HL Deb 14 July 1970 vol 311 cc425-591

2.59 p.m.

Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Thursday, July 2, by Lord O'Neill of the Maine—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."


My Lords, before I address myself to the substance of this debate I should like to offer my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on his appointment and to say how pleased we are that one of the great Departments of State is to be in the hands of a Member of your Lordships' House. These may well be the last kind words I shall address to the noble Lord in this debate, or indeed in any other—we shall have to wait and see.

To-day we are concerned with defence and foreign affairs. The gracious Speech does not in fact tell us very much about how the Government intend to deal with these important matters, and the debate on the subject in another place did little to enlighten us. So apart from what we read in the newspapers we know very little about the part which Britain is to play in world affairs in the coming months. This is not a matter for great astonishment; it does not surprise me that the new Government may be finding some of the problems of international security less simple than they seemed in Opposition. I propose, therefore, to confine myself to-day to some of the more important issues which I hope will be answered by the noble Lord, the Defence Secretary, at the end of the debate. But first let me comment briefly on some matters which, although they are obviously important, I shall not, for various reasons, examine in detail to-day.

There is first the question of the Common Market. We are told here that Her Majesty's Government, will seek to reach agreement on terms fair to all concerned. … This is a reasonably safe and modest statement of aims, and to-day I want to make just two brief comments on it. The first is that we on this side will want to look very closely at those terms as soon as they emerge. Certainly the Government negotiators are beginning their task with the overwhelming advantage of the strongest economic situation which this country has enjoyed, possibly since the end of the last war. They inherited from us a very strong negotiating position, which I hope they will not fritter away in the pursuit of any doctrinaire policies. This leads me to my second comment, which is perhaps something that noble Lords opposite will find rather less amusing; namely, that the position might indeed have been seriously shaken by the behaviour of some members of Her Majesty's Government in the General Election. It could hardly have strengthened our hand, I think, in Brussels, to have given the totally false impression, for whatever reason, that this country was facing a grave economic crisis. However, I think it must now be clear to everyone that there was no basis whatsoever for this particular piece of scaremongering, and we must hope that those with whom the Government will be negotiating were not deceived by it.

As my noble friend Lord Caradon will be speaking later to-day I shall not take up much time with the special problems of the United Nations, upon which he is so uniquely qualified to speak, but I feel I cannot let this occasion pass without expressing my own deep admiration for the wisdom, dedication and patience which he brought to his task in New York, not only in the Security Council and in the General Assembly but in the endless, detailed and often frustrating round of unofficial contacts in the corridors and the committee rooms. I know from my own personal experience in New York that my noble friend has won for this country a reputation second to none in the United Nations, and although of course it is for the Prime Minister to decide how to organise his Government and their representation overseas, I very much hope that this invaluable asset will not be allowed to wither away by any downgrading of our presence in New York. There may be faults in the United Nations; indeed noble Lords opposite are seldom slow to point these out. Of course there are defects of organisation, there are defects of procedure and there are defects of achievement in the United Nations, but I think there are few people in this House who would not agree that among international organisations it remains the one hope that we have of achieving a sane and a peaceful world.

The canvas of defence and foreign affairs is a vast one, and I want to concentrate to-day on one important aspect of it; namely, in general terms, how British foreign policy is to be translated into and served by British military policies—and in "military policies" I include not only the narrow definition of the strategy and deployment of our own armed forces but also our policies for arms control and disarmament, our attitude to the stage reached on international trade in arms and, not least, our doctrines and thinking about nuclear weapons.

Much has been made of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government to put into reverse what is now commonly known as the East of Suez policy. I believe that this is one of the areas in which the Government are already discovering that things are not always quite so easy as they seem. All that we have had so far from the Government have been some rather non-committal statements about consulting our Commonwealth partners and the leaders in the Persian Gulf about how our common interests might best be served. I must say that this seems eminently sensible, a good deal more sensible indeed than some of the statements made about this problem before the Election. No one on this side, I can assure your Lordships' House, will complain if the Government's process of education in these matters leads them to have second thoughts. Indeed, in the course of their discussions with the Trucial States in the Gulf and with the Governments outside, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, it must already be clear to the Government that our continued military presence in that area is not welcome. Already three important and authoritative Governments in the area have made it publicly clear that they would not welcome a continuing British military presence in the area. They argue, and others argue—and I ask noble Lords opposite to take this argument seriously—that if British troops are not withdrawn from the Gulf, external pressures as well as internal political pressures may quite easily turn the whole of the area into a shambles of subversion, anti-imperialist propaganda and, eventually, guerrilla warfare.

If this happens in the Gulf, then the choice will be for the Government either to withdraw in the worst possible political and military situation, or to reinforce heavily the comparatively small force which presumably under their policy would be kept in the Gulf. This, of course, is the classic and dangerous fallacy of the small military presence overseas. It does not promote stability; it provokes hostility and violence. And when that violence comes the commitment is open-ended, it is ever increasing, it sucks in more troops, it raises the level of conflict and it wastes much of this country's blood and treasure.

With some differences of emphasis, the same arguments can be said to apply in South-East Asia. Once again, we do not really know what the Government have in mind. The Foreign Secretary has spoken of a modest military presence with forces contributed by Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. To date, that is as far as we have got. No one seems quite clear what this modest military force is supposed to do. If there were to be massive aggression by some external Power in the Far East, a force like that would be completely useless. Indeed, we should in that case be in a state of global crisis, if not of open war, such as would make this modest military presence totally irrelevant.

As noble Lords opposite well know, this is not the most likely form of aggression in South-East Asia. The most likely form of conflict is guerrilla warfare, and I must say again of South-East Asia what I said of the Gulf. If the hard lessons of Kenya, of Palestine, of Borneo and of Malaysia mean anything at all to the Government, they must realise two simple facts of military life: one, that the presence of foreign troops—which is what ours would be—is much more likely to provoke guerrilla warfare than to deter it; and, secondly, that once those troops are involved in such a war it always turns out to be expensive, uncontrollable and indecisive. The Government must surely know, if they pay any heed at all to the lessons of the past, that in returning nostalgically to this theme of British troops East of Suez they are not only deceiving themselves but deceiving their allies as well.

The whole of this posture contains no kind of credibility. If this modest military presence, as they keep calling it, is ever faced with a real military threat there are only two courses which would then be open to the Government. One is to withdraw hastily and humiliatingly, hoping that our friends will understand why we have had to do it. I assume—here I make the charitable assumption—that it is not the intention of the Government to do that, although it is a course that may eventually be forced upon them. The alternative—and I imagine this must be what is in the mind of the Government, because there is only one alternative—is to reinforce on a massive scale; and noble Lords opposite will remember that even 40,000 men were not enough to deal with the confrontation that we faced in Malaysia. So if this is the intention of the Government—to reinforce when trouble strikes, not to withdraw—then Parliament and the country will want the answer to two simple questions; where is the money coming from, and where are the men coming from? This kind of commitment, the kind of commitment that we have heard talked about rather vaguely in recent months, cannot be undertaken without a very considerable financial cost both in budgetary terms and in terms of foreign exchange, and I think we must be clear about this.

Then again it really is time that the Government, although they have not been in office for very long, began to spell out the answer to this question of manpower. A s they reject, with a great show of indignation, any suggestion that they might need, in the terms of this policy, to return to some form of compulsory military service, will they please tell us where they are going to get the soldiers, the sailors, and the airmen to carry out these grand ideas East of Suez? They are grand ideas; this is not a question of a modest military presence, and no one in your Lordships' House should be deceived into believing that it is. If this is indeed to be anything more than a hollow pretence and some kind of nostalgic status symbol, then it is a very considerable military commitment, and we shall want to know precisely of what it consists and how it is going to be met. Certainly we on these Benches are no more likely than are the potential enemies of this country to be deceived once again by this stage-army device of under-strength military units, struggling to meet massive commitments at a heavy cost to the country, and not least to the morale of our own Armed Forces.

But, if the Gulf and South-East Asia are not enough to be going on with, let us look at another area of military delusion—or perhaps in this case we should say "naval delusion"—into which the Government show signs of stumbling. We are being told that the Soviet Union has 350 submarines; that these submarines might threaten the sea routes of the South Atlantic; and that if they do the Royal Navy must be there to put things right, and for the Royal Navy to put things right there must be a naval base at our disposal in South Africa. This really is the most extraordinary series of propositions for any military man to contemplate. Indeed, to any serious strategist they would be funny if they were not so terribly dangerous.

Suppose the Russians do have 350 submarines—and perhaps I might recall that some twenty years ago, or 19 to be precise, Mr. Macmillan was trying to frighten us with the same 350 submarines. He said, in fact, between 300 and 400, and he said it in February, 1951. At that time a very notable old salt, on hearing that not only were there 300 to 400 Soviet submarines but that in two years' time there might be a thousand, I believe commented loudly enough for the words to appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT: "With snow on their boots". My Lords, we have not the 1,000 submarines to contend with: we still have the 350 that Mr. Macmillan was waving about in 1951. But does anybody really seriously believe that there is any kind of situation in which these submarines would be able to interfere with our shipping in the South Atlantic except in circumstances of such a grave crisis, if not a war, that the whole of the Western Alliance would be involved? Does anybody seriously believe that there are any other circumstances in which this could happen? The only threat to our sea routes in the South Atlantic is the threat of war—and the next war is not going to be a war of naval engagements in the South Atlantic. The nuclear weapon has changed all that, and those who talk, as the Foreign Secretary talked last week, of "showing the flag in the traditional way of a great naval Power" are really indulging in the very worst of excesses of pre-nuclear fantasy.

All this in straightforward terms of strategic incomprehension would be serious enough, but perhaps the most alarming aspect of this rather bizarre strategic doctrine, which seems to come from another century, is that it is being used as one of the reasons for a proposal which, if it is eventually put into effect, as now seems likely, will in my view permanently and gravely damage the real interests of this country. I am referring, of course, to the proposal to resume the sale of arms to South Africa. Again it is not quite clear what the Government intend to do about this, but we have some indications. On June 23, for example, almost every newspaper in the country told us that the Government were about to sell arms again to South Africa. I wonder why they all chose to say the same thing on the same day.

Asked about this in another place, the Foreign Secretary said that he was not responsible for what the Press said on the subject. Really, my Lords, the Government will have to do a little better than that. I suppose it is just possible that all the editors in Fleet Street decided on June 23 to publish virtually identical reports on their front pages without any prompting from Her Majesty's Government at all. It is possible. Or perhaps there was a Press briefing at the Foreign Office, but all the reporters who went there got it wrong and got it identically wrong. That is possible, too. What is much more likely, and what I suggest really happened, is that the Foreign Secretary briefed the Press on this subject on June 22, and on the morning of the 23rd the reporters all got it right, and that it is the intention of the Government to resume the sale of arms to South Africa. It is just possible, of course, that, having heard the reaction to this, not only in this country but abroad, the Government have taken wiser counsel; but I very much doubt it.

In another place last week the Foreign Secretary spoke of "communication" with our Commonwealth partners, and he seemed to be using this word quite deliberately. It is a word which sounds to me rather like telling our Commonwealth partners about a decision that has been made than consulting them before making it. If this decision has been made, if this is what the Government really intend to do, it might be worth taking a few minutes to look at the proposal in all its aspects; its military, economic, and political aspects.

First, let us have a look at the military arguments for this proposed step. I have already said that the Simonstown base, although useful, is not essential to our interests. There is no other NATO country which takes seriously this submarine threat conjured up by the Government—and if this is anyone's problem it is NATO'S; it cannot be the national problem of this country. So to us, and indeed to NATO, the Simonstown base may be useful. It may even, to put it at its highest, be important, but it is not essential. But even if it were important, let us be clear about one thing, because I think that a great number of people, both in this House and outside it, are not clear about this: there is no obligation whatsoever under the Simonstown Agreement for us to sell arms to South Africa; no obligation of any kind.

Under the Exchange of Letters which constitute the Simonstown Agreement we were to supply South Africa with a number of naval vessels. I will not go into the details of it now, for the very simple reason that the order was completed and the vessels were all delivered by the end of 1963. We have no further obligation whatsoever under the Simonstown Agreement. Even South Africa realises this, or else why would she have reaffirmed the Simonstown Agreement after the Labour Government had announced and begun its arms embargo? So, looking at the military arguments alone, the case for this proposed step falls to the ground. The Simonstown base is not essential to our interests; and even if it were, we do not need to sell arms to South Africa to retain its use.

What about the economic arguments? Here we are being told, by those who apparently approve of this step, that by refusing to supply arms we are putting at risk our whole trading association with South Africa. This is a proposition that seems to be very seriously put, and very seriously believed, by some people. It is a very strange proposition, because, since the arms embargo was imposed by the Labour Government after the United Nations resolution, our other trade with South Africa has shown no signs whatsoever of diminishing; indeed, quite the reverse. So on its own it is a curious proposition.

Or is it perhaps being suggested that the Government of South Africa might penalise a Conservative Government in this country, in a way in which it was not prepared to penalise a Labour Government?—a very curious idea, if that is what is in people's minds. I think it very unlikely, in fact, that the Government of South Africa will do any such thing, because while our exports to South Africa last year were worth £291 million, our imports from South Africa were worth slightly more; they were worth £302 million. And even if the South African Government really sought to end what is to them a quite profitable arrangement, let us remember that it is not only with the Republic of South Africa that we trade, and that our trade with the other African countries South of the Sahara, the black African countries, is worth as much if not more to-day than our trade with South Africa, and it is growing at a faster rate. And let us remember that it is this trade that will be at risk if we do sell arms to South Africa. So much, then, for the great economic argument on trade with South Africa. It seems to have, to be fair about it, a very close balance of advantage, and many people would say—and I certainly say—that the advantage lies in favour of leaving the present arms policy on South Africa unchanged. This leaves us—


My Lords, if the noble Lord claims that there was no diminution in our trade with South Africa as a result of the policy of the Labour Government on arms, can he say why it was impossible for a leading representative of a British company, only a year and a half ago—and I can give details—to obtain orders for railway equipment from the South African Government, who claimed that they refused to deal with this particular company because of our policy over arms?


No, my Lords. I should be very interested to have details of that particular suggestion.


My Lords, I should like to interject to say that many cases of the kind put forward by the noble Earl were investigated by the last Government, and in no instance was there any evidence that the South African Government had behaved in this way. Indeed, they have themselves consistently denied it.


My Lords, I am quite prepared to give full names and cases.


My Lords, we shall be delighted to hear all about that, I am sure. As I said this leaves us with the political implications to look at. I cannot believe that anybody is any longer in any doubt that the military and economic case really does not stand up to any kind of examination at all. Surely it is in the political field that the real damage is likely to be done. If the Government now, for no kind of military or economic advantage to ourselves that I can discern, choose to flout and ignore a clear United Nations resolution on this subject, what will happen? The United States and Canada—our North American allies—who sponsored the United Nations resolution on the subject, are unlikely to be very pleased about it. Indeed, it seems obvious now that the American Secretary of State made his position clear beyond any shadow of doubt last weekend. The countries of East, West and Central Africa will be outraged, as well they might be. Communist influence on the African Continent will be given new and fertile fields in which to work; and I cannot believe that that is something that noble Lords opposite want to see happen. And in the United Nations the patient and careful work of years will be damaged beyond repair.

But even if noble Lords opposite do not accept that the political, the economic and the military arguments all come down against any change in this policy, is it any use, I wonder, appealing to them on the moral issue?—because if we do this Britain will have shown the world beyond doubt exactly where she stands in the most important issue that will face the whole world in this century—the great confrontation that is developing between the rich and the poor, between the white and the coloured, between the oppressors and the oppressed. And, please, my Lords, let us not waste any time, as I suspect some people may be inclined to do, on that old nonsense about "arms that can be used for repression and arms that cannot". In the kind of conflagration that threatens in South Africa, this kind of distinction has absolutely no meaning whatsoever, and if noble Lords opposite—


My Lords, I am sorry to have to ask the noble Lord to give way, but his last statement really cannot go by without a short question—and we were both soldiers together. The noble Lord said that the base in South Africa was important, but is he saying that, however important it is, we must deny the very means of guarding it; or, are we to send more forces there to guard it ourselves?


My Lords, if the noble Viscount will let me develop my argument a little further, I am sure he will see what I mean. In fact, I did not myself say that the base was important; I said that it was useful. I said that some people might argue that it was important, but that no one could say that it was essential. If noble Lords opposite do not want to believe me about this business of arms that can be used for repression and arms that cannot, I have made a fairly deep study of these problems over a number of years and perhaps they will accept it from a defence expert of greater distinction, who has said: The Government cannot guarantee that no weapon could ever in any circumstances be used for this purpose"— "this purpose" being enforcing apartheid. He went on— Even naval weapons could at a pinch be used to bombard a land target. It was no crusading Socialist who said this. I have quoted from a report of a statement made to the British Council of Churches in 1963 by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. Perhaps when he comes to speak he will tell us whether he still holds the same view.

I had hoped to say something about disarmament and arms control, but this must wait for another time. I shall confine myself to saying that, as I understand the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, is to be responsible for matters of disarmament in the Foreign Office, he will be able to spend as much time as he possibly can in Geneva and New York. There are a number of British initiatives in this field—and I am sure that he has already found this out—which are going to need vigorous, careful, constant political handling, and I hope that he will not allow them to fade away while he is preoccupied with his many other tasks in the Foreign Office.

I had wanted, too, to say a little about nuclear weapons and their dangers and limitations, but a detailed look at this will also have to wait until another time. I must, however, make one point; that is, that even if the newspaper reports on South Africa were the result of an official briefing, as seems obvious, I very much hope that the same is not true of the report written on nuclear doctrine and strategy in The Times of July 6. I must say that it is sad to see this great newspaper deserting the position of reason and sanity which it has maintained over the years on the question of nuclear strategy.

It is not for me to speculate on the identity of the writer of that article, but I can only surmise that he must have been asleep over the last ten years, or perhaps preoccupied with other matters, because otherwise no one in 1970 could seriously write a sentence like: A small fleet of nuclear submarines armed with Polaris missiles … gives this country an ultimate capacity to defend itself such as it can seldom have had in its history. I leave that sentence to glow in the minds of noble Lords opposite. I mention it not in any way to attack The Times, but simply because the article bears a disturbing resemblance in many respects to a Conservative pamphlet which was published just before the Election, Towards Nuclear Entente, written partly by a distinguished Conservative who is now a member of Her Majesty's Government.

I hope sincerely that Her Majesty's Government are not going to be seduced by the idea of nuclear weapons as weapons of defence. They are no such thing, and no intelligent person in the 1970s can conceivably believe that they are. I also hope that we are not going to begin committing ourselves to new generations of these weapons in some fantastic and abortive attempt to match the super-Power race in nuclear weapons. I hope, 100, that we are not going to start talking recklessly about Anglo-French nuclear co-operation and European nuclear deterrents, without realising, and realising clearly, that the whole of this is an area which bristles with the most appalling difficulties and dangers—not only political difficulties, not only economic burdens of an enormous kind but very real military dangers, too.

My Lords, I have not touched on the immediate issues of foreign policy and defence. I have not mentioned the Middle East, Rhodesia, Vietnam, NATO, European security—all the immediate problems of foreign policy and defence to which I am sure noble Lords will be making reference this afternoon. I make no apology for not dealing in detail with those problems. I have chosen instead to concentrate on the major issue; the one single issue which in my view will be a test of the Government's whole approach to international security—and it is an approach which will inevitably condition their attitude to all the other problems across the field of defence and foreign affairs. The East of Suez policy and the South Africa policy (the Southern Africa policy to give it a more accurate name) will together demonstrate whether the Government have recognised the real nature of the problems with which their world, our world, is likely to be faced as this century enters its last quarter. They are not, my Lords, the traditional confrontation between the Soviet Union and the West, between Communism and capitalism which so seems to hagride the minds of noble Lords opposite. They are not to be expressed nor will they be solved in nostalgic terms of safeguarding our sea routes and showing the flag in the Gulf and in South-East Asia. They are not going to be solved by saying solemnly that NATO is the keystone of our defence and forgetting all the time what we are supposed to be defending ourselves against. Of course we are and we should remain effective members of the Western Alliance, but we cannot accept that Europe is for ever going to be divided into two armed camps. Our aim now should be as much to break down the barriers in Europe as to man them; and in this context we welcome the reference in the gracious Speech to the relaxation of tension between East and West.

My Lords, the great issues will lie outside Europe: let us be clear about that. They are the awful questions of what we are to do about the weapons of mass destruction—not only nuclear weapons but biological and chemical weapons as well. What are we going to do about the progressive poisoning of the environment in which man lives? What are we to do about the vast and in some cases uncontrolled increases in population; the terrible ravages of hunger and disease that torment two-thirds of the people on earth? And, not least, what are we going to do about the part which the People's Republic of China is likely to play in this very turbulent scene?

Here I should like to say that one of the most interesting developments of recent months has been the obvious growing interest of the Peking Government in some sort of effective dialogue with this country. One of my great regrets, among others, on leaving the Foreign Office is the lost opportunity to take advantage of this interest, because from what we know so far of the policies and attitudes of the present Government it seems unlikely that they are going to be in much of a position to do so. Because it is in this kind of issue that the future really lies. It lies in the confrontation between the contented of the world and the wretched, the white and the coloured, the rich and the poor.

Some noble Lords opposite seem to find this amusing. I personally do not find it amusing that 88 per cent. of the world's goods are in the hands of one-third of its population and that the other two-thirds have to make do with the remaining 12 per cent. I do not find it amusing that thousands of people go to bed hungry every night and that hundreds of thousands of children are dying of starvation, of hunger, in the Third World. If noble Lords opposite find that amusing their sense of humour differs from mine. We have a new generation of young people in this country—and let us not forget these young people. They care passionately that in this confrontation, the great confrontation of this century, we should be on the right side. The young people in the schools and in the universities to-day who are making their voice heard more and more in the councils of the world are not interested in any empty nostalgia for national greatness; they are not interested in policing the world; they are not interested in looking for Reds under the bed or in gunboat diplomacy, nuclear sabre rattling or any of the other obsolete and outworn concepts of policy and strategy.

I would end, my Lords, by saying this—and perhaps the noble Lord opposite might do me the courtesy of listening to at least my last sentence. The young people of this world will not easily forget or forgive the Government or the Conservative Party if they do things now which are going to place us perhaps irrevocably on the wrong side in the greatest moral issue of this century.

3.35 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to begin by congratulating most sincerely the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on his appointment. We are all delighted that a man (if I may say so) of his great sense and ability should have this job, and we are also very pleased that the Minister of Defence should be in this House rather than in the other. My Lords, on an occasion like this it is really only possible to concentrate on one or two of the great issues which face us in the whole field of foreign affairs and defence, so with your Lordships' permission I should like to concentrate chiefly on Europe, and also, to a certain extent, on what is generally called "East of Suez".

All of us—that is to say. all who believe that we ought at least to try to move towards the formation of some kind of democratic Western European body which will have a real influence for peace in the world—rejoice that the negotiations for our entry into the European Economic Community have now started under the general direction of that dedicated European, the Prime Minister, and we naturally wish them every success. We should all like them, of course, to be easy and short. Unfortunately, the signs are, I am afraid, that they are likely to be difficult and long. So one very real problem is how best to prevent the whole thing from, as it were, going sour, and to prevent strong pressure from being exerted on the Government to break off negotiations before a suitable compromise has been hammered out, if indeed that is possible.

My Lords, what we must recognise is that though a considerable majority in all the Parties—and indeed, as I should think, in the country—approve of negotiations, the Parties themselves, to say nothing of the nation, are divided on the fundamental issue, which is this: do we or do we not want to form part of a democratic entity of some kind; or is all that we are trying to do to form a loose economic association of totally sovereign nation States? I know, my Lords, that to put this question in this country is to risk unpopularity, because we do not like thinking in theoretical terms at all; but as it seems to me the Government ought fairly shortly to make it clear that what they favour, is, broadly speaking, the first alternative. Admittedly, if they do they might divide their own Party; indeed, they might even divide all Parties. But if they do not, they run an even greater risk, which is that of possibly prejudicing the outcome of these vital negotiations.

For, my Lords, let us consider the position. Our prospective European partners, as we know, are resolved to create, fairly shortly, a monetary union, and our representative, Mr. Anthony Barber, has said that this is our objective, too. If this is really so, we are proposing to accept in a few years' time, it would seem, a common European monetary authority, which certainly implies a common budget, a common currency and, consequently, a common political authority of some kind. Why, then, do we hesitate to make it clear what our general objective is; namely, a European Community of a new and modern kind with a very considerable political content? It is quite true that the French Government equivocate also on this essential point. But their attitude is probably due to the need to persuade the large Parliamentary majority in Paris that the Government are still pursuing a Gaullist line, which it has in fact abandoned. I doubt whether we ought to follow this example here.

My Lords, there is a further point, and I think it is important. If we do seriously intend to enter an economic union there is no reason why we should not begin to talk with the Six about how to start up real integration in the field of foreign policy and defence. The present compromise, as I understand it, whereby the Six are to hold twice-yearly meetings on foreign policy, first by themselves on one day and then with the candidates on the second day, is obviously useless. In spite of what is commonly believed, there might be even less difficulty in forming some embryonic machinery for harmonising foreign policy—and certainly for standardising weapons, thereby saving hundreds of millions of pounds—than to get agreement on the right way of, for instance, running a common agricultural policy or, indeed, administering a common currency, to which, it would appear, we are now committed.

On June 8, at a lunch in London over which I had the honour to preside, the President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly, quite an important person—a former Minister, incidentally, in General de Gaulle's Government—suggested that we (that is to say, the Six and the candidates) might now all agree to set up an independent political commission with advisory powers only, which would at any rate begin considering foreign policy from the point of view of the group as a whole rather than from that of any individual member of the group. That is what he suggested. To save time I have given the Government the text of what the Prince de Broglie actually said. I should be most interested to learn whether they believe that there is anything in the suggestion that he made, more especially since I am told—and this is really rather important and significant—that this proposal has now been substantially approved by no fewer than 244 French parliamentarians, including a number of Gaullists, and that the number of subscribers to this thesis in Parliamentary circles is apparently increasing.

I believe that if the Government were expressly to favour this idea they would go a long way towards convincing our friends across the Channel, who are not yet convinced, of the real sincerity of our European purpose, and thus create an atmosphere which could favourably affect the progress of the negotiations. Alternatively, or additionally, the existing Western European Union machinery could be improved. But the great thing in any case, I am sure, is to try to convince the French, if we can, that in seeking ways and means of getting on in a practical way with the harmonisation of European foreign and defence policies we are not trying to get: into the European Economic Community by the back door, but simply proposing something which appears to be in the interests of all Western European democracies, whether the present European Economic Community is enlarged in the future or even whether it is not.

Nor can we, I suggest—and here I feel at one with what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said—achieve this end by some special and separate nuclear deal with the French, unless it be within the framework of a Western European defence association. For if we do—and quite apart from the doubtful relevance of either nuclear force; unless we combine both and go all out to become a third nuclear super-Power—we shall merely alienate the affections of the other members of the European Economic Community, notably the: Germans, and thus make our entry into the Community even more difficult than at present. I would therefore ask the Government also to give us a clear assurance that they have nothing of this kind in view.

If, however, we are to take literally what the Foreign Secretary said in another place on July 6, the answer to my question about Prince de Broglie's proposal may, I fear, be a "dusty" one—although I hope not. Regardless of their Party allegiances, I fear that all convinced Europeans will regard the Foreign Secretary's attitude, as revealed in that debate, as strange, not only logically but on general grounds as well.

First of all, he laid down, very properly, that there would soon have to be "a European response" (that was the phrase he used) to an American demand that Europe should assume a greater share of her own defence and that—and these again are his words: Britain would have to make her response as part of the European reaction. But Europe, in the political sense, does not exist at all; it is either a geographical expression or a figment of the imagination. It can exist only if there is an institution which, as it were, personifies it, even if only in a rudimentary way. And on this fundamental point the Foreign Secretary said flatly that he was opposed to any kind of political union, whether it was called integration, federalism or anything else, for the simple reason that the great national States of Europe would have to preserve what he termed "their own identity". Only when it had been possible, as he said, to "identify an area in which it would be advantageous to the partners to take common action" might a suitable institution be set up—though he did later admit that, for instance, the question of a European security conference might possibly be discussed in the existing Western European Union which, after all, is an institution of some kind even if so designed as to be quite incapable of collective action.

Good Heavens! my Lords, are we not blind if we do not "identify" Western European as an area in which it is now essential for certain democratic States to take common action, notably on defence, if they are not to lose but rather to preserve their famous identities and indeed their whole way of life? Is any constructive step towards the formulation of a common Western European defence and foreign policy to be condemned as a step towards a much dreaded "federation"? If so, we might as well abandon our attempt to enter even the present European Economic Community. But the kind of union which we shall eventually achieve in Western Europe will not really be at all like the United States of America and will certainly preserve the identities and personalities of our ancient nation States. Look at Holland! There is no apprehension there that their monarchy or their ancient constitution is in any sort of danger; none at all.

I think myself that we have been mesmerised by the very word "federation"—or at any rate I am afraid that the Foreign Secretary has. Frankly, unless the Government can at least contemplate the gradual emergence of a new form of European community they would do much better to wrap themselves in their Union Jack, stop talking about "Europe" and adopt the scarcely very successful nationalistic policy of "free hands" advocated and practised until his downfall by the late President of France. So I sincerely trust that the Government will say that they favour the Prince de Broglie's proposal, in principle, if you like; or at the least that they will give it favourable consideration. Otherwise—and this I am sure is the case—they risk causing considerable dismay among all those in France who most favour British entry into the European Economic Community which, as I understand it, is still the first objective of the Government's foreign policy.

My Lords, I leave Europe and turn for a moment to the Middle East; and here it is not easy to see how, short of some real advance towards harmonising their foreign and defence policies, any of the Western European democracies, such as ourselves or the French, can have any great influence on the course of events. We can of course give wise advice to both sides, and indeed to the two super-Powers, on whose possible co-operation what chance there may be of a peaceful settlement primarily depends. But there is no particular reason, I am afraid, why such advice should be accepted; and if we and the French should pursue different lines we shall certainly get nowhere. We all recognise that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, did very well, if I may respectfully say so, in the United Nations and we much look forward to his powerful intervention in our debates. But the trouble is, I think, that few in New York now attach great, or anyhow the greatest, importance to any British initiative, undertaken by whoever it may be. If we had a "European" presence in the Security Council, my Lords, things might be rather different.

This leads me on to the issues arising rather further East. Here I must say I trust that the Government will be able to assure us that they do not propose seriously to interfere with, still less to reverse, the planned withdrawal from the Persian Gulf by the end of 1971—and I associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said. Apart from the fact that, as I understand it, all the local Governments, with the exception of one or two obscure princelings, are strongly opposed to any such reversal, what would the Government hope to gain by the continued presence of a small British force in the Gulf? We need hardly worry about our oil in the event of general nuclear war, because we should all be dead. But in the event of a general "conventional" war, which I suppose is possible, it must be pretty obvious that our supplies of oil would be far more likely to be interfered with by a Russian blockade of these Islands in the Atlantic—that is, by submarines based on the White Sea and operating in the Atlantic Western approaches—than by any denial of oil at the source.

In the event of the "Nasserisation"—as it may be called—or even the 'Sovietisation" of the areas, it is not clear where the oil would go to unless it were to the West, which, incidentally, in the next ten years or so may not need it so much as Alaska, and even the North Sea, are fully developed. Nor is it in any case very probable that the existing Sheikhs will be Nasserised or Sovietised when we withdraw. So it would be far better, surely, to let all concerned work out what Mr. Enoch Powell, in one of his more regenerate moments five years ago, called "an Asiatic balance of power"; though I rather think that he was forced to abandon this genial idea as the result of Primrose League indignation—if that affects Mr. Enoch Powell at all.

My Lords, the same principle of an Asiatic balance of power applies in South-East Asia. I have not time to develop the argument, but I do not believe in the famous "Domino" theory in the sense that if the United States Army goes back to America, as it will one day, all the States in the area are bound to fall one after another under the domination of Red China. Malaya, of course, is the near equivalent of an island, and here I think there is much more of a case for the retention of some small military presence, in the sense of advice and some physical support, more especially in Singapore; on the strict assumption, however, that it will never become embroiled in any friction between the local Chinese and the local Malays.

Your Lordships may recall that over five years ago I made my own proposal, on behalf of my Party, for the gradual evacuation of our bases at Aden and in the area of the Persian Gulf, which so upset both sides of this House but more particularly the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who I see is still in his place. I think I am right in saying that the noble Lord said that I was encouraging anarchy in vast areas, while the noble Earl, Lord Longford, actually went so far as to say that I was "light-headed". I remember also that on the Tory side as well, it was greeted with almost universal indignation which is perhaps neither here nor there. Anyhow, I then said that our communications with Singapore, where we should preserve a small presence, might best pass through North America, the Pacific and Australia, using American facilities to the maximum extent. Well, my Lords, we on these Benches stand by that; always provided that the financial outlay really is a small one and forms part of a joint effort with our friends in Australia and New Zealand.

Should we maintain any small South-East Asia force in this way, it is difficult to see why we should want to use the famous base at Simonstown, and I entirely agree with the general thesis in this regard as developed by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont In any case, if we can continue to use it only by selling arms to the South Africans we had much better let it go. On such arms sales we agree, I need hardly say, with the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and we shall vote for it. For apart from the very important question of principle involved, it seems to us—as am sure the noble Lord will ably demonstrate at greater length—that by reversing the present policy of arms sales we should simply be losing more on the swings than we gain on the roundabouts.

My Lords, there are many other questions which I should have liked to put to the new Government if I had had the time. No doubt there will be another occasion in the autumn when I hope that some significant debates on the real issues and options now confronting us in the fields of foreign affairs and defence may be promoted by the noble Earl the Leader of the House to whom—not having had the opportunity of doing so in public before—I now, even in his absence, offer my respectful congratulations.

So I would just mention in conclusion the United Nations. It is very easy to be cynical about this organisation and I trust that the Government will not fall into the trap of believing, or seeming to believe, that the United Nations bears no relation to real policy—as our Foreign Secretary, I am afraid, sometimes seems to believe. In spite of all its obvious drawbacks and present impotence, the United Nations is still capable of being used as a means of solving, or at any rate of assisting the solution of, the great problems of our time. It is still possible, for instance, that all concerned will come back to the evident desirability of invoking its action in some way in the Middle East. It could also be that if the super-Powers come to some major agreement on strategic arms limitation—as they very well may, thank goodness—the United Nations could be of the greatest assistance in smoothing the way for further disarmament. In any case, my Lords, this is the note on which I should like to conclude my few brief criticisms of some of the aspects of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, it is for me a great privilege and an honour to speak for Her Majesty's Government in to-day's debate, the first on foreign affairs in this new Parliament. With so many distinguished speakers to follow I feel that I should in advance ask the indulgence of the House in undertaking this task this afternoon which comes so soon after my taking up my present appointment. Among the speeches of those to follow I particularly look forward to hearing the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who after long and distinguished service in another place, has now entered your Lordships' House. We are delighted to welcome him, and we wish him well. I am sure that his contribution to-day will be lively, constructive and stimulating.

I have listened with interest to the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and I have noted their points. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Carrington has also done so, and we shall be attempting to answer some of them during the debate. As the House knows, the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, will be moving an Amendment towards the end of the debate; and my noble friend Lord Carrington will reply to this and, no doubt, to other points which will be raised in the course of the next few hours. I thought, therefore, that at this early stage in the debate, it might be for the convenience of the House if I were to set the scene and indicate Her Majesty's Government's policy on some of the major issues on the world stage to-day.

I believe that in these days people are becoming deafened and disillusioned by words which have no purpose, and therefore I shall attempt at the outset to outline how Her Majesty's Government intend to pilot their policy on the interlocking principles of stability and parity. In another place last week, my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said that: to seek political stability must be the object of British foreign policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT Commons 6/7/70, col. 340.] And subsequently, he went on to say (col. 344): it is that theme"— that is to say, reconciliation— and not intolerance, which should govern the efforts of statesmen to try and bring about a more tolerant and peaceful world. I am sure that no one in your Lordship's House would dissent from this.

So, I repeat, the foundations on which Her Majesty's Government's policies are to be built are stability and parity. Stability not only for the great nations of the world that may be enabled to exercise their international obligations towards smaller and less fortunate countries; but, more particularly, stability for the poor and less developed that they may grow and prosper.


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Marquess in full flow, but is the word he is using "clarity" or "parity"?


For the sake of clarity, may I say that it is parity. And by parity I mean that all men, in all nations, are equal under the law and the Constitution, where all men have the right to be respected. For this Her Majesty's Government will continue to strive.

But I need hardly point out that in seeking political stability we in Britain must take account of our own defence. Here again, it is obvious that the preoccupation of our country, throughout its history, has been related Primarily to the problems of security resulting from our relations with Europe. In some way this preoccupation, tragic though it has been, has been forced upon us by harsh reality. In the past many British and Commonwealth lives were given to achieve our security. I think that we do well to remember this and to keep history in perspective as we evaluate the priorities of to-day. One essential is the role of NATO, the modern Great Alliance, which ensures the stability and protection of Western Europe. That is why our first priority is support for the NATO Alliance, an Alliance that has successfully achieved two conditions which enable us to live in peace—a Europe Lee from domination by a single Power and an Atlantic Ocean always open to trade.

In these contexts, there are two political situations which are of more than ordinary significance. The first is the most welcome post-war solidarity of interests that has developed between Germany and France which is a condition of European co-operation. Neither NATO nor the formation of the European Economic Community would have been possible without it. The second is the degree to which the United States of America has been and is willing to underwrite the security of Western Europe. This is a most positive contribution to the stability of Europe, which it seems quite certain neither Her Majesty's Government nor anyone else in the country would make the mistake of taking for granted.

The member countries of the European Community have demonstrated, in their past achievements and future plans, the importance they attach to economic integration and political cohesion. There are now clear signs that they believe Britain and the other applicant countries can contribute decisively towards this process. This, I submit, is not surprising in view of our unrivalled tradition of political stability and a record of technological achievement which is second to none. An enlarged Community could indeed serve to maintain and promote our collective interests to the benefit of Europe as a whole and to that of the entire Free World. Her Majesty's Government intend to respond to that challenge. It is indeed in that spirit that we have entered the negotiations which began in Luxembourg on June 30.

But, my Lords, as my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told his colleagues in Luxembourg, none of us can say at this early stage whether negotiations will succeed. That depends on whether we can reach a solution which is fair to all; and so far as Britain is concerned that means finding terms which, in the Prime Minister's words, are: tolerable in the short term and clearly and visibly beneficial in the long term. In those negotiations we shall of course, as indicated in the gracious Speech, remain in close consultation with our Commonwealth and EFTA partners and with the Irish Republic.

But, as my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said in a lecture which he delivered last November: It is important … to recognise that on the evidence the Community and the Common Market are here to stay. Indeed, since The Hague Summit last December, Europe has taken on a new lease of life. They have made it clear that they intend to move beyond the Customs Union stage—in which they achieved new heights of prosperity for their peoples—and to work towards economic and monetary union—whose beneficial effects may well prove even more spectacular. This prospect is something which everyone in this country should think about very seriously.

When all the factors have been weighed, the question that will remain is this: should Britain be in or out of this forward-looking conception, which not only promises a greater degree of economic unity influence and prosperity for its members but also looks beyond that into the political field, towards greater political cohesion, so that Europe can speak with one voice on matters which vitally concern us all? This, my Lords, is a very serious matter, in a world increasingly dominated by the super-Powers and troubled by many new dangers and uncertainties, and one which will affect very greatly our children and our grandchildren. I was very interested in the proposal made by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, concerning the European Political Community. I do not think that he will expect me to answer him to-day, but I should like to look into that and communicate with him in due course.

This leads me on to a further important factor in European stability: that within Europe generally the process of reconciliation is making progress. The aims of developing better East-West relations in Europe, while highly desirable are not altogether easy to achieve, as your Lordships will realise. They are aims which must be patiently sought and are being sought—for instance, through the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union; through the Quadripartite talks on Berlin; through the development of Federal German relations with the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; and through NATOS efforts to reach solutions to practical problems on acceptable terms. In these negotiations we, as members of the Alliance and one of the Four Powers responsible in Berlin and Germany, have a major interest and must play our proper part. But their success will depend to a large degree on Western strength and on our determination to dedicate ourselves to the cohesion and credibility of the Alliance.

Even so, if the facts basic to British foreign policy which I have mentioned remain reasonably constant, the emphasis may be on other factors. For example, Her Majesty's Government do not believe that Britain's contribution to stability, and therefore to peace, should be limited to the horizons of Europe, though, as I have said, the security and prosperity of Europe are crucial to us and provide the base for the influence of Europe in the world. A fact which I think all noble Lords opposite, as well as on this side of the House, appear to recognise is that if there is a failure to stimulate the economic growth of the nation, this endangers the effectiveness of foreign policy. As the Defence Review of 1966 put it: No country with a sense of international responsibility would surrender its position (that is to say, the position of British forces outside Europe) without good reason unless it was satisfied that others could, and would, assume a similar role. In considering our priorities, then, this is the context in which we have had to review what our policy should be in the Gulf and also in South-East Asia after 1971. These are matters which my noble friend Lord Carrington will be speaking upon later in the debate.

Reference has been made already to the Middle East, and I think there is no doubt that this is the most dangerous flash-point in the world at the moment. Many people expected direct negotiations to take place between Israel and her Arab neighbours after the war of June, 1967, but for reasons which will be familiar to all noble Lords these negotiations did not take place. I am bound to recognise that a settlement will now have to be achieved through the use of special procedures.

It is our belief—and this was expressed by my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in another place last week that the procedure which offers the best hope of leading to progress is for Dr. Jarring to visit the various countries concerned in this trouble armed with agreed recommendations or prescriptions from the Four Powers. So equipped, it is our hope that he would succeed in generating a constructive dialogue between the two sides. I would not, however, under-estimate the difficulties. Nevertheless, the search for peace must go on. We will support any initiative which seems likely to promote this search, and do whatever we can to help bring about the comprehensive settlement which all concerned so badly need.

In the same way, we have a part to play in contributing to peace in the Far East. Shortly before the Dissolution, your Lordships had an opportunity to debate the situation in Indo China, and particularly the events in Cambodia and Vietnam. Since then, President Nixon has fulfilled his promise to withdraw all American troops and advisers from Cambodia by June 30. The American withdrawal from Vietnam also continues. But, regrettably, there has been no corresponding withdrawal by North Vietnamese forces. So while, on the one hand, these developments demonstrate America's desire to lower the level of fighting and to seek ways in which to reach a negotiated settlement of the conflict, at the same time we must hope that the other side will reciprocate. Our policy therefore is to do all that we can to help the two sides negotiate a settlement in Indo China, in which all the external forces are withdrawn from the countries of Indo China, and in which the peoples of those countries will be able to choose their own Governments.

In this world context, too, my Lords, we cannot avoid taking decisions as to how best to protect our trade routes—and I am particularly thinking of those around the Cape. Reference has also been made to the problem of supplying arms to South Africa. Obviously, it is one which causes much concern. But I think that, if we are to guard against purposeless words and unrealisable theories, it is essential that we must try to achieve stability and parity through solutions which are objective and free from emotion. If I touch only briefly upon this subject, it is because my noble friend Lord Carrington proposes to deal with it when winding up the debate. I should, however, personally like to stress that it is most important not to confuse consideration of the question of supplying arms to South Africa in the context of the Simonstown Agreement with our policy on racialist practices. I must emphasise Her Majesty's Government's abhorrence of apartheid, wherever it is found and in whatever form, and also our determination to do all in our power to secure its removal from the face of society. This, I submit, so far as we in Britain are concerned, can most positively be done by showing the world that this kind of tiling is at any rate absent from every city, town, village, street and home in this country. I should like to emphasise again the fact that Britain yields to no one in its concern for democracy. But if we are to be realistic, this concern must be balanced by avoiding the risks of even greater dangers and suffering: for whenever our influence is removed from a country, the likelihood is that other influences are only too eager to replace it.

In the same context, the House will, I know, expect me to refer briefly to our policy on Rhodesia. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on July 2, it is our intention to honour our undertaking to make a further effort to see whether a settlement of the Rhodesia problem on the basis of the Five Principles is possible. This is our position. We all, I think, accept the desirability of Rhodesia returning to a legal status which is internationally accepted. But, as I have said, this must be within the Five Principles. And in the meantime, sanctions will remain.

Another subject of importance concerns our policy towards our dependent territories and the proud and ancient peoples who inhabit them. On the second day of the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, expressed some concern about the future handling, within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, of our dependent territories. I can assure him that his fears are groundless. With one exception, the dependent territories division remains the responsibility of one Minister; and that exception, as I think he knows, is Hong Kong. As was, I believe, the practice when the noble Lord was Minister of State, Ministerial responsibility for Hong Kong has for convenience been linked with that of South-East Asia. I can assure the noble Lord that the welfare of the inhabitants of the dependant territories plays a large part in the thinking of the Minister responsible for them.


Could the noble Marquess help me? Who is the Minister now responsible for dependent territories?


The Minister responsible for dependent territories is the Minister of State, Foreign Office. The noble Lord also referred to the Fiji Independence Bill, which is coming up very shortly. Here I should like to pay a sincere tribute to the noble Lord for the part that he played in paving the way for Fiji's independence. Anyone who is aware of the history of Fiji will know what a tribute it is to all concerned that Fiji is to become independent this year in an atmosphere of racial harmony.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I should like to say a word or two about our part in the United Nations. The United Nations, in my view, is so far the noblest attempt by man to give mankind a means to air its grievances and to solve its problems collectively. I want to state emphatically and at once that Her Majesty's Government's policy here is one of continuing support, an example of which, I think, is the fact that Britain is the second largest contributor overall to the United Nations family of organisations. And despite its failings—and we all know that the U.N. has failings—which are essentially the failings of Member States, it is impossible to contemplate to-day's world, with all its needs for development and security, without the United Nations—and this in itself is a great tribute. I have been privileged from time to time to give some service to the United Nations in varying capacities and therefore fully reaslise that particular tribute must be paid to the work of United Nations specialised agencies whose great humanitarian contribution on a vast scale to the welfare of the illiterate, the sick, the hungry and the dispossessed cannot be too highly praised.

At the same time I must make clear the view of Her Majesty's Government that, within the context of the United Nations Charter, every nation, in the final count, reserves the right to take all proper steps to ensure its own security wherever and whenever it considers it to be threatened. And still on the United Nations, I must consider a prospect where internationally we strive to achieve real, integrated co-operation. I was grateful to the noble Lord for encouraging me in my duties concerning disarmament, and I assure him that I will take this very seriously, and that these vital matters concerning nuclear control, biological and chemical warfare and the placing of weapons on the sea bed, are viewed by Her Majesty's Government with no less seriousness and the same desire to continue the work carried on so effectively by, among others, the noble Lord and his team. For I am sure that we must all realise that disarmament must be man's best hope for the future; and that the next few years may be the last opportunity to safeguard the future for our children and our children's children.

My Lords, I have tried as briefly as possible to review Her Majesty's Government's policy on some of the outstanding world problems, and I am only too conscious that I have omitted a great many others which, no doubt, will come up later in the debate. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that on this contracting planet there seems to be an increasing number of problems. If I may bring in a personal view, I see in some senses the old divisions dying down and new forms of what we might call "tribalism", in the sense of sectional interests, emerging as the greatest problem of 1970 and the 1970s. Aggressive associations that even if no longer, as in the past, exclusively made up of class, colour or religion, still set man against man. This is a new danger which can be tackled only by the qualities of courage, integrity, sympathy and caring which are characteristics of our nation—qualities which I am confident Her Majesty's Government will display. But, as I have said, fine words are not enough—it is the substance that matters. So we shall rightly be judged on our actions and by their results. And so with patience and perseverance we shall strive to the utmost to create that one world, referred to by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary last week, within which I believe the best endeavours in all nations may be enlisted to establish an international framework to ensure both parity and stability for all peoples.

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, it would be discourteous if I failed to acknowledge the generous welcome extended to me by the noble Marquess. In turn, I offer my congratulations on a major speech on foreign affairs and defence. It was a gallant effort; the delivery was superb, even although the content (if I may say so with great respect, and meaning no offence) was imprecise. I would hardly blame the noble Marquess for his failure to be more definite. After all, the Government have not made up their mind either on foreign policy, defence, or, indeed, any other matters. But we shall come to that a bit later.

It is now almost fifty years since I made my first speech in the Palace of Westminster. On that occasion I failed to ask for the indulgence of another place. Perhaps it was inconsistent with my temperament and character. Since then I have acquired a profound knowledge of Parliamentary etiquette and, accordingly, I ask for the indulgence of the House. I must confess that I found the recent Election somewhat baffling. It was a grievous disappointment to me—a traumatic experience, deeply wounding.

There were compensations, despite the result, because immediately afterwards I reflected on some of the statements made by those who are now in the Government and who were then courting the electors, and on their pronouncements, in particular on that of Mr. Iain Macleod, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose illness I regret. I hope he makes a speedy recovery, as do we all, despite the political polarisation. I recalled the statements he made about the reduction in income tax. That seemed to me a partial compensation in my financially precarious situation. I discovered, on further reflection, that the Government could not perform miracles. I thought all those miracles had been arranged at Selsdon and that their minds had been made up about this and other matters, but apparently not. So, despite the experience of the Labour Party at the Election and my disappointment with regard to income tax cuts not corning along as speedily as I expected, at least there is some compensation: if I suffer, so will noble Lords opposite.

May I congratulate my noble friend, Lord Chalfont, on an eloquent and able speech? There were, if I may say so, some omissions, but that was pardonable because it is impossible to cover the whole of the ground in foreign affairs and defence in a single speech—it requires many speeches. We shall have some later on, I hope, and perhaps I may be able to make some contribution. I observe that he made a passing reference to the subject of the Common Market—the proposed British entry. He was somewhat reticent about the subject, but it came all right, because the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, made up for the omissions and the reticence on that subject. We had the usual special pleading on the subject—I am not going to enter into an argument about this. I have said on a previous occasion that I have no quarrel with the countries of the Six—I simply want to have nothing to do with them.

I want to ask one question, not of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, but of the Government, and here, if I may be permitted, I would refer to the piece of paper I have in my hand. I have nothing up my sleeve. It is a letter sent by the Prime Minister, signed by him, to a correspondent on the subject of an aspect of the Common Market argument/discussion and the project generally. This is important—never mind about the arguments, the pros and cons. For example, I noted the change and the alterations which have taken place over the years. At one time, a few years ago, it was definitive; they had made up their minds and were dogmatic; they were going into the Common Market willy-nilly—nothing was going to prevent it. Now they plead and argue. They are not quite so sure about whether we should go in or not. It is not because of the disappearance of de Gaulle—I do not mean his physical disappearance, but his political disappearance. It is simply because of a change of political opinion in this country. They argue now and express fears and apprehensions which never occurred to them a few years ago.

I do not want to argue about all this; I want merely to ask a question. But before I do so I preface it by referring to what the Prime Minister wrote to a correspondent. He said: From my twenty years' experience of Government and of the House of Commons, I am satisfied that no British Government could take this country into the Common Market against the wishes of the British people. Very good, very clear; but what does it mean? What does it portend? Does it mean a referendum? Of course not. The Prime Minister is opposed to it; so am I, and, I believe, so are my colleagues. Generally speaking, we reject this concept of a referendum, asking every elector in the country to express an opinion by ballot. But what does it really mean?

I suggest it may mean this—and I am worried about it, but perhaps there will be a favourable reply from the Government on this matter in answer to the question, and a reply on what the Prime Minister said. Does it mean that if the negotiations lead to something that is regarded as acceptable, the Prime Minister will come to the House of Commons, but before he does so he will engage in a loving embrace with the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues in the Opposition, and they will come to some understanding, and then will present the issue to the House of Commons with the Whips on—not only one Whip, but double Whips and quadruple Whips—impose it on the House of Commons and pretend it is a decision of the British public? But if they do, it is jiggery-pokery and it will not work. But there may be some other answer to the question I pose and to what the Prime Minister has written, and I should like to hear what it is.

I should now like to refer to the subject which is to be divided upon later in our proceedings: that is, the question of the provision of arms for South Africa, the implementation of the Simonstown Agreement and the like. Here I may offer views which are not altogether agreeable even to my colleagues, or to all of my colleagues. But I preface my observations by saying this. I am baffled by the inability of this Government and the previous Government and a successive number of Governments to understand the nature of the military strategy required in order to provide the United Kingdom and its people with security. On this matter of defence, which is associated, obviously, with commitments entered into as a result of our foreign policy and the foreign policy of other countries, or allies and others, there are various lines of approach. For example, there is the line of approach taken by some of my colleagues in another place and by many electors in the country that we should abandon defence entirely, or perhaps should reduce the cost of defence; in other words, make it weaker, inadequate. I reject that. Far better to have no defence at all than to have inadequate defence, making ourselves vulnerable, or even more vulnerable, because we pretend we have some measure of defence capable of dealing with aggression if ever it should occur.

I recognise the sincere convictions that are the basis, the foundation, of the proposals that are made from time to time to abandon defence. It is of no value, they say; it is provocative; it is so costly; abandon it! I understand their principles, their convictions, their genuineness. I do not disregard them entirely. But, whether it is the United Kingdom or any other country—and this is obvious; we see it all around us, even in the smaller countries—with all the economic difficulties and tribulations, there must be a measure of defence, some kind of defence. Even the smaller countries have it. Indeed, no country can abandon defence entirely. Some of it may be sentiment. It may provide security in imagination only, but there must be some measure of defence.

How is this matter related to the subject of the provision of arms for Africa? I disregard some of the arguments associated with this matter; for example, the trade argument, which was dealt with very adequately by my noble friend Lord Chalfont. It must be obvious that neither South Africa nor the United Kingdom can ignore the multilateral trading arrangements. We have a large market available to them; they have a large market available to us. This trading question is quite irrelevant. However, what about the military aspect? Why should we provide arms for South Africa? For the purposes of resisting internal disorder? No. That is out. There is agreement about that, on both sides of the House. But should arms be provided for the purpose—I ask the question—of resisting external aggression? And, by the way, it is suggested that if we provide arms to South Africa this would be a contribution to the defence and security of the United Kingdom. Let us examine it. Defence against whom? Defence against what? What kind of aggression is contemplated? Aggression from the Soviet Union? I will not in a short speech compare the statistics, which probably are familiar to every noble Lord. But just compare the relative weights, the strengths, the influence and the power of the Soviet Union with those of the United Kingdom with South Africa, or even with NATO. It is ludicrous, and we have to face up to it.

I propose, without further argument or criticism either of the present Government or of any other Government, or of those associated with military matters, to offer what I believe is a constructive suggestion, and it is this. Take, for example, the position of NATO. There has been some suggestion, I believe, that the Prime Minister favours the idea of coming to some arrangement with the French on nuclear matters. It is not only provocative; it is dangerous. I say something now with which I suppose nobody here will agree; but I say it, nevertheless. I would not trust the French in a matter of this kind. I recall their association with the Soviet Union; their terms of non-aggression, their treaties and understandings. I would not trust them.

Nobody agrees with me and I leave it at that. I continue to say it, nevertheless.

What is the position of NATO? France has contracted out. What is left? Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg; a number of divisions in Germany, some air-craft, and our might in military affairs. Why are we not sensible about this and recognise the facts? Of course our soldiers are the best professionally trained soldiers in the world. I knew that 41 years ago when I was Financial Secretary to the War Office. But what has that to do with the defence of the country in the present state of the world, with all the tensions that exist and all the dire possibilities that are associated with this subject?

So, my Lords, I make a suggestion. Who are our allies? Our principal ally, whether we like it or not, despite likes, dislikes and criticism, and all the rest of it, is the United States. Let us face that. We have to rely on the United States for our security. There is no other means. Can we rely entirely on NATO? Of course not. On South Africa? Of course not With the United States, with the Commonwealth countries, with NATO, with as much of Europe as we can gather together and with other nations equally inclined, why not engage in consultation to discuss our future defence strategy? I am not speaking of numbers and matters of that kind, but of what our strategy should be. Take the obverse side of the coin (I will deal with it only in passing), the subject of disarmament. My noble friend Lord Chalfont has spent several years trying to promote disarmament. He has failed, not because he lacks the capabilities in argument, discussion, deliberation and persuasion, but because it is a remote possibility. Therefore we have to rely on some measure which will provide a deterrent against possible aggression and, if not actual aggression, against interference by the Soviet Union.

I should like to say one last word about the United Nations. The argument about the United Nations resolution in connection with the provision of arms for South Africa is, in my view, invalidated, and I will explain why I hold that view. The Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations are prolific in their resolutions, but they sometimes take the wrong direction; and as my noble friend Lord Caradon is to wind up this debate perhaps I may be permitted to ask him a question, which no doubt with his usual courtesy he will seek to answer. Why is it that the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, so ready to condemn the State of Israel for alleged acts of aggression, have never condemned the Soviet Union for involvement in the Middle East? It is a fair question, and I should like to have an answer to it. There must be some reason for this. Is it that we are afraid of the big battalions? May I remind my noble friend, and noble Lords generally, of what we used to say years ago? self-determination for small nations. That is a principle that the United Nations and the Security Council should not ignore.

I know that I have spoken for too long and that I ought not to have done so. I ought to have made a non-controversial speech—in fact I have made a non-controversial speech. I apologise for making a non-controversial speech, my Lords; I will never commit the offence again.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, as a relative newcomer to your Lordships' House, it is a very great honour for me, on behalf of your Lordships, to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, on his maiden speech. The noble Lord claimed that he made a non-controversial speech. I think he is absolutely right, having heard him speak many times in another place. This is one of the mildest speeches that I have heard him deliver, and I am sure that all of us in your Lordships' House can look forward in the future to something very much more controversial even than he has given us to-day. The noble Lord has had an immensely distinguished Parliamentary career and I think we all agree that he adds lustre to your Lordships' House. We greatly look forward to hearing the noble Lord speak again in the near future.

My Lords, during the course of this debate over the last few days I have noticed that quite a number of noble Lords, and indeed noble Baronesses, on the other side of the House have been critical of the contents of the gracious Speech. That does not in the least surprise me. After all, the Conservative Party are sitting on this side of the House because the electorate decided that they were fed up with Socialist policies and wanted a clean sweep. They wanted to be governed according to Conservative principles, and indeed for my part I would say that the electorate would be justifiably horrified if this Government were to carry on with many of the policies carried out by the Party opposite when they were in Government. I personally have the greatest confidence in the Government to-day and had the greatest pleasure in reading and listening to the measures which they propose to carry out during the next five successful years.

I am going to accede to the request of my noble friend the Leader of the House and confine myself to three points which I want to make, and I shall make them briefly. All three points concern the issue of defence. I have been brought up to believe that the first duty of any Government was to ensure the protection of their citizens, so far as they could, if the nation went to war. One of my greatest strictures against the Party opposite when they were in power was that they had totally run down the reserves of this country. Frankly, we have no reserves. We have the police and the boy scouts, but they are not military formations. We have no reserves whatsoever. The TAVR, about which so much has been said, is in fact totally committed to bringing the Army of the Rhine to war establishment on mobilisation, and there is nothing left in this country. One of the commitments to which the Conservative Party has put its name in its Manifesto is the urgent review of the Territorial Army. I saw in the newspapers an initial figure of 25,000 quoted. I have no knowledge whether that figure is right or wrong, and indeed I would not expect my noble friend to give any indication when he winds up this debate. Nevertheless, 25,000 is a reasonable figure to start with.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is an eminent General. I spoke about this matter of the reserves. He did not think they were so important from the point of view of physical defence, but thought that by re-establishing the Territorial Army in this country we would have an alternative system of communications which we should so badly need if war were to come. Secondly, he thought that the whole spirit of the country would be improved if we were to re-introduce voluntary effort by the people of this country. I very much hope that the Government will re-introduce the Territorial Army and give its blessing for it to go ahead.

My second point concerns aircraft carriers. During the past Government I was one of the United Kingdom delegates to the Western European Union. I have been fortunate in serving on the small but hardworking defence committee, and we have gone round Europe a great deal. We have visited virtually every front in Europe. The last visit we made was a little over a month ago to the Mediterranean. There, for a day, we were guests of the American Admiral commanding the American Sixth Fleet and he entertained us on his flagship, the guided missile cruiser "Little Rock" We spent a long time there and were briefed on a great many aspects of the American naval presence in the Mediterranean, but I wish only to speak of the tactical purpose of the American Fleet.

The American Fleet is divided into two task forces and the core at the centre of each task force is an aircraft carrier. I believe one is the "Arkansas" and I am afraid that I have forgotten the name of the other. The Fleet is not only protected, but is serviced by the carrier. This is only incidental information but it was extremely interesting to see. It was serviced by heavy helicopters off the carrier. These helicopters simply flew to the land base, picked up an enormous parcel, flew to the ship, dropped the parcel on the deck and flew off. That is only one example of what can be done to service large ships from a carrier. Much more important was the protection and the defensive power which the carrier-based aircraft gave to the Fleet. The Admiral was very precise on the point that carrier-based aircraft were infinitely more effective than shore-based aircraft. They have far more flexibility; they can stay in the air over a target, whether offensively or defensively, far longer than shore-based aircraft, and the Admiral made no secret of the fact that his aircraft carrier was the core of his defence and that he set immense store by the aircraft carried on the carrier.

When I was listening to the briefing by the Admiral, I could not help but think bitterly of the decision made by the previous Government to phase out our own aircraft carriers. The second point I want to make to the Government—and again I expect no answer to-day—is that they should carefully reconsider the policy of this country towards our aircraft carriers.

My last point concerns the Simonstown Agreement Unlike certain noble Lords who have already spoken, I very much hope that this Government will re-negotiate the Simonstown Agreement. I do not wish to contradict anything the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, has said, in the speech preceding mine, but I personally believe that the defence of our trade routes round the Cape, and indeed of our naval routes, is of absolute importance to this country. The Suez Canal at the moment is closed. The Mediterranean has a pretty large Russian complement of ships: it averages, I believe, about 50 at any given time. And of course there is this great change: that whereas a year ago Russia had port facilities in the Mediterranean, she is now beginning to have permanent bases in the Mediterranean, which very much alters the picture.

Secondly (and I have no knowledge about this other than what one reads in the newspapers), if the Suez Canal is to be reopened in the foreseeable future, it would appear that it will be reopened under Russian dominance. Therefore I believe it is all the more important that we should make absolutely certain that we are clear with our routes round the Cape, with our communications with the Far East and elsewhere. And I hope again that the Government, in spite of whatever Amendments may be moved to-night, will show the courage we expect of them and will go forward with the policy which they believe to be right. I think it was Mark Twain who said: Do what you believe to be right, and you will please some people and astonish the rest. My Lords, I hope the Government will astonish the rest.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down and we leave the American humorist, may I ask what he means by "re-negotiating" the Simonstown Agreement? It is in effect.

We have fulfilled our side of it by supplying the arms in 1963. The base is available to us now. What does he mean by "re-negotiating" the Agreement?


My Lords, sitting up here one does not have available the best advice from all the Ministries; one only knows what one reads in the newspapers. My newspapers tell me that the South Africans are anxious to re-negotiate the Simonstown Treaty, and if that is so, and if it involves giving heavy armaments not used for internal business, I hope that the Government will re-negotiate it.

4.53 p.m.


My Lords, may I join the last speaker, Lord St. Helens, in proffering from these Benches congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, on his maiden speech, a speech full of wit, point and, above all, relish. We shall all, I am sure, as the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, said, look forward to many other contributions of a controversial character.

Whatever arguments there may be as to whether our national economy was weaker or stronger when the present Government took over this year than when the Labour Party came into office in 1964, there can hardly be any rational dispute that the international scene is now" far more dangerous and difficult. The first depends largely on the angle of vision; that is, whether you direct your attention to the current balance-of-payments figures or whether you concentrate on the total wealth of the country, taking into account assets and debts outstanding. There is no such comfort to be derived in changing the angle of vision in the foreign scene.

Two sizeable wars are in progress. The Russian high seas fleet—with however many hundred submarines you may wish to supply it—has developed into a formidable force and has become a potent if not the dominant factor yet in the Mediterranean, with its support points in convenient places. The Suez Canal, once an international waterway, is not now even a wholly owned Egyptian ditch, and it is in danger of becoming a base of Russian power, and perhaps later a passageway for Russian men-of-war on their far from innocent occasions and so on.

I do not draw your Lordships' attention to these uncomfortable truths in order to imply that the last Government are principally, or even largely, to blame. Far from it, though from time to time we may all, in our different ways, wittingly or unwittingly, have made our modest contributions. Personally, I should ascribe some of these contributions to our overlooking Adam Smith's warning that "defence is greater than opulence", and persisting too long in a national determination to consume more than we produce and to achieve this on borrowed money. But that is another and a long story, and others more qualified than myself will be speaking on defence. What is more, for the purpose of this debate time certainly does not allow for a balanced analysis of these six crowded years. Meanwhile we are here because we are here. We have to take things as we find them, not as we should wish them to be, and the deterioration in the national scene has to be faced.

How? With respect to your Lordships, I would suggest by recognising the gravity of the moment and keeping in front of us the need to establish as much unity as may be had in the maintenance of our national interest. Each Government in its turn is a passing trustee of those interests and of the nation's safety, and its duty is to pass on to its successor not a Party platform nor an emotional impulse, no matter how keenly felt, but a hand that can be played for the continuing health of the country as a whole.

If I may digress here, the further concern of any Government is to care for and foster the services of the Crown on whom they must depend. So, while the Government are reviewing their policies and consulting their friends, may I express the hope that they will also give some thought to one of the instruments in their hands; that is, the Diplomatic Service? There are a number of recommendations in the Duncan Report which the previous Government said were under consideration but on which no decision has yet been announced. One concerns adequate compensation for those who have been declared redundant before the normal term of their service had been reached. Another is the recommendations for the management of the Government's buildings and estates overseas. In both these cases performance has been a great deal worse than that which would be thought tolerable in any efficient business concern in this country. As the Government must nowadays wish to give a lead to industry in many fields, surely this can be best done by setting an example rather than by lagging far behind. I do not ask a question; it is obviously far too early to do this. But I do express the hope that the present Government may, before too long a delay, make some announcement at least on these two points.

May I now revert to what I said earlier about the role of any Government in foreign affairs and the fact that I am far from wishing to imply that the deterioration in the world around us was to be laid principally or even chiefly at the door of the last Government? Indeed, I should prefer to go on to pay a tribute to the fact that over so much of the field there can be profit in continuity. The last Government began a renewed attempt to enter Europe. The new Government are to carry it on. The last Government declared that they were set to achieve this result provided that the terms were right, and the present Government are pledged to the same purpose "on terms fair to all concerned", or in the words of the Prime Minister on terms which would be tolerable in the short term and clearly beneficial in the long.

Again, the last Government put NATO first. So does the gracious Speech. The last Government, if they will allow me to say so, and the last Foreign Secretary, in particular, showed courage in handling the highly charged question of Vietnam and Indo-China, keeping some first things first: notably (and here I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell) in not publicly abandoning an ally when he is in difficulty. This is also implicit in what the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, has said to us this afternoon. The last Government stuck to their guns over another highly charged issue, Nigeria; and their fortitude has had some reward, and so far as I can see there is no likelihood of that policy being altered now.

But in view of the dangers and difficulties that beset us in the Middle East and South-East Asia, and in view of the magnitude of our interests in these areas, is it not only right and proper that any new Government should have a fresh look at the scene not excluding our posture East of Suez—this, and with it at our relations with South Africa and Rhodesia? Would it indeed not be negligent if they failed to do so? Here I imagine that the last Government could hardly wish to claim that complete success had as yet attended their policies in these areas.

According to the Press, the South African Government is apparently considering the possibility of reviewing the Simonstown Agreement and has turned to others, indeed to a Member of the Security Council of the United Nations and a NATO ally, to replace us as a supplier of arms and other equipment in support of her defence needs. That country has, no less than we have, a need to promote accord between different races, has great interests at stake in Africa and is a country with whom we now seek to associate ourselves even more closely in the European Economic Community. In Rhodesia we are committed to sanctions, though we know that they are not going to achieve the purpose for which they were imposed. So, as over Abyssinia in the 1930s, we are faced by a dilemma of no one's deliberate choosing. If we continue sanctions we do so, not from conviction in their effectiveness but for fear that if we abandon them we shall not only look foolish but may even have to face a charge of perfidy.

In the Middle East, though we may hope that Bahrein has been taken out of politics, Burami has raised its head again as a source of dispute between those whom we should like to count as our friends. And whatever our hopes may be, there are no arrangements as yet made in the area as a whole to provide for its stability or to stay those from fishing in troubled waters who have no care for the maintenance of oil for this country, and indeed at the present time for Europe as a whole. I know it has been argued that Western Europe does not wish us to expend our resources in trying to secure this stability. If so, Europe may be wrong. Seeing that so many members of the E.E.C. at one time or another in the war made miscalculations, this would show that they are as open as any of us to error.

It is only fitting that those who have recently had authority in government should, from their own experience, warn the Government of the day of the pitfalls. Equally, the Government may themselves, after review, conclude that, after all, the last Government were pursuing the least bad of the various practical possibilities. This is all for the future, when the Government have come forward with the result of their review. But to say, here and now, that no review should take place on certain points, or to seek to shackle the Government with an Amendment such as on the Order Paper, is surely not in the country's interests. The Amendment looks reassuringly simple, like the Peace Pledge; but noble Lords know—and who knows better than the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell?—that great affairs of State and of the national safety are not to be reduced with success to these unqualified pledges, or to be resolved by general expressions of intent regardless of circumstances. Perhaps someone from these Benches may be allowed to say that.

I realise that this may not be the view of all noble Lords. In particular, if I understand him correctly, the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, from what he said earlier in this debate, appears to think that the national interest should be advanced in this House only by representatives of the political Parties exchanging amenities, or abuse dressed up as amenities, across the Floor of the House. That may be so in some places and in some cases—I would not know—but I still hope that in this House and on this subject there is room for someone from the Cross-Benches to make a non-Party appeal for restraint and for refraining from taking to a vote this first occasion of a debate on foreign affairs and defence and thereby underlining our differences rather than our common purposes.

If I may be allowed, I shall repeat that the last Government showed courage and steadfastness over Europe, Vietnam and Nigeria. They must surely admit that the world is now no safe place for faction. Can they, then, not also accept that certain of their policies—by the obduracy of foreigners, if they will—have not altogether succeeded as they no doubt wished or intended that they should? Consequently, these need to be reviewed. While this is being done, can they not be content to caution and warn their successors? At any rate while the remembrance of responsibility in government is still with them, I should greatly hope that they would not press for a vote at this stage. Would not this be instant rather than responsible Opposition? What the new Government must be concerned with is the security of this country at a dangerous time.

These are considerations which I know will weigh with the noble Lord who opened the debate to-day, and the noble Lord who is to wind up for the Opposition, both of whom have in the past spoken from the Dispatch Box and for Britain abroad and in the United Nations. No one would impugn the absolute sincerity of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, least of all myself. What I would plead is that, whatever he may feel about the wisdom and morality of the Amendment, he would on balance recognise the doubtful wisdom and, above all, the inopportuneness of dividing the House before any decisions have been announced by the Government who are now responsible for our destiny.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, I ask for your Lordships' indulgence as I rise to make a maiden speech. It is now 39 years since I had a similar experience in Parliament; consequently, I am afraid that I am a little out of practice. I further ask your Lordships' indulgence for missing the beginning of this debate. I landed at 2.30 this afternoon after a short visit to Israel. There, in Israel, I have seen what I expected to see, a civilised family carrying on their daily life in spite of external pressures from enemies who are attempting to destroy them. For destroy Israel they will if the world allows them, and if Israel does not protect herself at the same time. One talks to those who are taking part in the daily task of defending that country: men and women who leave their desks at the universities or their other work to man a plane or take some other action, or work in some other active capacity to defend their home, returning a few hours later to their desks or their work and to the civilised family of which they form part.

I am speaking of this in the context of the Middle East situation. I think your Lordships will know that for many years I have watched the situation there, and I am most anxious that at this critical time we should be aware of what is actually happening—we in this country who, incidentally, are followed in our characteristics, in our Judiciary, in our way of lite, by the people of Israel themselves. They have a passion for looking after their family, from wherever they come in any part of the world, and afford them opportunities of a livelihood on their arrival. It is often overlooked that some 500,000 to 600,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries have found their place in Israel itself. They could not understand why the 1967 war was forced on them. If Egypt had not intended to destroy Israel, as she had said time after time that she did intend to do, there certainly was no reason for bringing up the enormous forces which were brought to destroy that country. I do not think anyone can deny at least the possibility of there being that intention.

I should like to refer for a few moments to the question of the Soviet penetration of the Middle East. I think it is a matter of considerable importance in so far as our foreign policy is concerned. Soviet penetration of the Middle East is in my view the result of the old Russian Imperialist aspiration to expand to the South in the direction of the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. The Soviet Union exploits the Arab—Israeli conflict in order to promote its own global policy. At the start in 1948, the Soviet Union gave all out support to Israel, perhaps as a devious means of dislodging Britain from the Middle East. Then it swung to absolute and unquestioning backing of Arab belligerency, by anti-Israel calumny and execration, by unscrupulous casting of its Veto in the Security Council, by gigantic shipments of arms to Cairo and Damascus, and so on. In 1967, the Kremlin braced the Arabs into forgetting the lessons of successive military reverses and, where it might have inspired peaceful coexistence, plunged Nasser and his misguided colleagues into a third catastrophic adventure. In my view, the Six Day War of June, 1967, was the inescapable outcome.

I am sure that noble Lords, when dealing with this tremendously important matter, will reflect that within the past three year; the Soviet Union has supplied Egypt, Syria and Iraq with 2,000 tanks and 800 fighter aircraft, besides other military equipment, to an overall value of some 3.5 billion dollars—two-thirds to Egypt alone. This armament was purveyed with practically no monetary payment. Thousands of Soviet specialists are engaged in training the Egyptian forces. Soviet advisers are guiding and instructing the Egyptian forces within units which are actually in combat. Unless Israel is placed in a position by the supply of adequate arms to her in which she is able to defend herself—because "defend herself" is the correct expression in these matters—it is not only a question of Israel being affected: for noble Lords will appreciate that the position arising from Russian penetration, with its resulting effect upon the rest of the world, is a very perilous one. Indeed, I go so far as to say that Israel itself stands in the position of being able, with the help of the civilised world, to protect not only itself but the civilised world against this kind of penetration.

I want to turn for a moment or two, if I may be permitted to do so, to one of the solutions that is being suggested in respect of the Middle East problem. It is a solution which involves Jerusalem being considered not as part of a whole settlement but on its own in the first instance. Having just been to Jerusalem and having seen again after very many other visits what is happening there, I think that possibly your Lordships will permit me to give my views with regard to that particular situation. The problem of Jerusalem entails deep emotional religious involvement, not only of the people who live there physically but of millions throughout the world. If you wish to start with Jerusalem in the context of war, there seems to be no chance of solving the problem as if it were in a vacuum. It is possible to make headway with the problem of Jerusalem—not merely for deep emotional reasons, but also for plain everyday reasons such as security, communications, commerce and so on—only in the context of peace and general trust.

It seems to me to be deeply illogical to start with Jerusalem as a separate factor. There is in fact no pressing need for it: life goes on there normally, and the coexistence between the two people in the City gives a ray of hope which is almost sure to be extinguished if this idea of a corpus separatum under United Nations supervision in this overcharged atmosphere is adopted. Even from a mere practical point of view, it is completely unfeasible to maintain Jerusalem as a sort of no-man's-land between two warring countries. Accepting United Nations supervision will introduce new vested interests and introduce new tensions, in addition to the many existing in the City. I need hardly refer to the appearance there of a Russian element.

What are the facts? Jerusalem has always been a unified City, except for the 19 years under Hashemite occupation after being captured by Jordan in the 1948 war. Since its reunification three years ago there is a free flow of movement and trade between all parts of the City and its surroundings. My noble friend Lord Caradon has written of freedom of access to the Holy Places as an ideal to be strived at. Yet there is at the moment freedom of access to all—which was not the case during the Hashemite rule. Thus, Arab students, to the number this year of 20,000, have come to Jerusalem from Cairo, Beirut, Kuwait, Amman, Tripoli, and other places, to visit their families. As your Lordships may well remember, in spite of specific obligations under the Jordan-Israel Armistice Agreement, the Jordanian Government barred Jews from access to their Holy Places. To-day those who are barred from pilgrimage to their Holy Places are the Arabs of Israel, who are not granted permission by the Government of Saudi Arabia to go to Mecca.

All the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jews and Arabs alike, enjoy compulsory free education for children from the age of five to 15. For the first time the Arabs of Jerusalem have municipal pre-school kindergartens for their children. There are new municipal youth clubs, playgrounds, mother and child clinics, completely revised social welfare standards, and so on. The population of Jerusalem continues to retain its mosaic-like composition. Each community, whether Jewish, Arab, Armenian, Copt or Latin, maintains its own educational system without interference, yet there are numerous meeting places for children of the various communities, whether in art classes, in the museum, the sports field, or the summer camp. And municipal summer camps, where hundreds of Arab children pass their summer holidays, are a new facility hitherto unknown to these children.

At present there exists among the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem a virtual social and economic revolution. There is full employment among the Arabs of Jerusalem, except for a small number of white collar workers. These people, who have lost the authority vested in them by the Hashemite Throne, have of their own free will chosen to remain outside the cycle of activity and creation in Jerusalem, and offer to those who wish to listen to them the most imaginary descriptions of life in Jerusalem. May I ask, in passing, how many cities in the world there are where a young woman, for example, can pass unmolested at any time of the day or night? This situation, my Lords, prevails to-day in Jerusalem.

The Arabs of Jerusalem enjoy complete freedom of the Press. Two Arab papers appear in the Old City, and they can print all the criticisms they wish against the Israel Government. They are subject only to the same security censorship as are all papers, whether printed in Hebrew or in any other language. These papers, indeed, print many critical articles against the Government, as against the Arab leadership. This was not the case during the Jordanian rule, when the Jerusalem Arab newspapers were often closed down and their editors were put in gaol or exiled. This, for example, was the lot of the editor of one of the Arab papers appearing to-day in Jerusalem, who now enjoys complete freedom.

I would not say that the situation is ideal and that nothing further remains to be done. I think that patience is required, and that the process of rap-prochment may take a considerable time. There is still greater room for the cooperation of Arabs in running the affairs of the City. But responsibility for their non-participation should not be laid at the door of the Israelis. The Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Teddy Kollek, for whom most of the Arab inhabitants of the Old City voted in the last municipal elections, has constantly invited them to take a greater share of responsibility in running their own municipal affairs. Many intelligent, open-minded Arabs had given their consent to lend a hand in furthering municipal work for the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem. Later they withdrew their names, under threats of the Palestine terrorist organisations operating from the neighbouring countries.

I have taken the illustration of Jerusalem because I think that, in the course of the debates which are to come and the actions which are to take place, it affords a significant and important illustration of what in fact Israel wants to do. She wants to live in peace. She wants and assumes that all her inhabitants shall be of equal standing and have equal rights. She believes that she is a nation which has been entrusted by the world to build up a civilised entity; and, indeed, in my contention she has done so in an exemplary manner. I hope that in the course of the discussions that will take place in respect of the Middle East this fact, together with many other points of a similar nature, will be taken into account. Only yesterday a speech was made by the Foreign Secretary of Israel in the Knesset. He made it perfectly clear in that speech that he accepted in its entirety the resolution of the United Nations; that he wanted peace, that he was prepared to negotiate, that he wanted the Jarring venture, that Israel wanted to have a similar arrangement for meeting to the one at Rhodes. I hope that when Her Majesty's Government are considering this position they will study and take account of that speech, and will deal with the situation knowing that that, in fact, is the intention of the Israel Government.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, I had the pleasure of knowing the noble Lord, Lord Janner, in another place for perhaps twenty-five years, and I would remind your Lordships that he was himself a Member of that place for some thirty years. He comes here, therefore, as an old, experienced Parliamentarian, and, if I may, I should like on behalf of Members in all parts of the House to bid him a very warm welcome. He served in two wars. He has taken a very active part in public affairs in the world generally, outside of his own special causes, but of course he is most notable, as has been obvious to those who have had the pleasure of hearing him to-day, as one who for two decades has spoken vigorously about his own people. And it has been a great advantage to the other place, and will now become an advantage to this place, that he brings so much special attention and knowledge to help us. He is indeed one of the most distinguished British Jews, and was President of the Board of Deputies for some nine years. I hope that we shall hear from him again; in fact, I am sure that we shall.

I intend to speak briefly, as we have been invited to do by the Leader of the House, and mainly about Southern Africa, but there is one observation which I hope I shall be allowed to make—because I thought it wise to speak only once on the Queen's Speech, and not two or three times—and that is to praise Mr. Heath and the Foreign Secretary and the others in another place, and also, if I may, to praise Lord Carrington here in this place. I think that his statesmanship in guiding us during the six years we were in Opposition made its own very real contribution towards our victory at the Election. I should like to couple with that thanks to the Chief Whip, still in office, and to wish the best of good luck to Lord Jellicoe.

I have only one other general observation, and that is to say to the Government that no Government is as popular as on the day it is elected. Since, therefore, there are many things which this Government must do and wish to do and could do in the interests of the country, I beg of them to do them as quickly as is compatible with their information, their knowledge and their capacity—as quickly as possible. If they take two or three years to implement some of the highly controversial policies which they have in mind, they will not leave themselves time for the good effects to be apparent. My advice, then, is: Get on with the job!

Now, my Lords, I turn to Rhodesia. Here I find myself possibly the only one—though not so very far away from some of the thoughts which were clearly in the mind of the noble Lord who spoke from the Cross-Bench—who will say exactly what I am going to say. I welcome the new initiative which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have announced and which is mentioned in the gracious Speech, but it is qualified by the statement that the talk which is to come with Rhodesia must be based upon the Five Principles. There, my Lords, I beg for calm and, if possible, unemotional consideration of this matter. I picture Mr. Wilson saying to himself, and possibly to his Cabinet, "Yes, I will go and talk to Mr. Smith, whether on a ship or in Rhodesia itself, and perhaps I shall make a settlement, provided, of course, that he agrees to everything that I want to bring back with me." And I imagine Mr. Smith saying to his Cabinet and to himself, "Yes, I will go to see Mr. Wilson on a ship, or I will see him if he comes here, or anywhere you like, and I will make a settlement, provided, of course, I bring back all the points that my colleagues here in Salisbury want to see in the agreement and in the settlement".

Of course, there are in this world some things which are not negotiable, but in my view there is very little that is not negotiable between Britain and Rhodesia. The only thing that I think is not negotiable is the independence of Rhodesia, which exists now, in their minds, and which will exist because there is no way of ending it; and it is not Britain's intention to bring them under rule, subjection or even sovereignty. We have not the power; we have not the will, and we have not the wish. So that is not negotiable. I cannot think of anything else that is not negotiable. I would say to Sir Alec, whose wisdom and services in this House and the other place and to the country I so greatly respect, and to Mr. Smith, for whom I also have a regard, "Go into these talks with an open mind, and see how far you get". Above all, I would say to Britain. "Have the courage to admit that we have lost the battle of Rhodesia". It is no good pretending that we have not lost it. We lost it from the very moment we said that we would not send troops there. I am not advocating the sending of troops, or saying that I would ever have liked them sent; but from that moment we lost the power, and if you do not have the power you cannot rule. So our position there is one of extreme weakness, and the only thing we can do is to call it a day and make friends with Rhodesia.

Here I come to a psychological aspect of this matter which applies also to Southern Africa as a whole. I think it very important to recognise that you cannot force men's minds into a mould by reiteration, by vituperation or by severe criticism. You cannot force men's minds. The Rhodesians are just as independent-minded as we are; just as capable of standing alone as Britain was in the first year of the last war. If you want to influence people, you must make friends with them. If you want to make friends and influence people, you must talk to them. Of all the unwise things that Britain has done over this whole matter, the most unwise of all and the most needless of all was almost the last act of the Labour Government in cutting off final communications with Rhodesia—fiddling with the penny or twopenny stamps; taking away people's passports; preventing old friends and old soldiers from meeting each other; interfering with our liberty and theirs. And for no good cause whatever, because the only way to understand men and peoples is to meet and talk and visit, and even, I may say, to play games together—cricket, if you like.

Now I turn to South Africa itself. It is said with regard to South Africa over South-West Africa, it is said with regard to Rhodesia over sanctions: "We had to do this because of the United Nations". Nothing of the kind. Take Rhodesia first. We called the United Nations in on it, most unwisely. Let us now see if we cannot terminate their interference in this matter. Rhodesia is an independent country. It will remain so. It ought to be allowed to have its own life without this interference from the United Nations.

Now may I come to the United Nations and South Africa. One of the principal bases of thought upon which the League of Nations and then, in a later age, the United Nations was founded, was that the member States would be free to have their own affairs in their own territories under their own control. I do not know the documents as well as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, but I think it was probably a fundamental writing in the documents of both these bodies, the League of Nations and the United Nations, that interference in each other's internal affairs should be avoided. Indeed, I do not believe that the nations of the earth would ever have come together to sit round a table unless that had been agreed in advance.

So I suggest that the resolution of the United Nations about Rhodesia and the resolution about South-West Africa are both contrary, if not to the Covenant then at any rate to the basis upon which these nations came together in these organisations. When I was a soldier there was a room on a certain floor on the outside of the door of which were the initials "M.Y.O.B." A General passing by, perhaps having forgotten that he was once a subaltern, said to the chap who was taking him round, "What does that mean?", and the man replied, "'Mind your own business', sir." That is the only possible text for getting on with South Africa and for getting on with Rhodesia. Let us mind our own business; let us invite them to mind theirs, as they do.

Now may I deal very briefly with those aspects which were dealt with at such length and so fluently by the noble Lord who opened the debate from the other side of the House? First of all, he dealt with the strategic requirements, and asked: is it necessary? The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, whom I greatly welcome to this House, if I may, made the same point, saying, "South Africa is infinitesimal in world strategy; do not let us bother with it." I do not agree with this at all. It is on a most important route—so important that we in this country depend for our daily standard of living, high as it is, upon the ships that pass round the Cape. Our oil cannot go through Suez any more, and a very great deal of the trade which provides us with our high standard of living comes round the Cape. To neglect it in peace is foolish: to neglect it in war is perilous. Our ships enjoy hospitality there; our naval vessels are refitted and revictualled there; we enjoy the advantage of all the goods that come to us that way; but we do not lift a finger to help to maintain, or to help to guarantee the maintenance of, that route should war or threats come—not a finger. I cannot see the slightest force in the argument that this is unimportant. With the Indian Ocean freely open to Russian submarines, with the Mediterranean packed with Russian ships, with so much of the supplies of this country and of Western Europe coming round the Cape, it seems to me that it is quite obvious that we ought to support South Africa.

This is nothing to do with the Simons-town Agreement, but I should also like to appeal in regard to the Simonstown Agreement, because it was more than Lord Chalfont pretended. There were four letters passed and very many conversations, and the essence of the whole of this arrangement was that these two countries would be friends, friends in a military sense, and would co-operate. That was the essence of the matter; and we co-operated by selling them a few ships to start with and then a few aeroplanes, and then we cut off supplies promptly. The question has been asked: Why should the Simonstown Agreement be re-negotiated? It is not unnatural for South Africa, if they are going to buy expensive and long-lasting war goods from us, to want to know that there is not going to be a change of Government here in five years, a change which would prevent the supply of spares. They want some continuity. I do not doubt that South Africa had thought that Britain would keep her word. Britain did not keep her word—at least, not the gentlemen's agreement in the spirit of the agreement. It is not unreasonable that South Africa should say, "Let us now look at this as we should have been doing all the time. Let us consider the strategy and tactics of war in the South Atlantic. Let us re-write this Agreement."

My Lords, I must now say a word about the kind of arms. So much has been made of this. Even one or two speakers on the other side have said that it is agreed by all here that all that they are asking—they who are advocating that any arms should be sent to South Africa—is for what might be called coastal arms, naval arms. I do not agree with this at all. I can see no reason in the world why all arms should not be supplied to any country. I do not see any reason whatever for not doing so. I suppose that the Labour Government supplied arms to Lesotho—and if they did not, they ought to have done so because they were responsible for that country during the earlier part of their term and until it became an independent Kindgom; and it is still a member of the Commonwealth. I suppose that the Labour Government supplied arms to the other two ex-British territories, Swaziland and Botswana—and if not, they should have done so. Police arms are a requirement of any Government at any time in any part of the world.

It is nonsense to say that it is immoral to supply South Africa with trade but not to supply her with police arms. Of course, it is true that you could take a battleship—even a "King George V" class battleship if they were not all outdated and gone—put it in Cape Town and shoot down black people at five miles distance. Of course you could. But who would be such a fool as to do that? People do not buy submarines or naval units or long-distance aeroplanes with all their highly sophisticated and extremely expensive apparatus in order to suppress minor riots or in order to give support to the civil power. First, I think that it is a nonsense to have this limitation at all and, secondly, it is splitting hairs, carrying argument to a ridiculous length, to try to say that no arms should be supplied because any arms could be used for any purpose. Of course they could. I suppose that if I wished to I could bring a walking-stick into your Lordships' House, ostensibly to support myself, and with it I could beat one of my noble friends over the head. But that is really rather nonsense.

The noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, whose speech I admired (and I thank him for it) said this: Let. us make sure by example that we do not have apartheid in this country. That is a very wise sentiment. It is not our business if other people have apartheid, for example in Hong Kong, a colonial territory I think; and in Israel—and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Janner, will not like my saying this—also in Ireland and in Cyprus—


And in Russia!


Yes, my Lords, in Russia no doubt. But that is not our business. We do not go to war with all these countries or impose sanctions on them; we do not even talk about it. That is not our business. It is not necessary to apologise to South Africa because the subject of their internal policy is irrelevant to the considerations that I am venturing to put before the House.

My Lords, let us take the case of South-West Africa. It is 55 years since the South Africans, with very little help from Britain, conquered German South-West Africa. It was 55 years ago. They did not bring the natives of South-West Africa into the harsh, cruel tyranny of South Africa; on the contrary, they freed them from an infinitely harsher and more tyrannously cruel German rule. Ever since they have been in the South African political enclave in one form or another and they have been treated as are all South African natives—no better, no worse.

My Lords, I admire the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, for his physical courage and his political courage. I am sure that he does not need reminding to-day that he had the courage to say in the United Nations that it was quite impossible to settle this South-West Africa business by force unless the world was prepared to mount a major war operation, perhaps even a war. I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, remembers, as I do, that the Western coast down there is called the "Skeleton Coast". It is quite unviable unless you take with you an enormous fleet for your lines of communication.

There comes a time in the world's progress when matters of controversy become matters of history. I will not take up the time of the House by elaborating upon this argument. I will mention the American colonies. How bitter was that conflict! But now we have a special relationship with the U.S.A. And 300 years ago bitter relations existed between Scotland and England. Now we sit in one Parliament and continue to do so. History unravels itself and history takes the place of controversy. Is it not time that the history of the last 55 years took the place of controversy over South-West Africa—bearing in mind that no resolution of the United Nations has any possibility of being implemented, as Lord Caradon himself warned the United Nations? If you cannot do anything—as you cannot in Rhodesia—if your writ does not run, there is no use in patting yourself on the back and saying what a splendid chap you are and pretending that it does. The writ just does not run; and that is all there is to it. Let us say that the South African business has passed into history now and there is no use in thinking otherwise. If we had the guts we would veto these matters in the United Nations instead of allowing such nonsense to go on to the record.

My Lords, I have noticed, to my deep regret because I respect them so much personally, that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark have both committed themselves recently—and perhaps they will do it again to-day—to say that for various reasons which seem adequate to them the policies of South Africa and of Rhodesia are anathema to them. Incidentally, other Bishops, not in this House, traipse around the country saying the same thing—that it is better to cut these people off from communication; that they are hardly fit to be talked to. Let us walk across to the other side of the road, my reverend Lords! May I remind the reverend Lords of this? In Matthew V, it says: Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way … It would do them good to ponder that because they do not help South Africa or Southern Rhodesia.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? The end of that particular quotation is: … lest he take you to the magistrate from whom you do not emerge until you have paid the last farthing—which seems to destroy the argument.


My Lords, the word is "judge" not "magistrate", if the noble Lord looks it up. But never mind; I think that meant the judgment of history. Even so, it is a good warning to the noble and reverend Lord. I am glad to hear his voice; I know that he is going to speak later, so I am sure he will have something to say about it.

Now, my Lords, I am practically at the end of this story. There was one observation made by Mr. Stewart, the ex-Foreign Minister—and repeated at the end of Lord Chalfont's speech with such emphasis—that we must be careful not to be on the wrong side. That is very impertinent. Who is he to tell us which is the right side and which is the wrong side? I think it very impertinent. Mr. Stewart said that we must be careful what we choose. His words were, "The wrong side". The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, must have looked it up, I suppose. Black side or white side, we must not be on the wrong side. This, my Lords, is great nonsense. When we protect South Africa, or help to do so, we are not on the wrong side at all; we are helping to protect many more black men than there are white men there, because there are many more black men in Africa. We are helping to protect them all from subversion; from revolution; from Russian influence. And the Russians and the Chinese are already infiltrating into these countries. I read, I think only yesterday, that the Chinese are lending £150 million to the Tanzanians to build a railroad. I must say that I could have wished it had come from the West.

Believe me, my Lords, Russian and Chinese influence has already been felt in the politics of Central Africa and Southern Africa; and when we say we would like to take our part in protecting Simonstown Bay, or the Cape route, let us remember, for example, that Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, those three ex-British Territories on the borders of South Africa, cannot live by themselves; they can live only with South African aid. They can be defended only with South African aid; and this is true to a degree for the whole of the rest of Africa.

I do not think that there is a country left in Africa now—not one—where there is adult suffrage and universal suffrage, and a Parliament of the kind which we here in Westminster would regard as free. I do not think that there is one in the whole of Africa. They are all either one-Party Stales or dictatorships, or near dictatorships—even Lesotho. Incidentally, I will interrupt myself to put in one word. Let Mr. Wood, the excellent new Minister for M.O.D. ("Ministry of Overseas Development", I think) be as quick as possible in sending to Lesotho the aid which it needs very badly and where there is famine and starvation. That goes to show how they cannot even grow enough food for themselves and are dependant upon the countries near them.

I come to the end, my Lords, with one more sentence. I started by saying that no Government are as popular as on the day they are elected. This Government could be on one more day; that is, the day of the next Election in four and a half or five years' time; provided that they get on with the job.

5.55 p.m.


My Lords, for me, as the veriest amateur in your Lordships' House, to congratulate those two doughty professional; who have made their maiden speeches to-day would be like a newly joined recruit commending the style of the General's orders of the day. I can therefore: only stand in silent admiration. I hope, and indeed feel sure, that we shall hear them often, though I do not guarantee always to agree with every aspect of their assessment of the Middle East situation.

My Lords, there can be no doubts on either side of your Lordships' House that the Prime Minister in another place has correctly defined the main aim of our foreign policy, which is to make a modem and broadly based assessment of where British interests lie and to sustain those interests with all the energy and determination that we can command. Everyone must also agree with him that our interests coincide closely not only with those of our friends and allies, but also with those of the international community as a whole. There will always be differences of assessment of where British interests lie in specific instances, but I must admit that sometimes in the past it has seemed to the uninformed public such as myself that other extraneous considerations of domestic politics have been allowed to interfere: with the proper assessment of our interests. What we ask of the Government is that they should make their assessment of our interests and that they should follow that assessment down the line. That, clearly, applies to the question of arms for South Africa, and I would strongly support the plea of the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, that your Lordships' House should not attempt to bind the Government on this issue at this point before they have made their assessment of the situation.

The Foreign Secretary has rightly emphasised that for all the purposes of British foreign policy we need economic strength at home. I hope that we have now passed that transitional period when sometimes it appeared that our policy was in excess of our economic strength. We no longer talk about our frontier being on the Himalayas, but I sincerely hope that we do not make it appear that it is on this side of the Isle of Wight.

My Lords, I wish to comment on only one or two points. The first is the present position on East-West relations. I suggest that the former Foreign Secretary was going rather too far in saying in the other place that the tide is now moving away from the cold war in the direction of conciliation. The compulsions of the Marxist doctrine are strong, and I do not forget that a Soviet leader said to me, "You must understand that we are Communists and we shall continue to act like Communists". Soviet policy will continue to be based on the aim to alter the balance of power in favour of Soviet Communism. However, they recognise fully that nuclear power has fundamentally altered international relations and that human life on this planet rests on an understanding between the Soviet Union and the United States that they will avoid a major confrontation which will face either of them with the alternatives of a serious risk of nuclear war or capitulation. What can perhaps be said is that we are moving into a period of permanent negotiation.

This permanent negotiation should, I suggest, be viewed as having three branches. First there is the all-important American-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear weapons. That is not our responsibility, though we should do all we can to encourage progress in it, since it is of such vital importance to us all. Secondly, there is the search for European security, principally, though not exclusively, requiring negotiations between NATO and the Warsaw Pact Powers. I believe that the position could not be better set out than it has been in the last NATO communiqué, and with your Lordships' permission I should like to quote from it. It said: Ministers agreed that it will not be enough to talk of European security in the abstract. The causes of insecurity in Europe are specific; they are deeply rooted in conflicting perceptions of State interests, and their elimination will require patient endeavour. However, the Allies for their part remain willing to negotiate, in any suitable forum, those concrete issues whose resolution would enhance the security of Europe. The success of efforts to pursue genuine relaxation of tension will be a test of the willingness of all interested countries to deal meaningfully with real issues of security. The Ministers went on to say that they were ready to enter into multilateral contacts with all interested Governments and that one of the main purposes of such contacts would be to explore when it would be possible to convene a conference on European security and cooperation. They said: The establishment of a permanent body could be envisaged as one means, among others, of embarking on multilateral negotiations in due course. The late Foreign Secretary has said in another place that this idea of a Standing Commission on East—West relations was in the first instance a British idea. I believe that it has much to commend it. A major conference which attracts publicity is not a suitable way to deal with questions that are not susceptible of an immediate tidy solution. They can only too easily be converted into a purely propaganda affair. Quiet persistence is what is necessary, and a determination never to be deterred by the inevitable frustrations and never to give up.

The third branch is the complicated matter of relations with China, with which we shall be increasingly concerned in the years to come. I was glad to hear to-day that Her Majesty's Government's policy is that United Nations credentials as representatives of China should be given to the Peking Government which has controlled the mainland for the last 20 years. That of course is an essential preliminary to having permanent negotiations with China although it may not be too easy to get them to come in.

My Lords, we are faced with the most difficult and uncertain position in the Gulf. I have said previously in your Lordships' House that we should not be under the illusion that to cancel the previous Government's decision to remove our troops from the Gulf and, by implication (though I do not think that it was ever explicitly stated), to withdraw unilaterally our protection from the Gulf Rulers, would restore the previous situation. It is surely clear now that the making of that decision has produced a wholly new situation. New political alignments have been developed. The Shah has said clearly that he does not now, after what we have said, want us to stay. The Gulf Rulers will certainly not publicly ask us to stay. That would put them in an impossible position. If we merely cancelled our previous decision, we should make it much easier for extremists in the Arab world to attack us and the Gulf Rulers. We should certainly not risk another Aden. The position was well summed up in an article in the Sunday Telegraph on July 5.

The Government are now consulting all concerned. No one who is not informed of the results of those consultations can make any helpful contribution towards a definition of policy, but I should like to make one point. Our aim is to determine what action will give the best chance of maintaining the stability in the area which British interests require. There is no obviously good solution. I trust that there will be no disposition on either side of your Lordships' House, or in another place, to increase he difficulties of the Government which, as so often in matters of international relations, particularly in the process of decolonisation, can do no more than try to determine what is the least bad course to follow.

I should like to make one point on foreign aid. There is no basic difference in general in your Lordships' House on foreign aid. We should give what we can within our economic resources. We shall do no good to anyone in the long run if we compromise our basic economic strength. There is no harm to the developing countries if we give our aid in such a way as to promote our exports. Indeed, this will enable us to increase our aid. We should clearly prefer to aid schemes which will be seen to be helping the people of these countries, but should not undertake to be the judge of a developing country's economic policy.

We must try to ensure, without appearing to limit the sovereignty of the recipient State, that our aid does not go into the wrong channels. We should not use aid directly for political purposes—that almost always fails—but should give it in a way that makes political sense. Aid is a branch of foreign policy and should be treated as such. I am one of those who believe that it should come under the general superintendence of the Foreign Secretary and that all elements of it, the economic, the commercial and the political, should be co-ordinated by him. I hope that this will be seriously considered by the Government.

Finally, I should like to say that I was very glad to hear what the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, said about the Government's view of the United Nations. I trust that we shall always adopt a positive attitude towards the United Nations, as the Russians do. We shall do ourselves no good if we take a negative attitude to it in the light of the intransigence and double standards of many of its members. Above all, we should seek to restore to it some of the initiative towards the: settlement of disputes which it seems to have lost in recent years, and press for more energetic steps, through the United Nations, for a settlement of the present dangerous dispute in the Middle East. The resolution of November, 1967, was, I think, one of the achievements of the Labour Government, and we must hang on to that. It is the only possible basis, in my opinion, of the settlement of this extremely difficult and dangerous Middle Eastern situation. The United Nations is, and will remain, the great world forum, and we must take great pains to show that we value it as such and to explain clearly our policies in it.

6.6 p.m.


My Lords, at the outset may I wish the noble Lord who has just spoken every success on his appointment as Chairman of the British Museum. In the past we have sometimes taken an interest in that institution and we shall possibly do so again. Not so much perhaps in the interests of brevity but following the impressive speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, I do not propose to say anything about the Amendment. I think that all noble Lords who listened to his speech realised that he was saying something a good deal deeper than the usual superficial exchanges of debate. I doubt whether his advice will be taken, but anyone with experience of the House would know that it would be the wish of the House that his advice should be taken.

I wish to refer to two passages in the gracious Speech which were referred to by my noble friend Lord Lothian. First, he said that in our discussions with Europe we shall be in close consultation with our Commonwealth and EFTA partners, and later he said that the Government will of course further the development and progress of British dependent territories. Bearing in mind these two passages, which I am sure are universally agreed, I was rather distressed to read the speech of M. Harmel, the Belgian Foreign Secretary, at the first meeting in Luxembourg. I daresay that this was a position of what I might call the lowest common denominator, an attempt to get the agreement of all members of the Council. I daresay it was only a negotiating position. But that it is directly contrary to the solving of the problems which were completely unresolved at the last meeting in 1963, M. Harmel knows quite well. I refer particularly to the problems regarding sugar and dairy produce, the latter particularly affecting New Zealand. There was no answer to those problems in 1963 and, so far as I know, there is still no answer. I do not need to mention them in detail.

So far as the Caribbean is concerned, the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was the most successful of all commodity agreements. None of us is wholly satisfied with the standard of economic development in the Caribbean at the present time. If that Agreement were to be disrupted it would be a major disaster which we could not possibly tolerate. What makes the matter even more difficult is that there is no obvious solution to the problem. Europe can, and probably will, produce adequate sugar for all the members of the Community. There is the further problem that the French Islands—Guadaloupe, Martinique and Réunion—unlike Mauritius and Barbados, would come right into the Community. It is clearly unfair that such an arrangement should be made. This is a severe test as to whether or not the Community is looking outward to the world, a matter which continues to be of considerable importance to us. This problem cannot be met on a short, transitional basis at all.

The same remarks apply largely to New Zealand. In some ways the argument is even stronger, because E.E.C. countries are already dumping dairy products at prices about one-eighth of what they are in Europe. New Zealand cannot reorganise her form of agriculture without a complete change in its whole structure, something which would change the basis of her society as a whole. Not only is she selling 90 per cent. of her dairy products here, but any form of variation of development of her industry is almost inevitably based on the continued sale of a substantial portion of her dairy products to this country. She could get variation, but it would necessarily turn on her ability to get rid of these commodities in this way. If we throw over New Zealand, we shall be throwing over what are in fact the most efficient dairy farmers in the world. I think we must carefully consider what system can be devised, within the rules if possible; or, if necessary, the rules must be adjusted to get over these problems.

I should like to say a word or two about Hong Kong. It is looked on with disfavour by many people. Here you have, in point of fact, an economic miracle; a combination of British and Chinese genius that has produced something where nothing existed before. Its problem to us is its very success. If it had failed, we should have said that it was an underdeveloped country and we could do virtually nothing more. Let us remember that it is probably the most important dependent territory governed here from Westminster. We are responsible for it, and although we may have to put up some barriers on the importation of goods from Hong Kong, there remains the fact that we are responsible for Hong Kong. If we go into these negotiations, it is for us to maintain our responsibility and to see that Hong Kong gets a fair deal in Europe. If Hong Kong were a backward country we could probably make an easy arrangement, but I am given to understand that, being as successful as they are, it is not likely that the Europeans will look with favour on them. It may be that they can climb over a 15 per cent. general tariff, and if they do so, well and good; but it is still our duty to see that they get a fair deal and that the result of their ability to create and develop their own territory is not thrown aside.

I am glad that EFTA has been mentioned. After all, we created EFTA, and it has been a success: in fact, 15 to 20 per cent. of our overseas trade is done with EFTA. It is most important that we maintain this link and see that it is not lost for the future. I mention these things because I believe that in a way this is the sterling test as to whether the E.E.C. countries, the Six, are looking outward, or whether they will be simply looking inward; whether they are going to consider those parts of the world which we have always considered, or whether they are going to be concerned with the inside of Europe, as such, where in fact they seem to have a certain amount of difficulty. If they cannot look at the wider canvas, which is important, then it may be that we must think again of our position. I have no doubt that they will be tough negotiations, and that we must give our negotiators every possible encouragement. But we do expect to get from the Six some appreciation of our difficulties. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, frequently quotes the Six as saying of us: "Are they sincere?" We are entitled to ask: "Are they sincere in wanting us to come in and join them in their great endeavour?"

I should like to make one point on the speech of he noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, because he said things which seemed to me to cut corners, to put it no higher. He said that we are not wanted in the Gulf. The paper to which he says he is no longer attached, The Times, quotes a specific statement from the Sheik of Dubai saying quite frankly what I believe many of us know perfectly well, as the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, said, but which is not generally said in public. The Sheik said: "Who asked them to leave?". And he went on to say that Abu Dhabi and Bahrain supported the presence of British troops in the Gulf. One finds it extremely difficult, of course, to say it in public. Many of us know that that is the situation, and it will require extremely careful diplomatic handling.

I have one other point. I should like to read from the "Mirror, A weekly almanac of current affairs", of Singapore. It says: A Conservative Government in Britain, with Mr. Heath as Prime Minister, will enhance security and stability in the area where British forces have been part of the landscape for over 150 years. This stability helps investment and development. This was said by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Can we leave people who are struggling to build themselves up when they ask for our help?

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to deal chiefly with the aspect of defence, and I can be quite short because of what has been said already. About four and a half years ago, in the Defence Review, I reacted quite favourably when I read that Defence must be the servant of foreign policy, and not its master. Most of us agree that that is the way it should be. Unfortunately, finance took over and there were severe cuts, which I criticised only two months ago. I am therefore quite pleased to quote the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in another place, Sir Alec Douglas-Home (in whom we have a real professional, not only recognised as such in this country, but also, what is more important, recognised as such across the world), when he said: Our main interest is in political stability. We do not want to force our way in where we are not wanted, but where we are wanted and where our presence could contribute to political stability we think we ought to be there. That is very good. But it remains to be seen how it will be carried out; and, of course, it is not fair to make criticisms of defence policy at the present moment.

I propose to make only one or two points. It will be interesting to see in about six months' time how the present Government execute that admirable policy. Incidentally, it is not quite fair to assume that that means acting for the status quo. It means what it says, which is preserving stability. For example, in the Gulf, as we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, it is no good imagining that you can go back straight away as if the last two or three years had not taken place. A new situation has arisen. Similarly in the Far East and in South-East Asia, which is our particular concern, the situation has changed over the last two years. I was glad to see in the gracious Speech the introduction of the word "consultation" with our Commonwealth friends. Again with reference to the Gulf, I think it said that we will "consult" the leaders concerned. That is the right way to do it. The wrong way to do it, to my mind, was to announce our withdrawal and then consult afterwards.

On the question of friends and allies—because it was agreed not so long ago that we should never fight without allies—Sir Alec Douglas-Home said in another place: … and our survival hung upon our policy throughout history to collect and to hold friends and Allies. So far as I am concerned, if we follow that policy now, it could not be better. The only word of warning that I would make on it is to ask the Government to keep British forces small and in concert with our Allies on the spot. Never over-egg the pudding; always under do it. I remember recommending a year or two ago that in South-East Asia, for example, we should have one battalion, a couple of R.A.F. squadrons and two frigates. That will be different now, of course; but it is better to err on the small side than on the big side. We are likely to stay there, and remain with our friends longer. The same argument applies in the Gulf. Our main object there must be—subject to what the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, said, put with considerable expertise—to help stabilise the appalling Middle East situation.

One more quote from this very interesting speech, and that is about sea power. The last time I spoke on this subject in your Lordships' House I regretted the fact that for five years sea power had never been mentioned in any single Defence White Paper. Well, here it is in this speech: Sea power is one of the, if not the, most important elements of all. I am glad to see it written down there, because I have a feeling that our future defence policy will be based on sea power. Sea power brings me to the Simonstown Agreement. I should like to say straight away how much I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, and his appeal not to divide the House this evening on this particular point. As he pointed out, the Government have not reached a decision; it is a ticklish subject, and we all know that there are very big moral and political considerations.

I would point out—the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, raised this aspect in his opening speech, and I am sure it will be touched on again by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon—that the political considerations are only estimates. They are simply political considerations; they are not real, concrete things, such as defence. Before coming into the Chamber I checked on what was written in the Simonstown Agreement and found the following. It was an exchange of letters between Mr. Selwyn Lloyd and Mr. Erasmus. The first paragraph said this: Southern Africa and the sea routes round Southern Africa must be secure against agression without. This was written, by the way, on June 30, 1955. The second paragraph said: The internal security of the countries of Southern Africa must, however, remain a matter for each individual country concerned. I do not think that it could have been put more clearly, and I would suggest that, if anything, the defence situation is more threatening, with the change of sea power in the Indian Ocean and with the fact that there are hundreds of Russian submarines. The defence threat is greater than it was when that paragraph was written, and it ought to be given priority.

Lastly, I must say a word about the Territorial Army, because important decisions are now going to be taken by the Government. In the gracious Speech they have promised this: My Government will review the role and size of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve". That is very good news indeed. I would remind the Government that the 50,000 men of the present T. & A.V.R. are wholly allocated to the Rhine Army, which cannot, incidentally, fight without them. Beyond that there is nobody at all. We are the only country, I think, of 16 allies in NATO not to have a reserve of any kind. Our reserve ought to be small—I am thinking in terms of one division in the North of the country and one in the South of the country. It must obviously have a home defence role, and, if possible, a civil defence role as well, with perhaps special units for the latter purpose. Above all, irrespective of priorities which the Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State for Defence are fully qualified to decide upon, we must retain and revive the voluntary spirit in this country.

6.24 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to take part in this debate I am conscious of the need for brevity imposed by the long list of speakers. I can only hope that brevity will not impair the value or force of what I want to say. I propose to address your Lordships on Southern Africa, including Rhodesia and South Africa, and the intervention in their affairs, both past, present and future, by that body so whimsically called the United Nations. Perhaps I may shorten my speech by saying at once that I agree with and strongly support every word that has fallen from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser, who speaks with such intimate knowledge and authority on Southern Africa.

To begin with Rhodesia and the vexed question of sanctions. The Charter of the United Nations sternly enjoins the United Nations not to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, or to require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter. The First Commandment of the United Nations, Chapter 1, Article 4 also states: All numbers shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. We have what seems to me this ridiculous situation: ridicule with tragedy also involved. Since Rhodesia, by doing what it has always done and with which the United Nations cannot constitutionally interfere, incites less law abiding members to violate their solemn obligation not to use force, or the threat of force in their international relations. Rhodesia then becomes, at second hand, a threat to the peace and must be coerced. To use the words of that distinguished American, Dean Acheson, in a letter on this subject in the summer of 1966, he said: If this reasoning leads the reader to ask, 'who's looney now?', don't blame Rhodesia, blame the Security Council and Harold Wilson. The problem of Rhodesian sanctions was, as has been said in America also, sold by the most expert British salesman to the United Slates of America and to the United Nations. At this point I should like briefly to summarise my conclusions about the merits of the United Nations Organisation in this sort of connection. It is impossible to exclude from this debate some comments on the United Nations Organisation—a dream that has not come true. A dispassionate estimate of the value must recognise that it was idealistic in its conceptions and a hopeless muddle in practice. Examination of its record encourages the feeling that the machinery of the United Nations Organisation has no real relevance to the times in which we now live. It has outlived such usefulness as it may once have had. As has been said by an eminent writer: If the men of power can talk to each other at the click of a switch or meet together with only a few hours' delay, what is the point of having a vast assembly of minor representatives engaged in permanent squabbles in New York? One is increasingly made aware of their pressure groups, and the absence of any real world sense of high purpose, combined too with an irresponsible power of mischief. Indeed, the whole United Nations Organisation system, if you examine it, puts a premium on irresponsibility, and also within its own ranks there is flagrant defiance of its own rules for behaviour. Problems, for instance in Africa, will not be solved by emotional hysteria or by the incessant repetition of hollow slogans and platitudes; nor, incidentally, will the friendship of the black man be won by undermining the white man in Africa, as seems still to be believed in some quarters.

Take again the exclusion of China, with one-fifth of the world's population. That does not inspire confidence. Nor does the fact that a General Assembly's majority can be made up of States which provide less than 3 per cent. of the money to support the United Nations. Scores of members are in debt, and some are two years behind in their subscriptions. The majority of States belonging to it are not democracies and their rulers deny the fundamental freedoms of speech and political action to their own peoples, while, when it suits them, demanding them for others. The selective application to others of principles which are completely ignored in the administration of their own home countries does not inspire confidence, either. This, surely, is not the rule of law; it is the rule of uninformed prejudice.

Take South Africa. I seem to hear the voice of prejudice and misunderstanding of the praiseworthy aims of a great people whose courage, energy and constructive ability have built, and are continuing to build, a lasting example of partnership, without coalescence, between neighbouring nations which will serve the cause of future progress of them all. The simple, basic human relations formula underlying the policy of South Africa is surely that every person is at his happiest within his own family circle, that every family is at its happiest within its own community, and every community within its own national environment. This principle is true of all people, of all races and colours, all over the world. Circumstances may change and modify, but there should never be any change of identity.

My own view of the United Nations is that there is no useful place for it in its present form in the present world, and that as a political power, which it seems to be aiming at being, we can only hope that it will fade away unhonoured and unsung. The assault by the United Nations and the United Kingdom against Rhodesia is indeed, despite a layer of bland sanctimony, a patent illegality. The United Nations has reached the stage of judging the law by the issues, instead of the issues by the law. They take the fig leaf of legal respectability to cover what is really naked aggression. It was Dean Acheson, again, who warned his own country that the United States is to-day engaged in an international conspiracy, instigated by the British Government and blessed by the United Nations, to overthrow the Government of a country that has never done any harm to the United Nations or threatened anyone.

To take a glance now at history, it is true that Britain asserted sovereignty over the Rhodesian countryside from the latter part of the last century, but Whitehall has never administered Government there; nor has it provided any funds or forces for its defence. Rhodesia has been self-governing since 1923, when the electorate voted for self-government and against incorporation in the Union of South Africa. In 1953, the British Government persuaded Southern Rhodesia to join in a Central African Federation with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. For a variety of reasons, the Federation was adjudged a failure.

In 1965, the Rhodesian Government were unable to agree with the British Government on a form of severing their political connection after the break-up of the Central African Federation. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland achieved independence, and Southern Rhodesia had a Constitution generally understood to be a preliminary to independence. But, as time went on, Mr. Wilson, in order to force the hand of Southern Rhodesia, sought United Nations' support for a system of voluntary sanctions—the United Nations' term for economic warfare. It proved ineffective. He then pressed the United Nations to make sanctions mandatory. That also has proved a failure, and sanctions are hurting unintended victims and bringing about unintended results. The chief economic victims of this system are black people.

I suggest, my Lords, that the British Government, in a belated recognition of an initial injustice perpetrated on a legally untenable basis, should as early as possible withdraw from this unhappy position. Sanctions, in my view, should be abandoned as a dishonourable mistake. It seems to me that if the British Government want to negotiate with Mr. Smith the immediate removal of sanctions would help to restore an atmosphere of mutual trust. It is surely a matter to negotiate as friends rather than in an atmosphere of hostile duress.

I now turn to South Africa and another potent injustice and misjudgment. May I begin by quoting again from Dean Acheson, the leading American critic of the prevailing urge to use international pressure against South Africa and its management of its own affairs. He says to his own people in America: In a broader sense, however, we shall all bear responsibility for the growing political isolation of southern Africa which these emotional and ill-considered measures are bringing about. We"— that is, of course, America— are the only Power of general, as distinguished from parochial, responsibility in the Free World. At a time when Arab nationalism has brought on the closing of the Suez Canal—perhaps permanently—and the Soviet navy has penetrated the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, the good will of southern Africa, the use of its ports, the co-operation of its governments—including their participation with immense resources and advanced technology in aiding the development of adjoining black States—would be of immense importance to the Free World. The mere existence of stability in so vast and important an area of an otherwise turbulent continent is an asset of the greatest value. As the principal responsible Power in the Free World, it is our duty and responsibility to encourage good will, co-operation and stability in southern Africa. It is the height of folly to sacrifice these desirable ends to an aggressive, reformist intervention in the internal affairs of these States, an intervention designed to force upon them electoral practices that none of the black African or Communist States, and very few of the Asian, accept. My Lords, the policy of separate development is not a fixed dogmatic scheme; it is a principle of flexible application which has been slowly but surely winning the understanding and approval of the Bantu tribes themselves. As has been repeatedly urged—and in the outside world repeatedly ignored—the problem of South Africa is unique. Nowhere in the world, and never in history, has a situation developed which is quite similar. The solution must therefore be unique. Yet everybody, apparently everywhere, whether knowledgeable or quite uninformed, would like to impose theoretical ideas and principles or solutions found to be—or thought to be—useful elsewhere on this different situation. The result has been grotesque. What we see is a cruel caricature of a country, its people and its Government, and a positively abhorrent image of that country's policy, of the motives behind it and the mode of its administration.

My Lords, inter-racial relations present a challenge, throughout the world. What many people fail to realise is that such relations, and the problems to which they give rise, vary from one country to another, and there is therefore no universally applicable solution. The racial set-up in South Africa with which we are dealing has no parallel anywhere in the world—it is sui generis; and from this follows that it requires a special solution. The South African Government has borrowed an example from the nations of the earth—live and let live—apart.

Some day perhaps the United Nations Organisation may deserve its title by adopting the principle of separate development as the only reliable road to peace on earth and the brotherhood of man: political independence and economic interdependence, friendly cooperation combined with recognition of the natural right of each nation to build on its own cultural heritage and traditions. As I see it, the United Nations Organisation is travelling down the road to chaos and strife by aiming at a political hegemony. It is better, surely, for it to stick to what it does well in matters of welfare and charity.

Self-determination, like liberty, must be indivisible. If all African nations are entitled to self-determination then surely white nations have the same right. The response of the colonial Powers to this challenge has been a simple one. They have steadily withdrawn and left the African nations to rule themselves. But the white South Africans are not—and this should be repeated over and over again, owing to a popular misapprehension—and never have been, colonialists. They have firmly established their own distinctive nationhood in a homeland that they have not taken from anyone else. We all know the history of their beginning in a virtually empty land, and the magnificent achievements over three centuries built by their courage, energy and constructive ability—the creation of a prosperity which is the envy of Africa and the wonder of the world. One of the troubles of the troubled age in which we live is that too many people are trying to achieve harmony of interest by forcing everyone to harmonise with them.

In a striking speech—and this is the most important point that I have to make—delivered in June, 1966, Chief Matanzima, Chief Minister of the new Transkei State said, inter alia: The Bantu peoples of South Africa, as I am sure is also the case in other parts of Africa, are proud of their heritage. They do not automatically regard it as an unblemished and unmixed blessing to be required to exchange their national and cultural possessions for those, for instance, of a European society. We do not expect the white man to sacrifice the national and cultural attributes which he holds dear. The Transkei to-day has its awn Government, its own Civil Service, its own system of taxation. We can enjoy the fruits of our victories or suffer the bitterness of our own defeats, depending upon ourselves. This has been made possible by the same white Government which has so often been accused of being dedicated to withholding from the black man the opportunity of advancement and self-determination. We will do our utmost to secure a State in the Transkei founded on law and order—a State that recognises the dignity of the individual and will ensure equal justice for all. Then he goes on: We reaffirm our friendship for the whites living in the Transkei and acknowledge our great indebtedness towards our administrators, traders and missionaries. However, we also stand for the gradual withdrawal of the whites from the Transkei so that the territory can become our own exclusive homeland. Yet our policy remains one of intimate friendship with our Mother Country, the Republic of South Africa. The different parts of South Africa are interdependent and our future is tied up with that of greater South Africa. One can foresee that eventually South Africa will embrace a number of fully Bantu-governed States linked with the white Republic of South Africa in co-operative association. Surely that speech from one of the most striking Bantu leaders shows how Bantu opinion has moved in favour of separate development and has begun to appreciate the bona fides of the South African racial policy, which in this Amendment we are asked to condemn while the Bantus approve it. The non-whites who over the centuries had increasingly entered the white man's country came solely to seek employment, safety, health, education—all of which were provided freely by the white man. Streams of black immigrants continue to flow across these borders from other parts of Africa because of the better wages and way of life in this land of so-called oppression. In modern South Africa it has been left to the white nation of South Africa—after its own emancipation from Imperialism—to set the pace and to devise a pattern of emancipation for the non-white population. This they are doing.

My Lords, I am astonished at the mental confusion and the non sequitur of the Amendment to be moved to the humble Address by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. It says: … in view of the vital need to promote accord between different races and mindful of the principles on which the Commonwealth is based and of the possible consequences to British interests in Africa and throughout the world, call on Your Majesty's Government to honour the United Nations resolutions on the supply of arms to South Africa. If your Lordships will look carefully at the reasons for that as given, the reasons there stated to justify refusal to supply arms to South Africa are precisely per contra those which would justify refusal to accept or obey so monstrous an embargo. I venture to suggest that it is high time Her Majesty's Government started to restore their traditional reputation for honesty and fair play—an image which has been somewhat soiled in recent years. That, surely, is the greatest of all British interests.

As for the first part of this Amendment, may I remind your Lordships of the speech made in London in March, 1961, by the South African Prime Minister? His words were: We want each of our population groups to control and govern themselves, as is the case with other nations. Then they can cooperate as in a Commonwealth—in an economic association with the Republic and each other … South Africa will in all honesty and fairness proceed to secure peace, prosperity and justice for all by means of political independence coupled with economic interdependence. He elaborated on this in this way—and this I would commend to your Lordships: I envisage development along the lines similar to that of the British Commonwealth. In other words, I perceive the development of a Commonwealth of South Africa in which the white State and the black States can cooperate together, without being joined in a federation and therefore without being under a central government, but co-operating as separate and independent States. In such an association no State will lord it over any other. They will live rather as good neighbours. Cannot we pay some attention at least to the public pronouncements of a man in the position of Prime Minister of South Africa?

I get very tired of hearing all the untruths about South Africa finding such a ready forum at the United Nations centre in America. It is a undisputed fact that the non-white people of South Africa already have medical services and modern housing which are second to none compared with the rest of the non-white world. Four out of every five Bantu children are at school. Already 80 per cent. of Bantu children between 7 and 20 years are literate.

But, my Lords, time presses and this fascinating subject invites a length which is impossible in our debate. May I therefore conclude by emphasising my respect for the South African Government and its policy so genuinely pursued. It takes time to evolve into wise action but its bona fides is above question. Perhaps I may borrow again from a distinguished American a final thought. He says: If the meek are to inherit the earth they might consider adding a clause to the Litany"., It could follow: From all blindness of heart, from pride, vain-glory and hypocrisy, from envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness"— and add— and from the United Nations Charter as distorted by some of its members, Good Lord, deliver us.''

6.55 p.m.


My Lords, if I do not attempt immediately to answer the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, it is not from any agreement with him about the United Nations. It is a desperate effort to obey the behest to brevity, in which I shall probably disappoint your Lordships anyway. I have accumulated in this debate a list of tributes which would do credit to a public dinner, but as they are genuine I will deliver them. First, I share the diffidence of the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, in welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and the noble Lord, Lord Janner, who have both been in politics longer than I have been in anything. But they are both great pillars of our political life, and I should only like to recall, in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, one of the really dramatic moments in my diplomatic life. That was the occasion of the arrival of the noble Lord at Washington Airport brandishing an FN.76 rifle. This was the noble Lord's way of insisting that this was the best rifle in the world, which it was at the time, and I think it was an index of the noble Lord's blending of the picturesque and emphatic in pleading a case. I do not expect that the noble Lord will use this method in this House, but he will find other methods of disarming us and I hope he will find them often.

May I also pay my compliments to the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, on becoming the spokesman of my old Department in this House. He bears a name very much honoured in diplomacy, the name of a man who in a short year of diplomacy in the most difficult post in the world accomplished more than might have seemed possible for any one man in so short a time at so decisive an epoch in our history and in the history of our relations with the United States. If I may suggest it to him, he might like to think over the slogan he gave us of stability and parity; there could be added, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, suggested it, an element of progress in the slogan. I suggest that progress in stability is a valuable amendment, and if one does not add "progress", there are countries in the world who would mistake us for upholders of a perpetual status quo.

May I say also, before I get to the main subjects of my speech, how strongly I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, said about certain diplomatic points. I would also join him most warmly in his tribute to the late Foreign Secretary, Mr. Michael Stewart. On several occasions in recent years the steadiness and courage of Mr. Stewart in moments of great emotion prevented action which might have misled our foreign policy. He kept his head and his courage, he did it in a way which I know will make people realise in the future that he was a very much finer Foreign Secretary than many people may have given him credit for at the time.

I have one other tribute. My connection with Ireland through my family relationship is very complicated, but it is near enough for me to wish to go right back to the beginning of this debate and add my tribute to the address by the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, who began it. The Irish-English language is a very great gift to this country from Irishmen of all persuasions, and it was a real aesthetic as well as political pleasure to hear his thoughtful address in that very distinguished language.

It is very difficult to make up one's mind how to undertake a debate on the gracious Speech, because one is always told that to hammer one subject is the most effective thing to do. But the gracious Speech is not like that, and I have therefore tried to select certain subjects to deal with as quickly as possible. I should like to allude very rapidly to aspects of the European Economic Community, disarmament and also the Gulf and South-East Asia, and then proceed to a little more time on the Middle East and on Southern Africa. On the European Economic Community all that I wish to suggest is this. There has been some controversy as to whether the Government were wise to make an opening statement in somewhat tough language. My view is that they were. It is probably right just on one occasion and rather a formal occasion to indicate to our prospective partners that we can talk to them the kind of language which they have not hesitated to talk to us. But I do not think we should make a habit of it, and I hope that from now on we shall proceed as partners in a great European enterprise, a great new attempt to expand the great experiment which our prospective partners have already begun.

I was happy to see in the gracious Speech mention of disarmament. The previous Government have a quite positive record in this matter. It has required great initiative, great expertness and great persistence, and I would join other noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in expressing the hope that this subject will not become a routine subject, but will be pursued with the same persistence and energy. As a secondary nuclear Power we have a certain say in these matters, a certain special position, and we are therefore listened to, provided that we do our homework and present our case with all the patience that is needed in these very difficult discussions.

I hope, too, that we shall continue to take the whole problem of working in the United Nations with the greatest seriousness. But as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, used the phrase "downgrading" of representation I must quickly take up this point. I know exactly what that means. I would just put the point in this way and, if I may say so, lay it on the line. From the moment that Mr. Attlee (as he then was) chose a distinguished professional diplomat to be our first representative to the United Nations to the moment when Mr. Wilson had the services of a distinguished ex-Colonial Governor and highly active political character, we have had uniformly extremely skilful and courageous representation at the United Nations.

The job is a unique one. You have to be able to work, and indeed to like working in public as a good politician; and you have to be able, like a good diplomat, to argue, to draft with great patience and also constantly to observe the niceties of responding to every kind of international sensitivity. The merit in that job is contributed by the individual and not by the source from whence he comes, and I have no doubt that the consistently high level of representation that we have had will be maintained by whoever is chosen in the future.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one second, only to say that in saying what I said about downgrading I was in no way casting any sort of aspersion on the quality of diplomatic representation that might follow my noble friend Lord Caradon at the United Nations? I was making the point which I had not time to make before: that I believe it important that the representative at the United Nations ought to be someone who is a member of the Government and not simply a diplomatic representative. I hope the noble Lord did not think that I was making any kind of adverse reflection on the quality of diplomatic representation, either in the past or, conceivably, in the future.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. Indeed, I would not suspect him of any such thing. But there has been a certain amount of public supposition that the merit of performance at the United Nations depends upon the source of the person who performs, and I was most anxious that that misunderstanding should not persist. Certainly I had no intention of attributing it to the noble Lord.

If I may now proceed to the question of the Gulf and of South-East Asia, I have not changed my mind in any way since the remarks I made on May 13. But perhaps I might go over the situation in the Gulf once again, because it has certain nuances which I think it important to understand. Of course we hear many reports of Arab complaints against British behaviour. These are conscientiously handed to people who conscientiously report them here, and they should be disregarded as the small change of this kind of situation. What I think is the real psychological process that goes on is that in many cases people who deep in their hearts would like to see us stay have sized up the situation in the way that has been explained by many noble Lords and have decided that for all purposes, and particularly stability, it would be much better if we stuck to our decision to go. We should understand this; it is an important political fact, and I have no doubt that it leads to the conclusion that has been reached already by the previous Government. At the same time, the gracious Speech, with great tact, mentions that consultations should be held with local leaders; and this clearly is the right way to proceed.

May I also, in connection with the Gulf, utter a certain warning to those who will be taking over? It is a very great risk and great responsibility that they assume because, while there is not exactly a Power vacuum, there is a tempting area for people who are stronger and less scrupulous than the people who live there at the moment; and we do not want to leave that area with the feeling that we a re handing it over, as one noble Lord said, to someone else from outside to wield authority there. That is what I take to be the true meaning of neocolonialism, and we do not want it. At the same time I would also suggest a warning to the Rulers of States in that area. They have an example of what you can do and what you cannot do in the Maharajahs of India, who, sadly from their point of view, at a particular point of time preferred their internal quarrels to their common interests. It is extremely important to those Rulers to put their common interests first if there is not to be permanent instability instead of progress in stability.

In regard to South-East Asia, I welcome the decision by the Government to enter into some consultation with our Commonwealth partners about future partnership in defence. I should like to pick up a suggestion made in another place, that in this context we should not forget the importance of Indonesia. I hesitate or enter into the appearance of further controversy with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, but I do not think he will wholly disagree with me if I say his argument was getting a little too near to saying that "a little help is as bad as no help at all". I think that there is a moral and political effect of even a small amount of help, given the whole history of that area.

But, having uttered this rather cautious welcome to what the Government have done—and I mean it to be sincere as well as cautious—may I again make a suggestion, but this time to the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Defence? In offering this co-operation he should keep in his desk drawer two small pieces of paper, on one of which would be written the foreign exchange cost of the average serviceman stationed in that part of the world, and on the other piece of paper the absolute cost. On a fairly recent calculation I made with expert help the foreign exchange cost worked out at something like £1,600 plus. That does not sound much, until you discover that one thousand people cost over £1½ million. In any case, that figure did not include the large sums in sterling which would be needed for purposes of ferrying. I do not attempt to be a statistician in this matter but I would simply sound a warning that while the principle which the Government have accepted is, I am sure, a good one, there are some nasty figures lurking in the background if those who manage this principle are not very careful indeed.

May I now come to the Middle East? I have been a little surprised that we have not at this moment of crisis gone into this area of the world in a little more detail this afternoon. Last time it was discussed in this House there was what might paradoxically be called a stable war situation, in the sense that the Israelis had supremacy in the Suez Canal area, there was an effort to get some progress in Four-Power Talks, and things seemed to be going on in a brutal way yet at a. steady rate. Now, suddenly, all this has changed. There is the great increase in Egyptian defence potentiality; there has been a constructive offer from the United States, and we hope that the Soviet response has been constructive, though we do not yet know; and there is obviously a great sharpening of the situation all round.

If I may diverge for a moment from this, it seems to be generally accepted that there are about 8,000 to 10,000 Soviet advisers of one kind or another in Egypt at this time, and I just pause to reflect what an uproar there would be if there were a quarter of that number of Americans in Israel. I know that the parallel is not exact, but I hope that at some stage we shall haul down the double standard.

In this situation it is quite right that there should be private discussion, but all the same there are certain things that one would like to see being done in public. At the basis of all one's thinking about this area we must be quite clear on one point, that we are not in the presence of one war but of two wars. We are in the presence of the clash of hatred and mistrust between Arabs and Jews; we are also in the presence of exploitation of that situation to further the national aims of the Soviet Union. I am not going to describe them in any less neutral way than that. But this is happening, and I think it is now permissible to say so in public.

If one goes back over the history of recent years, there are two points that stand out extremely clearly. The first is that in May, 1967, this present emergency started with what could only be called the Israelis and the United Nations being "framed" by the U.A.R. and Syria, with Russian cognisance. The Israelis took a desperate counter measure and were successful. But unhappily, after their success, they were not able to infuse their victory with the generosity which would perhaps have brought about if not a solution at any rate a cessation of what was going on. What has unfortunately happened is that the Israelis have tended to insist on something which is really the shadow rather than the substance, that there must be a particular kind of a negotiation, a direct negotiation with individual Arab Governments. I think everybody who knows Arab peoples and Governments advises that this is simply not possible to start with. It may be illogical, it may be unreasonable, but direct negotiation was "not on". Unfortunately, this, given Mr. Eban's latest speech, is still the Israeli point of view. Of course, as the Foreign Secretary said, there must be direct negotiation at some time. But it seems absolutely clear that we shall not get started without third parties or a third party; hence the Four Power negotiations and hence the appointment of Dr. Jarring. Therefore, it is my contention that it is high time that Dr. Jarring got back in that area.

May I expand for a moment on that point? It is objected that there is nothing for him to do; that the situation is so bad, or that he needs further instructions, or that certain Governments will not receive him. Now I realise that the task of a United Nations special representative in the Middle East, sent there to promote efforts to make peace, as the resolution says, is one requiring total personal dedication and total persistence, as well as total steadfastness on the part of the organisation which supports him, namely the United Nations; and that is a very great deal to ask. I should like to pay tribute to what Dr. Jarring has attempted, so far without success. But I did belong, in a very small way, to the hundreds of people who participated in the drafting of the United Nations Charter a quarter of a century ago, and I think those hundreds of people would have been horrified if they had thought then that in a quarter of a century's time there would be a grim and growing war in the Middle East and there would be no United Nations political or diplomatic presence at all. I cannot believe that this is right, and I hope, therefore, either that the Four Powers may be able to agree, if they have to agree, supplementary instructions, or that it will anyway prove possible for the United Nations special representative to be there again, and soon.

There were two other small points on that. The first is that it is a fortunate chance that he is in Moscow at this moment. That is relevant. The second point is that if any Government is reluctant to receive him (and I have been told that' some may be) that implies an extreme weakness of some kind in that Government's case. If so, Dr. Jarring should be there to help us to an understanding of what it is. So we need indirect negotiations, the presence of Dr. Jarring and, if I may put it in this way, some restraint by the Soviet Union, which I trust the Soviet Union will exercise, in the pursuit in that area of its national and doctrinal objectives. If there is that restraint, a great many lives will be spared and a great deal of destruction will be avoided.

If I may now come to Rhodesia and Southern Africa, I should like to consider them separately, but may I suggest one general principle which should cover all cases; that is, that the policy of any British Government in this context should be one of looking towards the future. There have been things in the past which have been pleasant and profitable; there may be things at present; but the eye must be on the future of a continent which is developing with such momentum and with such—shall we say?—pace.

In the case of Rhodesia the gracious Speech tells us that a further effort will be made to see whether a sensible solution can be arrived at, and we must presumably take it that the Government will indeed make this effort. It will, says, the gracious Speech happily, be made in accordance with the Five Principles. I think that whether you deal with it under five principles or six, there is a preponderant a paramount, principle, and that is the first principle of all. It is that the principle and intention of unimpeded progress to majority rule, already enshrined in the 1961 Constitution, would have to be maintained and guaranteed. That does not mean majority rule tomorrow, or the day after, but it is the light at the end of the tunnel, and there cannot be any suggestion that the tunnel should be blocked or the light extinguished. That must surely be the guiding principle for any Government and for any negotiator in this matter. I have every confidence that that principle will be observed. If the effort is made and is not successful, I would also observe that it would be very unwise for this Government to be the one which took any initiative in the matter of slackening sanctions. That is an international political observation, and I believe it to be correct and important Now to come to the important problem—


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? It is merely whether he means that sanctions, if necessary, be kept on permanently? I only ask for this reason: that he spoke about unimpeded progress to majority rule, but added that it might go, as I understood it, at any pace, fast or slow. He did not mention any limitation of time during the whole of that period, which might be years and years, that sanctions would have to continue.


My Lords, the thought that I have in this respect is that our position in this matter is particularly delicate. It may well be that in due course there would be a consensus that sanctions were not profitable, not effective, and there might be a motion towards relaxing them. I think that this country would only do itself and its interests harm if it were seen to be at the head of a drive to relax the sanctions way ahead of other countries who might be more hesitant. It is perhaps a tactical point, but it is important. As regards the length, that of course would be a matter for negotiation, as it has been before.

As regards South Africa, I think, speaking from the Cross-Benches, that one has a slight advantage in that one can try to analyse this profoundly difficult problem free of either great emotion or a spirit of emulation and contest; and I have tried to do that, although necessarily, in the time available, my analysis will be too superficial. But if we go back to 1955 and the conclusion of the Simons-town Agreement, we find that it was produced in order that the sea routes might be secured from outside aggression, and that it was welcomed at the time by Mr. Attlee as "a satisfactory settlement of a difficult question".

Since that time things have altered, as it were, in both directions. In the first place, apartheid has become a much more active issue, understood or misunderstood by a great part of the world. Secondly, because of apartheid South Africa has left the Commonwealth and therefore there are differences in our relationship. There has also been "the wind of change" which brought independence to so much of new Africa. Working the other way, South Africa has become even more important to us as a market and the idea of outside aggression, which in 1955 was simply a "precautious" word, is now something which is constantly in people's minds. So that while this question may be one of emotion it is also one of very tough priorities for any British Government to consider.

I agree with the analysis which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, gave of the economic aspect. To put it very crudely, it seems that we can maintain a favourable balance of payments without receipts from the sales of arms to South Africa. I know that that situation may change, but, given that fact, I cannot see any case for the sale of arms simply for economic reasons. Of course we should earn more, but it is not a matter of life or ruin, in terms of the balance of payments.

There is another factor qualifying the situation. Certainly, we can use this facility of Simonstown, but I feel very strongly that as a matter of presentation we must never get into the position where apartheid is a good ally against Communism. That is a fatal position to get into. There is a good economical Latin saying—non tali auxilio: not with help like that. I think, also, that one could settle for the definition of Simonstown as "useful", which was given by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. But I think that that perhaps means that it is something that we want. It is not something that we can simply dismiss as an aberration, nothing to do with modern warfare. Of course it is not old-style protection of a trade route. It is a facility, and in this state of the world one does not despise facilities: one does not know whether they are going to come in useful some day. Another factor is that there is, as has been amply proved in another place and here, no obligation under the Agreement to furnish arms to South Africa.

Where does this bring us, my Lords? I think it brings us to this: that we do not know the answer to one vital question: will the future use of these facilities cause us any of the things that are being so strongly talked about? We do not know, and the Government, quite rightly, do not tell us. Therefore, at this stage of the argument, we can only hope that the Government will not do anything which will shock the conscience of this country or upset in a big way the new African world. We do not know what the price would be, and before we can make up our minds on whether we approve or disapprove of the policy we must know that. In the meantime, public opinion has been working on this subject and will continue to work.

I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, will make a formidable case for the point of view which we know he will put, but I would join with the three other noble Lords on the Cross-Benches—Lord Caccia, Lord Trevelyan and Lord Bourne—in putting to him very strongly—


My Lords, the noble Lord spoke of the public conscience. Would he always feel that loyalty to the United Nations must override public security for this country?


My Lords, if I may turn the point back on the noble Lord, I think the public conscience would feel, even in circumstances of great strain, that it would be wrong to sell machine guns to the South African Government. If I may say so again, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, having made his case as formidably as I know he will, will listen to the voice of a few modest people on these Benches and decide not to put this matter to a Division. I urge him for this reason. If, as would seem likely, the Government felt compelled to reject his Amendment on account of its inopportunity, which would be a quite logical thing to do, then what would happen would be misunderstood in the United Nations and in the new Africa as being the universal attitude of this country. That would not be true. But there could be great misunderstanding if this matter were brought to a head at this point, when perhaps a little more patience might still lead to the result which the great majority of our people would commend.

7.27 p.m.


My Lords, I last addressed your Lordships in May when we had our defence debate, and there is little that I want to add to the remarks that I made then. The little I have to say concerns our maritime forces, both naval and air, and I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, will forgive me if I do not follow his most interesting speech too closely. Basically, I hope above all else that Her Majesty's Government will continue to keep Russia's 350 submarines in the forefront of their minds, for short of nuclear war it is those submarines which in my view, though not, I understand, in the view of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, constitute the greatest threat to our country. And one of the areas of greatest threat will, I believe, be off the Cape.

In the last war I was for two and a half years, under that most distinguished Admiral Sir Max Horton, responsible for the operations of our submarines based in this country, and though I freely admit that I am now getting rather out of date I still have some knowledge of the subject, and I submit that as my view for what it is worth. We and our allies must between us be able to deploy a large enough anti-submarine force to neutralise that great fleet of modern submarines. Let us make no mistake, my Lords. Let us be in no doubt. Those submarines are there to provide a mortal threat to our supply lines whenever Russia deems the moment ripe.

The other point I wish to make is that, like the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, with whose speech I wholly agree, I believe that if it is humanly possible we should keep our two large carriers, the "Eagle'' and the "Ark Royal", in commission or the next few years; in fact, until we have new small carriers and VTOL aircraft available for service with the Fleet.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord to ask one question for clarification? I sometimes find myself confused about the strategic doctrines being advanced from the opposite Benches. Is this threat to the sea routes envisaged by the noble Lord as taking place in the context of a nuclear war, or is it envisaged in the context of some kind of conventional war taking place at sea without a major confrontation taking place between the major Powers?


The second, my Lords, before a nuclear war takes place. I regard this as a conventional war.

These two carriers will in my view be essential to work in with the Australian carrier to cover our trade routes in the Indian Ocean and to put out bush fires in that vast area bounded by the Cape, the Gulf and Singapore. As I understand it, there are two main difficulties to be overcome if "Eagle" and "Ark Royal" are to be kept going, one financial and the other manning; but I believe that the retention of these two carriers is so important that drastic steps would be justified to keep them in commission. I would in fact go so far as to say that I believe we should be justified in not building a fifth Polaris submarine, and justified also in paying off, say, four or perhaps even six County class destroyers to provide the necessary crews. If I had the good fortune to command a squadron in the Far East, I know that if I had the choice between a carrier and three County class destroyers in that squadron I would not have the slightest hesitation in choosing the carrier. Of course, if we are going to retain even a modest maritime force in the Far East, a modest naval base will also be necessary, either at Singapore or in Australia; but with the closing down of naval bases that has already taken place all round the world this may not be an insuperable difficulty.

My Lords, I am not of course in a position to estimate the bill for the two highly important matters I have referred to, but I am sure that from the defence point of view it is vital that we should at all times be ready to contain and neutralise Russia's submarine fleet and that we should, to put it at its lowest, be very unwise not to have carrier-borne aircraft available in. the Indian Ocean to guard our oil supplies and general trade routes from attack by Russia's fast-growing maritime forces. As a welcome by-product of the two courses of action I have suggested, I believe it would soon become apparent to people up and down the country that the Navy is at last passing the dangerously low level it has reached, and that with its revival we should soon see a marked and beneficial effect on recruiting.

7.33 p.m.


My Lords, in the first four and a half hours of this debate on the gracious Speech the subject of the Middle East has been touched on more than once, and I would assume that in the next four and a half hours it will be touched on again; but I make no apology for referring to it myself because I am more concerned at the moment, in a world of problems and crises, about this particular area than anywhere else, and. my apprehensions are not lessened at all by current happenings in the area. The supply and the use of ground-to-air missiles by the United Arab Republic, doubtlessly backed by technicians and. crews giving the know-how, can only lead to an intensification of the problem there and, in turn, to heavier reprisals from the Israelis. I think that possibly the Middle East is now more dangerous to world peace than South-East Asia itself.

At the time, many people in this country, and indeed throughout the world, doubted the wisdom of the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. Most, however, would now agree that their fears expressed at that time were unfounded. The decision to create a State of Israel, as in fact the objective individual will admit, led to a near miracle in that area. But I am afraid it has also led to a state of what one can almost describe as continuous war. The noble Lord, Lord Janner, in his maiden speech, upon which I should wish to congratulate him, mentioned the fact that since her inception in 1948 Israel has absorbed thousands of Stateless Jews, many of them from Europe, Asia and Africa, and many of them having memories, vivid memories, still in their minds of Hitler's camps and the death chambers. By irrigation and desalinisation of sea water, Israel has in this period of time reclaimed great tracts of former swamp and desert and made them into fertile land. She has done something else in that area: she has introduced a form of democratic Government which the majority of people in the area had not seen before. Few, if any of them, had ever had a vote. She has created a system of democracy in which there are many—from some points of view perhaps too many—political Parties, and here both Arab and Jew, most of them for the first time, are able to vote in an election for a Party of their choice. She has done this since 1948, despite continuous preparedness for and engagement in actual warfare.

I was thinking back yesterday, when making a few notes for this (as I hope it will be) short speech, about the position in May and June of 1967 when Egypt, backed by Syria and maybe Russia, decided to close the Straits of Teran to all shipping bound for Israeli ports—all shipping. We remember the newspaper comments at the time; the suggestion that perhaps British or American warships could escort through the Straits British or American merchantmen carrying goods to Eilat. But we were told that this was impossible; no ships could possibly get through under the Egyptian batteries overlooking the Straits. My Lords, those batteries were overrun from inland in a matter of a few hours, and that was Israel's reply. I mention this only to demonstrate that she has looked after and can look after herself, given an opportunity to do so. On the other hand, she would not wish to continue fighting, shooting, warfare, for one minute longer than is absolutely necessary.

The six-days war which followed gave Israel a great victory, but of course it did not bring peace, and much land formerly inhabited by Arabs was now under Israeli occupation. It gave her at once greater security for her borders, but it also rendered thousands of Arabs homeless. I know and believe that Israel wants peace. Given the opportunity, she would be prepared to use her knowledge and skills for all the people in the area. She must, however, in her desire for peace, be prepared to make some territorial adjustments to her present borders. But in this, again, she could hardly be expected to agree, for example, to live under Syrian gun emplacements on the Golan Heights.

We must pose the question, if we look at the problem objectively: What of the Palestinian Arabs displaced and rendered homeless, not only in 1967 but in the several wars since 1948? The problem was difficult enough to resolve before 1967, and of course it has been greatly exacerbated as a result of the six-days war. However, at this point it is perhaps worth remembering (and worth realising by some people who often regard Israel as a place in which only Jews live) that nearly a quarter of a million Arabs have been living peacefully and, so far as we can judge, happily in Israel for over the past twenty years, and their ancestors for many years before—that is, from the inception of the State of Israel and before. There, in Israel, they are equal citizens, having equal rights for their own political Parties. One noble Lord to-day mentioned apartheid in Israel. There is no such division in Israel. Nevertheless, I am not saying that I believe that every Arab in Israel is as happy as perhaps he might wish to be—any more than perhaps are some of the Welsh or Scots in Great Britain. The Arab refugee problem is an extremely difficult one, but it is not insoluble. Israel must, and I believe would be prepared to, take her share in its solution; but of course there is a limit to the number of Arabs that she can absorb.

The United Nations has been mentioned on numerous occasions in the course of this debate, and like most other speakers I am a supporter of the United Nations. I believe in it; but nevertheless I am not always happy when the Great Powers differ over problems such as the one in the Middle East. Fortunately, the result is generally acceptable. I do not think it is perfect because the problem is that while in pursuing this sort of "resolutionary" path the United Nations eventually arrive at a resolution acceptable to the signatory nations after a great deal of discussion, it seems to me that a resolution of that sort is not always acceptable to the participants in the conflict. Therefore, despite what has been said in the debate I doubt whether the Middle East crisis can be solved by outside agencies alone. I would encourage (and I am sure the Israel Government would be prepared to listen to them) any and every outside agency. But the final solution, the final details, must surely be between the Arabs and the Israelis. It is going to take time and it will take forbearance and patience.

The Arab nations refuse to accept the existence of Israel as a fact. If those Arab nations on Israel's border would, for a star:, give up all talk of destroying the State of Israel, of driving the Israelis into the sea, then that could be a first step. It is not exactly an acceptance of Israel, but it is a step forward and I think a big one. It recognises that Israel is there and, if they do not already know it, it recognises that Israel is a powerful if a small nation. But at the same time I believe that the Israel Government should accept some responsibility, and say so, towards the rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced Arabs. That, too, could be another step. She could give an undertaking to withdraw from some of the occupied territories—which I am sure she would be prepared to do. But, equally, she would have to be given guarantees of security for her borders.

These are the sort of seemingly unimportant little steps which are extremely important in themselves. If only these things are said, they could lead to the end of the shooting. That having been done, the solutions will come through the activities of outside organisations, through Four Power talks, and so on, and through the Israelis and the Arabs talking together. The short but important steps that I have suggested may be too much to ask or expect. I think, in fairness, that the Arabs may find them less easy to accept than would the Israelis; but nevertheless to me they make sense.

Both sides in this conflict must in their hearts want peace:, neither can afford the economic strains, the disruptions of normal life and the horrible fears which must be in the hearts and minds of both Arabs and Jews—fears which must be in every home, whether that home is a simple black Bedouin tent in the desert or a luxury flat in Tel Aviv. Israel is a small country, with a. population of something like 2½ million people of mixed origins, people who have come from all the Continents of the world but who have now welded themselves into a nation. Given the chance, and given peace, they could make an enormous contribution to the well-being of people in that area.

My Lords, I hope that the Four Power talks will go on; but I think that a solo effort, perhaps by the British Government acting as a mediator, could make an impression of some sort. If we could determine what are the minimum requirements from both sides for a cease fire and get that firmly established, at least that would be of some help. What a great tragedy it is that killing, bombing and destruction threaten the whole of this area, the whole of this land, which to most of the people in the world is the Holy Land.

7.47 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, began this debate with a thought which amounts to a picking out of what will be the leitmotif of this Parliament by referring to the great legacy that the new Government had received in the form of the strongest economy in living memory, or whatever it is. Therefore perhaps he will not hold it against me if I make a remark slightly in tune with that—or perhaps not in tune with that. Quite a long time ago I recall that the Prime Minister in the late Government said he was going to fight the next Election upon his Government's record. That remark emboldened me to lay a wager, at odds of 2 to 1 on, that we should have a Conservative Government by Christmas of this year. I have therefore nothing to complain about, either politically or personally, and I rise to address your Lordships in a state of euphoria and good will to one and all.

I hope that I shall not be thought to be deceptive as I go on, but I should particularly like to express a word of appreciation of the remarks at the end of Lord Chalfont's speech which, if I may say so, contained a great deal that impressed me as being more statesmanlike than many speeches we hear.

I am thinking of that part of his speech in which he was referring not to political matters but to the future problems of the world. I found it very striking indeed, and I personally agree with what he says on the nature of the problem. Where I depart from him—and I must do that—is that, having stated what the problems are, and identified, I think rightly, what he described as the great moral issue of this century, he went on to express the opinion that by selling arms to South Africa we should place ourselves on the wrong side in that issue. He said also (and he will forgive me if I paraphrase him wrongly; I am not attempting to quote him directly) that if we do this Britain will have shown to the world where we stand in the great conflict between the rich and the poor, the oppressors and the oppressed. I think that those are near enough to the noble Lord's words.

I should be inclined to offer that to the Guinness Book of Records for their non sequitur section if it were not for the fact that I read in The Times a few days ago a letter which contains these words: Not only would such an action"— referring to the selling of arms to South Africa— destroy the prestige of Britain in the United Nations and with the developing world, it would inevitably create the impression that Her Majesty's Government supports racial policies at home and abroad. I defy anybody to say either that we follow racial policies at home or abroad, say in the U.S.A., or that any serious-minded person in any other country could conclude from anything that we may do in the matter of arms to South Africa that we do give such support. That letter came from the Chairman and Secretary of the United Nations Organisation of Great Britain.

My noble friend Lord Lothian earlier this afternoon used a phrase, which struck me somewhat, to the effect that people are becoming deafened and disillusioned by words that have no purpose. Words such as those that I have quoted certainly have a purpose, and it is one that I confess I do not greatly care about. I am inclined to wonder whether they have any meaning. They are supported by similar though less powerful statements, and I have no doubt that they will be again (as they have been during this debate) by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, when he comes to speak on his Amendment. The noble Lord himself has already said on the radio that selling arms to South Africa will show that we have taken a wrong turning in the—I forget exactly how he put it—great "contest between black and white", or something of that sort.

My Lords, all this, to my mind, is very nearly completely nonsense and I think that what we are suffering from is the utterances of the members—some of them unwitting members and some deliberately members—of a new cult that has grown up in the last decade or so: the cult of anti-racialism. There is nothing wrong with racialism, which simply means exerting or encouraging animosity on the part of one race against another. On that basis I can claim to be an anti-racialist myself. But we now have a new definition of the word "racialism", and it is upon this that the anti-racial cult, as I choose to describe it, is founded. To these people racialism does not mean simply what I have just said. It means that, with the modification, the proviso, the limitation, that racialism is something that can be practised by the inhabitants—either in part, individually, or as a whole—of certain white countries against countries inhabited by persons of another colour. These people must be white, for if they are of the same colour and they exert racialist tendencies against persons of another colour other than white or their own colour (black v. brown; brown v. black; black v. black or anything you like) it would be thought to be simply the continuation of an ancient feud or some totally normal state of warfare, animosity, or whatever it may be, between those races.

It does not apply to all white nations. The most completely and determinedly racial white nation, I suppose, is Australia, which from the very beginning has refused ever to admit any coloured immigrants. Nobody ever accuses the Australians of being racialist. I think that their attitude is probably very widely approved: it is by me. I think that they have been absolutely sensible and right from the very beginning. But I have no doubt that if I were to say now, "What a mistake we have made! If only we had don; what the Australians have done and allowed no coloured people into the country at all!", I should instantly be branded as a "Powellite"—and probably "a dirty Powellite" at that.

This anti-racialism, represented by what I choose to call a cult, is selective. Not only is it selective, but it is carried to such lengths that it becomes at times, I think, almost hysterical; and it becomes most hysterical when it begins looking towards South Africa. The South Africans have given us reasons for this by inventing apartheid. They have actually given it a word, and so it is convenient to fix on that. It makes a good war-cry in Trafalgar Square, or outside Lord's cricket ground, or anywhere else you like to think of. But the matter is not quite so simple as that, and there is no reason that I can see why, simply because South Africans are undoubtedly racial in their policy, they should be singled out by the rest of the world—perhaps not by the rest of the world, but particularly by people in Great Britain, and indeed in your Lordship;' House—as being the black sheep of the world. However, I do not wish to argue that. I am not arguing in favour of apartheid, which I loathe and abhor as much as anyone else.

Then, my Lords, we get the strange situation that when anybody tries to do anything in concert with the South African Government, he is instantly branded as supporting the white South Africans against the blacks—which must, I submit, be nonsense. The next stage is reached when the matter becomes an issue of morality. The previous Administration and the present Government have sold goods (and nobody has ever suggested we should not) by way of trade to South Africa. Our trade in a general way is increasing, and has been increasing over the last few years. Our imports from South Africa, in fact, slightly exceed our exports. Thus the balance of trade is slightly in South Africa's favour.

One of the things we are doing in this matter is to provide South Africa with the one basic raw material of all weapons of war, of whatever kind or for whatever purpose they may be used; namely, money. Very well, my Lords: the Government and the Parties accept that. I accept it. But having accepted it, I am inclined to think that if I were a Leader of a Government that accepted it, I should feel a little inhibited about the height of the horse on which 1 was to climb in proclaiming the immorality of sending to the South Africans the arms themselves—arms over which we should enjoy a complete power of veto as regards their design and their specifications.

Not everyone, as we very well know, feels inhibited in this way. The Leader of the Opposition himself has said (I do not pretend to quote him) that to turn our backs on the policy of not selling arms to South Africa would be to overturn policies based on morality—and he said something else which I forget. Those words are repeated, with greater or lesser degrees of unction and force, by politicians and others here and there. My Lords, sanctimony is never endearing, and when it is carried to this length I personally find it unpleasant.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? He has succeeded in losing me completely' in this rather convoluted argument. He says that because we trade with South Africa, and they have a favourable balance of trade, they therefore have the means to buy arms; therefore it is illogical that we should not supply them with arms. Is this some new kind of doctrine? Because it seems to me, for example, that if you pay a man wages, you give him money which, if he wishes, he may use to buy dangerous drugs. Is it therefore moral and right to supply him with the dangerous drugs? I am not quite sure of the logic of this argument.


No, my Lords, I see the noble Lord's difficulty; it is one that I myself have caused. The argument is this: that it is perfectly all right, and I do not object at all, to sell whatever it may be—pea-shooters, if you like, or any kind of trade goods—to South Africa. It does provide them with money which they can spend on arms, drugs or anything you like. But I do not accept that it follows from that that it would be in order to say that it would be perfectly all right to supply them with arms. All I say is that if I am doing that, then, when I draw the line at selling them the arms themselves, I do not feel inclined to say that I am operating from some very high, lofty moral principle. Does that make it clear?


Yes, my Lords, it certainly makes it very clear.


On the other hand, I do not approve of the idea of putting the whole thing on the basis of money. It is sometimes argued that we should sell these arms to South Africa because it is wrong, in our own interests, to deprive ourselves of £75 million of trade a year. But I do not believe that you can rightly put money against morality, for I can see that there is a moral element here.

What I do believe (and this is the point I wish above all to make) is that this matter is not one of morality; it is not one of apartheid; it is not one of racialism: it is one of defence. I have nothing to say on the rights or wrongs, or the necessity, of this particular matter of defence. I have spoken on this before and other noble Lords have spoken about it now. I would simply ask the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in particular (perhaps he does not know it all but he knows a great deal more than I do; I certainly admit that), why he says that the next war is not going to be a war of engagement in the South Atlantic. To state that is really asking us to address the noble Lord as "noble God". I do not think that anyone can lay down the law quite as firmly as that.

Let us remember that the Russians, whatever kind of threat they may be thought to pose strategically, are increasing their stranglehold on the Middle East. They have probably already got Egypt entirely under their thumb. They will probably open the Suez Canal, under Russian control; and Aden is waiting there as a further base. Nothing can stop this happening. In passing, may I say that we shall find that a great deal more importance will become attached to the situation of Malta in the Mediterranean. However one evaluates the position in the Middle East, the fact remains that there is a strategic threat, and the question of whether or not we ought to sell arms to South Africa should be considered in the light of that threat and in the light of the Simonstown Agreement. The whole point, my Lords, is that this is a matter of defence. It is in the hands of my noble friend who sits immediately below me, and I look forward with confidence to hearing what he has to say on the subject, not necessarily this evening but in time, because I believe that the matter is in good hands. It should be remembered that for Her Majesty's Government the defence of Britain is much more important than some mythical defence of the Bantu.

8.2 p.m.


My Lords, I am going to confine what I have to say to the Amendment, and for three reasons. First, it is one of the most important of all decisions which the Government of the day have to make. Secondly, it is right that it should be debated and that a vote should be taken. The evidence seems to be that the Government have not yet made up their minds, and I would disagree entirely with those noble Lords who feel it better to wait in a kind of vacuum until they do. I hope that, whatever the results of the Division, the arguments that have been deployed may have some influence upon the decisions which the Government have yet to make. Thirdly, this issue of arms to South Africa is the catalyst of so many other companionable and comprehensive issues, and I should like, with your Lordships' indulgence, to deal with a few of them.

I make no apology for dealing first with the proposition that this is in principle a matter of morality. This is my last, and though I may be a poor cobbler I intend to stick to it and do my own thinking to begin with. I have no doubt—in the words of the British Council of Churches—that whatever Her Majesty's Government may say by way of disclaimer, the sale of arms or the renewal of the sale of arms will be interpreted throughout Africa and in the rest of the Third World as a symbol of support by Britain for those who stand for white supremacy in South Africa and so as backing for apartheid." I believe that that is unanswerable as fact. It could be argued that there are reasons for which sophisticated people may doubt it, but the evidence is overwhelming that here is a situation which would so be interpreted and therefore I believe that it would be wrong.

On this there is confluence of agreement of an unexpected and perhaps unprecedented nature within the Christian Churches. I had hoped that one of my professional friends, a right reverend Prelate, would be able to speak in this debate but inadvertently he excluded himself by speaking on an earlier date on the gracious Speech. But I have his permission and encouragement to say what I am sure he would have said better than I—that is, that the British Council of Churches has reiterated its total opposition to the sale of arms to South Africa, a decision made in 1964 and a decision which it feels even more relevant to-day because of the way in which apartheid has continued to be enforced with increasing ruthlessness in South Africa and because of developments in South-West Africa and Rhodesia. The British Council of Churches, through its Department of International Affairs, is at this moment seeking to represent its longstanding position to Her Majesty's Government.

The Congregational Church of England and Wales, in a resolution, calls upon all citizens to oppose the resumption of the arms trade with South Africa by all constitutional means. And in an ascending scale, the Methodist Conference only a few days ago passed the following resolution: That Conference declares its opposition to any supply of armaments to South Africa for any purpose whatsoever. Your Lordships may remember that the Methodist Conference is not an ultra-Left organisation. If I mention that I sponsored the resolution, it will be probably recognised that sponsoring resolutions as I do from time to time in Methodist circles is counter-productive and there is no necessary correspondence between what I propose and what the Methodist Conference decides. But it is significant that with one dissentient—and I am not sure whether he was fully apprised of what he was doing—the entire Conference of over 640 members voted for that resolution.

Do the Government intend to take on the Churches on this matter? If so, we promise them a bonnie fight and offer them the expertise we can express in any obsequies and funeral services. I do not believe that this is a matter which can be turned aside from its moral conspectus in terms of sentiment. I would not beat the drum any further, but would raise one issue on the question of morality of selling arms to South Africa which has not yet, I think—and I have been here most of the time—been ventilated in your Lordships' House to-day. It is this. I can illustrate it perhaps by a reminiscence. I once as prison chaplain knew Eddie Gerry, the notorious international criminal, who made a successful escape from Devil's Island, fell on hard times after being released, became a pickpocket at bus queues and was arrested and sent to Pentonville. I had to deal with him. He became a penitent, not on the broad issue of bank robberies, in which he was adamant in his support, but on the iniquities of standing at bus stops and picking pockets. I did not regard that evidence of repentance: as invalid because he did not yet commit himself to overall penitence for his misdeeds.

I believe that virtue is not necessarily wholesale. There is a profitable retail trade in repentance. Are we to say that because we have unworthy relations in trade and other matters with other countries and deprecate the behaviour and predatory nature of the Soviet Union and yet are in cahoots with them, it is wrong for us to begin to be on the side of virtue in a particular instance as emergent and important as this one? I believe it is wrong to supply arms to South Africa.


My Lords, I have the greatest respect for the noble Lord, but I feel that he is working on an entirely false presumption. The South Africans do not require arms for subduing the law-abiding Africans. There is such a thing as defence. That is what they need their arms for in a country like South Africa, the noble Lord must imagine.


My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord's intervention. Perhaps I might read this statement to him: The charge that NATO arms were used against Zambian villages was investigated independently by three Members of Parliament at the beginning of 1969, when those arms were supplied by NATO for external use to the country concerned (Portugal) and in fact the arms were used against Zambian villages and not for external defence. If arms are supplied for external defence to South Africa, is it credible that people who have experience of what those arms have been doing in Portuguese hands will regard South Africa as sufficiently pure and unblemished in this regard to behave in a different fashion? Of course not. The fact of the matter is that a particular aircraft can be as expeditiously and usefully employed in internal subjection as it can be in external defence. I do not believe the argument that you can make the differentiation valid and stick between arms exclusively used for external defence and those which can equally be used for internal matters.

What I was going on to say was that the supreme practical impact of arms to South Africa will be, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, which I have no doubt he will use later on, in an article that he wrote in the Guardian some time ago, to shatter the credibility of this country in the eyes of many still within Africa who would like to be its friends. I think particularly of Mr. Kaunda, for whom I have deep sympathy; I would not pity him, but I think that he is one of the most unfortunate and disadvantaged leaders in Africa. Is it not credible, is it not possible, is it not certain that he will now be tempted to turn in despair away from this country for support? Will he not be under a strong temptation to follow Nyerere, and to seek some kind of comfort from the Chinese? There is no particular U.S.S.R. presence in that part of Africa, but there is a very real possibility that Kaunda and Zambia will turn Eastward. In that judgment I can claim at least the authority of representatives of the Zambian Government in this country. I believe, further, that embarking upon arms for South Africa will alienate some of our best friends in the Commonwealth.

Finally—for I would not seek to delay your Lordships—I noticed in the ebullient maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, a very large cat which he inadvertently took out of a big bag. It was, as he said, that inadequate arms are really no good at all. It is better to have no arms at all than to have inadequate arms. I want once again to make my own plea to your Lordships, egregious as I know it to be, that there is still at the moment a disposition among many of our younger generation, and among more people in the churches, not only to resist this kind of extension of arms, which is regarded as an evil thing, but to regard the whole business of arms, for the first time perhaps, as subject to the kind of suspicion from which it has emerged more or less triumphantly in past generations but now may well succumb. I still, knowing it to be an egregious proposition, make my witness, in the presence of not a few of the Christian churches and their representation, to the truth, as I see it, that this is an opportunity for a wholesale and widespread programme of disarmament, which alone can rehabilitate us in the eyes of the United Nations, which alone can provide some kind of new dynamic in the emerging problems of Africa, and which alone, as I believe, can be reconcilable with the principles for which I, wearing this collar, stand.

8.14 p.m.


My Lords, when I put my name down to speak I had every intention of talking on immigration from Kenya, in response to a very charming speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. However, as I see he is not in his place, and in any event I think that at this moment it would be very much out of place to talk of it, I do not propose to do so. I was much impressed by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, and was particularly struck by his saying that years ago he had been through German South-West Africa. Years ago as a young man I went through German South-West Africa. I spent some weeks there. The South African consul was very kind to me and showed me many things under German rule. All I can say is that if the African to-day does not like what he has, then let him go back and experience something of what happened in German South-West Africa as it was in the years between, say, 1900 and 1910.

Two years ago, in a maiden speech, I spoke of Rhodesia, and I implored your Lordships, with all the emphasis that I could command, to use conciliation. Those in power at the time did not pay a great deal of attention to that, and we are still waiting for this conciliation. Do your Lordships really think that the fate and future of Rhodesia, which is 300 miles from the sea, is going to be decided 4,000 miles away in the Mediterranean by two men in a boat? It is ridiculous to think of it. The fate and future of Rhodesia is going to be finalised n Rhodesia and nowhere else; and it will be settled between the white man and the black man. Of that I am absolutely convinced. No politician, and nobody from Whitehall, is going to tell them what to do. You have to get into Rhodesia and settle it there.

I was particularly struck, and rather worried, if I may say so with due respect, about the attitude of the Church on this subject. I do not understand this penalty of sanctions. If a man goes wrong, he commits a sin, he goes before the magistrate and gets his punishment. If he is guilty, you do not send him to Coventry; you do not cut off his water, his electric light and his gas; you do not put a constable into the street and forbid the butcher, the baker and the milkman to deliver goods to his family. On the contrary, what you do, that man being a "wrong'un", is to arrange for him to be visited by a welfare officer, by all the people who can do him good, and especially by the parish priest. I say to the Church that instead of sitting back and imposing sanctions they should go to the country and preach a gospel of peace and conciliation. I do not see how anybody can deny that. They should go to the country, get the black man and the white man together, and get them to talk sense. Then something really will be accomplished.

I have had the opportunity in my lifetime to know the black man pretty well. I have worked with him, played with him, fought with him and fought against him. A greater friend and a more noble man you cannot have, but he has to be properly led. That leadership is bound to come; it cannot be denied. Africa and the Africans in a very short time will rule the world. The white man is going lower and lower down the scale, and the black man is going up. Africa, with all its wealth—its gold, its diamonds, its wonderful vegetation, its copper, its magnificent harbours and wonderful rivers—will rule the world. Make no mistake about that. When that time comes we do not want black domination, any more than now we want white domination. We want the two peoples to work together in unity, peace and concord. That I believe they will do if only the people responsible will adopt a policy of friendship and conciliation.

8.20 p.m.


My Lords, with other noble Lords, I should like to join in congratulating the two maiden speakers. The noble Lord, Lord Janner, who is still in the House, spoke sympathetically and convincingly of Israel's concern for the Holy Places, and Lord Shinwell's fascinating speech struck me as something quite unique in this House.

I want to begin my own speech by saying that I regard defence as the protection of vital interests against a specific enemy, and we have on these occasions, unfortunately, to name the enemy: the Soviet Union. I hope before I am called to my fathers to reach a time when the Soviet Union is not the common enemy. Communism is changing, so is capitalism. When I am, as it were, pointing the gun at the Soviet nation and people, I try to imagine that I have beside me a delightful little Russian who entertained us in Vienna and who said to his fellows: Don't make my friend drink in this particular way. You tell him that if he does not empty the glass he is no friend of the Red Army, but that is rubbish. He is my friend, he is a heavy drinker, but there come moments with vodka when he wants to stop. Let him stop. He is still my friend and the friend of the Red Army. Foreign affairs is the science of making friends so that you diminish the necessity for defence. You mollify your enemies, you endeavour to persuade them you are not an aggressor. You try to keep your old allies and remain, friends with all sorts of people in the wings who are not powerless and who have voices; for example, in Africa. It has been said by the Foreign Secretary in another place that we pin our hopes on a great alliance and that that alliance is underpinned by the nuclear power of the United States. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, spoke of the necessity of arranging details of our strategy in consultation with the United States. Without it we are nowhere, and I seem to detect that the independent nuclear deterrent has disappeared happily and we live under the nuclear deterrent of the United States.

There are two matters which we have been asked by the new Foreign Secretary to regard as the facts of life. One is that the United States has asked Europe to shoulder not the whole of its defence, but more, and I wonder whether that will not mean more troops, or something, more expenditure by Britain—a bigger contribution to NATO by us. If so, it has an impact on what we can do elsewhere. The second matter is that a détente of one sort or another is in progress in Vienna, with the talks which are referred to as SALT —some limitation of strategic arms. That is the kind of development that is our greater hope than the appalling balance of terror under which we have to live.

I took very careful note of what the Foreign Secretary said in what is to some extent my pitch—the development of influence on the part of the Soviet Union. He mentioned in the Mediterranean Syria and Egypt. He might also have mentioned Libya and Algeria. He mentioned in the Red Sea Aden and the Somali Republic. He might have mentioned the Sudan and Northern Yemen as well. That area is one where Soviet influence has spread, and I presume that, notwithstanding our hope that the Suez Canal will presently be opened. I suppose that if it is under Soviet control and any nefarious action is taken in time of war, it can be destroyed by anyone from a distance just as much as it can be by them, and revert to its present uselessness.

I came to this House failing to be convinced with the argument for a presence in the Indian Ocean and round the Cape to guard our lines of communication. I fail to be convinced that what is proposed would in any way achieve what we want. If our oil moves around the Cape—and I am not in a position to say whether the present large tanker will ever go through the Suez Canal—with all this additional influence that the Soviet Union has, surely if interference in the Southern Atlantic is a possibility the tankers will be "nobbled", or whatever else is done, 3,500 miles before they have reached the Simonstown defences and resources. The more modern submarines there are, the less is it possible for one or two carriers to protect our tankers if they are subject to this attack. I regret to say that I cannot follow what the Government are trying to persuade us is the precise movement of tankers, their defence and so on. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, entirely demolished the case.

I personally welcome the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon—not that its wording pleases me very much, but it has produced a focus of interest in this debate and has focused it on a vital point. I hope he will keep a dark secret until after the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has replied whether he is going to press his Amendment to a vote or not. Personally I hope not. In that respect I join two other noble Lords on the Cross-Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, and the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan.

I want frankly to say that on the evidence we have before us, notably the massive case of demolition by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, I would on a future occasion vote against this particular aspect. I wonder whether we could get from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, or his chief, some undertaking that the matter will be postponed tonight and brought up again before the arms are supplied to South Africa. Such supply would result in a grave angering of black Africa for an insufficiently grave reason. I am by no means willing to accept the argument with regard to the gravity of this particular reason. I have been a soldier for 27 years and the defence of this country is of vital importance to me. I notice that the United States does not seem to think that the supply of arms to South Africa is necessary, and it prefers that we do not do it. Therefore, cannot the matter be postponed until after the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has been to Washington? These matters can then be studied there and with our Commonwealth partners and with Iran, which does not want it; and Iran is a very important area, buttressed between ourselves and the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, this increase in influence of the Soviet Union is something of which I have had a little personal experience, not in many parts of the area affected but in some—for instance, in the Somali Republic. In the areas I have studied there is no question that the Soviet Union is not the prime mover in intervention; it is the local people who have gone to the Soviet Union imploring its assistance for one reason or another.

The mildest of the Arab States is, I suppose, Tunisia. It has not been named yet as under Soviet influence. Bourguiba's radio, a week before the Six Day War, gave it out that beyond question the establishment of Zionism in Palestine was an affront to human rights. The expression was only a little more extreme than that of our own Royal Commission in 1937, which declared that we had made two pledges; in other words, we had established two irreconcilable rights in the same place. I have watched since 1932 when the situation seemed to me to be bound to develop in that way—a clash of irreconcilable rights. We have in the course of time established two valid rights. It would be wrong to dispossess the Jews. It was wrong to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs. And it is between Zionists and Palestinian Arabs, and their patrons on either side, that the quarrel exists.

We have brushed the Palestinian Arabs under the carpet—we hardly ever mention them. Only lately they have seemed to be going to topple Jordan and we are obliged to take note of them. What is the solution? I cannot believe that two peoples like that, the Palestinian Arabs in particular, should be told to agree. It seems to me that this is one of the occasions in human affairs when the solution must be imposed by higher powers and enforced. It could be done. No doubt it would be camouflaged so that an agreement would appear to have been arrived at. I cannot accept that after fifty years of this situation, including three wars and five revolutions, agreement is going to be reached by the parties concerned.

Once that is over, once a solution has been reached, nine-tenths of our troubles with the Arabs are finished. We ended the First Great War fifty years ago with the Arabs everywhere eating out of our hands and regarding us as the champions of their liberty. It is by our own acts that we have forfeited this good will. If the problem of the Zionist colony which we established there is settled, back we go. There is no particular affinity between the Soviet Union and the Arabs. I have seen both on the spot. I have been round Berbera with a Russian engineer. He said, "I love 100 degrees of frost, and here I am in 100 degrees of heat." There are many other irreconcilable complications. But the States in question have begged the Soviet Union to come and help them against policies for which we have been responsible. My Lords, that is all I will contribute to-day.

8.35 p.m.


My Lords, stability in the Middle East, through Four-Power talks or in any available way, including Europe speaking with one voice, would seem to be the Prime Minister's desire. As on July 2 in another place he referred to our long connections with the Arab world, and in view of France's long connection with the MAGHREB countries, a joint effort might be worthy of consideration. Should we not seek with France an economic meeting point to this Middle East problem? For is it not only by economic action that one can hope for an improvement in the political situation there?

Let us not forget, too, France's interest in Libya. It could truthfully be said that the present passions and conflicts which could so easily develop have an economic origin. The fear of certain MACHRECK Governments of being unable to ensure for their nationals the social and economic development to which they aspire is proof of this. The call to Arab unity tragically reflects this too. This is a call for brotherhood and solidarity among the economically weak to the stronger self-supporting States against a common danger. It is on this account that there are the present threats of coups d'états, revolts, civil wars and so forth. The Egypt/Israel war is therefore not the cause of the detestable tension in that area but a seriously aggravating factor.

A peaceful solution brought about by a global agreement between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., and acceptable to those concerned, seems so far off that one wonders whether it would not be preferable to endeavour to create conditions which would progressively reduce tensions and lower passions, and which might act as a drop of oil on troubled waters. This search for peaceful conditions—a peace treaty being as yet so remote a possibility—must surely start from a realisation of the basic economic and social necessities of that area if one is to seek stability. From a European aspect or concept, of which we are part, a preliminary to this quest for peaceful conditions could therefore be a desire on our part to seek with France ways and means of coordinating our policies and interests in those areas. This should be done, I feel, in agreement with our E.E.C. and EFTA partners, with a view to exploring a common negotiating basis of possible talks with interested Middle Eastern and MAGHREB States. The increasing volume of exchanges between the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean shows that there is a large field of common or mutual interest to be explored and developed.

I turn to another area in the Mediterranean. If one considers Western Europe as a valid entity, and European unity as important, then I feel that Greece must be considered as a part of that entity and as a valuable ally in that area of the Mediterranean. I should therefore like to refer to an editorial which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on December 13 last. It was headed, "Greece Takes the Rap", and read as follows: Member States of the Council of Europe in their normal handling of international problems show the patience and ingenuity of professionals in avoiding ruptures, leaving doors ajar and so on. These methods were thrown to the winds in a paroxysm of mass diplomatic hysteria over the Greek question. The legitimate aim of pressurising the Colonels' régime into the restoration of freedom at a practicable rate with the least possible damage to Greece and to Europe as a whole was suddenly forgotten in a punitive frenzy. Further on, the article continued: The British Government succumbed to the critics breathing down its neck", and, still further on: All in all, thanks to a lot of Left-wingers, self-righteous prigs and Governments without civil courage, a most damaging dummy-run for European unity. We now have a change of Government from whom I am seeking (I hope this evening, but at any rate at some later date) a clarification of their policy towards this member of the Western European Powers. After the General Election there appeared in The Times an article under the heading "Foreign policy taking shape". The author wrote: In their relations with Greece the British Government will be primarily concerned not to weaken the N.A.T.O. partnership. In other respects no change is expected in their attitude towards the Greek régime. My Lords, I hope this is not to be the case, for it seems to me to be quite wrong to say, on the one hand, "We shall have close and friendly relations regarding our mutual defence interests", but, on the other hand, "We wish to have distant relations in other spheres." Therefore in one particular area I would ask Her Majesty's Government to consider at least encouraging the development of cultural relations between our two countries as one method of bridge-building.

There is at present in force an Anglo-Greek Cultural Convention (Cmd. 8418) under whose terms over the past year only 89 Greek persons visited this country on exchange schemes, and only six British experts in specialist fields visited Greece. I hope that at the next meeting of the Mixed Commission, which is to take place in London in September, Her Majesty's Government will avail themselves of the opportunity to seek an extension of these exchanges under British Council sponsorship.

The 17-country Royal Society European Programme (which includes Greece) was introduced in January, 1967, and is intended to further relations between research scientists in the university laboratories and other scientific institutions of Western Europe. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will assist the development of these contacts by cooperating, if required so to do, towards the provision of matching funds by those countries which have not yet done so. I understand, too, that the Royal Society, in conjunction with the British Academy, is considering extending this European cooperation to the humanities. In this context I hope that the recent contact between the British Academy and the Society for Homeric Studies in Greece will prove beneficial.

My Lords, I should like to refer to one other aspect. One would hope also that as, for instance, the Bucharest State Opera and Ballet, the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra, the Bavarian State Opera and Chamber Music and the Czechoslovakian Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing this summer in Athens, our Musicians' Union will consider lifting their ban on Greece. I understand that their decision was linked with the curtailment of liberty of Mikis Theodorakis, but he has now been released.

Then, with British tourists in Greece increasing by 39.8 per cent. between 1968 and 1969, our exports over the same period rising from £39.9 million to £59.4 million, and over 40 per cent. of the export tonnage on order with British shipyards being for Greek account, I feel that there are grounds for improved relations with Greece. We should also recall that the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Papadopoulos, said this year, on the third anniversary of the 21st April Revolution—and I quote: The revolution's work will be completed, and Greece will continue her course towards economic development and the complete functioning of democracy. I would just add that, according to an O.E.C.D. report regarding economic growth, Greece comes second after Japan, with an 8½ per cent. rate of increase.

In conclusion, my Lords, while we are developing our economic relations with Greece I hope that we shall build upon our cultural relations and that Her Majesty's Government believe that Greece is continuing along a course leading to the complete functioning of democracy. For I feel that by not repeating past mistakes much will be achieved in the realm of European unity, and in the context of seeking a European solution to the Middle East problem I hope that Her Majesty's Government will seek, with France, a co-ordination of our policies and interests in that area.

8.47 p.m.


My Lords, it seems to have become the fashion to open one's speech by making some complimentary remarks, and at the outset I should like to welcome the appointment of Sir Alec Douglas-Home as Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. He is the only man in recent years to have held the posts in succession, and now he holds them in conjunction. He is obviously preeminently suited for this dual task, and I join with the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, in expressing the hope that he will give urgent attention to the recommendations in the Duncan Report, notably on adequate remuneration for redundant staff, and overseas accommodation, which will do so much to raise the morale of the Diplomatic Service. I should also like to welcome the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, in opening on behalf of my old Departrment. He should be protected from the charge of any imprecision in his remarks, because it will be the theme of my brief comments this evening that the Government are entirely right to take time to reach conclusions on these difficult issues.

At this late stage there is clearly no time for a general tour d'horizon and I shall confine my remarks to a few brief points. With regard to the defence situation East of Suez, I would say that we cannot hope to exercise a world-wide role and we shall never again maintain bases of a size that were appropriate in an earlier era. In this sense the 1968 decision was entirely right, and certainly right in principle, but in my view it was not entirely right in timing and perhaps in method. As was made clear at the time, the decision was imposed for reasons other than those of defence or foreign affairs, and it came as a great shock to many of our friends. Therefore I think the Government are entirely right to join in consultation with our partners, particularly in South-East Asia, to see whether any modifications are mutually acceptable—and I stress the word "mutually"—which would improve the prospects of stability in that area. Nor would I quarrel with the intention of the Government to see whether, with a fresh approach, some settlement of the tragic Rhodesian problem is possible. In my view they are not only fully entitled to make the attempt; it is indeed their duty to do so. Alas!, on the other hand I can see little prospect of a successful settlement unless Mr. Smith is prepared to give up his present constitution, many of the provisions of which are in flat contradiction to the Five Principles. We have, after all, a duty to the Africans which we cannot give up. I think the Government are right to keep on sanctions in the meantime, to make the attempt to see whether a settlement is possible and to keep their hands free in the light of what any ultimate negotiations reveal.

This brings me to the nettle of arms for South Africa which, as has been said, is an extremely difficult and complex issue, and it is certainly not simple to know where to draw the line. I need say very little more on this subject because my views were so admirably expressed in what I thought was a very eloquent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, and I agree with every word he put forward. I would only add this. I am a little worried that there is a risk of exaggeration, perhaps on both sides of this particular argument. I seem to remember, for example, that the previous Administration took a little time to establish that such a strong moral principle was in fact involved; and, of course, once you get involved in arguments of morality the logical conclusion is that if no arms at all can be sent to South Africa why should trade or investment in South Africa be allowed? Certainly British investment in South Africa must provide at least some of the infrastructure of what their armed services can afford.

On the other side of the argument, if there is indeed a serious threat to our sea communications along the Cape route, I find it difficult to believe that it will be entirely dispelled by sending a few ships or aircraft to South Africa. On the contrary, there seems to me a real danger that the Soviets might acquire facilities somewhere on the continent of Africa at the invitation of Governments who would feel, however unjustly, that their cause had been betrayed. Of course, no one wants to sacrifice British interests to blackmail by African extremists, but I beg the Government to consider very seriously, as I am sure they will, the explosive effects round Africa that could be caused if anything that could be regarded as encouragement to apartheid were offered. However illogical, one must understand the cumulative frustrations in the African mind and weigh the consequences of rousing deep emotions.

For the reasons that I gave earlier, I hope very much, with the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, and other noble Lords who have spoken from the Cross-Benches, that this Amendment will not be pressed to a vote. If it is, I am bound to say I shall have to vote against, because in my view it would be wrong to tie the Government's hands in advance of their consideration of all aspects of the question, which I feel they are bound to give. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, to consider what would be the effect of pressing the Amendment to a vote if it were to be defeated. That, I should have thought, as the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, mentioned, might be quite seriously misinterpreted round the world.

There is one small, final point I wish to touch on very briefly. I await with considerable anxiety the Bill to amend the law relating to immigration. Any proposals such as one has seen suggested, to equate the status of Commonwealth citizens with that of aliens, whatever practical effects are intended, could have utterly disastrous psychological results. I have had a good many enquiries from many of my friends in Commonwealth countries as to what is in fact intended. Is an Australian or a New Zealander really to regard himself as an alien if he comes to this country? What effect will the Amendment have on the Asians in Kenya who have been recognised as British subjects? Will the provisions for voting et cetera which have traditionally been accorded to British subjects be withdrawn, and, if so, will they still continue to apply to citizens of the Irish Republic? In that event, I can see very serious bitterness developing. These are some of the questions to which one will need satisfactory answers if the Bill when introduced is not to prove a seriously divisive measure. In conclusion, I would only repeat that I think the Government deserve time to build on the solid work of their predecessors, as it certainly was in so many respects, but also to review what new initiatives need to be taken; and I am confident that in their review in these circumstances they will take very much to heart the sincere anxieties expressed in the course of this debate.

8.56 p.m.


My Lords, I trust the noble Lord, Lord Garner, will forgive me if I do not follow the line of argument he has taken up. I propose rather to follow the statements of my noble friend, Lord St. Helens, and the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, regarding the problems confronting us in regard to defence and the Army, and perhaps I may elicit some sympathetic understanding from the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, whose speech has delighted us to-day and given us an example of how to be uncontroversial.

There is one point for which we can be grateful regarding the troubles in Northern Ireland. It has made us take a hard look at the structure of the Army. When such a large proportion of the effective striking force of the Army is deployed on problems of internal security within the United Kingdom, it becomes our duty to examine whether the Army of to-day, with its relatively small spear-heard of fighting men and a swollen administiative tail, is really organised for the tasks which confront us. I think it is salutary to recall the words of the young Winston Spencer Churchill, written in 1900 or 1901, anyhow before he became the Member for Oldham: We shall have a look and see for ourselves, use the evidence of our own eyes and reasons, profit by our dear bought experience, and, leaving Continental armies to their own business, make our military arrangements in accordance with our particular needs and resources. I will spare your Lordships my amateur ideas on the complete reconstruction of the British Army, but I should like to venture the deduction which we should make from our engagement in Northern Ireland at the present time. To my mind, it is clear that we require more light armour and, above all, more infantry. In the foreseeable future there can be no doubt whatsoever that bush fire situations will crop up both in the United Kingdom and outside it and outside Europe. We hope that the Northern Ireland disturbances will sort themselves out quick y; but, of course, we always hope that things like that will not drag on, and almost always they do drag on, at any rate in terms of Army manpower committed, even though the newspapers get rather bored with the whole subject.

Action to this end—more infantry and more light armour—can be quickly and effectively taken. There are certain regiments and battalions under orders for disbandment. I suggest that those orders should be cancelled, wherever that is possible and as soon as possible. It is not a matter of sentiment; it is a matter of urgency, and to delay a decision is to make the restructuring of the Army doubly difficult and doubly expensive. I think it is too late to save the Durham Light Infantry or the Fifth Fusiliers.

It may well be argued that the continuation now of certain units under sen- tence of death is not just a matter of money, but is largely a matter of manpower. I understand hat in recent months there has been quite an improvement in recruiting, and it would indeed be churlish were we not to give full credit to the Labour Government for this. There are, I believe, two main reasons for the better recruiting. The first is the new pay structure which was introduced this spring. That, I believe, has had a quite substantial effect. The other reason, which we equally place to the credit of the late Government, is a substantial increase in the number of unemployed, especially, as I am led to believe, among those who have recently left school. That is the reason why so many of the junior soldier units are now so well up to establishment. For many centuries in times of peace recruiting for the Army has been in direct ratio to the number of unemployed. As a Scottish Nationalist, I know that I shall be accused of trying to push the claims of one specific regiment, but in my view one extra battalion is not anything like enough. We need several more, and some more light armour.

Like other noble Lords, I give a special welcome to that part of the gracious Speech which concerns the role and size of the Territorial Army and the Volunteer Reserve. I do so not out of sentiment for those magnificent units which have twice in a lifetime been ready at a moment of acute crisis; nor do I do it out of memory for those who gave their lives in two world wars. I join with the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, and the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, in welcoming this statement in the gracious Speech for the simple reason that in times of crisis without some local volunteer force we are vulnerable to the enemy without the gate and vulnerable to the enemy within the gate; and when we are vulnerable we tempt trouble.

In implementing this statement I would ask the Government to avoid a cumbersome and sophisticated structure for the Volunteers and Territorials. There is always a temptation for that to happen when you have an expansion in the Armed Forces. While the volunteers (that is, TAVRII) as the reserve for the Regular Army units must have a considerable infusion of full-time professional soldiers, I submit that the Territorials should have the minimum, and certainly no more than the old Territorial Army did in pre-1939 days; and the new Territorial units, I submit, should all be commanded by Territorials. Formation commands would be sufficient "plums" for the Regulars. It should be comparatively easy to resuscitate the old Territorial Army. I suspect that it is due largely to certain noble Lords on the other side of this House that the cadres of many Territorial units have been retained, and I think we should most gratefully acknowledge this.

There is another reason for having a substantial Territorial and Volunteer Reserve. It is of great help to recruiting for the Regular Army. Young men taste the Army and find that it is good. Each year, pre-1939, from my Territorial Army battalion an average of 30 men enlisted in the Regulars. There is every reason to expect that under the policies of the present Government the number of unemployed will steadily decrease. As this happens, so will the Territorial units become more important as a main source of recruits for the Regular Army.

9.5 p.m.


My Lords, as I entered your Lordships' House a little while ago I was quite shaken by an Officer of the House who told me that this evening everything revolved about me, until I found out that he had a very lengthy list of speakers before Lord Caradon. I am guilty, as many other noble Lords probably are, of riding one or two hobby-horses, and to-night I want to refer to just two. First, I follow the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, very much on the question of our reserves. The second point I follow, as an Australian-born Member of your Lordships' House, concerns Commonwealth relations. Both matters overlap.

As Lord Balerno has just mentioned, Northern Ireland gives a very good example of the position in which the new Minister for Defence must find himself. I am sure he will have found that we are already scraping the bottom of the Regular Army barrel for Northern Ireland. In a way, this point is probably emphasised by the fact that we have sent Scottish regiments there. In a situation which is, in effect, one of tribal warfare, it is bound to be looked upon as provocative if one side thinks the other side is in the umpire's chair—not that I believe for a moment the excessive accusations of Mr. Fitt and his colleagues.

This week-end's Sunday Times contained a report about a patrol from my old regiment through one of the areas in Northern Ireland and of all the gibes and things that our troops have to put up with. I was reminded then of the days in Palestine in 1940, when we were trying to hold the line between the Arabs and the Jews, and, putting it politely, how appalled we were when the American Jew, Mr. Ben Hecht, wrote that he "had a song in his heart every time a British soldier was killed". Some of the statements one reads about what our men have to put up with in the way of insults in Northern Ireland perhaps go a little that way. I also read that Russian correspondents have recently been sent there, and that some of their reports are equally inflammatory.

So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, my own opinion of the situation is that of the Osbert Lancaster cartoon in which Maudie Littlehampton asks why we gave up Ceylon, Cyprus, and so on, yet kept Northern Ireland. In days long past, my family were Stuart supporters, and therefore I can see no reason to celebrate a Dutch victory. I can find nothing to say on behalf of Mr. Fitt and Miss Devlin and the I.R.A., except that they are not as bad as the modern Schickelgruber (or whatever the acting, unpaid Austrian lance-corporal was called), Ian Paisley, and his henchmen. Such is the pathological dislike of England by the inhabitants of the rest of Ireland that, speaking as a Catholic, I am sure if England had not gone Protestant at the Reformation the Irish would have done so out of pure "cussedness".

Just as the Northern Ireland situation has highlighted the fact that the regular Army has been run down to a dangerous level (and I suppose that it would not be in the national interest to ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, how run down it is), so the fact that we have 500,000 Irish Republicans who have settled in this country since the last war highlights the fact that we now have no adequate home Reserve Army: it was carved up and hacked to pieces by the previous Administration and the prospective C.I.G.S. On that basis, having no reserves, of course we should leave Northern Ireland just as we did India, and save a lot of expense. I do not suppose that it would lead to any greater massacres than there were of Hindus and Mohammedans, but of course we shall not; and that means that it will be necessary to rebuild our run down forces. As, politically. National Service is a non-starter—though I personally believe it would be the best thing for the country—it means that the Territorial Army must be built up. But when eggs have been so thoroughly scrambled, it is very difficult to unscramble them. And in unscrambling them you must not do anything to harm TAVR II, which is, in effect, a reserve for B.A.O.R. only.

My Lords, how can we do it? Perhaps, by letting TAVR II have the large centres, as at present, and the home defence Army, TAVR III, the minor ones. This will not be made any easier by the fact that so many of our drill halls have been disposed of, especially in the countryside, where of course the best chaps have always come from. I have an interest to declare, in that I happen to be the honorary Colonel of a TAVR III unit. It is now known as the Royal Devon Yeomanry/First Rifle Volunteers and we did that to keep our options open for a change of Administration: whatever our role was, we should be able—we hoped—to choose which one we were going to be. I would emphasise to the Government that if, as I presume, they will build up a home defence Army again they must not treat such units as poor relations, otherwise they will never get off the ground.

Another point is that they must try to get the present Opposition to recognise that in their last run-down of our volunteer forces they went too far, so that there will not be this awful sword hanging over the volunteers' heads that they will be abolished again in another five years. Finally, on this subject, I should like the noble Earl the Leader of the House to remember points we made in the debate that he initiated when the previous Administration did away with the Civil Defence: because the home reserve Army must have interlocking functions with Civil Defence if the nation is to survive a nuclear fall-out, or anything like that.

If I may stray a bit, last week the noble Lord, Lord Segal, asked a question about the meaning of "the Gulf", and the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, who replied, referred to the "Persian Gulf". Those of us who know the Gulf can correct him by pointing out that if we are to retain a presence there at all it will be in Arab territory; and they do not—I repeat, not—call it the Persian Gulf. For generations it has been the well-tried policy of England to try to keep Russian expansion away from the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. We have surrendered in the Mediterranean, and if the Canal is reopened the Russians will have a base in Aden. They already have the harbour master there, as sure as the Almighty made little apples.

I do not intend to dwell on Simonstown other than to say that in the event of a war in which this country is involved that base will obviously be essential, and any responsible Government in this country must bear in mind that the continued existence of this country should always take precedence over dislike, or otherwise, of another country's internal politics. Referring to the "No arms for apartheid" sticker that people are putting on their cars now, I would point out that that brigade will not be allowed to shout about anything once we have been starved into surrender. I find it rather illogical that those who would not give arms to South Africa and still argue about whether or not Simons-town could be used—who say it does not make any difference—tire the same people who want to abolish the carriers, which would be the only possible way of avoiding the use of that base.

The real danger of war involving all of us, as I see it, is now in the Far East. It is the colossus of China feeling her oats. By 2030, one in three of the world's population will be a Chinaman, so the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, told us in a previous debate. A mere inexpensive presence in the Singapore area, together with Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, would do a lot to stabilise peace and security in that part of the world, added to which self-interest should dictate this type of precaution. As I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will bear out, we have close on £2,000 million worth of investment in Australia alone. Also. I urge the Government to retain the Fleet Air Arm, so that there are pilots trained and ready to fly the next generation of Harrier jump jets from ordinary ships, which will then, and only then, make the carrier as we know it unnecessary.

Lastly, I come to the subject which I have raised no fewer than eight times in the last six years, and that is the insulting way we have been treating our Australian and New Zealand—not to mention Canadian—relations and visitors. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, with his many connections and interests in Australia will, I am sure, know that in Australia and New Zealand this is an emotional issue which has done more to harm relations with this country than any other issue of our time, including the Common Market and the threatened withdrawal from Singapore. I have a letter in my file from an Antipodean judge who, visiting this country for the first time since fighting alongside us in the War, had a limit of six months stamped on his passport on entry. He had already reserved a flat in London for 10 months. "Why", he said, "must what we used to think of as the Mother Country do this to us? Paris and Rome do not treat us so."

I am told that action has been taken to remedy these extreme cases, but how petty it is to limit the young visitors who can afford to visit Britain and Europe only if they take a working holiday. This was a traditional right before these rules and regulations were brought in and, to my mind, it should be restored at once. There are many ways in which it could be done. It could be done on a reciprocal basis. Up to 70,000 a year emigrate from this country to Australia, and what harm is there if a couple of hundred want to stay here for more than two years? Those of us with relations and friends in that part of the world hear continued stories of the bad effect that these restrictions are having. To my mind they were invented by inverted racialists, who seem to argue that the only way to be fair to coloured people is to be unfair to our own relations, and I hope that the new Administration will find a way to remove this canker. One noble Lord suggested that one method might be not to apply the rules as they are at the moment to those countries which recognise the Queen as their Queen. To my mind the others want their cake and eat it, anyway.

Another way of improving relations on this subject would be to abolish the invidious division of passport queues at Heathrow. When returning from Australia last March my part-empty plane filled up at Karachi, and while waiting in the Commonwealth passports queue and watching a large number of "Karachi joiners" go through the British passports queue, a young Australian behind me said, "I suppose if I were Tariq Ali I should be getting the V.I.P. treatment." I must say that I do not see why we should have to put up with that gentleman and Malcolm X and hundreds of demonstrators against us and our institutions from Republican countries which are not noticeably friendly to us, while we restrict our friends and relations from countries which have stood behind us in our difficulties. It is all beyond me. I hope and pray that the new Administration will remove these insulting disabilities.

9.19 p.m.


My Lords, I must say that with some of the last remarks of the noble Lord who has just sat down I have a good deal of sympathy. Perhaps our only difference is that I would extend those remarks to other countries, such as one area I know well, the West Indies, where people also look on this as the Mother Country, whose people have fought for us and who in a certain way regard this country as home. I would also extend it to other parts of the Commonwealth, including India and Pakistan, whose people also, so far as I can remember, fought with us in both the last world wars and on other occasions. In other words, if we pay any attention at all to the Commonwealth, other than paying lip service, do not let it be a restricted Commonwealth. But I will resist the temptation to follow the noble Lord along those paths, important though they are, as I will also resist the temptation to follow other noble Lords in what they have said about Europe and the Common Market, the Far East and other important aspects. I will even resist the temptation to embark on a part of the world which no noble Lord has yet touched on but which is extremely important in our foreign affairs, and that is Latin America. I will confine myself solely to Southern Africa.

I listened with great interest, as indeed I am sure other noble Lords did, to the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, and all that he had to say. In particular, I welcomed very much his categorical statement of support for the United Nations and also his very firm assertion that our foreign policy was to be based on security and parity, especially when he went on to define parity as being "equality for all men before the law." I respected the words he used towards the end of his speech when he said, "Fine words are not enough; we must rightly be judged by our actions". My Lords, how do those words measure up when it comes to our Southern African policy? We do not yet know, because we are not yet informed, though I hope we shortly shall be, as to what Her Majesty's Government's policy in Southern Africa is, and, in particular, what Her Majesty's Government's policy is with regard to arms to South Africa. But it is impossible for us to supply arms to South Africa and at the same time assert with anything more than glib words our support for the United Nations; and it is impossible for us to say we believe in parity, in equality for all men before the law, and really mean it with our hearts, if at the same time we go beyond anything that is implicit or explicit in the Simonstown Agreement and supply more arms to South Africa.

I strongly hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, replies he will, by accepting the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Caradon, absolve the noble Marcuess, Lord Lothian, from any charge which otherwise could rightly be laid against him of sheer hypocrisy. I know he is not a hypocrite; I know his words, as he said them, were sincere: but it is up to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the Government to show that those words really mean something, and that when the Government are judged, as they ask to be judged, by their actions, we can give them a clean bill of health on their actions and not only praise for words which in fact turn out to mean nothing.

It is relevant, to know what is taking place in South Africa to-day, to know what has been taking place in the past years. I will not weary your Lordships with a long description: those of your Lordships who have eyes to see have seen it; those of your Lordships who have ears to hear have heard of it. All I shall do is to read your Lordships one short paragraph from a book which has recently come out, written by a Roman Catholic priest, Father Cosmos Desmond, called The Discarded People. He there writes: Very many would agree that the migratory labour system, repeatedly condemned by various Churches, politicians and others, is wrong. But there seem to be few indeed who draw the obvious conclusion from this: that there must be something inherently wrong with a social system under which such atrocities can take place. The poverty, suffering, and broken families caused by the resettlement schemes are not accidental; they are an inevitable consequence of the policy of separate development. They are allowed to happen because they are part of the price of White economic security. My Lords, we cannot get away from facts such as those. There are very many, far too many, of them. Things in South Africa from the moral point of view, from the moral standpoint of any of us in this Chamber, are bad. In some ways they are getting worse; but in some ways there is an improvement. There are signs that the policy in certain aspects, and particularly with regard to the neighbours of South Africa in the rest of Africa, is improving. There are signs that the actions and attitudes of the rest of the civilised world are having some effect upon what is happening in South Africa itself. I think that it would be wrong for us to underestimate the strength of world opinion, whether it be in such matters as South African cricket and the Olympic games or in other matters, such as public pronouncements by respected figures and by the United Nations itself—especially in this matter of the arms embargo. Above all, it would be wrong to underestimate the effect that the opinions of responsible people in this country have on not only South African opinion but the actions of the South African Government.

My Lords, so far as the Simonstown Agreement is concerned, what are the facts? The noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, said that we should keep our word; and not only our written word but that we should also keep to the spirit of the agreement. Britain must keep her word, he said, not only in the matter of the written word but in the gentlemen's agreement. Those were his words. I know nothing of any gentlemen's agreement that is not included in the written words of the Simonstown Agreement which I have studied. If there is any gentlemen's agreement which has not been published, if there is any—can one call it "secret"?—agreement, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will tell us. Obviously, if we are being asked to stick to a gentlemen's agreement which is not actually printed we must know what this is. If there is no gentlemen's agreement, then we are bound solely by the written words; to which, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont made it quite clear, we have adhered.

I am sometimes tempted to wonder whether in fact the South African Government itself has adhered quite so closely to the written agreement of the Simons-town undertakings. If noble Lords were to refer to a letter written by the then Minister of Defence of South Africa, Mr. Erasmus, to the then Foreign Secretary in this country, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, on June 30, 1955, they would find that the South African Government undertook, among other things, the following: The Union Government confirm that there will be no bar to the recruitment and employment of non-Europeans in the Simonstown area; that there will be no discrimination based on colour in the rates of pay for comparable jobs; that non-Europeans once recruited will have the same security of tenure as Europeans. It would be interesting to know just how far such agreements have been honoured.

I do not want to spend too much time on this particular aspect, on what one can perhaps loosely call the moral aspect of the Simonstown Agreement for the supply of arms to South Africa and our general relationship to that country. I should like to turn to the strictly practical aspect of it from the point of view of the security of our own country—which, I quite agree with noble Lords opposite, is of paramount importance and is one, but only one, of the main responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government.

First of all, my Lords, when we look at this problem we must not deal solely with South Africa itself; we must look at the whole of the Southern African complex. We must not deal solely with the Cape, with the Atlantic; we must look at the Indian Ocean and the sea routes from the United Kingdom, from the United States, all the way across to Singapore, Australia and to the subcontinent of India. If, which Heaven forbid! there should be a third world war, a shooting war, we must not fall into the error, into which all Generals and all politicians in the past have always fallen, of thinking that the new war when it comes will be picked up at exactly the same point that the last war finished. Things will have moved forward—or will have moved, if not forward—since that time.

The new war, if it comes, will be—this has been said often by many people—above all for the hearts and minds of people. It will not simply be for the acquisition of territory; for the establishment of bases or whatever it may be. It will be for the people who live in those areas and that means that it cannot be won just by military weapons. It must be won by many other means unknown to the old-fashioned generation of soldiers—though not to the modern generation—and ignored by far too many politicians.

The struggle for hearts and minds goes on long before the shooting war starts, and if it is successful there never will be a shooting war. It is going on now in Southern Africa. We have been fighting it for many years, and I do not think it is in any way arrogant to say that over the last five or six years we have had some considerable success. In spite of many difficulties (the greatest of them is Rhodesia; the Nigerian war has been another, and there are many other factors which have come in) and in all the processes of decolonisation we have reinforced our position and the good will that is held towards us throughout most of the countries of Africa. If a balance sheet were drawn up there is no doubt at all that it would reveal that the strength of the Western World as a whole in Southern Africa to-day is much greater than it was in, shall we say, 1955 or 1960.

There are many reasons for this, and I should like at this stage to pay tribute to one man who I believe has done more than any other single individual to bring this about; that is, Mr. Malcolm Mac-donald. He has been able to achieve the most extraordinary understanding and create real confidence between himself and the leaders of African countries which has helped them a great deal and has helped us a great deal also. The greatest wound we could possibly inflict on ourselves in this struggle, this continuing struggle, and the greatest help that we could give to any potential enemies—specifically to Russia and to China—would be in the first place to climb down in Rhodesia. That I do not for a moment contemplate; and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will confirm me when I say it. The second greatest harm we could do in this general struggle would be to provide arms to South Africa. I am quite sure that the gentlemen in the Kremlin and in Peking whose responsibility it is to promote the interests of their country in the Southern African continent, must be praying for just this sort of thing to happen because it would make their job infinitely easier.

We have heard a great deal about the importance of the Simonstown naval base, and of course naval bases have their importance. But far more important than a naval base at Simonstown, if there were to be a shooting war in the Indian Ocean and in the Far East, would be such things as over-flying rights over Central Africa; staging posts in a country such as Zambia, shall we say, or in Kenya; and the denial of military bases to our future enemies in those countries. We could have naval bases at Simonstown and all the way round the Cape, but if we lost our over-flying rights and bases in Central Africa and in them were established bases belonging to our enemies, our position would not be tenable. Our strategy for Africa and the Far East must be to consolidate our position with the whole of black Africa and so far as possible bring South Africa and black Africa together, and there are signs that this may be happening.

There can be no doubt that the present Government will find this particularly hard. I do not blame them for it. It is not their fault at the present time, though there may be reasons in past history which account for it. Rightly or wrongly, the Conservative Government are viewed by most African leaders with considerable suspicion. For one reason or another, there are few, if any, members of the present Government who have any personal contacts in Africa and with the leaders of Africa. What is worse is that the reduction of Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will make it even harder for those Ministers—the noble Marquess and his colleagues—to create these contacts and build them up and so do away with the suspicions and lack of confidence which exist in the minds of so many African leaders. There is no getting away from the fact that the position of the noble Marquess and his colleagues and of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his colleagues in the Government will be made infinitely harder if the United Nations resolution on arms to South Africa is ignored or is thought by the countries of Africa to be ignored.

Let me come briefly to two small, but I hope constructive, suggestions as to what can be done to make this position a little easier. I suggest strongly that the Government should consider the appointment of a very senior representative of Her Majesty's Government with responsibilities throughout the whole of Africa as a form of roving ambassador of Privy Council rank, on the analogy, but not following slavishly the precedent, of Mr. Malcolm Macdonald. That in no way would detract from the position of our present diplomatic representatives. Many of them I know personally and they are extremely hard-working, able people, some of them perhaps not ideally chosen for their particular posts, but some of them could not be better. But, however good they are, it is a bigger job than a formal ambassador in one country can do, and with the present small number of Ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office it is a bigger job than those Ministers can be expected to do.

The second suggestion I would make is to reverse the lamentable decision, taken to my regret some time ago by the late Government, on overseas students. The bringing of overseas students here in increasing numbers and their good treatment is an earnest of our genuine desire to come closer to the countries which they represent, African and Far Eastern Asian countries in particular. It is also a real help to them in a way that help is needed most. It will continue to produce in those countries leaders who will have been brought up in this country during an impressionable stage of their careers and will have imbibed the best principles of this country and its forms of government, and it will for the rest of their lives condition their attitudes towards democracy and freedom. To-day we are drawing great benefit from the presence in the past in our universities of these students, who are now the leaders of the countries. It would be sad for us if the future leaders looked, instead of to the United Kingdom, to France, Germany and the United States—and many more are going there now than are coming to this country—and it might well be a tragedy if they looked to the Soviet Union or to China.

I am encouraged in putting forward this proposal by the words expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in February, 1967, when this matter was being debated. He then said: I believe with the noble Lords who have already spoken that the receiving of these overseas students into our universities and technical colleges is one of the best investments we can make for the future …. As well as engendering a great deal of goodwill for the present, it is a hidden export for the future. It must surely make the task of our overseas salesmen that much easier in the future if a number of people have had some advantage in the way of higher education in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT 14/2/67; col. 221.] He finished his remarks by urging the Government to see: whether, in terms of overseas aid, some help could not be given so that we may continue to receive gratefully and willingly the maximum number of overseas students of which we are capable." [Col. 224.] These are two ways in which I think the inherent difficulties of the present Government can be mitigated. But, above all, it is essential for Her Majesty's Government and this country as a whole to-day to go on record as being on the side of those who are trying to implement the standards that we in this country stand for, and not to flout the resolutions of the United Nations in order to provide arms to a country which practises the apartheid of which we all so much disapprove.

9.43 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes, because the hour is late. I find it quite impossible, in the few remarks that I propose to make, to follow all the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Walston. To me, this has been a most emotional debate. I, as a former colonial civil servant, in the same category as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, the mover of the Opposition Amendment, know full well, as he does, that the issues raised in this debate have moral implications far beyond the precincts of your Lordships' House. As an officer in the Colonial Service of 30 years' standing (the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, was in the Colonial Service for 31 years) I must say that I wish the noble Lord had not brought this Amendment before your Lordships this evening; and, even now, if he could see his way to withdrawing it, nobody would be more pleased than I should be.

Of course, I see clearly the issues about the Commonwealth in the wording of this Amendment, but on the question of the supply of arms to South Africa (and no decision has yet been made, so far as I know, that South Africa should be supplied with arms) the issue to me is far greater than that. For if the issue of our Commonwealth friends is one of Communism or apartheid—and I know from the terrible sufferings that I experienced, with others, from Communism in Malaysia—then I think the worst of the two evils in that respect would be Communism and not apartheid.

May I say at the outset that when I read the terms of the Opposition Amendment I found it difficult to understand its motives. Why this haste? After all, only eight days ago, on July 6, my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary stated in another place that he was consulting our friends in the Commonwealth and before very long would be making a statement on the Government's attitude to the Simons-town Agreement. It would seem, therefore, that the movers of this Amendment were rushing matters, with a new Government barely established in office. But if one looks back over the debates of the past few days in connection with the gracious Speech, one finds several instances of instant opposition on behalf of Her Majesty's Opposition.

Now, my Lords, may I proceed to say one or two critical things about remarks that have been made by noble Lords opposite tonight—though not in any sense because I do not respect the sincerity with which they speak. When I heard the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, opening for the Opposition, criticise the Government's proposal to consider stationing a limited force of British troops in Malaysia, alongside Malaysian., Australian and New Zealand forces, with the object of containing aggression, I wondered whether I had heard him correctly. I was in Malaysia during the Malaysian insurrection, and as I said at the opening of my speech was for 30 years a member of the Colonial Service. I know only too well some of the problems that faced that territory, and still face it to-day. They want us there in that country now, which is a tribure to the policies pursued over a long period of time by various British Governments and Parliaments.

With regard to the stationing of British troops, costs have not yet been worked out. I have seen from some speeches that the muter of costs has been criticised. From where does the noble Lord get the idea that a small number of British troops provoke aggression, and that a large number of troops would be necessary to contain that aggression?


May I interrupt the noble Lord? Perhaps I can save him going on with this very much longer, because the hour is late. I make this assertion from my own experience as one of the 40,000 troops who served in Malaysia during the emergency. I assure him that I commanded a battalion throughout the emergency, and I know how many troops are needed to deal with this kind of situation. It started off with a very small force indeed, when the emergency began. By the time it had finished there were 40,000 of us there. It is on that basis that I make my assertion.


My Lords, I would be prepared to answer that statement. My views on the matter are that any success which one wants to obtain from there can be obtained by the presence of British troops and not by flying troops out from this country. I just want to make this point in connection with that.

The presence of a British force inculcates confidence among the local inhabiants. This is what I found during the emergency. The whole criterion for getting on top of the Communist terrorists was information. If you had no information you could have had 200,000 British troops there and you never would have achieved anything. All we want is a small force in a country of which 70 per cent. of the area has the thickest jungle in the world. That is my answer to the noble Lord.

My Lords, the Amendment, which is drafted in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, refers to "the principles on which the Commonwealth is based". May I therefore ask the noble Lord, when he speaks, to tell us what he means by "Commonwealth principles" in this connection? I ask this because, with Chinese Communism active in Somalia, and now in the East Coast of Africa, where would our principles be if, by tying ourselves to United Nations' resolutions, we were so weak strategically that we not only endangered our own security but became physically incapable of going to the assistance of our Commonwealth friends, with our allies if necessary, whenever the necessity arose?

I could recount the horrors of Chinese Communism because I experienced it, but I will not do so because the hour is late. I will merely say this. When I spoke to Malays and Chinese who suffered in that situation (I see that the noble Lord sees something rather amusing about this, but I do not think it is amusing; I think it is very serious) they universally cared for only one thing: freedom to go about their daily work without fear. So I have no illusions of what could befall the peoples of Africa; nor have I any illusions about where their true interests lie. My Lords, if this Amendment goes to a vote tonight, I shall vote against it.

9.52 p.m.


My Lords, I want to confine myself to just one point in the gracious Speech—the remarks about attempts to reduce East-West tensions in Europe and the closely similar problem of the tension between the United States and the People's Republic of China. On the other hand, what I want to do regarding this subject is to make rather radical proposals. I shall try to present my argument as quickly as possible. First, it seems to me that we ought to start off with the realisation that the basic causes of tension in these cases are simply psychological. In other cases—if one looks, say, at the Arabs and the Israelis, or the Indians and Pakistanis—the quarrelling is about some real, tangible issues. If you ask what reason have the people of this country for any quarrel with the people of Russia, I think the obvious answer is, "None". But I feel that what has happened has been a build-up of mutual suspicion.

The whole process of build-up of tension was something which no one expected. Certainly in 1945 the whole structure of the United Nations was built on the assumption that co-operation between the Soviet Union and the United States would continue. To give an example on the Far Eastern case, I was reading the recently published State Department papers of 1945, and I came upon the report of an interview between Mao Tse-tung and an American foreign service officer, in which Mao said: Between the people of China and the people of the United States there are strong ties of sympathy, understanding and mutual interest. Both are by nature peace-loving, non-aggressive and non-imperialistic. … America and China complement each other economically…. America is not only the most suitable country to assist the economic development of China; she is also the only country fully able to participate. That was said by Mao Tse-tung in 1945.

I think that if we look at the present situation we have to ask ourselves what has gone wrong. The case I want to make, rather rapidly, is that I believe a large factor in this build-up of tension has been the attachment of the Western Powers to conventional diplomacy. I think I can document that pretty com- pletely in the case of the build-up of tension between the Chinese Communists and the United States. I saw something of the negotiations from the inside, and recently I have seen a lot more of the papers. It is quite clear that here we had a feedback of mutual suspicions. The Americans suspected that the Chinese Communists were really agents of the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Communists, on ideological grounds, were rather suspicious of the Americans. What I think can be shown is that the vicious circle of build up of mutual suspicions could have been broken at several points if either side had been willing to speak frankly.

There were several cases where the Communists could have made a test case as to whether the Americans were acting in good faith or whether they were predominantly anti-Communist. The Americans could have made test cases as to whether the Chinese Communists were independent or were agents of the Soviet Union. If these tests had ever been made, the people who made them would have found their suspicions were unjustified. So the whole problem in the Far East goes back to the fact that the United States of America were inhibited by the conventions of diplomacy and the Chinese Communists were inhibited by the conventions of traditional Chinese politeness.

Looking at it in a wider way, the conventional diplomacy was that which held good in other days and in a particular environment. For about 200 years, up to the time of the 1914–18 War, the major Powers in world politics were European. They all shared a common culture, had a basis of common understanding and also, except for a few years after the French Revolution, the issues were predominantly non-ideological. So conventional diplomacy is an extremely effective system for handling disputes arising between people with a common cultural background and involving issues which are non-ideological, and are really issues of bargaining.

In the modern world this whole environment has changed completely. First, there is no basis of common culture between many of the major World Powers. Also, it is clear that ideological differences have a great influence. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, confirm my view about this in his remarks about the Russians, but if we read any of the material now published in Peking we see clearly that the basic motivation for the Chinese leaders is largely what I might define as their Marxist-Leninist-Fundamentalist belief. One meets the argument that simply because the United States of America is the major capitalist Power, therefore by various Marxian arguments it must be aggressive, it must be imperialist, it must be determined to attack the People's Republic of China. It is perfectly clear that as long as the leaders in Peking believe these theoretical views, any reduction of tension is going to be almost impossible. Therefore any effective diplomacy must be prepared to concern itself with ideological arguments in a way which is completely foreign to the traditions in which most diplomatists have operated in the past.

My Lords, I am summarising a very complicated argument, but it seems to me that two things are needed to reduce these tensions. First, we need to put across the absence of any real reason for quarrels between the peoples of our two countries, and to put it across, if necessary—which again is highly unconventional—by means which by-pass the Governments of other countries. This means resorting to the sort of ideological propaganda warfare which the totalitarian Powers have used. People get confused by this because the totalitarian Powers have not been effective, owing to the fact that they have been trying to put over a bad case.

Perhaps we might take the analogy of advertising. Advertising can produce its effect only by continual repetition. As soon as that stops, and people start to think for themselves, the effect fails. As an educationist I feel that if I have been teaching properly I need only to put over a case once, because the student can automatically reproduce the argument for himself every time he thinks about it. So the amount of publicity needed to put over a valid case for the people of Russia or China is vastly smaller and one does not need many contacts.

The other point I would make is this. Where I think there has been continual weakness and ineffectiveness on the part of Western diplomacy is in the failure to react to the assumption of superiority on the other side. President Kennedy put it very well in describing his talks with Khrushchev in Vienna, when he said Khrushchev's view was, "What's mine is mine; what's yours is negotiable". Obviously, as long as you are dealing with people who believe that because they represent in some cases the way of the future or the inevitable processes of history they are superior, and common arguments do not apply to them and you, you are not going to get anywhere in negotiation. I would say that the other task of effective diplomacy would be to break down this ideologically based arrogance.

Perhaps I have become sufficiently Chinese to think that there is a lot in the Confucian view of Cheng-ming, rectification of names; you will not get anywhere unless you insist on calling things by appropriate names. It seems to me quite intolerable that for the last 25 years the representatives of this country have endured continual abuse as imperialists by the representatives of what is now the leading imperialist Power in the world. There is a perfectly good case to be presented which has never been presented. You can quote the 1917 edition of Lenin's Imperialism in which he states quite clearly and explicitly that the position of Russia in Central Asia, in Courland—that is, the Baltic States, Finland, Poland and all other areas inhabited by non-Great Russians—was essentially the same as the position of the Japanese in Korea; that is to say, by the authority which the Russians themselves recognise, Russia is an imperialist Power.

This is an illustration of the kind of diplomacy I should tike to see. You make it a rule that wherever strict protocol does not call for its full name, you always refer to the Soviet Union as the Soviet Empire. As soon as that produces objections you would then cite these passages from Lenin, the campaigns of Skeboleff and Kaufman in Central Asia, and cite the fact that all the areas of the British Empire acquired at the same period have now been liberated, and the areas acquired by Russian conquest not. My case is that if you did that, the Russians would realise in practice that people in glasshouses should not throw stones, and their references to British imperialism would fairly soon die down.

I can illustrate it by another example. Frequently one hears talk of possible non-aggression pacts between the NATO Powers and the Warsaw Pact Powers. I think the obvious reply to that is to ask the Soviet leaders please to explain how this proposed non-aggression pact differs from the non-aggression pacts which the Soviet Union concluded in the 1930s with Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. I think that would be a perfectly serious question. If the Soviet leaders replied, "Yes, we admit that the Soviet Union under Stalin was an imperialist Power but we want to behave differently", there would then be some reason for trusting them. If they tried to argue, as they do in official propaganda, that the Soviet Union does, and always has, honoured its treaties, it would be perfectly clear evidence that any new non-aggression pact would be just as worthless as those in the 1930s.

May I give your Lordships one more example to show the kind of thing I want? If we wish to improve relations with China, I think a very good example was offered by the Chenpao Island incident between the Soviet Union and China. Here was a case, so far as one can study the facts, in which the Chinese were quite clearly in the right. According to the photographs and the maps, Chenpao Island was clearly on the Chinese side of the main channel of the Ussuri. I believe that if the Government of this country, or, still more effectively, the Government of the United States, had said, "Here the Chinese seem, as a matter of international law, to be in the right", this would effectively have punctured the belief in Peking that the United States and the Soviet Union, and others of the Western Powers, are ganging up against them. I think it would have been clear that where they had a case in international law they could gain support. I could go on for a long time with illustrations such as these, but I know that obviously everyone wishes to hear from the two noble Lords who are to follow me. But I wanted to indicate the kind of things that I should like to see carried out.

10.6 p.m.

LORD CARADON rose to move, as an Amendment, to add to the Motion for an humble Address: but, in view of the vital need to promote accord between different races and mindful of the principles on which the Commonwealth is based and of the possible consequences of British interests in Africa and throughout the world, call on Your Majesty's Government to honour the United Nations Resolutions on the supply of arms to South Africa.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, first of all I wish to join with many other Members of your Lordships' House in conveying my humble congratulations to the new Minister for Defence. I well remember when I first came to your Lordships' House the personal kindness which he extended to me. I know how well he is regarded in your Lordships House, and with what affection, and indeed admiration, he is held on both sides of this House. Therefore we congratulate him on his high appointment, and we congratulate ourselves that we have a Minister for Defence to deal with in this House in future.

I wish also to convey my most sincere congratulations to the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian. My previous connection with him has been in support for the United Nations. He has for a number of years held the position of highest responsibility in Scotland for maintaining the good name of the United Nations. I pay respect to him for what he has done. When I last served under a Conservative Administration I found, in the end, that it was intolerable and I had to resign. I hope that he has better luck.

I also wish respectfully to refer to the two maiden speeches which have been made this afternoon. I greatly regret that owing to my absence—I must admit, on duty—I did not hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Janner. I must resist the temptation today of being drawn into any discussion on the Middle East, a subject in which indeed I have a great interest and in which I have been closely involved for a number of years past. I have great respect for Lord Janner's views, and I have discussed the Middle East with him before. I shall take an early opportunity of discussing his speech with him.

I also wish to refer to the outstanding speech which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. It is not for me to pay compliments to him. But he did refer one particular question to me, and to that question I must reply. He asked me specifically to state why it was that there had been no condemnation of the Soviet Union in the United Nations, in particular in the Security Council. I think he knows the answer. The answer is that the veto is held by the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, and it is therefore impossible to condemn a Permanent Member of the Security Council unless that Permanent Member will acquiesce in the condemnation. That is a perfectly clear explanation of the veto. I would also add that I have had many opportunities of condemning the Soviet Union in the Security Council. I shall be glad to send a record of those condemnations to the noble Lord. I think that when he reads what I have said he will agree that in vehemence, if not in eloquence, what I have said about the Soviet Union would be up to his own high standards.

My Lords, I must look to you to extend to me the indulgence traditionally the prerogative of returning prodigal sons. I am more familiar with the far off lands in Arabia, Africa and the West Indies, and the wilds of New York, than I am with this country. I know the procedures of distant legislatures and of the Security Council of the United Nations much better than I know the procedures of your Lordships' House. I understand, however, that here it is a tradition to deal gently with a new Government. It is considered polite, I gather, to allow new Ministers a little time to measure their pledges against the possibilities of performance. They must be allowed a short interval to savour the fruits of their expensive victory before they go sour. Rather a hangover than a honeymoon, perhaps, but anyhow the awakening should not be too rude or abrupt, or too painful. That being so, what a pity it was that the first act of the new Government was to let it be known that they could not wait to consult, accommodate and sustain the white racialist Government of South Africa, representing, as it does, the most cruel of racial repression in the world. Even so, I am told that we should, for to-day at least, show a considered restraint, and consequently I shall divide what I have to say into two parts.

First, I shall put forward propositions with which I trust we can all agree. I shall speak with studied forbearance. I shall, I hope, carry everyone with me in broad statements of patriotic aspiration, but before I sit down I shall allow myself to turn briefly to attack. I could hardly do less when we are faced with the possibility of a fateful and shameful reversal of British policy; when we may be invited to change sides and throw in our lot against the great majority of mankind on the side of a régime which every decent person in the world detests. I have been told in the course of this debate that it is unreasonable of us to talk about changing sides. That is what this debate is about. It is to debate on whether we are to change sides on the whole question of racial discrimination and racial suppression.

My Lords, in less than a quarter of a century we, in our Commonwealth, have enfranchised and brought into the councils of the international community more than a quarter of the population of the whole world. None of us claims that our imperial record has been above reproach, but all of us would, I am sure, take pride in our achievement. We take pride in the fact that progress towards self-determination and independence has been achieved by consultation and consent. We have taught what we believed in for ourselves; adult suffrage, independent courts, and free Parliaments. Our Commonwealth has been created and developed on the sure foundation of freedom and equality, a contempt for racial discrimination, and a hatred of racial suppression. It is these things which bind us together.

Speaking about parity, I need say no more when we recall the recent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, on that question. There is precious little parity in South Africa; there is precious little parity in Rhodesia. Certainly we believe in parity. We believe in parity as between the races, and this is the essence of the debate which now takes place in your Lordships' House. All my working life I have myself been engaged in this process of racial co-operation. I believe that the feeling we now have of brotherhood with the people of Africa and Asia is something admirable and something precious.

To convert the greatest Empire the world has ever known into a free Commonwealth—this has been the revolutionary triumph of this century. It has been a resounding victory over racial injustice. It has been a victory not in terms of territory or in terms of power, but in terms of universality and in terms of human dignity. I have come to believe that relations between the races of the world are the most important issue of all. I have come to believe that the greatest danger in the world is the possibility of racial conflict—conflict between the great majority of mankind, impoverished, overcrowded, discontented, the coloured people of the new nations on the one hand; and the minority, affluent, comfortable, complacent, the white people of the older nations on the other.

I have come to believe that this danger is so great and growing so rapidly that it can be dealt with only by international action. The danger of such conflict starting is greatest on the Zambesi and in Southern Africa, and we know that if conflict comes between the forces of African nationalism on the one hand, and white supremacy on the other, the whole of Africa will be immediately inflamed and the whole world involved. I am convinced that for this country, of all countries in the world, to turn round and go backwards in the direction of racial intolerance and racial injustice would be the greatest betrayal of all.

I have also learned to believe that our national interest does not conflict with international interest, as I think was the suggestion made in the relevant section of the gracious Speech. Our national interest is in conformity with international interest. No country in the world, let me suggest, needs peace in the world more than this country; no country in the world needs world prosperity and advance to higher standards of living in the world as a whole than this country. The national interest is also the international interest, and it is fortunate for us that it is so. I should be very surprised if there were any disagreement anywhere in this House with those simple and straightforward propositions.

I would hope, moreover, that your Lordships would agree that our interests and our experience give us a unique position of potential leadership in the world. I said to a United States audience the other day that, having been the best colonialists the world has ever known, somewhat better than the Romans, we now look forward to being the best internationalists in the whole world, somewhat better than the Americans. It would not be unduly presumptuous to hope—so I suggest to your Lordships—that we can match our proud heritage in the world by our future contributions in international endeavour.

I might say in passing that Europe—perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, will agree with me here, and the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk—should never be looked upon as a cul-de-sac. It should be a highway to honourable participation in wider world leadership. I trust that these obvious reflections are not unacceptable to your Lordships. They are the considerations which have been in my mind as I have had the honour to speak for this country in the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations for the past six years.

Let me say that I am proud of the British record at the United Nations—proud, but not satisfied. Certainly, we could have done more. No doubt we made mistakes. We have yet to formulate our future policies, for instance, in regard to Southern Africa, but we have already taken two main decisions: first, on arms for South Africa; and, secondly, on trade with Rhodesia. It was a start. The direction was right.

Let me speak very shortly about our record at the United Nations. When the Organisation was in grave peril as a result of the refusal of the Russians and others to pay their share of the Congo costs, we, with other good supporters of the United Nations, notably the Canadians and the Nordic countries, led the rescue operation. We were the first to put down our voluntary, unconditional contribution—our contribution of 10 million dollars—although we were fighting at that time our balance of payments battle. We have been the second largest contributor to all United Nations activities. We have, in difficult years, increased our contribution to the United Nations Development Programme. We have supported every new enterprise, including particularly and most recently the United Nations Population Fund. And our contribution has not been only in money. We have taken a lead in every main international initiative. We have done so in the field of disarmament, and particularly in the non-proliferation treaty. We provide the main contingent for the United Nations Cyprus Force. The unanimous resolution on Rhodesia was a British resolution; the unanimous resolution on the Middle East was a British resolution. We have not done enough, but we have made a good start. We have earned recognition as protagonists of international understanding and international co-operation. We have earned the right to take our place in world leadership. Let me say that no delegation in the United Nations is more respected than the delegation of the United Kingdom.

My Lords, I have said enough about agreement and achievement. We now face the imminent danger that the agreement will be shattered and the achievement destroyed. We face the danger that all we have striven to achieve in past years will be thrown away; that the advances that we have hardly won will be turned into an ignominious defeat. There is no time at this late hour to deal at length with the various contentions which have been put before us this evening. I tried to sum them up for myself by saying that there were three arguments which were put forward: one was on the distinction between arms and trade; and second was the question of a distinction between offensive or suppressive arms on the one hand, and defensive arms, on the other; and the other was the pernicious argument that if we do not do it others will. I wish to say just a word or two on those three main arguments which have been put forward earlier this afternoon and this evening.

There s a clear distinction between the sale of arms and other trade. I am sure that the Minister for Defence will so confirm for us presently. I do not say that no pressure should be brought to bear on South Africa in trade; and I believe—and I am convinced—that without pressures the South African Government will never change its repressive policies. But whatever we can or cannot do in trade, we have shown what we can do in arms; and what we have done should be maintained, and on what we have done we should stand firm.

The second argument which was put forward by the other side was that you can distinguish between offensive and defensive arms. All I would say on that is that anyone who follows the ghastly war in Vietnam knows that there is no real distinction between suppressive and offensive arms, on the one hand, and defensive arms, on the other. In that kind of warfare every kind of heavy arms—aircraft, guns, warships—are all thrown in. If the conflict comes in Africa between North and South, between African nationalism and white supremacy, there will be no holds barred, there will be no weapons excluded.

Then, finally, the argument was again made—and I was sorry to hear it made again in this House—that if we do not provide the arms others will. It is the argument of the drug trafficker; the argument that you must do evil things because if you do not others will do them. The argument of the drug trafficker, as I say, is unworthy of this House and unworthy of this country. We have to decide what is right, and stand by it.

What has happened then in the great world issues of race since the Conservative Government took office less than a month ago? What new indication of leadership in international affairs have we been given? What has the Commonwealth had to say? How have the United Nations reacted? One of the first acts of the Labour Government was to accept the resolution of the United Nations to ban the export of arms to South Africa. The first act of the present Government was to let it be known that in defiance of the unanimous Security Council resolution, Great Britain was again ready to supply arms to the South African Government.

I was in New York attending a Commonwealth gathering when the news came through. The effect was immediate. On all sides there was dismay. The new British Government had made haste to take sides. What was the reaction to the Conservative victory elsewhere in the world? I remember saying to myself on the day after the poll: Tell it not in South Africa, Publish it not in the streets of Salisbury, Lest the daughters of the racialists rejoice; Lest the daughters of the oppressors triumph.

While the Conservative Government caused dismay in the Commonwealth, its success at the polls was greeted, as everyone knows, with delirious delight by the white minorities in South Africa and Rhodesia. They remembered the Conservative pledges; they remembered the attempt by noble Lords opposite to prevent sanctions against the illegal régime in Rhodesia. They had good reason to assume that the Conservative Government was instinctively and enthusiastically on their side—and I am surprised in some of the speeches this afternoon and this evening to have heard confirmation of that fact. Surely no one doubts that this is an issue of fundamental importance. Of the Simonstown Agreement I shall say no more. My noble friend Lord Chalfont has spoken very effectively on that subject. The famous pledge in Johannesburg was not made conditional on the Simonstown Agreement. The South African Government may now seek to make a new deal, certainly. It knows that it will be dealing with a willing and eager seller, an eager seller of British self respect, an eager seller of British reputation, an eager seller of the rights of millions of Africans.

What could be the justification for new arms sales to South Africa? We come to the depths of absurdity. The argument is seriously put forward that arms must be sold to South Africa as a defence against Communism. That is the most fantastic argument I have ever heard. Let me say, with absolute confidence, that a British decision to lift the ban on the sale of arms to South Africa would be the most effective action ever taken to strengthen Communist influence in Africa. It would be the greatest gain to Communist propaganda since the Aswan Dam. If the purpose is to hand over African opinion and sympathy to Soviet and Chinese influence, that is the way to do it. Every submarine, every aeroplane, every gun that we sell to South Africa will be a straight propaganda gift to the Communists, a gift with interest. I can hardly believe that anyone can be so blind as to fail to see that. Every African and every Asian knows it; everyone with any knowledge of international affairs knows it. British arms for the South African Government are not in our defence; British arms to South Africa are directed against ourselves and against our interests.

We are told that no final decisions have been made; that possibly the decision may be put off until Parliament is in Recess or, worse still, that the poison will be administered in small doses. Let us hope that there is still time for the Government to draw back from the shame of supporting and sustaining racial régimes. Let them show that this country still has some self-respect and some belief in principle. Let them show that we genuinely hate racial discrimination and racial suppression; that we believe in the equal principle of the Commonwealth; that we respect the overwhelming votes of the United Nations; that, having ended an Empire, we have not forfeited an honourable role in world leadership.

My Lords, I respect what has been said in this debate in the request that we should not press the Amendment which is down in my name to a vote. I respect the motives of those who have so spoken, but I would say that we have no guarantee whatsoever that the arms sales will not go through. We have no assurance that the declared policy of this Government and the pledges made are to be withdrawn; and, consequently, I feel that it is important that we should declare ourselves, not after the event but before; we should declare ourselves when our declaration can have some effect. I myself should like to put it to the members of this House that in the whole of this Parliament we shall not have a more important decision to make than that on which we take our first Division in your Lordships' House in this Parliament.

I say that a vote against this Amendment is a vote against Africa; is a vote against Asia; is a vote against the Commonwealth; is a vote against the United Nations. I should greatly hope that there are many Members of your Lordships' House on both sides who would hesitate and would draw back from such a vote; a vote which would do great damage to the name of this country and this Government. I therefore have the honour to beg leave to move the Amendment which stands in my name.

Moved, as an Amendment, to add at the end of the proposed Address ("but in view of the vital need to promote accord between different races and mindful of the principles on which the Commonwealth is based and of the possible consequences to British interests in Africa and throughout the world, call on Your Majesty's Government to honour the United Nations resolutions on the supply of arms to South Africa.").—(Lord Caradon.)

10.32 p.m.


My Lords, I cannot exactly claim to be making a maiden speech, but this is the first occasion for the last seven years on which, addressing your Lordships, I have not either been the Leader of the House or the Leader of the Opposition. And perhaps this evening I may be allowed to say a word of thanks, not only to those who sit on these Benches who have so kindly endured my leadership for so long, but also to noble Lords on the opposite side of the House who, generally speaking, have in these last years shown me much kindness and friendliness. I very much appreciate the things that have been said this afternoon, particularly by my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and others. I know that noble Lords on both sides of the House will show the same kindness—though he does not need it—to my noble friend Lord Jellicoe.

My Lords, it is a great honour and responsibility to have been appointed Secretary of State for Defence, and it is a formidable task; but I can assure your Lordships that I shall do my best. Of course, we on this side of the House recognise that recent events have been something of a shock to noble Lords opposite, and I understand that. I remember the shock it was to me in 1964. In our system the rug is pulled very quickly from under the feet. The cars, the secretaries, the speech writers, all disappear with terrible rapidity, and noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite have to change their tactics. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, lately the Bobby Moore of the Labour side, has got to change his boots and his style, and take to scoring goals—he has not, I am afraid, done so to-day. The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, formerly the goalkeeper—the Gordon Banks—of the Labour side, must take off his jersey and join us in midfield. And, of course, at first he will feel the cold. It will take a little time for noble Lords to get used to these new roles and some of them, if I may say so, by the speeches in the debate on the Address which we have been listening to, with some honourable exceptions—but not to-day—have led me to believe that, like Gordon Banks—the real one—just before the West German match, they have been suffering from stomach ache, no doubt due to a surfeit of sour grapes. But I expect that time will cure them.

May I, in common with many others, congratulate the two noble Lords who have made their maiden speeches—first, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, on his wholly admirable and non-controversial maiden speech. The noble Lord, if I may continue my soccer analogy, is the Socialist Sir Stanley Matthews, a little too old for internationals (though I think he might do quite well on the Benches opposite) but a formidable player still. We enjoyed his speech and congratulate him on his promotion from the Second Division to the First Division down here. I must say that I was a. little mystified why he chose to sit on the third Liberal Bench; but I now see that he has moved to the second Liberal Bench. Perhaps to-morrow or next Monday or whenever it is, he will have taken over the front Liberal Bench. I do not know whether this denotes a wobble or a lurch to the Right. All I can tell him is that if he could see the alarm that his geographical position has brought on the faces of noble and Liberal Lords, he would enjoy it very much indeed. And may I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Janner, on a splendid maiden speech, for he speaks with such authority on the Israeli question that what he says will be listened to and read by all noble Lords with great care.

I come now to the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who has just finished speaking, and I shall have something to say about his Amendment at the end. Of course, we welcome him back personally after five years—is it?—at the United Nations; five years of very hard work. I agree with him, reading some of his speeches, that he has been extremely critical of the Russians and of others. He said that he must be kind to the new Ministers. We must be also kind to him, because he is a newcomer to this House. In five and a half years, I think he made only three speeches.


More than that.


My Lords, I think he has made three speeches—I looked them up. I read them and remember them. I comfort myself and noble Lords on this side of the House that the noble Lord is a very much nicer man than his speeches. I have only one quarrel with the noble Lord, and that is that he took the name of Caradon. In the last five years, I have been accused of saying some very extraordinary things.

We have had some notable speeches this afternoon from noble Lords all round the House, particularly from those noble Lords who have been in the Foreign Office, and not least, if I may say so, from the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay of Birker, who, I thought, spoke under great difficulties but made a most interesting and stimulating speech. But if your Lordships will forgive me, I do not want to refer specifically to any of the speeches, because I want to say something of my own and if noble Lords have asked questions I shall be very glad to write to them afterwards.

I do not think that anybody will expect me to make an announcement this evening of detailed changes in policy or of timings and details of the way in which we intend to carry out the promises which we made in our Election campaign. It would hardly be wise after being in office for only three and a half weeks. But I thought that it would be useful if this evening, very shortly, because the time is late. I gave some idea of how I see the problems which confront us in our defences. It is inevitable and natural, during an Election campaign, that the two Parties, the Press and television should concentrate on the differences between the two Parties rather than on those matters about which they are agreed.

There is, I am glad to say, much, if not most, in both Parties' approach to foreign affairs and defence which is common to both of them. Though there has been a great deal of discussion about a British presence East of Suez, it should not be forgotten that—just as the Labour Party did when we were in office for 13 years—we in Opposition recognised, and we recognise as the Government, that the cornerstone of our defence policy must be NATO, for it is on Europe ultimately that the defence of these islands rests; and we shall continue to support the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as we have done in the past, and as did the previous Government, to the utmost of our capacity. Europe could not have survived these last 21 years without NATO, and it is to NATO that our first priority must go.

I have also made it clear before that we support the current NATO strategy. NATO'S defence must continue to rest ultimately on the nuclear deterrent; but, particularly in a situation where a general strategic balance exists between the United States and Russia, we need a range of responses from which we can choose the one appropriate to the scale of aggression or particular emergency. We have at the same time to take account of the review of forces and strategy in NATO which is at this moment proceeding in the United States and in which some reduction of, or changes in, United States forces on the Continent of Europe must be one of the options being examined. I would make it clear that the United States has taken no decision to reduce its forces in Europe, and, in any case, we have been assured that no reductions will take place before the middle of next year. We also know that President Nixon has emphasised his continuing commitment to NATO; but there is no doubt that in the United States there is a feeling that Europe should play a larger part in her own defence. And, for my part, I think there is substance in this. The Europe of 1970 is a very different place from the Europe of 1949. In the Euro Group of Defence Ministers, in which my predecessor, Mr. Healey, played such an active part, we must concentrate further on this question of burden sharing and European co-operation. Certainly I shall do my best in that respect.

Your Lordships will have noticed in the Queen's Speech the determination of Her Majesty's Government to work for … a genuine reduction of tension in relations between East and West in Europe. The Warsaw Pact has been on notice since June, 1968, that NATO is willing to talk about the possibility of mutual and balanced force reductions; and more recently the invitation was renewed in more specific terms. There has now been an answer from the Warsaw Pact countries, and this answer is being studied urgently by NATO. I do not think that at this stage it would be wise for me to comment further than that.

I come now to the question of a British presence East of Suez. I do not intend to argue the case all over again. We are on record in our Election Manifesto as to what we shall do. We have always disagreed with the Opposition's decision to withdraw our forces from South East Asia by the end of 1971. To abandon our pledges to our friends to help generally in the defence of the Free World in that area seemed to us, and seems to us, to be against the wishes of the Commonwealth countries concerned and contrary to Britain's interests in the area.

I am at the moment studying very carefully the size and composition of the military presence we shall retain, and we shall have consultations with our Commonwealth partners. Indeed, as soon as Parliament rises I shall be visiting the Governments of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore for preliminary consultations with them. Our presence there will be, as we have always said, on a considerably smaller scale than our present forces; but the very fact that we are there will be an indication of our interest in the stability and peace of the area. The warmth of the welcome that our partners have extended to the prospect of a continued British military presence shows how important they consider this to be.

If I may say so, it seems to me that the statement made by leading members of the Opposition before the Election and subsequently repeated in another place, and repeated here in different terms this afternoon, that we do not fully understand the consequences of what we are doing, is not only really rather patronising, but also rather extraordinary. For they—the Labour Party—also encouraged our Far East Allies to believe that there were circumstances in which they would use what they called our "general capability" to help them. The only difference would have been that, by having no presence East of Suez, they would have made the circumstances we all wish to avoid more likely to arise and their obligations in this event more difficult to fulfil.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, if I understood him right, in the course of his speech said that a British presence in South East Asia, and our forces, would be regarded as foreign, and that foreign forces promote violence and guerrilla warfare rather than stability.


My Lords, may I correct the noble Lord very briefly? I did not say "promote" violence, I said "provoke" it; and I did not say that they would be regarded as foreign, I said they would be foreign.


Well, my Lords, I do not really think that alters the substance. Does he, I wonder, take the same view of the presence of Australian and New Zealand forces on the mainland of South East Asia?


Yes, my Lords.


In which case I find it rather odd, because I remember that the previous Administration, of which the noble Lord was a shining ornament, greatly welcomed the decision of the Australian and New Zealand Governments last year in providing the basis of effective defence arrangements in that area after our withdrawal in 1971. I often remember the speeches of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Healey before the reversal of their policy East of Suez, making out a really splendid case for the retention of a British presence East of Suez. They really were very good speeches indeed, and I have often used the material in them in different circumstances.

We shall, I must emphasise, be contributing, as one of the five Commonwealth partners, to Commonwealth defence arrangements to which our Allies will be making their own contribution. We shall be discussing the future character of our political commitment and the general question of the Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement with the Commonwealth Governments concerned; and I do not propose, if your Lordships will forgive me, to discuss that this evening. Of course, I accept that our policy will entail the possibility of British involvement in military operations. Of course it does. But so did the policy of the previous Government, unless they had no intention of honouring their pledges. I believe the difference between us lies not in the degree of involvement but in the measures we think it right to take to prevent such an involvement from being necessary. I should like also to say one other thing. Having spent some little time in that part of the world I think we have a better understanding not only of our own interests but our own obligations in South East Asia; obligations to countries and friends who have made great sacrifices for us in the past.

As to the Gulf, I will only say this. The consequences of the Labour Party's announcement of withdrawal of British forces has not been in the best interests of peace and stability in the area, and peace and stability in the area are for us an important objective. We are consulting our friends in the area on how best we can achieve this. These consultations are of importance, and I must tell your Lordships that they may take a little time.

The issue which in the past three and a half weeks, since I have been at the Ministry of Defence, has caused me the greatest concern is the situation which I have found with regard to manpower in the Services. The previous Government took, or always seemed to take, pride in their achievements in making repeated major cuts in the Services and in defence expenditure generally, and in their successive announcements of the diminishing role of the Services and the withdrawal of British forces from South-East Asia and the Gulf. In doing so they have, to my mind, dealt a series of blows to the Services from which it will take some time for them to recover. But that is not all. There has grown up a feeling among a number of people in this country that the Defence Services no longer have any importance; that their role is becoming negligible and that they come, or at any rate they came until the middle of June, very low in the list of priorities of the Government's thinking. It will come as no surprise to your Lordships that I do not share this view. The first role, the most important role, of any Government must be to ensure the safety of those who live in these Islands. It is indefensible that any Government should cut their spending on defence to the point where it imperils the safety of the country. I must say that I find my predecessor's attitude in taking credit for the fact that we are now spending more on education than on defence a very curious one—not because it is not better to spend more money on education, but because it is totally irrelevant. What matters is whether we spend enough on defence. It must have been strange to those who volunteered to serve their country to hear their Government spokesman making claims of that kind.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord could tell us how much smaller, in actual numbers, the British Army is now than when he went out of office.


My Lords, the noble Lord, with his usual kindness, has just anticipated the next part of my speech. The strength of the Armed Forces on April 1 was 373,000–18,300, or nearly 5 per cent., below the number required to meet the last Administration's defence programme.


And what were the noble Lord's numbers?


My Lords, I will get the numbers for the noble Lord; I do not remember the exact figures. I think noble Lords had better wipe the smile off their faces because the figure was very, very much more than that. I will ask for the numbers to be produced before the end of this debate—will very willingly do so.


My Lords, I do not want to anticipate the noble Lord a second time, but it would be helpful if we had these numbers. He has been at the Ministry of Defence for three weeks and I should have thought he might have obtained that information.


My Lords, I was at the Ministry of Defence in 1954, and I do not remember what the figures were then, either.

The Royal Navy and the Army are short of officers, but the main shortages are among ratings and other ranks. In the years up to 1966–67—and I ask your Lordships to note that date—the level of recruitment was relatively high: I repeat, relatively high, because even then there were gaps between targets and achievements. In 1966–67 nearly 40,000 other ranks joined the Forces. In 1967–68 the figure was 32,000, and in 1968–69 only 28,000. And by that time the situation was pretty desperate. Last year there was an improvement—a welcome improvement—to 34,000, although this was still 12,000, or one-quarter, short of what was needed.

I repeat, my Lords, the last Administration bear a heavy responsibility for this failure. The twists and turns of their defence policy, the sudden changes of plan, the reduction in commitments and capability and the obvious lack of interest or priority in defence have been a very major cause in all this; and we must change it. There is nothing disreputable about defence. Far from it. It. is one of the most honourable and important careers which anyone can undertake. From maintaining our proper share of our own defence and that of Western Europe, to safeguarding our national interests by helping to maintain peace and stability in vital areas overseas; to preserving law and order in Northern Ireland and giving help in civil emergencies, our Forces play an indispensable role, and all of us should recognise this.


Who does not recognise it?


My Lords, if I may say so to noble Lords opposite I do not think that what they have done in the last five years has given that any recognition whatever.




My Lords, it may well be that our plans in the Far East will help, for recruits are attracted by opportunities for adventure; but this by itself will not be enough. Changes are taking place in our society which will not make things easier, for boys are staying longer at school and there is a shrinking pool from which to take our recruits. I do not imagine that it will be easy to put this right and, if I may say so again, there will be no miracles about this. There can be nothing instant about this. I have asked Lord Balniel to inquire into and to take charge of our recruiting problems, and this brings me to the question of our reserves.

We have said that we will review the role and size of the TAVR. This is now being done. We believe that there must be a body of disciplined troops here at home, and we have never accepted the attitude of noble Lords opposite to this matter: and I agree with what so many of my noble friends behind me and alongside me have said during this debate. I am sorry to say that in many respects confidence in the need and purpose of the TAVR have been seriously undermined. Indeed, I venture to think that there are quite large numbers of people in this country who do not think that there is now a Territorial Army at all. Here again, it will be our first object to make plain the importance that we attach to the Territorials and to encourage more people to join.

This evening, because the hour is late, I do not intend to go into detail with regard to the Services; and I hope that we shall have a debate on the Armed Forces soon. I would just say this, however. I am studying the run-down of the Army and the future of the Gurkhas; the multi-range combat aircraft, about which I hope to make a statement very soon, and the implications of some continuation of naval fixed-wing flying to fill the breach in our naval capability in the early 1970s which has been opened up by the precipitate decision of the previous Administration to phase out the aircraft carriers before providing effective weapons for their replacement. And I note what my noble friend Lord Ash-borne and others have said about that. But in all these matters our choice will be restricted because of the manning situation which we have inherited.

Before I finish, may I say that I had the opportunity last Friday of visiting Faslane, the home of the Navy's nuclear and Polaris submarines. It so happened that, as First Lord of the Admiralty some seven years ago, I started this programme, and on Friday the return of H.M.S. "Revenge" from doing her tests in the United States completed the programme and coincided with my visit. The submarines are now built and are fully operational, and they reflect great credit on all concerned who have kept to both the dates and the cost estimates which we set them in 1963—a quite remarkable success in the light of all the complications and sophistication of this programme. If I may say so, they also reflect great credit on the previous Administration who, despite some early protestations which I now see were attributable wholly to modesty, have really done a first-class job in maintaining our strategic nuclear deterrent. Incidentally, listening to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, on this subject earlier this afternoon I wondered how far and how fast he can back-pedal without falling off. After only three and a half weeks he seems tolerably practised.

My Lords, I come now to the Motion of Censure, or the Amendment, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. I do not intend to spend much time on it, not because I intend any discourtesy to the noble Lord but because he is moving an Amendment not knowing what the policy of Her Majesty's Government is, for it has not been announced and consultations are still taking place. This is a curious technique and one which we shall watch with great interest to see whether the Opposition develop it. Shall we have a Motion before the Summer Recess censuring the Government for not having taken 5s. off income tax in a Budget not due for presentation before next April? We had a whiff of it in Lord Shinwells maiden speech. The possibilities are immense. After five and a half years of instant government we are now having some pre-instant opposition.

Nevertheless, I will tell the noble Lord that of course, we recognise "the need to promote accord between different races" and are "mindful of the principles upon which the Commonwealth is based"; and of course we recognise the need to take proper account of the views of all those interested. That is what the consultations we are having are about. But, equally, we would ask those concerned to recognise and understand the interests which are the basis of our concern. We wish to secure the sea routes in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and many noble Lords have spoken on those lines this afternoon. Nor are we unmindful of the United Nations resolutions. We made our position perfectly clear in 1963. We do not condone, nor will we ever condone, racialist policies. On the contrary, we condemn them. What concerns us is our defence interests.

Of course I recognise the motives of those who have supported the Amendment—noble Lords like the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, himself—but in my view it would have been very much better if the noble Lord and his colleagues had waited until they had heard what we had to say instead of making speeches of the kind we have had to listen to this evening. But that is not to say that I do not understand why we are having: this Amendment. Morale opposite must be pretty low. It is always better after dinner. It is thought that controversy and a little blood will improve matters. "Let us have a vote. What shall we have it about?" If the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, will take my advice, he will find that keeping his supporters walking through the Lobby so late in the evening will not be a very popular thing to do in the years that lie ahead. It will certainly not shake the determination of Her Majesty's Government to do what they believe to be right.

We intend in all these matters, whether they be defence or foreign policy or home affairs, to examine carefully and without haste the issues involved and where British interests lie. And having made our decision we shall inform Parliament in the usual way. In the meantime, I suggest that we should reject the noble Lord's Amendment and go home to bed.

11.6 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 88; Not-Contents, 184.

Addison, V. Foot, L. Peddie, L.
Airedale, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]
Amherst, E. Gardiner, L. Platt, L.
Archibald, L. Garnsworthy, L. Plummer, Bs.
Ardwick, L. Gladwyn, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Balogh, L. Goodman, L. Rochester, L. Bp.
Bernstein, L. Granville-West, L. Royle, L.
Beswick, L. [Teller.] Henderson, L. Rusholme, L.
Birk, Bs. Henley, L. St. Davids, V.
Blackett, L. Hertford, M. Samuel, V.
Blyton, L. Heycock, L. Scrota, Bs.
Bowden, L. Hilton of Upton, L. Shackle ton, L.
Bowles, L. Hirshfield, L. Shepherd, L.
Brockway, L. Hoy, L. Shinwell, L.
Brown, L. Hughes, L. Snow, L.
Burton of Coventry, Bs. Janner, L. Soper, L.
Byers, L. Kennet, L. Sorensen, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Leatherland, L. Southwark, L. Bp.
Canterbury, L. Abp. Lindgren, L. Stow Hill, L.
Caradon, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Strabolgi, L.
Chalfont, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Summerskill, Bs.
Champion, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Chichester, L, Bp. London, L. Bp. Wade, L.
Collison, L. Longford, E. Walston, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Lytton, E. Wells-Pestell, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Maelor, L. Wigg, L.
Durham, L. Bp. Milford, L. Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Faringdon, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Fiske, L. Pargiter, L.
Aberdare, L. Brougham and Vaux, L. Elgin and Kincardine, E.
Abinger, L. Broughshane, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs.
Ailwyn, L. Buckton, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs.
Airlie, E. Burnham, L. Erroll of Hale, L.
Albemarle, E. Caccia, L. Falkland, V.
Aldenham, L. Carnock, L. Ferrier, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Carrington, L. Forres, L.
Allerton, L. Chelmer, L. Fortescue, E.
Alport, L. Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Fraser of Lonsdale, L.
Ampthill, L. Clitheroe, L. Gage, V.
Arran, E. Clwyd, L. Garner, L.
Ashbourne, L. Colville of Culross, V. Gore-Booth, L.
Auckland, L. Conesford, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.]
Audley, Bs. Cork and Orrery, E. Gowrie, E.
Avebury, L. Cowdray, V. Grantchcster, L.
Balerno, L. Craigavon, V. Gray, L.
Balfour, E. Craigmyle, L. Greenway, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Cranbrook, E. Grenfell, L.
Barnard, L Crathorne, L. Gridley, L.
Barnby, L. Crawshaw, L. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Bathurst, E. Cromartie, E. Grimthorpe, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Hailes, L.
Belstead, L. Daventry, V. Harlech, L.
Berkeley, Bs. De La Warr, E. Harrowby, E.
Bessborough, E. De L'Isle, V. Hawke, L.
Bethell, L. Denham, L. Headfort, M.
Bolton, L. Derwent, L. Hood, V.
Boothby, L. Digby, L. Howard of Glossop, L.
Boston, L. Drumalbyn, L. Ilford, L.
Bourne, L. Dudley, E. Inglewood, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Dulverton, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal)
Bradford, E. Dundee, E. Jessel, L.
Brecon, L. Dundonald, E. Kemsley, V.
Brentford, V. Ebbisham, L. Killearn, L.
Bridgeman, V. Eccles, V. Kilmany, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Effingham, E. Kings Norton, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Egremont, L. Kinnoull, E.
Lansdowne, M. Newton, L. Selkirk, E.
Latymer, L. Northchurch, Bs. Sempill, Ly.
Lauderdale, E. Oakshott, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Lloyd, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Somers, L.
Long, V. Pender, L. Stamp, L.
Lothian, M. Penrhyn, L. Stonehaven, V.
Lucan, E. Poltimore, L. Strange, L.
Lyell, L. Poole, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
MacAndrew, L. Rankeillour, L. Strathcarron, L.
McCorquodale of Newton, L. Rathcavan, L. Strathclyde, L.
McFadzean, L. Redesdale, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Redmayne, L. Terrington, L.
Mancroft, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L. Teviot, L.
Mansfield, E. Rochdale, V. Teynham, L.
Margadale, L. Rockley, L. Thurlow, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Townshend, M.
Merrivale, L. Sackville, L. Trefgarne, L.
Milverton, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.] Trevelyan, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V. St. Helens, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Monk Bretton, L. St. Oswald, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Mountevans, L. Salisbury, M. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Sandford, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Napier and Ettrick, L. Sandys, L. Windlesham, L.
Nathan, L. Savile, L. Yarborough, E.
Nelson of Stafford, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentierte: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.