming majorities, and the Rhodesian Front Party stands for the policy of segregation and separation.
My noble friend said that in the parks he had seen whites and blacks associating closely together, sitting on seats together, and that he saw little racial discrimination. Is he aware that last week the régime of Mr. Smith introduced a Bill into the Rhodesian Parliament which would allow councils to segregate recreational facilities in the parks of which he 227 spoke, and in the playgrounds and swimming baths? Is he aware that this Bill was regarded as so discriminatory that the Constitutional Council, which was set up under the 1961 Constitution to safeguard against discrimination, rejected the Bill as unconstitutional? Is he aware, also, that the Smith régime, because it can count on a two-thirds majority in the Rhodesian Parliament, is proceeding with the Bill and it will therefore become law?
Is my noble friend aware that a fortnight ago there was introduced into the Rhodesian Parliament a Bill which gave local authorities, where there is a petition signed by 50 per cent. of the householders, easy to obtain in white areas, the power to refuse permission to any non-whites—not only Africans but also Asians—to live in that locality? The most frightening thing about what is happening in Rhodesia to-day is that it is so closely following the pattern of apartheid in South Africa, and adopting the humiliating view that members of parts of the human family are inferior, just because of the different colour of their skins.
I add with some regret that I agree with what my noble friend Lord Silkin has said about the failure of the sanctions policy, though not entirely. The statements of members of the Administration have indicated the success of the sanctions policy in many respects, particularly in tobacco, which he mentioned. Only last week Mr. Douglas Young, the Secretary to the Treasury in the Smith régime, at the constitutional test appeal admitted a 35 per cent. reduction in exports from £165 million in 1965 to £105 million in 1966, which does not suggest that the policy of sanctions has been the complete failure which my noble friend indicated. Nevertheless, I want to accept at once that it has not succeeded. In the same statement in court, where he had taken the oath, Mr. Douglas Young used these words:In the first eight months of 1967 imports were sustained at a level of 20 per cent. higher than for the corresponding period of 1966.While acknowledging the drop in exports to which I have referred, he said that this resulted in a decline of only 1.9 per cent. in the gross national product. I 228 agree that if sanctions are to succeed it will be a long time, if present methods only are pursued, before that goal is realised.
I had intended to say a word on the question of the use of force, but again, out of consideration for the House, I shall omit that. But those who are opposed to the use of force must prove the effectiveness of alternative action, and I put two points to Her Majesty's Government. The first is that there is evidence that United Nations countries are not applying the sanctions to which the United Nations have agreed. I would urge very strongly that this matter should be raised by our representative, Lord Caradon, both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council. They should be asked to authorise the Secretary-General to report on this matter, to expose failures and to make a subject of indictment before the General Assembly any nation which is failing to fulfil its commitments on this matter.
The second proposal which I want to make is this. The bulk of imports into Rhodesia at this moment are coming through Portugese-occupied Mozambique and South Africa. I would urge Her Majesty's Government to ask the United Nations for authority to extend the blockade, which is at present on the port of Beira, to the port of Lourenco Marques through which most of these imports come. It would be logical to extend this blockade to South Africa also, but we must face the fact that it has stocks adequate for many years. Nevertheless, I ask the Government to bring the strongest pressure to bear upon South Africa. We hesitate, because of trade, but we are as essential to South Africa as South Africa is to us. There is a fear there of United Nations sanctions. There is uncertainty among the population about its future, of which my noble friend Lord Silkin spoke. It is not at all certain that South Africa wants on its borders conflicts in Southern Rhodesia, with its eighteen to one African majority. I would say to our Government that they can afford to speak in the strongest possible terms to the South African Government upon this issue.
It is urgent that effective action be taken in Rhodesia, first, to achieve adoption of the principle of inter-racial 229 equality and no discrimination, which involves majority rule; secondly, to gain acceptance of this principle in Southern Rhodesia as a contribution towards its acceptance in the whole of Southern Africa; and, thirdly—and I emphasise this—to stop the drift towards a physical conflict in Southern Africa, the effects of which we cannot contemplate. The Commonwealth Minister is visiting African States and Southern Rhodesia. It is admitted that there appears to be little hope of a setttlement with Mr. Ian Smith while he rejects the five principles, as he does; but there is the hope that at least he may convince African Governments of our determination. He can do that only if our Government express their will in effective action.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Buckinghamshire, on his maiden speech. It was a very good speech, and when I heard his admirable peroration I felt that perhaps it would have been even better if he had lost his notes at the beginning rather than losing them at the end. Perhaps there is a lesson there from which all of us might profit.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Carrington has spoken about the Middle East. It is undoubtedly there at this moment that the greatest and gravest danger to the peace of the world exists, and may continue for some time. It may be that your Lordships will wish to have a debate on the Middle East later this Session. The subject cannot be properly covered in the course of a general debate on foreign affairs such as this, and I shall therefore make only a very brief reference to it. Whatever may be the merits of the unhappy enmity between Israel and the Arabs, this country cannot be blamed for it. We did our level best, under the mandate, to import as many Jews as we possibly could without displacing any Arabs. That is what we honestly tried to do. We were not allowed to go on doing that by the United Nations, who insisted that more should come in. So we had to go; and since then there has been continual war between Arab and Jew.
However that may be, the present position is that there are 2½ million Jews 230 there, and you cannot expect them not to fight for their existence—for that is the position. Any creature of any kind will fight for its life; and what they are threatened with is not merely inconvenience, or even defeat, but extinction. I think we have very little influence left in the Middle East. We can do nothing to bring about peace there by ourselves. I doubt whether the Americans can do much. I do not think the United Nations can do anything. No one can do much to bring about peace so long as the Russians decide that it is to their advantage to prolong insecurity and armed tension in the Middle East, which they evidently do. So long as they go on supplying Egypt with vast quantities of the most modern tanks, aeroplanes and missiles, you cannot expect peace to come about merely by wishing for it. I think we must be prepared for perhaps a lengthy period in which the present tension will continue.
Of course, what we hope for is that the Russians will change their views and decide that it is not worth their while to prolong this situation. That is our first and most obvious hope. Failing that, I think that perhaps the best thing we or the United Nations could do would be to raise a big loan through the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. America and ourselves would probably be the only subscribers, and our subscription might depend upon our financial position next year; but if the United Nations could raise a substantial loan for the purpose of irrigating those parts of the Sinai Desert—and there are some—which can be irrigated, and could settle several hundred thousand Arab refugees there, I believe that not only would it do more good than most aid to under-developed countries but that it would also be a factor making for peace, because it would show the Arabs how much more profitable it is to co-operate with the Israelis than to continue war and misery.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that we must continue to support the United Nations and the decisions of the Security Council, and so on, because the hopes of peace depended upon it. I think we would agree with that. We ought to be loyal to the United Nations, in the same way as we are loyal to our own country. But our loyalty to our own country does not prevent us from strenuously and vigorously opposing 231 and attacking those of our countrymen who support policies or do things which we think are wrong and disastrous; and the more seriously we take the United Nations, the more we wish it to be effective, the more outspoken we should be, in my view, in telling it or the majority of nations who attend it when we think they are wrong.
It seems to be rather unfashionable at the moment to speak in commendatory terms of anything which is said by the Foreign Secretary. He seems to have a kind of proneness to say things of which people do not altogether approve. But if I may be unfashionable for a moment, there is one speech which he recently made upon which I wish to comment very favourably indeed, and which I greatly admired. It is his speech on September 26 to the United Nations in the General Assembly about the Trusteeship Committee. What he said was this:The ordinary Briton feels puzzled, indeed resentful, when he hears that we of all people are being attacked about our attitude towards the great issues of freedom and independence. This is something which could seriously erode the strong support which the United Nations has always commanded in my country".I think that was a very sensible and necessary thing to say.
After severely castigating the Committee of 24 at some length on all the mischief which they had been doing in Aden, Gibraltar and many other places within the last two or three years, the Foreign Secretary went on to say:Sometimes I think we fail to see the warning lights. The Assembly or its committees are then tempted to think that the resolution is a substitute for action. But sweeping declarations which take no account of facts do nothing to further the aims of the Charter. On the contrary, they set them back; they destroy confidence in the right-mindedness of the United Nations. I think the Assembly's action on South-West Africa last spring illustrates very clearly what I mean.When I read that speech—which, as I say, I admired—the first thing that occurred to me was that it was very much more forthright, blunt and true than the speech of Sir Alec Douglas-Home at Berwick on December 28, 1961—a speech which was not at all welcomed or praised by the Party opposite. He said much more gently and much more mildly only a few of the things which Mr. Brown 232 said at the United Nations last month, but the present Prime Minister was very angry about it. He said that this speech:has aroused great consternation among our friends and allies all over the world, all of whom have read every word of the text of the Foreign Secretary's speech. The reference in the speech to the anti-colonial resolution in the United Nations, which was supported by the vast majority of the United Nations, has suggested to the world that Britain is content to ally herself to Portugal and two or three other ex-colonial Powers".The Labour Party seems to have come on a lot since then; and I am thoroughly glad to see the Foreign Secretary using such sensible and timely language, and saying so many things which were so long overdue—and, in particular, in regard to this Committee of 24. I remember that when it was first instituted at the end of 1961 we undertook to supply it with information. Although we knew that it was very apt to make itself a nuisance, we undertook to co-operate with it and supply it with information. With the best will in the world, I am bound to say it has so inexcusably and mischievously failed to do any good that we should no longer supply it with information, but should tell it that these matters are none of its business and that we are not going to help or countenance it any more.
In view of the very interesting and valuable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, I should like to add that in my view the United Nations (I do not now refer to the Committee of 24 but to the Trusteeship Committee, the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly) bears a great deal of the blame for the present situation in Rhodesia. I do not ask the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to reply to this point, but I suggest that he might study—if he has not already done so—the circumstances of Sir Edgar Whitehead's visit to the United Nations at New York in 1962.
At that time Whitehead was putting forward proposals for a new Rhodesian Constitution which I think would have been more liberal than some of those which have been favourably considered now by the Government—and certainly more liberal than those considered on board "Tiger". He went to New York and made a very long, earnest and courteous speech to the Fourth Committee, explaining what he was trying to do. What happened? He was received 233 with derision; the moment his speech was concluded a member of the Committee moved the closure in order that a resolution might be passed demanding immediate majority rule for Rhodesia and declaring that no elections in Rhodesia before majority rule would be regarded as valid.
You may think that that was only a resolution; that we should not pay too much attention to it. But what an effect it had in Rhodesia, in that small community! Some Rhodesians had criticised Sir Edgar Whitehead for going to New York. This action of the General Assembly, or of its Committee, had two very unfortunate effects. First, it encouraged black extremism in Rhodesia, and one result of that was that the two national Parties there refused to take part in the coming elections and boycotted them. The second, and rather more serious effect, was that Sir Edgar Whitehead, who had been criticised for going to New York at all, lost support among his own Party and was beaten at the election by Mr. Winston Field. That was the beginning of the present difficulties in Rhodesia; and I blame the United Nations very much for it on account of their interference.
I heard with great sympathy what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said about his visit to Rhodesia. I wish that some members of the Government would pay an equally informal and incognito visit and see what he saw. I will not say anything about sanctions in case I might say something non-attributable; but I do think it is very important indeed (possibly for the peace of the whole of South Africa) that we should come to an agreement with Rhodesia as soon as possible. Two conditions for that must be, first, that we should abandon the imbecility of NIBMAR—it should never have been brought in at all—and, second, that the proposals, the very acceptable proposals, agreed on "Tiger" should not be accompanied by the conditions for a short, intermediate régime, which seemed to me wholly unacceptable and which were in any case probably misunderstood.
Finally, my Lords, I must say something about the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who is going to reply. I hope he will not think it necessary to say every-thing 234 which Lord Shackleton did not have time to ay on subjects like nuclear nonproliferation. I should have thought that that matter could easily wait until some other occasion. But I should like to offer my sympathy to the noble Lord over the little difficulty he ran into last week and to express the hope that normal diplomatic relations may soon be restored between himself and the Daily Mirror. I would similarly hope that normal diplomatic relations will soon be restored between the Foreign Secretary and the Sunday Times.
I wonder whether the noble Lord would allow me to tell him about an interview which I had three or four years ago—just after January, 1963, when we were vetoed for the Common Market—with some representatives of one of the leading German parties who had come over on a visit. The interview took place at the Foreign Office. I was then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, as the noble Lord is now. I had a long talk with them. I will tell the noble Lord what I said—and I am sure that he will understand it was all off the record, non-attributable and entirely without foundation. I did not say anything at all about East Germany or about the Oder-Neisse line—and I very much doubt whether Lord Chalfont did either—because it was then, and is now, utterly irrelevant. What I did say was this: that the countries of the E.E.C. and also of the O.E.E.C. (which is quite different) were in the habit of continually criticising Britain because we were always getting in balance-of-payments difficulties and therefore could not be very good at managing our economy.
But I pointed out—which I think was a reasonable thing to do—that we were the only country in Europe who were spending something like £300 million outside our own frontiers on the defence of the Free World; and that none of the other countries in Europe who criticised us was spending one penny in that way. We were spending nearly one-third of this on the Army in Germany; and I said to the Germans that if Britain were to be permanently excluded economically from Europe then it might, of course, be a possibility that the British people would get tired of spending so much of their money in unrequited exports and runing into balance-of-payments difficulties in order to defend a group of countries 235 which excluded them economically from their society. I think that saying that was in no way a threat; neither was it even a warning. I think it was simply a common-sense appreciation of future possibilities which we all hoped would never arise but which must be present in the mind of anyone who seriously thought about this problem.
But I wish we could get away from the idea that our main purpose in seeking entry into the Common Market is to gain something for ourselves. That is not our main purpose—nor even that of conferring some benefit on Europe. To put it shortly, the main purpose of our application, as everybody realises now, is that if the Free World, instead of being divided into one large economic power in America and a whole lot of fragments in Europe, could consist of two large economic groups associated with each other and acting in concert with each other, then—and I would not put it lower than this—the peace and freedom of the Free World, which are so uncertain now, would almost certainly be secure by the end of this century. That is the reason why we want to join, and why so many progressive and intelligent people in Europe want us to join the European Common Market. We should certainly be able to do vastly more for the underdeveloped countries; and it is a legitimate reason for the Americans to wish us to join the Common Market that the building up of this economic unit would partly relieve them of, or at least help them with, the very unfair burden of helping the rest of the Free World which they now have to bear almost single-handed. My noble friend Lord Head is not present, but I was going to say that if we could have these two great economic bases producing so much power and wealth in the world, we could almost manage to feed the 2,500 million babies whose birth he looks forward to with so much apprehension, and about 45,000 of whom must have been born since we started this debate.
As my noble friend Lord Carrington said—I think the majority of people in this country and the majority of people in nearly every European country are agreed on those beliefs.
236 But our chief adversaries are General de Gaulle and those of his subordinates who repeat what he says. General de Gaulle is not a man of the common sort. He is a man of great ideas, some of which are very fine ideas. But I believe very strongly that he has a psychopathic obsession about the danger of American predominance in the civilised world, the predominance of American power and culture. I think that this obsession affects his judgment, and I should like to give one instance of that which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, may have studied, though it was before he came into politics.
About six or seven years ago Brazil elected a new President called Quadros of whom great hopes were entertained that he would pull the country out of its economic difficulties. He was a Left-Wing radical who already had a great dynamic reputation for getting a move on which he had earned while he was Governor of Sao Paulo. He remained in office for just over a year, and then he did a thing of which I know of no example of any other prominent politician doing—although I daresay that many people would like to see some politicians doing it here. He got so upset by all his colleagues and all his civil servants, who he thought were not quite co-operating as well as they should, that he left the country. But he delayed his aeroplane by 36 hours, in the confident expectation that his colleagues would send him an urgent deputation telling him that they could not get on without him and asking him to return. But it turned out that they did not miss him quite so much as that, so he left.
The Brazilians are very good constitutionalists. They always obey the law if they can, and their Constitution requires that if a President dies or becomes incapable he must be succeeded for the rest of his term of office by the Vice-President. So they agreed, with great misgivings, that the new President should be the one who had been Vice-President—Goulart, one of the most evil men who has ever ruled a country in modern times. He was immensely rich, a multi-millionaire playboy, who loved himself better than other people and better than his country. He hated the United States—as indeed quite a lot of Brazilians do, because the United States is sometimes 237 a little tactless and patronising when trying to help its Latin American allies. But Goulart also hated liberty. His great objective was to create in Brazil a personal Left-Wing dictatorship, on the lines of Castro, and to become an ally of Castro's Cuba.
In order to achieve this end he did not scruple to obstruct measures taken for the economic benefit of the country, to allow inflation to accelerate at a ruinous rate and poverty to increase, because he thought that these things would give him an excuse for suspending the Constitution and proclaiming a state of emergency. General de Gaulle thought he saw a great opportunity here of destroying the influence of United States in Latin America. He arranged a grand tour, in the early summer of 1964, which was to end up by his visiting Brazil. It was proclaimed in advance by the French Press that France might give Brazil an economic loan of £300 million, and that there would be a great economic and political alliance between France and the régime of Goulart.
But just before General de Gaulle got to the country Goulart went a little too far. He used his agents to try to foment a mutiny in some of his own armed units, in order that he might have a rather stronger reason for declaring a state of emergency and suspending Parliament. That was too much, even for the tolerant, kindly, easy-going people of Brazil. They all rose up—the Governors of three Provinces and nearly all the armed forces; in fact, nearly all the people except the Communists—and they kicked Goulart well and truly out of their country for good, in every sense of the term. So that when de Gaulle arrived there his visit was a monumental flop, to his own mortification, but to the great relief and thankfulness of everyone who loved freedom in both hemispheres.
Now, my Lords, I do not believe that General de Gaulle really desires to destroy freedom and to establish tyranny, but I do not think he would have followed this policy in Latin America if he had not been suffering from an anti-United States obsession which is strong enough to overcome the normal processes of human reason. I think he has an obsession about this, and I think that we must always bear it in mind while we are pursuing our present negotiations. Maybe you can 238 never convert him, but the only hope of doing it or of leaving him alone with so, little support that he will have to agree, is to keep on repeating your case simply, and again and again, without taking your eye off the target; without going off the point. If you become distracted and allow yourself to get into irrelevancies—not irrelevancies but ancillary matters like our attitude to NATO and so on—you will be doing exactly what your psychopath wants; you will enable him to confuse the issue and to throw dust into the eyes of other people. The only hope is to stick to the point.
That, my Lords, is why I said a week ago to-day, when the Statement about the Common Market was read to your Lordships, that I think it quite possible that in the next few months the French may do and say a great many things which are deliberately calculated to provoke and encourage opposition to the Common Market, in this country and elsewhere. That is why I said that we should be very patient. We may have to be almost heroically patient for quite a long time; but also confident that in the end reason and good sense will prevail.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD CHALFONT)
My Lords, may I begin by saying how much I appreciate the spirit in which the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, approached not only the great problem that faces us, the problem of European unity, but also the incidents of the past few days. In showing my appreciation of that, I hope to take note of his gentle hint about the length of my winding up speech. I shall make it as brief as I possible can.
May I add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Buckinghamshire, on his maiden speech. I think that the noble Earl opposite dealt elegantly with the minor mishap which the noble Earl suffered and from which I thought he emerged with such great dignity. I hope that we shall hear from him often again. May I say, too, how good it was to hear my noble friend Lord Walston, as wise and thoughtful as always. We in the Government will certainly bear in mind his interesting views on the selection of men for posts and missions in developing countries.
239 He mentioned Rhodesia, as also did my noble friends Lord Silkin and Lord Brockway. My noble friend Lord Silkin suggested that he might need some forgiveness from his friends on these Benches. I can assure him that nothing of the sort enters into it at all. Like my noble friend Lord Brockway, I am not one to deny anyone the right to state his views, even when they are minority views. I should like to say, however, that I, and I am certain many others on these Benches, will have experienced a feeling of sadness at some of the things which my noble friend had to say to-night about the problems in Rhodesia and South Africa.
The problems of the United Nations and disarmament are not ones, I think, that I can leave completely out of my remarks this evening, although I shall deal with them briefly. We do not believe that alliances are an ideal basis of permanent security in the world, but we cannot possibly do without them until the United Nations becomes a real alternative. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, that it is precisely because we want to make the United Nations a real alternative that we have worked, and will work, within the United Nations to make its peaceful and peace-keeping work far more effective. And outside the United Nations we must see to it that our alliances work for and towards the improvement of relations with the countries of Eastern Europe. This détente can, in its turn, prepare the way for a system in which the United Nations can play a wider and more effective role in the world. I was glad to hear the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, referring in such warm and appreciative terms of the speech at the United Nations of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, one of the many effective contributions, I may say, that he has made, and is making, to the conduct of international affairs.
Disarmament is a subject which has been mentioned by my noble friend Lord Rowley, among other noble Lords. It is an aspect that certainly remains one of deep concern to me and I think to most of us. My noble friend made mention of the report of the Secretary-General on nuclear weapons, a most important docu 240 ment. It is the kind of thinking that has been reflected in that document that has led us to concentrate so much of our effort and attention over the past year on the negotiations for a treaty to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved this proposal at their last session, but the difficulty is that since then—and my noble friend will know this as well as I do—the co-chairmen of the Disarmament Committee have now tabled an agreed draft of a treaty at Geneva. It is true that it is a draft from which one important article has been left blank; but after so many disappointments and delays, even this is something which all of us, I think, would welcome whole-heartedly.
But the Non-proliferation Treaty is not an end in itself. It will not succeed in its purpose and may not even last very long, if it is not followed by other agrements. There is the extension of the Test Ban Treaty to cover nuclear tests in all their environments, and there remains the vital task of real disarmament, particularly in the use of nuclear weapons. But it is, as always, the first step that counts, and we believe that the Non-proliferation Treaty is this first step and will make others possible.
Before I pass on to the other main area of international relations with which I intend to deal, perhaps I may mention, to make note of it, the interesting suggestion of my noble friend Lord Rowley about an international writ of habeas corpus. He must know better than most of us what the legal difficulties and complications of this are, but it seems to me, as a layman, to be an interesting suggestion, and we will certainly take note of it.
I should like to come to the main part of my remarks which, as my noble friend Lord Shackleton said earlier, deal with Britain and the Common Market. Your Lordships will obviously want me to say something about what has now come to be called the Lausanne incident. My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have dealt with this at length in another place, but I shall wish to make one or two brief remarks about it later. For the moment, let me concentrate on the important issue, which is Britain's application for its membership of the European Community. And perhaps I may begin, simply and I hope 241 briefly, by reminding your Lordships of the main considerations that led us to apply for this membership.
The first and most important reasons are political. The past few years have brought home to us with increasing urgency the need for closer political co-operation in Europe. Without it, as we have heard from other noble Lords to-day, we can expect world issues to be dealt with increasingly by the super-Powers—the United States and the Soviet Union—while the European countries, divided among themselves, will have no alternative but to fall in with whatever arrangements result. Europe will be unable to make the beneficial contribution which her mature experience, her skill and her traditions would entitle her to make. Perhaps, in parenthesis, I may pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who has been such a consistent, steadfast and imaginative proponent of the whole idea of European unity.
The changing relationship between Eastern and Western Europe provides an example of the way in which this European influence could be exerted. In recent years this relationship has improved to a point at which there seems to be a real prospect of reaching a lasting settlement of the problems left over from the last war, a settlement which I am sure both sides earnestly seek and which could be of real benefit to us all. It is not hard to picture the nature of it. It lies within our collective grasp, but it will be much harder to reach if we strive for it separately, as we are doing at present. What is perhaps more important, the nature of the settlement, when it ultimately comes, is likely to be less satisfactory for European countries if they have not had the effective say in it which a co-ordination of our policies could give.
We have heard mention, too, of the problems of the emergent nations, the developing countries of the world. We can help these countries in a great variety of ways, bilaterally and multilaterally, but the aid which we are giving to the poor countries of the world would be so much more effective and the influence of Europe in those countries so much more marked if our efforts were better co-ordinated. Europe's very capacity to give aid would be enhanced if her own prosperity were growing, as we believe it would be in a wider Common Market.
242 There are many other examples that I could give of the way in which the voice of Europe could be heard in the world if we could get towards greater political integration and unity. It is not necessary to look any further back than last June and the crisis in the Middle East to find a case where Western Europe should have been able to act together in a common interest, but where instead we were in disarray. The result was that, by and large, as the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, pointed out in his speech, we were impotent in influencing events. The Government therefore see the widening of the Common Market, to include ourselves and other Western European countries, as the means of bring about this closer political unity. That was the primary motive behind our decision to apply for membership of the Communities.
Your Lordships will also be aware of the technological advantages which the Government expect would flow from their membership. I agree entirely with the point the noble Earl made that these are not advantages simply to us; we are not going into this simply as an exercise in self-interest. These are advantages that would flow to everyone in Europe. They flow, I believe, from the fact that we have a great technological potential which we can offer to Europe; and I believe the advantages are clearly understood among the other Governments and Parliaments of Western Europe. They are as keen to realise these advantages as we are. This was demonstrated very clearly in the debate about European unity, which I was glad to be able to attend in the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe last September. There is, I believe, increasing concern in Europe about the future of those of its industries which, though they have a high rate of expansion, also demand substantial forward investment in research and development and, consequently, expanding home markets in which they can be sure of finding customers. These are the industries of the future, and without the prospect of a wider market it is difficult to see how they will be able to survive in Europe and, what is more important, how they will be able to survive under European control.
These are, quite briefly and hurriedly, the basic reasons for the initiative which 243 the Government have taken. The problems of Europe's political and technical future are, I believe, real and are recognised by all informed opinion. Those who are opposed to the idea of Britain accepting the Treaty of Rome and joining the Common Market all too often forget that if they condemn our policy the onus is on them to propose another way of solving these problems which will be equally effective. Alternative solutions exist. We have never denied that. But we firmly believe, as I believe noble Lords opposite do, that none of them would be as advantageous and beneficial for us, for Europe and, indeed, for the world as the course we have chosen to embark upon.
Your Lordships' House fully endorsed the Government's decision to apply for membership, and I was glad to hear both the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, repeat and endorse that support to-day. The decision was taken in full knowledge of all the difficulties that we were likely to encounter. I may say that in the interval which has passed between the submission of our application and today's debate, no difficulty has arisen which we had not foreseen, nor have any of the difficulties turned out to be greater than we estimated.
From the outset the Six decided to treat our application in strict conformity with the Treaty of Rome, and in particular with Article 237 under which we made our application. Here it might perhaps be appropriate to say a brief word on the subject which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, raised about what went on when the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary visited Paris. I think it is quite simple to say that the French said then, and they say now, that there will be no veto. They emphasised then, as they emphasise now, the gravity of the problems involved for our entry. We believe these problems to be soluble in negotiations. General de Gaulle has said at his Paris Press Conference, "Pas question de veto". Couve de Murville is reported by the Press after his meeting in Luxembourg as having said in the Council that there was no objection in principle to British entry. I think it is fair and safe to say that it was this picture that my right honourable friends the 244 Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary brought back from Paris.
It has, of course, now become clear that there is difficulty about agreeing on the opening of negotiations. When it became clear that they could not be opened before the Summer Recess, your Lordships will recall that the Foreign Secretary made a statement in the Council of Western European Union on July 4 in which he set out the case for British membership and the major issues on which we sought to negotiate. The purpose of this statement was to help the Ministerial Council of the Community in their consideration of our application, and to help the Commission of the E.E.C. in preparing their "opinion" on the application, which they are required to produce under the appropriate Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome. This "opinion" the Commission duly produced on September 30. When your Lordships consider the complexity and importance of the subject with which they dealt, I think you will agree that the Commission, under their new President M. Jean Rey, did extremely well to complete their work in that short time, especially as most of the work was done in the month of August, a month in which, particularly on the Continent, people are accustomed to take their annual holiday.
This Report, the advice or "opinion" of the Commission, deals with all the applications for membership which are before the E.E.C. Council; and this means not only our own, but the applications of Denmark, Norway and the Republic of Ireland. This "opinion" was on the Agenda of the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for the first time immediately after it was received; that is to say, on October 2 and 3, though the first substantial discussion of it took place at the Council's next meeting—and this, indeed, was their last meeting—on October 23 and 24; and it will be discussed again when the Council meet on November 20. This "opinion" is an internal document, a document between the Commission and the Governments of the Six, and there is no call, nor would it be appropriate, for Her Majesty's Government to take a position on it. However, it has, as your Lordships will know, been published, and there are just one or two interesting features of it to which 245 I should like to draw your Lordships' attention.
The Report is a helpful document. It is helpful in that it comes down firmly in favour of the enlargement of the Community. It recognises that this might entail certain risks for the future progress of the Community towards economic union, but it recommends workable safeguards to ensure that progress is maintained. The Report concludes that, provided new members can accept the Treaties of Rome and Paris—the Treaty of Paris being that dealing with the Coal and Steel Community—the objectives of political union and the substance of decisions taken under the Treaties, the new members would reinforce the Community without altering its character and methods. The statement which my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made in The Hague on July 4 made it sufficiently clear that we can agree completely with this conclusion.
In the context of future relations between the widened Community and third countries, the Commission take the view that any adverse effects on trade which might result from the widening of the Community would be more than offset by the very rapid expansion of the economies of the member countries, and therefore of their trade with third countries. With this, too, we agree. The section on financial and economic problems, however, takes a different view—we think an unduly gloomy view—of the future of the British economy and of the future of sterling as a reserve currency. As this subject was brought up in some detail in your Lordships' House this afternoon, perhaps I may take a few minutes to explain our point of view on these two topics.
It is quite natural, we agree, that the Six should now want to consider carefully how sterling as a world currency could best be fitted into the monetary and economic pattern of Europe. The world monetary system is not a static thing: it is constantly evolving. New assets are developed—for example, the new special drawing rights, on which agreement was reached recently in Rio de Janeiro. Cooperation between monetary authorities grows closer. Sterling as an international reserve and commercial trading currency is a part of the world monetary system, and any major change in its 246 functions would have implications for the monetary system as a whole. But the role of sterling itself is not a static thing, either. The sterling area system has evolved over the period since the war, and the process of change will continue, whether or not we join the European Economic Community.
There seems to be an idea in some quarters that the international role of sterling is something we cling to as a matter of prestige, privilege. I do not believe it is a matter of prestige, and although it brings us certain benefits it certainly brings us burdens as well. The mere fact that the functions of sterling are rather different from those of Continental currencies—although I think it worth noting that within the franc zone the French franc plays a similar role, although to a more limited extent—does not seem to us any reason why it should not be integrated into the European economic system. The question now is whether the Community wishes to take advantage of our application to join it to propel the monetary evolution in a particular direction, and so gain greater influence for the Community as a whole. But in discussing the international role of sterling, I think there are a few important points which should be remembered but which are sometimes, unfortunately, overlooked. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, that Her Majesty's Government have certainly not overlooked them.
First, the international financial community has nothing to gain from any attack on a particular national currency. The object, in all our interests, must be to strengthen rather than to weaken the system. Secondly, sterling is an international currency, for the very simple reason that Governments, bankers, and traders all over the world choose to use sterling. Its use has developed with the growth of world trade. It follows that, even if it were agreed—and it is still very far from having been agreed—that there should be a reduction in the use of sterling as a reserve currency, it would then be necessary to decide who should share Britain's role as a world banker. This is a problem that cannot be brushed lightly aside. Finally, it is necessary always to bear in mind that the future of sterling is not a matter which can be disposed of without consulting the present 247 holders of sterling and safeguarding their rights.
But none of this, my Lords, need prevent us from discussing with the Six the aspects of this subject that seem to cause them concern. We think it entirely reasonable that we should do so when the negotiations for our entry begin, on the assumption that the discussion will be approached in a constructive and European spirit and that the objectives will be realistic. It would, for example, be unrealistic to suppose that arrangements involving a substantial change in sterling's international role could be worked out satisfactorily in a short space of time. The Rio Agreement took four years to work out, after all, and even now it is not in its final form. This is a rough measure of the size of the question we would be discussing here.
In the Government's view, then, the sterling balances do not present a problem which needs to be settled before Britain enters the Common Market. We are also very willing to take part in a discussion with the Community on the prospects of the British economy as a whole.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, before the noble Lord passes from the role of sterling, would he give his opinion on the question I asked: whether this can be discussed in isolation without involving the other reserve currency?
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I thought I made the point that this is not a matter that could be discussed in isolation. If the noble Lord is referring to the Government's comments on Article 108 of the Treaty, I would remind him that we said at an early stage in this debate (I am talking now of the international debate) that we would not invoke Article 108 of the Treaty of Rome. This undertaking was made in the light of the discussions which my right honourable friends, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, took part in in the capitals of the Six.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, that was not my point. The question involves the other reserve currency.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, as I explained at the beginning of this section 248 of my remarks, we realise that this question of the role of sterling is a complex one which cannot be settled overnight. What we say is that all these matters, including the point raised by the noble Lord, must be discussed in a quiet atmosphere, and in the atmosphere of international diplomacy, secret diplomacy, and not of public debate.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. As I say, these and other matters must all be discussed when we are discussing the role of sterling I entirely agree. I apologise. I thought the noble Lord was referring to his comments on Article 108 of the Treaty of Rome.
As I was saying, we are also willing to take part in a discussion on the general economy. We have always said that it was our intention to enter the Community only when we had secured a healthy economy and a strong balance of payments. This remains our position, and we have taken, as everyone will be aware, measures to ensure that there could be no doubts on the score of the health of our economy. These measures have already had a considerable effect. I think I must make the point that it must in any event be some time—what with the period of negotiation of our entry, the period of ratification, and the transitional periods which we should seek to negotiate for our entry—before there would be any question of our entry having effective consequences for the Community.
My Lords, one of the brighter aspects of events since our application was submitted has been the growing evidence of massive support for it. I have already mentioned the debate in the Council of Europe Assembly in which I took part. This left no room for doubt about the views of the great majority of that Assembly. They are eager, even impatient, to see us in the Community, and they are as confident as we are that the problems, the real problems, involved can be solved, given the political will.
The Commission's Report, to which I have already referred, with its constructive approach to the whole question of 249 enlarging the Community, gives further evidence of the support we can expect. The Report was discussed on October 23 and 24 in the Council of Ministers of the Six, and there, too, there was strong and solid support for us. The visit to this country of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, referred to by the noble Baroness, was a visit which happened to coincide with the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Common Market. It provided a useful opportunity for a full discussion of the issues, and we found that discussion most encouraging. Her Majesty's Government are most grateful for the support which we have received, and which we continue to receive, from the Federal Republic and from other members of the Community.
I said at the beginning that I thought your Lordships would want me to say something about the events of the past few days and about the reports which have appeared regarding our Common Market policy. Let me begin by making it quite clear, in case there are any doubts in people's minds—and there seem to be—that I do not regard this as a Press conspiracy or as an anti-Common Market plot. In fact, I do not regard it as a conspiracy or a plot of any kind. In so far as there have been misunderstandings, I should like to say that for my part I bear no malice towards anybody involved in this unfortunate affair; and it is certainly not for me to try to pass judgment on how newspapers do their job. Therefore, with your Lordships' indulgence, I do not propose to enter into any unproductive jobbing-back or recrimination. I should just like to put the record straight by stating clearly and unambiguously my own position in this matter. I am, of course—and this scarcely needs saying—committed without reservation to the policy of Her Majesty's Government. That is a policy with which everyone in this House will be familiar.
I believe strongly, as I have said many times in public, that Britain's future lies in Europe; and the first step towards that 250 future is that Britain should join the Common Market. This is no time to waver in our determination to pursue those policies, which I am confident will be successful. Britain is a part of Europe, and it would be foolish of me or of anyone else to suggest that we should just turn our backs on Europe, or threaten to do so, for some doubtful reason of tactics.
In this situation we see no reason whatsoever to conclude (and this point was made by the noble Lords, Lord Gladwyn and Lord Carrington) that we should contemplate any alternatives to membership of the E.E.C. in the expectation of being excluded from it. We know that these alternatives exist, and we have always said so—indeed, the noble Earl has underlined this point this evening. But I should like to make it clear again that we believe these alternatives to be second best. Our purpose is to enter, and thereby to strengthen and develop, the European Communities. As my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have emphasised in another place, that remains, and will remain, our purpose: our application for membership is in, and it will stay in.
Naturally we should have liked more rapid progress on our application since it was submitted last May, and we had hoped that by now negotiations could have begun. This is because we believe—and the Commission's report, coupled with the views of so many of our potential partners in the Six, strongly reinforce this belief—that the best way to resolve these difficulties is to discuss and negotiate about them. As a concluding word, perhaps I may say that we are ready for such negotiations now, and we confidently believe that they will be successful.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until Tuesday next.—(Earl Jellicoe.)
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.