HL Deb 30 April 1975 vol 359 cc1253-329

2.53 p.m.

Lord HOME of the HIRSELrose to call attention to the problems of security which face Britain and the other free and independent countries of the world; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands by my name on the Order Paper. I hope your Lordships will acquit me of being a Parliamentary chatterbox. I put this Motion on the Paper well before our European debate of last week, and did so for a very definite reason. I have always thought that a part of the value of this Upper House to the nation is that here we can ventilate great issues of domestic or international concern free from the curbs of Party alignment and without the compulsion of instant political decision. In other words, we can give ourselves, and perhaps others, time to think—a luxury increasingly rare in politics in these days. Therefore in moving this Motion I am not seeking any instant reaction, certainly not from the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, because it would be wrong that there should be an immediate reaction from the Government to some of the things I have to say.

One of the anxieties I have had—and no doubt this has been shared by others of your Lordships—is that the shape of international affairs in the Western World since the war has had to be fashioned as a reaction against the strong tendency of Communist Russia towards expansion. In other words, we have scarcely been able, either in the United States or in Europe, to have foreign policies which are positive in their own right. That applies to the great problems and issues which face the world. No one would deny the citizen of the Soviet Union the right to his own political philosophy and his chosen way of life, but in the last 30 years the trouble has been that Communism has been for export, and that behind the export drive is a doctrine of unending ideological conflict and confrontation, of ultimate victory over all the rest of the philosophies, whether the persons like it or not, while according to the Communist doctrine any means is justifiable to attain the end. This, my Lords, is called co-existence. Such a definition as I have given— namely, the continuation and intensification of the ideological conflict, the ultimate victory over all the rest, and the means as justifying the end—was given over Moscow Radio as lately as October 1974 as official Russian policy.

The concept of perpetual struggle is alien to the democratic mind. It does not appeal to us as a basis on which we can build the partnership with the Soviet Union which is the true meaning of co-operation, and therefore we find it difficult to conceive of real progress towards detente when co-existence is thus defined. We have therefore, as democracies, tried our hardest over the years to convert co-existence into co-operation. The text of partnership was of course originally written in the Charter of the United Nations, and the proposal was that the Western allies and the Soviet Union and China should jointly keep the peace. That fine ambition following the war was negatived by the non-co-operation of the Soviet Union in peace-keeping machinery through the United Nations. We were anxious to work with the Soviet Union through international institutions—the International Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Development Agency—and we wished to go into partnership with the Russians to try to prevent the division of the world between rich and poor and to remove the grievance of envy which can so easily lead to war. The Soviet Union preferred to go her own way; and not only that, but preferred to label the assistance given to the developing countries by the United States and Europe as "neo-colonialism".

In Europe I think we understood, and certainly in this country we understood better than anybody else, the fear of a renewed war which is undoubtedly genuine in the Soviet Union. We offered guarantees of non-aggression, and when that met with no response we contained Germany within the NATO alliance and within the European Community.—the surest guarantee we could give to the Soviet Union that there would not be a renewed attack from the West. It is not really accurate to say that over the years there was no response to all these advances towards the Soviet Union, for in sequence the answer was the Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the occupation of Czechoslovakia. As is well within the recollection of your Lordships, it was a Socialist of international reputation, Mr. Ernest Bevin, who had to recognise—he had no alternative—that so strong was the trend of Soviet Communism towards territorial expansion that there was no alternative for the Europeans and the Americans but to organise "collective security" if our way of life was to survive.

After the creation of the NATO Alliance we persevered in seeking co-operation through some barren years. At intervals there have been flashes of hope. There was the Austrian Peace Treaty; there was the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty— not disarmament, but at least it ended the danger of fall-out over a very considerable area of the world and relieved nerves which were tense; and, more lately, a ceiling has been placed by the Soviet Union and the United States on strategic intercontinental missiles. The United States and the Soviet Union could still blow the world to bits several times over. But it could be a straw in the wind of détente; it could be the beginning of turning downwards the graph of rising armaments levels.

Year after year, we have pursued formulae for mutual and balanced disarmament and have worked through many sessions with our Allies and with our Community partners in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. In this case there has been practically no response. Eighteen months ago I myself put forward to the Soviet Government eight modest proposals for better contacts between East and West—the kind of thing which would be universally approved in this country—that people who marry in either country should be able to choose in which country they live; better facilities for tourism in both countries; proposals for the joint editorship of a magazine explaining Europe to Russia and vice versa, and so on. To every single proposal the answer was, No, or that it was not appropriate, and in exasperation I found myself saying to Mr. Gromyko, "The trouble with you Russians is that you are so dreadfully conservative"! And, my Lords, it is true. They will not consider any move towards liberalism, even with the smallest "1".

I am afraid it is a sad fact—which I hate to recall but it is better to face the facts—that after 30 years of effort to change co-existence into co-operation, the Berlin Wall is still there as a hideous blot on civilisation. But people have got used to it. The occupation of Czechoslovakia is still there, and the denial of self-determination, but people have got used to it. And, in spite of 1 million men and corresponding weapons on the Chinese frontier, there is a superiority of the Warsaw Pact over NATO in conventional forces and weapons of three to one, and the Soviet forces are always on full alert. Then, again, there is the progressive erosion of countries on the periphery of the Free World which goes on all the time.

Freedom may be assaulted in a number of ways—by systematic subversion of the will to defend it; by picking off, one by one, countries which have internal divisions and which are, in the Communist jargon, ripe for revolution; by wars at second hand and by direct attack. Under the umbrella of co-existence, subversion goes on all the time, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, vividly illustrated to us only a short time ago.

Despite all the alternatives I have presented, I do not believe that there will be a direct attack by the Warsaw Pact upon the NATO Alliance. At the present time it suits the Russians to maintain the status quo in Europe, because there are other opportunities for them elsewhere. But they are tempted to foment strife. Where they find an opening of civil disorder in any country, they are tempted to dabble in wars at second-hand.

Every piece which is nibbled away from the Free World weakens the whole. There cannot be a Communist take-over on the scale which we have witnessed in recent days in South-East Asia without serious repercussions on the global balance of power. Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore—two Commonwealth countries—will not now be so confident of their future security as they were but a short time ago. Already there is penetration by the North Vietnamese into the North of Thailand. Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand will be compelled to begin to look anew at the safety of their communications, not only with the West but with Singapore and among themselves.

It so happens that I have had long and first-hand experience of the events which have led up to the conquest of Vietnam, in the context of the neutrality of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 1954, the first treaty was signed with the purpose of ending strife in the area. The aim was to create for those three countries a status of non-alignment and a right of self-determinaton, and to provide the machinery for that. Sir Anthony Eden, as he then was, the Russian Foreign Minister and the local parties negotiated and signed a treaty providing for the withdrawal of troops from each other's territories, the rationing of imported arms and the creation of machinery for free elections and self-determination through-out the area.

A Control Commission of impartial countries was set up to oversee and guide progress, and to bring it to fruition. The Soviet Foreign Minister and our Foreign Secretary were co-Chairmen of a continuing process of conciliation and peace building. From the date of signature, the Russians did all they could to stultify the work of the Commission and they succeeded in rendering it impotent. I succeeded to this situation in 1962. There was trouble in the area—trouble so serious that it seemed to be leading directly to war.

I tried to reconvene this continuing Conference, and so applied to Mr. Gromyko. He took no interest in the suggestion, but eventually the conference was reconvened. We spent months in negotiation—Russia, the United States of America, China, France, Britain and all the local countries and all the local parties within those countries; the Vietcong, the Vietnam, the Pathet Lao—the lot. We signed a solemn treaty, argued over word by word. Foreign troops were to be withdrawn, armies to be reduced to policing size, imports of arms to be limited from outside and restricted to policing needs. A Commission was set up again to ensure ordered progress towards that result.

My Lords, it is true to say that from the date of the signature the Russians—not the Chinese—and the North Vietnamese stymied all progress and rendered the Commission impotent. The Paris Conference of 1973 is within the recollection of your Lordships. The Secretary-General of the United Nations was brought there to give the occasion added solemnity and authority. The process was gone through all over again; a Commission was set up to supervise peaceful organisation of the area. It is fair to say that the ink was not dry on the paper before the North Vietnamese, aided and abetted by the Russians, brought the proceedings of the Commission to an end. I am not blaming the United States for the original intervention, or the Soviet Union for pumping arms into the area. What I am saying is that there were three opportunities to end strife. It could have been ended but the opportunity was deliberately thrown out of the window, in favour of fighting, by the North Vietnamese and by the Russians in league with them in 1954, 1962, 1973. I am going to borrow a phrase from Sir Winston Churchill, "Three times is a lot."

There has lately been almost a conspiracy of silence on the record of these events. I do not know whether to label the latest proceedings "Communist expansion" or "imperialist expansion"; I think it is a blend of both. But this story, which has culminated this morning in the surrender of South Vietnam, is as planned, as deliberate, as cold-blooded, as cynical and as cruel an exercise in power politics as anything even this hard-bitten world has ever seen. I see that in relation to Phnom Penh, and now Saigon, the use of the word "liberation" is in currency. When liberation and domination begin to mean the same thing, the process of sapping the will to preserve security of the free way of life has already begun.

This tale of the Vietnam treaties raises questions which are profound, and the most profound of them really is this: is a treaty with a Russian Communist merely a trap for the democracies? This is not an academic question or one that refers posthumously to Vietnam. We are told that a conference on the Middle East is shortly to be held in Geneva—something very much nearer home to us. The Soviet Foreign Minister will be co-chair-man yet again with the American Secretary of State. There is a passionate desire among the democracies that there should be reconciliation in this area, which is deadly dangerous to the peace of the whole world. There are people in that area with a grievance who are only too ready to be exploited if others are unscrupulous. There is a chance for a settlement, as there was in Vietnam, and if Mr. Eban's speech of two days ago is properly reported there is a much better chance now than there ever has been before.

There will be a need, whatever the terms, for a Commission to ensure progress. The co-chairmen, the desire for peace, the possibility of peace, the Commission to ensure progress—it is the horrible, demoralising effect of the damnable double-dealing of Communists that free men are bound to ask themselves the question, "Is this to be Vietnam all over again?". My Lords, I profoundly beg that it is not. The Russian self-interest may be different. The Arabs are people of very considerable experience of diplomacy and people of independent mind. Israel can look after herself and fights for her recognition and survival. One hopes, therefore, that this conference will be different. But I notice it is said —and this is not the end of the story— that the result of the Portuguese election is unsatisfactory to the Soviet Union. Are they the next on the list, and are we to have this doctrine extended to the internal affairs of country after country?

My Lords, would it be better in such circumstances if we, the democracies, were to say to the Soviet Union that we are not interested in detente as the Russians present the prospect to us? My answer to that is No. and emphatically No, because in doing so we should be untrue to the values in which we ourselves believe. We should therefore persevere; but we should persevere in prudence, and react to a situation like this not in panic but in prudence. I submit to you, my Lords, that that means imposing some discipline on ourselves in the context of the security of the free nations.

Subject to what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, may say, we shall go to the Conference on European Security and Co-operation in Europe. I think the discipline of which I have spoken should take this form: we should not concede any point of substance unless it is matched by a concession of equal weight; we should not allow any treaty that we have signed or intend to sign to be broken with-out bringing the breach immediately to the public notice and releasing ourselves from the obligations assumed unless that breach is rectified at once. The price in terms of security of turning a blind eye to Communist deception is too high. Until the balance sheet is weighed (and that will be known before the Conference on European Co-operation and Security) I would not commit myself to attending that conference at heads of State level. If hard things are to be said it is much better for them to be said by Foreign Secretaries, and they do it much better.

We shall doubtless have a Defence debate, and therefore I will not anticipate it except in the context of which I am speaking, of concern for our security in this present-day world. Defence cannot be exempt from cuts when a country is in economic crisis, but I hope the Government can assure us that in this respect we have reached rock bottom in economies. We and our NATO allies are only just within the margin of safety. We should not, in relation to our NATO contribution, be using the excuse of our partners' lower contribution of percent-age of their GNP for defence. On the contrary, we should be urging them to bring their level up to ours. We should not forget, either, that every reduction of conventional manpower and conventional weapons brings us nearer to the policy of nuclear tripwire from which, in recent years, we have done so much to try to escape.

We should re-examine the deployment of allied forces on the periphery of the Free World. We cannot fight on the main-land of Asia and win. The French tried it, the Americans have tried it. No European could do it. But we can keep open the sea and air routes to Common-wealth countries, to and from the West and to and from each other. I am not one who subscribes automatically to the domino theory—history does not work like that—but I should be very unhappy if I were in Thailand today. Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand—these seaways and air routes must be kept open unless there is to be a mortal wound to the Free World. Plans should now be laid. Our friends must not be allowed to be cut off and isolated from the free. We should not allow any ocean—and here I am thinking in particular of the Indian Ocean—to become the virtual monopoly of a single Power. It is in danger of becoming that today. If, for reasons which seem to the Government to be good but which seem to me to be bad, Gan and Simonstown must go, then we should equip Diego Garcia to supply our naval needs in that area. I am thankful that the last Conservative Government, as its last gift, gave that to Her Majesty's Government of today.

My Lords, I believe that there should be a NATO Summit. I see virtue in this. It would enable the President of the United States to attend and declare that the defence of Europe and the Atlantic Ocean is a self-interest of the United States. It differs from the situation of America and Vietnam. Foreign policy and defence is basically about self-interest, and as the Continent of Europe is to us, so the Atlantic Ocean is to the United States. It would enable other heads of Governments to explain the philosophy of democracy and freedom and to express an ideal which will attract allegiance far and wide; for that, at the end of the day, is the real way to stem the Communist tide.

Finally, my Lords, let me say that we should pursue détente. If the Soviet Union is ready to change over from icy co-existence to co-operation, we must not miss that day. That would be a day in which we could all rejoice. But it is right to say clearly that the Free World has reached a point of insecurity where the democracies must require proof of Communist Russia's intentions, and deeds which are compatible with co-operation and partnership. Nothing less than that will do, because on nothing less than that can we build confidence in the security of free nations. My Lords, I have trespassed on your Lordships' time, but I think this morning, when there has been a change in the balance of power—and do not let us delude ourselves on this day, of all days—it is perhaps right that the Free World should review the ways in which we may remain secure. I beg to move for Papers.

3.25 p.m.


My Lords, the whole House will join me, I am sure, in expressing deep appreciation of the tone and content of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. I can only hope to respond with an equal blend of realism and aspiration. Clearly, as he said, there have in the last year been a number of developments through-out the world which greatly concern the Western Alliance. Fresh in all our minds is the war in Indo-China. If the news this morning is accurate, it means that that tragic struggle may at last be drawing to an end. The collapse of the Governments of Cambodia and South Vietnam has undoubtedly made a great impact, both on the peoples of the West and on those of South-East Asia. As the noble Lord rightly pointed out, the repercussions will spread very widely indeed.

My Lords, in this struggle we in Britain in recent years have been largely and inevitably onlookers. We have given humanitarian aid to the extent of our power, and shall continue so to do. We have consistently urged the observance of the Paris Agreements to which the noble Lord referred, and a political settlement; but unfortunately, like our Western partners and allies, we have not been able to change the course of events. We shall need to study carefully the implications of recent events for stability in the world, for Great Power relationships and for the future development of detente, above all, in the Atlantic area.

These events have been a particular shock to the Government and people of the United States. A major debate is developing there about America's future Tole in the world. Some people in America, indeed, are wondering whether their allies, as a result of the events in South-East Asia, will begin to question or lose confidence in the solidarity of the American commitment to the Western Alliance. To such people I would say, and Her Majesty's Government would say, that we believe the Americans are too great a people to allow the shock of this reverse to lead them into a crisis of self-confidence, or to blind them to the realities of their own security interests, in particular the need for continued support and commitment to the Western Alliance and all it stands for. There are signs that the superb resilience which characterises this great people is already making itself felt.

For example, Dr. Schlesinger recently said that with the slaking of passions over South-East Asia an improved perspective is emerging in America regarding the American role in the North Atlantic Community. Senator Hubert Humphrey has said something very similar. Above all, President Ford told a joint session of Congress on 10th April that events in South-East Asia must be kept in their proper perspective, that no potential adversary should believe in a slackening of the national will of America, and that America's destiny has never been more closely linked with that of the Western world. I believe we can look forward with some confidence to the NATO, summit meeting which will be held at the end of next month, and the fact that President Ford intends to attend personally speaks for itself.

During the past year Portugal, also, as we have heard, has been the scene of rapid change. The transition from dictatorship to democracy is not an easy one, and many of us may not have appreciated quite how difficult this is. Fundamental changes, economic, social and political, were and are clearly needed in that country. In this transitional period, it is not a simple matter to translate into practical effect the sincere and deep desire of all Portugal's friends and allies— and we, perhaps, are her oldest ally—to help that country and that people.

We all want the establishment and consolidation of a new democratic Portugal which can contribute to stability and security in Europe. I believe that the results of the elections on the 25th April, and, above all, the strikingly high turnout, have shown that the Portuguese people are eager to assume the role and the democratic responsibilities which the transition now taking place in their country offers them. It is our under-standing that it is the stated objectives of the Armed Forces Movement to work towards this during the current transitional period. We certainly wish the Portuguese Government and people all success in building democracy once more in their country.

In Cyprus, also, there has been justifiable anxiety about the cohesion of NATO's Southern flank. I am glad to say to the House that there seem now to be some signs of hope in regard to progress towards the solution of the Cyprus problem. If, as we hope, the talks which have recently been renewed in Vienna can succeed in making progress towards such a settlement in Cyprus, it may be possible to prevent any serious damage to the solidarity of the Western Alliance in South-Eastern Europe. Although both Greece and Turkey have shown some disillusionment with NATO because of the Cyprus dispute, both countries still remain members of the Alliance, and it is perhaps time to remind ourselves once more that the Alliance exists to safeguard the external security of its members and not, in fact, to resolve disputes among them.

It is equally true that throughout this period of doubt and uncertainty in certain areas of NATO there has been, as the noble Lord quite rightly pointed out, no slackening of the Soviet military build-up in Europe and elsewhere. The Soviet Union has achieved rough strategic nuclear parity with the United States. At a conventional level, the Warsaw Pact faces NATO in Central Europe with a marked superiority, which is further increased if one takes account also of forces stationed in the Soviet Union itself. Moreover, the Soviet Union has emerged in the last five years or so as a maritime super-Power, and the increasing presence of the Soviet navy in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans is well known to the House.

The military facts are there, and until we in the West can be convinced that neither force nor the threat of force, actual or implied, will be used against any member of the Alliance we must proceed with the utmost caution. So long as the Soviet Union continues to deploy forces on the scale to which I have referred, a scale far greater than purely defensive purposes would seem to necessitate, there is bound to be an insistence in the West that the military strength of NATO shall be adequate to form a credible deterrent against aggression, whether at the conventional or at the nuclear level.

The noble Lord raised the question of Her Majesty's Government's Defence Review and the policy flowing from that Review. We are asked, in fact, why, in the light of all this, the Government has decreased our defence expenditure under the Defence Review. It is, my Lords, precisely the recognition that Britain's security is best guarded by our commitment to NATO that underlies the whole philosophy of the Defence Review. The decisions taken under the Review will enable Britain to concentrate her contribution where it can most effectively be used.

The noble Lord, quite rightly, referred to the inefficiency of military action in outlying continents. This is not a point for partisan argument at all. We believe it is a fact that Britain's capability can primarily be best mobilised and exercised in the service of NATO in Europe. It certainly cannot be in the interests of NATO for us to continue to spend more than we can manage on defence, taking into account the fact that economic power must be the basis of any credible defence effort. The House will be aware that our defence expenditure in proportion to our GNP— and this still remains a respectable criterion of capacity— has been well above that of our major European allies. Britain may no longer be a world Power, at least in the old sense, but if we use our resources in the best way possible, always keeping in mind the interdependence of economic and military capacity, then our influence in the world may yet grow, together with that of our friends and allies, in the future.

NATO, as the noble Lord has often reminded us, is not only an instrument of defence. It has been the policy of successive Governments to emphasise, as we heard this afternoon, that the Alliance is also an instrument of detente. One recognises the real anxieties of many people that in seeking detente in Europe we might compromise security. Personally, I do not believe detente is possible without security. It cannot be attained without assuring confidence. I do not think that the interests of our security are best served, in any circumstances, by a continuation of the confrontation which we have had in Europe since the War. What is vital—and Her Majesty's Government fully recognise this—is that in seeking detente we should at no stage go further than the legitimate requirements of our security allow. That is why we have always insisted that detente must be real, not just theoretical. In this area our bilateral relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have an important part to play—even if only in clarification of some of the terms of art which the noble Lord mentioned this afternoon; the precise meaning in practice of "co-existence" for example. The very successful visit made by my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Moscow has played a valuable role in this direction. We hope that it may be at least one step on the road to a better understanding with the East.

We shall therefore continue, with the other Governments of the Western Alliance, to play our full part in the important conferences which are taking place in Geneva and Vienna, to which the noble Lord, Lord Home, referred. I would not conceal for a moment from the House that there are real difficulties in both negotiations, but a great deal of useful progress has been made. The Government believe that if real efforts are made on all sides—and I mean on all sides—it should be possible to obtain a result which would justify the holding of the final stage of the Conference on Security and Co-operation at the level of Heads of Government this summer. I repeat this: if real efforts are made on all sides, it should be possible to obtain a result which would justify the holding of such a summit meeting this summer. But my right honourable friends have repeatedly emphasised during their visits to Eastern Europe— and I had the opportunity of doing something of the same during my recent visit to Prague— that if the Conference is to mean anything to the peoples of Western Europe, it must be possible to show them substantial results. Detente is a continuous process, drawing its impetus from mutual confidence and assured security. I repeat, there is no detente without an assurance of security.

Political détente in fact is not enough on its own; it has to be backed up by comparable measures in the field of military security. I cannot say that we have yet achieved substantial results in the talks now going on in Vienna on force reductions: there are important differences of approach, as the noble Lord and the House will know, between the two sides. I think that there is distinct hope for the future: the position of the NATO countries in these negotiations has been firm and closely co-ordinated at all stages, and continues to be so. For our part, we shall not reduce our forces in the Federal Republic of Germany below the levels laid down in the 1954 Protocol to the Brussels Treaty in advance of an agreement being reached in the talks in Vienna which would involve a reduction of the British Forces. Meanwhile, the United States and the Soviet Union are continuing their talks on strategic arms limitation. The United States has kept her NATO allies, including ourselves, closely informed of progress in these talks. I need hardly say that their success has extremely important implications for our security, and for that of NATO as a whole.

Thus the process of détente in Europe is continuing. It has not yet become irreversible. We have not yet attained the necessary degree of mutual confidence for that. But I do not think that recent international developments have changed the basic need to continue to strive for progress towards detente, or indeed that the leaders of the Soviet Union have reversed their commitment to detente. I am confident that the relaxation of tension will go on, and Britain will certainly play her full part in ensuring that it does.

The search for detente, for world stability and security, has been given almost a new dimension by the emergence over the last two years, of the producer/ consumer question: what has come to be known indeed as the "North/South confrontation". It is very important that in pursuing military detente in an East/West connection, we should equally pursue an economic detente in a North/South connection. It has become as much a pre-occupation to us to avoid a confrontation with the producers as it is to avoid a confrontation with the East. This is why we have seen in recent months an increase in activity on the part of the Western States, led in many respects by the United Kingdom, in the attempt to seek understanding with the Third World on the supply of commodities. In this connection my right honourable friends are taking initiatives now, today, at the Commonwealth Conference in Jamaica.

This does not for a moment mean that the importance of East/West relations should be minimised, but it does mean that we must see them as part of a wider context. While the Soviet leadership remains committed to detente, as we are confident it does, we must surely work to achieve the greatest possible lessening of tension. Her Majesty's Government will continue to work for this bilaterally, regionally, and through the United Nations and its agencies. But I give this assurance to the House, that however assiduous our search for detente may be — and it will continue to be assiduous— we shall not for a moment forget the absolute requirements of the security of this country and of the West. With a lack of proper caution on the part of the West and, in a different sense perhaps on the part of the East, a situation might develop which would not help détente: on the contrary, it might ultimately destroy it. I think that there is a general consensus in the House and in the country that we should continue to work for détente, with the cautionary qualifications which the noble Lord has set forth so precisely and eloquently and which I, at least, find no difficulty in supporting.

3.49 p.m.


My Lords, no wonder the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, is worried about possible Soviet intentions, and so we should all be if we did not prefer to bury our heads in the sand. The truth is that Western democratic leaders cannot disregard public opinion, which is quite unduly confident of the possibility of achieving detente in East/West relations. It is perhaps rather odd that this tendency should be even more marked in this country than in any other, seeing that the word "détente" does not even figure in the English language! Of course, it all depends on what you mean.

The Western conception of detente, as we all know is that there should be a progressive series of agreements whereby, in the first place, trade between the Soviet Union and the Free World—or, if you like to put it that way, the non-Communist world—should be gradually stepped up, the Soviet Union consequently taking more and more Western consumer goods, and not merely capital goods, and thus, it is to be hoped, slowly becoming more democratic, or, as the French say " embourgeoisé"; that the great, and quite unbalanced, conventional forces now confronting each other, chiefly in Europe but also elsewhere and, above all, perhaps, on the seas, should be gradually reduced to a point where they are not only smaller but actually balanced; that there should at least be a beginning of the process of nuclear and, indeed, general disarmament; that so-called "cultural exchanges" should be much increased; and that there should finally be a freer flow of persons and ideas between the eventually two great opposing social systems, this resulting in what is always referred to as "liberalisation" of the entire Soviet governmental machine. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts is nodding his head.

It is as certain as most things that, short of some Soviet internal collapse, these objectives, however laudable, will, except to a minor degree, never be achieved though that, as the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, have said, is no reason for our not trying to achieve them. For the Soviet idea of detente is quite different. It is fundamentally inspired by the notion that the free, or capitalist, system is rotten; that it will soon, therefore, break up; that the Soviet Union must be ready for such a development; and that, in the meantime, the great thing is to convince the capitalist States of the profoundly pacific intentions of the Soviet Government so as to prevent them, in accordance with the prophecies of the classical Communist writers in what might be described as the holy books, from being tempted, once again, to overrun the workers' paradise.

Since the cause—this is still the thesis —of the workers is exhypothesi reasonable and, above all, just, and the cause of the capitalist States unreasonable and unjust, it follows that the Soviet Union can legitimately do everything in its power, if it can do so without damage to its interests, to promote the downfall of the capitalist regimes, including subversion, propaganda and support of Western Communist Parties; whereas it is intolerable that the capitalist Powers should have the opportunity of, for example, bringing the advantages of their system to the notice of the Soviet people and still less of encouraging any nationalist movements in the whole Soviet Empire.

Détente à la russe must therefore, in the first place, include recognition by the capitalist Powers of the existing, and it is to be hoped, unalterable, frontiers of all the so-called People's Republics; opportunities for the Soviet Government to extol the virtues of Communism in the West, without any real corresponding opportunity for the West to proclaim the advantages of a free system in countries under the control of the Soviet Government; and the establishment, if possible, of a security system in which, by one means or another, the Soviet Union will eventually possesss a preponderance of power—which incidentally it very nearly possesses at the moment.

More especially, it is hoped to achieve this last aim by pressing for the abolition of what is always called the " two blocs " —namely, NATO and the Warsaw Pact Organisation—which would, in effect, mean that the Americans would go back to distant America and the Russians to nearby Russia, but that a closely co-ordinated military system would continue to exist in the East of Europe, though no longer, presumably, in the West; the Russians also retaining the right, in accordance with the Brezhnev doctrine, to reoccupy any of the East European People's Republics in the unfortunate event of any attempt to overthrow a Communist régime.

It is true that the Soviet Government would welcome an increase in East/West trade in the sense of Western help in improving the deplorable Soviet system for the distribution of consumer goods, more especially if this should result in the continued ability of the Government to appropriate gigantic sums for the development of its armaments effort which, in itself, of course, largely depresses the standard of living of the Soviet and Soviet-controlled peoples. And this gives the Western Powers some slight lever for the negotiation of agreements which, on the face of it, might represent some progress, or, at any rate, some appearance of progress, towards the broad Western détente objectives to which I referred at the outset of my remarks.

For instance, it might be possible, in the context of what is called "Basket I" of the European Security Conference, to trade commercial concessions against, shall I say, the prior announcement of manoeuvres on each side of the Iron Curtain, or something like that. Nor is it by any means out of the question that some useful results may, as the result of hard bargaining, come out of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions negotiations now under way in Vienna. But only for so long as it is clearly understood that all these results must represent measures which are clearly in the interests of both sides. The same principle could apply to the renewal of any SALT nego- tiations, because there it may well be that the Soviet Government, without abandoning any of its objections, may decide that it is useless to go on spending any more money on more silos, missiles and so on. Therefore, in the coming SALT negotiations it will not only agree to call it a day, but perhaps also agree to certain measures for diminishing the total number of missiles on either side. It is not out of the question.

The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, indicated, however, that since the Soviet Union had repudiated over the years no less than three solemn treaty obligations in respect of proceedings in South-East Asia generally, which of course is undeniable, it was questionable whether it was worth while signing any treaties of a political nature with the Soviet Union at all. I am not so sure about that. The thing to remember here is that if the Soviet Union thinks that it can get away with breaking a political treaty without any adverse consequences, indeed with great benefits to itself, then it will do so. It has been able to do this in South-East Asia, with no bad results. Indeed, it has resulted in great advantages; namely, the expulsion of American influence in that part of the world and a dreadful humiliation for the United States. This great victory for the Soviet Union therefore no doubt justifies its repudiation of its solemn treaty obligations from its point of view. In the Middle East this is not necessarily so.

The Soviet Union obviously does not want war as such—certainly not nuclear war—and it was certain that a repudiation of its treaty obligations in South-East Asia would have no such result. A repudiation of any treaty signed in respect of Israel might well, however, cause an immense upheaval in the Middle East, resulting almost inevitably in war. Therefore, I think that if Mr. Gromyko at Geneva does sign something reasonable about Israel the presumption must be that Russia will abide by it. That may be optimistic, but it is on the face of it an argument in favour of trying to get Soviet agreement to some Middle East settlement.

Nevertheless, the sad truth is that a genuine detente does not depend on what is said or done in Helsinki, Geneva or Vienna; it depends on a real change of attitude on the part of the Soviet Government of which there is absolutely no sign at the present time, or indeed any sign of its happening in the future. After all, the Soviet regime rests, and must rest, on a totally illiberal foundation. If the Soviet Government admitted the right of an individual to express his views freely, or the right to strike, or the right to organise national movements in the Baltic States, the Caucasus, the Ukraine and so on, it would inevitably fall. It is obvious, in other words, that the Soviet Union in its present form can be held together only on the basis of Great Russian domination and a total suppression of individual liberties. It is even arguable that the Great Russian people— though clearly, not the peoples under Russian domination— actually prefer it that way. What is not permissible is to suppose that the Soviet leopard can ever change its spots, and yet this is apparently the assumption made by our patient negotiators in "Basket III ".

Does this mean, therefore, that the West must do nothing but prepare for an inevitable war? Of course not. The Soviet Union does not want war; it wants only, as I think Churchill said, the fruits of war. Nor will there be a war if the West possesses a minimum of unity and, above all, makes its social system work. The real way to achieve a genuine detente —that is to say, a situation in which the Soviet Union will give up being a revolutionary and become just an ordinary totalitarian empire—is to form in Western Europe a unity capable, within the frame-work of the North Atlantic Alliance and over the years, of defending itself; that is to say, in possession of conventional defensive armaments sufficient to make any Soviet pressure an unprofitable undertaking. If such a new form of community emerges, and manages also to achieve a measure of prosperity on genuinely democratic lines—which I certainly believe it will—then the larger hope must be, as I say, that the Soviet leopard, even if it does not change its spots, will make them less visible and perhaps more acceptable.

Until then we must not be misled into thinking that even if there is agreement on some rather meaningless formulae at the end of the European Security Confer- ence, perhaps as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, hinted even this summer at some "Summit" conference, and photographs of all the leaders concerned embracing each other under the benevolent eye of Mr. Brezhnev, peace has broken out and detente has been finally achieved. For if in such an event the defence of the West should be still further reduced, or even perhaps, which God forbid!, that the Americans should show signs of reducing some of their forces, or if the effort to advance towards a European political community were seriously arrested, there would then be grave danger of an exploitation of Western disunity by the Soviet Union. "When the fruit is ripe "— which is a Red Army saying which I think I have quoted in this House before—" it is only necessary for us to shake the tree ".

It is for these reasons that I would support in a general way the attitude rightly recommended by the noble Lord, Lord Home, and I think we should all be very grateful to him for raising this important issue this afternoon. Perhaps it will help to bring public opinion back to a greater appreciation of hard realities.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, I very much hope that the speech of my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel in this debate will get more publicity than the debates in your Lordships' House seem currently to get. It certainly deserves to and I would think that that goes also for the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Goronwy-Roberts and Lord Gladwyn. If he will allow me to say so, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, made a very sensible Foreign Office speech — and I do not say that disparagingly because I pay him the compliment of saying that he is as sensible as the Foreign Office. It was a speech that very much needed to be made. We are naturally preoccupied with our own problems and difficulties, more particularly with the referendum, the Common Market and the economic situation, but it remains true that, however important those two subjects, the security of this country should and must remain an overriding priority.

While I was contemplating my noble friend's Motion it occurred to me to wonder how we should view the defence and political posture of this country and the West if we had gone to sleep in 1945 and woken up in 1975. Some people would say that that is precisely what we have done in this country, and have not yet woken up. But 30 years is a comparatively long time in someone's life, although a comparatively short time in terms of political change. I suspect that on awakening we should be surprised at some things, reassured by others and alarmed by quite a few more. We should be surprised, I think, at the rapidity with which the progress of decolonisation has taken place since 1945.

I doubt whether anybody in 1945 seriously considered a timescale in which all the French and British Colonies in Africa, with one exception, would be independent States in well under 30 years, or that that process would be completed with comparatively little trouble. If we had contemplated such a thing, it might well be that we should have thought it inevitable that some of them would have come under the domination of one or other foreign Power, more likely the Soviet Union. There have been alarms and excursions, and there is undoubtedly some foreign influence in some African States, but they have remained non-aligned, and in no way a danger to the security of the world or aggressive in intent, though the South African problem remains unsolved and potentially dangerous.

In India, in Malaysia and Pakistan the same applies. Not so, however, as all three speakers have said, in Indo-China, where after many years of fighting, first by the French and then by the Americans, both Cambodia and South Vietnam are now Communist controlled, though I think it is too early to say exactly how the new régimes will turn out. There can be nobody, though, who cannot and does not feel that the events of the last few weeks have altered the balance of power in South-East Asia to the detriment of the West, a situation which brings with it to the Americans—and through the Americans to ourselves—consequences which will affect our security in the future.

My Lords, I think, too, that we would not be all that surprised at the turbulence which exists in the Middle East. Certainly we should be astonished at the development of the Arab countries and their new-found unity, the power that they possess by reason of their vast oil reserves and the dependence of the industrialised countries upon them. We should at once, I think, recognise the seeds of potential world conflict, the consequences of an oil embargo which would be inevitable in a further outbreak of hostilities, the danger of polarisation between East and West, Arab and Jew— and we would, I hope, acknowledge the work that Dr. Kissinger has sought to do, realising, as he does, the appalling dilemma with which the United States would be faced in a future conflict. It is fashionable now to criticise Dr. Kissinger, but I believe that the trust which has developed between him and the Egyptians and the Saudi-Arabians can still be used by him on behalf of all of us. I hope that he will continue to seek a fair settlement in the Middle East, for I do not believe that there is anybody other than him at the moment who has a better chance of success.

All this would surprise us, but what would reassure us? I suppose the most obvious reassurance would be that there has not been a Third World War, and I wonder how many of us would have been prepared to say that in 1945? We would be reassured, too— at any rate partially reassured— by what has happened in these past 30 years to Western Europe. In 1945 he would have been a bold man and an optimist who would have supposed that there was not a very grave danger, within a fairly short timescale, of Italy, France and Western Germany falling under the Communist bloc. It has not happened, partly because of the foresight of the Americans and the Marshall Plan; partly because of Europe's own efforts in restoring its economy and bringing unprecedented prosperity to those countries; partly because of the foundation of NATO, in which Mr. Ernest Bevin played no small part—an organisation which by the very fact of its existence and the terms of its membership, has prevented until now a military attack on the countries which are its members— partly, too, because of the increasing economic and political co-operation in Europe since the War, culminating first in the EEC of Six and now in the EEC of Nine countries of which we are, and pray God will remain, a member.

We would be reassured, too, by the steadfastness of the United States as an ally, not something that in 1945, with the pre-War isolationist tendencies, we would necessarily have taken for granted; but, in view of recent events, I shall say a little more about that later. We would be reassured, too, by the post-War history of Japan and its emergence, not as a military Power but as an important economic factor in the Far East and far beyond. Lastly, we would be fascinated by the emergence of China— Communist but certainly Communist in a quite different way from the Russians—whose growing capacity, industrial and military, so far from making the situation of the West more difficult, has been a factor in the changing balance of power which, on the whole, has been of advantage to us. Who could deny that but for the ideological differences between the Soviet Union and China, the attitude of the Russians towards the West might at this time be very different.

So much for surprise. So much for reassurance. What about the factors which would give us little cause for comfort? In 1945 the Soviet Union was a Continental Power, primarily military, in Europe with no navy and though with enormous population and raw material resources, quite unequal in technological skills to the United States. They had no nuclear weapons and certainly at that time no capacity to compete on the frontiers of technology with the Americans or, at that time, with ourselves. Today the situation has radically changed. Not only have they the nuclear weapons but, more important, the means of delivering them, as sophisticated as that of the Americans and more so than ourselves. Though there may be arguments about the relative capacities of each country, no knowledgeable American will tell one that the Americans have an edge, or too much of an edge, in technology and certainly not in numbers of warheads as compared with the Soviet Union. From a small coastal navy the Soviet Union has built a worldwide ocean-going navy which in the number and quality of its ships is second to none in the world. The naval exercise which finished last week would have been unthinkable even a short while ago. Russia's financial and scientific effort, so far from decreasing, is increasing and their military capacity grows year by year. Your Lordships do not need to be reminded of the imbalance in conventional weapons between the NATO countries and the Warsaw Pact countries.

As for NATO, we are passing through a period of crisis. Some countries of the Alliance have their own problems, either with themselves or with each other; there are disagreements between Greece and Turkey, the possibility that there may be oil off the Western coast of Turkey, a coast interlarded with islands belonging to Greece, is a cause of tension. The coup in Cyprus, engineered by the Greek colonels, and the subsequent Turkish invasion of the island adds to that problem. Yet one has only to look at a map to realise the importance of those two countries to the NATO Alliance and the consequence to it of a weakening of the Eastern flank. Portugal, though many of us must have been relieved at the result of the Election last week, is still an unknown quantity; the Armed Forces Movement is further to the Left than the democratically-elected assembly, and the Armed Forces Movement is in control. In Denmark and in Holland there have been decisions to cut defence expenditure, and in Holland to dissociate itself from the military side of NATO, as the French have done over the years. In all Western countries whose leaders rely for re-election on the benefits which they bring to those who vote for them there is increasing difficulty in making understood the truth: namely, that because a defence policy is successful, it is not very sensible immediately to change it. Butter not guns, even mountains of butter, is a much more popular cry than the reverse, and noble Lords on these Benches will not find the present Government guiltless in this respect; but that is an indictment which, so far as I am concerned, will wait until the defence debate.

Nor is this attitude confined to Western Europe. It is common knowledge that it has been the power, and particularly the nuclear power, of the United States which has been more instrumental than anything else in preserving our freedoms. I do not doubt for one moment that President Ford, Dr. Kissenger and the Administration have exactly the same determination to honour the United States treaty obligations as have had their predecessors over the last 25 years, but it would be foolish of us not to recognise that recent events have, to an uncertain extent, undermined the confidence of America's allies and the attitudes of the Americans themselves. To the Americans, Vietnam, the dollar crisis and a general feeling that they, the Americans, have made a relatively bigger contribution to defence than other countries were prepared to make, have put in doubt the hitherto generally accepted idea of American policemen around the world. There is a tendency in the United States to query the world role, and that cannot go and does not go unobserved among America's allies; nor does, as they see it, the failure of the United States policy in South-East Asia, or the increasing demands from many influential members of Congress to reduce America's contribution to NATO.

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord opposite, in that I do not think that we want to view this with too much alarm. The Americans are a resilient, a tough and a right-minded people. Moreover, the realisation that their own safety and security is involved in the continued independence of Western Europe, and elsewhere, is certainly very clearly understood in Washington, and more widely. But a bridge building operation is badly needed, and I very much hope that the opportunity to do that will be taken by President Ford and the other heads of the European States at the NATO Summit at the end of May. The peace of the world depends not just on American military power; it depends even more on the potential aggressor's conviction that America would use it in defence of its allies and itself.

On awakening from my 30 years' sleep I should be more than a little disquieted at the increase in subversion in non-Communist countries. I know of no State which has of its own free will elected a Communist Government, yet the number seems continually to be growing. I know of no one who has studied Communism and the Russian approach to it, who believes for one single moment that the long-term aim of the Russians has changed in any degree. The conver- sion of the world to Russian Communism, however you interpret that phrase, by one means or another remains the ultimate objective. It may sometimes be necessary to change tactics. It may be sensible to accept co-existence, but the ultimate objective does not change, and I have no doubt that in each country Communists are deciding which is the most fruitful way in which a country can be subverted.

For example, it must have been some considerable time ago that a decision was taken that the right way to subvert Portugal was to infiltrate the armed forces. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in a debate the other day, gave your Lordships some idea about how it has been done in this country. If what he said was unpalatable to some, that does not make it any the less true. No doubt the pattern is different in other countries, but the tactic is the same, and it cannot be denied that in too many cases it has been successful. The easiest way to defeat the Western world is by destroying their belief in their own society, and by constantly querying and deriding the values in which most of us were brought up to believe. Therefore, on awakening from my 30 years' sleep I do not think I should be too despondent, but I would certainly begin to realise that in the past few years there had been— and there has been—an increasing reason for disquiet and concern: the problems of prosperity; the preoccupation of the West with material things; the increase of subversion; the ever increasing money spent by the Soviet Union on defence.

My Lords, what then are the lessons? What do we do? I think that we do three things, and I spell them out with some diffidence since I think that they are pretty obvious. First, however difficult it is and whatever may be the sacrifices, we must continue to retain defence forces which can make a proper contribution to the NATO Alliance; and also retain a small nuclear force which, in the last resort, is known by any potential enemy to be capable of inflicting unacceptable damage. I do not think that at this particular moment a military adventure in Europe is very likely. But I think that a thoroughly bad reason for reducing our insurance premium; first, because of the long time lag necessary in these very complicated days to re-build adequate defence forces which have drastically been cut; but, even more importantly, because an adequate defence force is an indication that a country or an alliance is prepared to defend itself; that it has the will to remain independent; that it prizes its independence above all else; and that it is not going to risk being blackmailed by anybody with superior forces to whom, without adequate defences of its own, it must inevitably yield. The success of a defence policy is not in winning a war; it is in preventing it. Money is not wasted, nor are soldiers, sailors or airmen, if soldiers, sailors or airmen are not used to fight. Peace is the evidence of their success.

Secondly, we have to learn the lesson of co-operation with our friends and allies. We must learn to take a more active part in settling the disputes which are potentially dangerous; and I believe that Europe must begin to take a part consistent with its economic importance and the sum of its influence. A number of leaders of Arab States told me, during a visit to the Middle East a few weeks ago, how much they regretted the lack of involvement by Europe in trying to settle, and helping to settle, the Middle East problems. We must learn to act together in seeking détente—and every-body in your Lordships' House wishes for détente. But it is only too easy for one country or another to vie each with the other in seeking to be the most forward-looking in reaching a peaceful settlement, in pretending that because of this or that they have a special relationship with the Russians, or whoever it might be.

But we must have unity, we must behave sensibly, we must seek détente— and of course we want it. But at the same time we must not disarm without some evidence of deeds as well as words, and we must make sure that in the meantime we maintain our security. Above all, my Lords, let us acknowledge that ultimately it is still upon the United States that we depend for our safety. There is nothing more repulsive than the relish with which some people in this country, who write in the Press or speak on the radio, have watched the discomfiture, and now the defeat, of the Americans in Vietnam in the past few weeks. There are difficult times ahead. Let all of us show a little understanding.

Lastly, my Lords, I turn to the problems of subversion. Do not let us pretend that it is not happening, and happening in this country. Do not let us shut our eyes to the fact that there are a number of people—some in important places— who are determined to alter in order to destroy, the system of society which we have built up over so many years. I do not think from what I know of him that the noble Lord, whom I hope is to make another speech, would disagree with much of what I have said. If those of us, regardless of our Party, who are aware of the dangers which face this country are now prepared to speak up for security and for defence, then at least the people of this country cannot say that they have not been warned by their leaders.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, I must first apologise for the fact that I shall be unable to be present for the end of the debate, owing to the Royal Academy dinner this evening. I follow four very remarkable speeches with some diffidence. I cannot hope to compete with them, particularly with my old boss the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, who sent me to Moscow. He gave us a brilliant survey over a wide canvas of the many events in which he himself played a leading part, and of the conclusions which we should reach upon them. My purpose is to deal with only one aspect of the subject of defence. In determining our security policy we must examine what we mean by détente and what the Soviet Government mean by it, for each party interprets it in the light of its own interests.

What should be our attitude to the Soviet conception of détente? First, we should have some understanding of the Soviet interests in its promotion. Like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I do not believe that there has been any change in basic Soviet aims, though their tactics change in the light of changing world conditions and of successes or failures. In Khruschev's time, their tactics were risky and had a certain gambling element. Khruschev pushed hard in trying to get the Allies out of Berlin, but he gave that up when it became clear that the Americans would defend the Western position there at all costs. They took great risks in Cuba, perhaps on the incorrect assessment that if they put missiles inside the American guard, the Americans would give way to them in Europe. Here, again, they had to give way owing to American firmness and the danger of nuclear war.

Under the next régime, they became much more cautious, a cardinal point in their policy being the avoidance of a dangerous confrontation with the United States in Europe and elsewhere. Faced with restiveness in Eastern Europe, they were able to prevent a dangerous deterioration in their East European system by intervention in Czechoslovakia, since they knew that there was no serious risk of Western counter-intervention against them. Faced with an increasingly intransigent China, it was clearly in their interests to avoid simultaneous tension on their Eastern and Western frontiers. Most importantly, they were approaching a rough nuclear balance with the United States, and it then became in their interests to achieve a modus vivendi with the United States in the nuclear field.

One of the most important objectives of the Soviet Union, and one for which a diminution of tension in Europe was necessary, was the securing of the recognition of East Germany as a separate State, in order to complete the East European system. This objective they achieved when the Western alliance decided that it was also in their interests. They might also hope that, if tension diminished, Western defences might be weakened and the Americans might be encouraged to withdraw wholly or partially from Europe, in the feeling that the Russians would regard military intervention in Western Europe as too risky —which indeed it was—and that everyone could relax. Moreover, an easier atmosphere was needed to assist them in reaching an agreement with the Americans for the limitation of strategic arms, which had become one of their most important aims. If they could get on easier terms with the Americans, it would also be easier for them to avoid the danger of confrontation with the Americans in the Middle East. For all these reasons, a diminution of tension—détente, if one likes to call it that—was clearly in Soviet interests.

The one indication contrary to this policy was the buildup of Soviet conventional forces, particularly the land forces on their Western frontier. Perhaps it resulted in part from military pressure after the failure in Cuba. Perhaps it was intended to discourage the West Germans from new attempts to subvert the East German State. Perhaps it was intended as an encouragement to the Europeans to regard a move towards neutrality as the safest policy. In any case, the policy of the Soviet Union with her great armies and her great fleets is one of détente from strength, not détente from weakness.

For these or similar reasons, the Soviet leaders have considered their ideas of détente to be in Soviet interests. That should not, however, lead us into a Pavlovian response of opposition to a relaxation of tension in Europe, as the noble Lord, Lord Home said, provided that we on our side ensure that it does not weaken our position. We want easier relations with the Soviet Union, provided that this is not used by the Soviet Union to pursue an active policy of political disintegration in the non-Communist world, in Europe or elsewhere. If they do pursue such a policy, tension will rise again and detente will quickly disappear.

The Soviet Union is, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Home indicated, to some extent a satisfied Power in Europe, provided no one interferes with its Eastern European system. The political disintegration of Western Europe would by no means certainly be wholly advantageous to the Russians and they, like everyone else, have learned disagreeable lessons in their attempt to extend their influence in the Middle East. However, the compulsions of the Communist ideology are strong and as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said, we must exercise continuous caution and vigilance.

If, then, we agree that we should not reject the idea of détente, how should we consolidate it in our dealings with the Soviet Union in such a way as to consolidate it in a manner which suits our interests and which will not expose us to new dangers? It used to be said that the Foreign Office preferred negotiation to settlement. True or not, there is sense in the saying. Negotiation is a permanent process. There are many disadvantages in ad hoc conferences like the current Security Conference. They are apt to become vehicles for propaganda; they encourage expectations which cannot be fulfilled and general propositions which have little substance in fact. But I believe that we are entering on a period of permanent negotiations with the Soviet Union probably on three levels.

There are the SALT talks between the two super-Powers, which are the basis of world security and, in the fluid situation of the nuclear balance, must be a continuous operation. There are the negotiations for the mutual and balanced reduction of forces in Europe, which are likely to continue on and off for many years. There may be more or less continuous negotiations in a permanent European security organisation with American participation, which would discuss such matters as measures to prevent the possibility of surprise attack and progressive liberalisation in human contacts between the Communist and non-Communist countries and which would deal with any situation threatening the peace. This suggestion for a permanent European security organisation has always had the support of the Warsaw Pact, but has aroused some doubts in the West, though it was at one time supported by NATO. I am inclined to think that, on balance, it would be a useful reinforcement of European security and not to our disadvantage. This is a particular hobby-horse of mine but I have never induced it to run very far since Mr. Michael Stewart was Foreign Secretary.

Of course, it goes without saying that we must keep up NATO's defences and maintain the belief of the people of the United States, on whom we finally depend, that we are worth the risks which they take and the resources which they deploy to ensure the continued independence of Western Europe in the interests of their own security. They will be much less likely to believe this if Britain throws away its membership of the European Community. I cannot emphasise too strongly the importance in our defence interests of our building up the European Community with our continued membership of it. Apart from the question of standardisation of defence procurement, which will be much easier if we are in the Community, NATO will be largely dependent on the political strength and unity of Europe. For us, too, it must be détente based on strength. The more we can channel our negotiations with Eastern Europe through the Community, beginning with the negotiations which have now been initiated between the Community and Comecon, the more likely are we to see the tender plant of détente grow without distortion.

My Lords, we must not expect Soviet policy to change substantially, if at all. We may well see the Soviet Government acting in a manner which we regard as inconsistent with a serious wish to improve relations with the Western alliance. Detente requires moderation by both sides and we must make it clear that Russia cannot hope for easy pickings from Europe. But while we exercise continual caution, and while we work for Western consolidation, we must at the same time make clear our genuine hope that if both sides show commonsense and prudence, we shall at least be able to get on together rather better than in the recent past and avoid disaster.

4.39 p.m.


My Lords, I know that all noble Lords will agree with me when I thank the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for introducing this very important subject and for the most impressive analysis of Western security which he made arising out of his rich experience—an experience which no one can now rival in this field. We listened, too, with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and particularly to his description of the reasons behind Soviet moves and policies, of which few people know as much as he does. I hope that he will allow me to say how much I admired his work as our Ambassador in Moscow.

The security of Britain has been for many centuries, and is still today, inseparable from Europe. That was true, even in the heyday of the British Empire. The prime object has always been to prevent any one Power from dominating the European Continent, and we have always needed an alliance to achieve that end. As Continental Powers waxed and waned in strength, as new dangers arose, we always made, sometimes very quickly, corresponding changes in our alliances. The latest example of that is the alliance with Germany after two very bitter wars that were fought against her, an alliance which we made to seek to balance to some degree Russian power in Europe and the danger of Russian domination of the Continent. But so overwhelming is Soviet power that no combination of European Powers alone can hold head against it. That was why the United States, in its own interests, had to enter the scales to maintain and preserve the balance. That is why NATO and the American alliance is a continuation of our traditional policy of forming the necessary alliances to prevent one Power from dominating Europe. That is also why NATO and the American alliance are the linchpin of military security for this country.

I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, say that despite Russian perfidy—which is established beyond doubt—he feels it right, as I do, to pursue, with proper precautions, the policy of detente with the Soviet Union. If it should be successful, it would be the greatest contribution that could be made to our security; it would remove the great menace to our security. There could be a real possibility of a major détente, leading to what the noble Lord described as a partnership with Russia, if the Soviet Union had to adjust its policies to face the problem of two fronts because of a serious threat to it from China. This would have a great effect upon the genuineness of Russia's desire for a relaxation of tension in the West.

In the meanwhile, before any such great thing happens, we must achieve what measure of détente we can. I agree with my noble friend and others who said that we must not let down our guard. I was glad to hear my noble friend's firm commitment not to reduce the number of our forces in Germany until we have achieved a proper détente. To let down our guard would not only endanger security but would leave us with nothing with which to bargain, and this matter must depend upon a bargain. Vital as NATO and the American alliance are to our security and that of Europe and the West, we cannot any longer take them for granted. They have been threatened by possible political changes in Portugal, Greece and Turkey. The most serious threat—and here I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, said—would be if the United Kingdom came out of the Community. The United States has made it clear that it wants an alliance with a single Europe, not a series of separate second-rank European Powers. If the United Kingdom remains in the Community we shall have a more stable and effective Western alliance, an alliance with America. If we were outside, not only would this weaken the alliance—it might even strengthen the isolationist forces in the United States—but the United Kingdom, outside the Community, would become increasingly irrelevant to the United States, and the value and importance of our own American alliance would diminish. That would involve a great threat to our security.

As one or two noble Lords have suggested, the security of the United Kingdom and other Western countries cannot be divorced from the danger of subversion at home and abroad, or of terrorism, something which has not yet been mentioned by noble Lords. I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I liked his speech very much. I thought it was an original approach to the problem. He said, quite rightly, that there is a danger of subversion in a number of countries in the West. He agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that there was a danger here—I think I noted his words correctly. I personally am not greatly impressed by the charges and alarums made by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. Of course there are attempts at subversion in this country. There have been attempts at subversion all through my political life in this country. If they were to succeed they would be a danger to democracy; but in the first line they are a challenge to the Labour movement by penetration and by the seeking of influence and power. The hope of all these various bodies, the Communists and so on, is first of all to penetrate the Labour movement. This is, and I think it will always be, a situation where only the Labour movement can effectively hold the danger in check. It has done so all my life, and with very real success.

The reason is that the great mass of members of trade unions and of the Labour Party are anti-Communist, and when infiltration from these various subversive bodies gets too obvious and direct it has been possible to rally the membership of these movements to resist the danger. There are some signs today of this happening again. But this battle is never won outright. As in many things in democracy, the battle has to be fought again and again. It has been fought again and again, and is now being fought. We will fight also against future dangers. I ask noble Lords, such as the Lords Carrington and Chalfont, to have a little more confidence in the experience, the vigour and the self-interest of the Labour movement in fighting subversion in this country.

As to terrorism, this has become dangerous and sinister. It is not a new problem. We have had anarchists and Bakuninites in the past, but the problem is more sinister today. Terrorists now use new weapons, maybe terrible ones; they exhibit a new desperation and possess a new international dimension which is shown by, among other things, attacks not only on a Government at home but on it abroad, through attacks upon its embassies, consulates and so forth. More than ever now, we need international co-operation between the intelligence services of the Western world in order, so far as possible, to penetrate terrorist organisations and to anticipate and frustrate their planned coups. We have already had considerable successes here. The hijacking of aircraft has been greatly reduced. Only a few years ago it seemed to be something we should be helpless against. I am glad to say that considerable progress has been made against IRA terrorism which is aided by its foreign friends. This progress is the result of the work of our own intelligence services, which we must never starve of resources, and their co-operation with intelligence services abroad. In dealing with terrorism, the one important aspect is never to give way to terrorist demands, however heartbreaking the immediate consequences may be; otherwise it is a kind of danegeld which will stimulate and increase outrages. The Government of Bonn are to be praised for reversing their previous policy, which was a weak one, and standing firm when their embassy in Stockholm was attacked.

Of course, as all noble Lords have said, we must be realistic and face things as they are: we must not hide our heads in the sand. Equally, we must guard against exaggerating the strength, cunning and skill of the Soviet Union. They have made a number of mistakes; they have not always had great successes. It was not we but the Soviet Union which created NATO by its great forward advance, and particularly its invasion of Czechoslovakia. In the dangers that face us we must not fall prey to perplexity, doubt and pessimism, because that would undermine the very things—determination and confidence—that we need to solve the problems with which we are confronted.

4.50 p.m.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, first I must apologise to your Lordships because I may not be able to stay until the end of the debate. I have to make a speech on Europe in Woking, and if the debate is not over by seven o'clock I am afraid I shall have to leave. I have already explained this in private to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel.

It is presumptuous of me to speak in a foreign affairs debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Home. When I saw the list of those who were to speak before me, the sense of presumption was increased. The noble Lord, Lord Home, was intimately involved in foreign affairs when I was lying prone in my cradle, not yet able to speak. But I decided to speak in your Lordships' House this afternoon because three weeks ago I saw, for the first time, the Berlin Wall. It made an absolutely horrible impression on me—miles of wire and breeze-block, with sparse North German sand raked over to see whether anybody had walked over it during the night; the underfed guard dogs on wires, with uncomfortable kennels so that they have to stay outside; the sentry boxes with two sentries in each, one of whom is always married so that the regime have his wife and children as hostages. Behind that wall is the tyranny of Imperial Russia so horrifyingly depicted by Solzhenitsyn. Russia has always been a tyranny. Talleyrand said to Czar Alexander at Erfurt that the ruler of Russia was civilised, but his people were not. The present rulers of Russia are not civilised, and their peoples are only slightly more so than in 1808.

My Lords, let us remember that Russia has always been an expansionist Power. In the days of the great Elizabeth, she was just the Grand Duchy of Moscow, still owing nominal allegiance to the Great Khan. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great expanded Westwards and Southwards. In the 18th century Poland was partitioned. The Russian conquests of Central Asia and the Caucasus in the 19th century were bloody and barbaric. China is still reacting to the unequal Treaties of that period. The Communists, after the temporary setback of Brest Litovsk, and after the War, advanced their empire beyond the dreams of the most imperialist of all the Czars, and they intend to keep their empire by any means they can: Czechoslovakia showed that. We cannot drop our guard for one fraction of a minute. The freedoms our society gives us to disagree fundamentally with others are too precious. I fundamentally disagree with the erstwhile second Viscount Stansgate, with Mr. Enoch Powell and with Dr. Ian Paisley; but Voltaire summed it up by saying: I disagree with your views but I would die for your right to hold them. Whether the old cynic actually would have done so is a matter for interesting historical conjecture.

Our main, and indeed only, potential enemy is Russia. China, contrary to what many people believe, has never fought an aggressive war. Tibet was recognized as being under Chinese suzerainty in 1904. When the Indians—who seem, incidentally, to have inherited some of the imperial habits of the Raj, judging by their performance in Sikkim—tried to push their North-Eastern boundary into China, the Chinese attacked and, after their victory, withdrew from the MacMahon line. They reacted in Korea in the way that I think most of us would have reacted if large numbers of troops came charging up Northwards to our boundary, commanded by a General who was clamouring for the use of nuclear weapons.

This must bring me to Vietnam. It is fruitless to go over the ground of where the West went wrong, but it is very fruitful to bend our minds to the effect it will have on the United States. Will the effect be like that which the first Afghan war on Majuba Hill had on us, and not deflect the United States from her responsibilities and interests in Europe? Or will it have the effect that Verdun had on France, which was to sap all energy and will to defend herself and us in the event of tension in Europe? The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, recognised this problem, as did the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. Above all, will the Russians think that it has deflected the Americans' will?—because if so, that could easily tempt them into adventurism. That temptation, historically, has never been far below the surface.

What can we do to help the United States? In my view, there are two positive things we can do. I should also like to give one example not to be followed, and one situation requiring extremely delicate handling. First, to take the example not to be followed, in 1965, and again last year, Mr. Wilson—for very honourable motives of humanity, decency and kindness—said at the beginning of two crises that he would not use troops, first over UDI and then over Cyprus. In both cases we had treaty obligations. I am not saying we should have used troops. All I am saying is that in no circumstances should we have said, "We shall never use troops". It is possible that UDI might have been postponed or stopped. It is more than probable that, had we reinforced Sovereign-base areas in Cyprus and sabrerattled just a little, that nasty character, Nicos Sampson, could have been booted out of power in Cyprus without a Turkish invasion of the Island, and thus the Eastern and Southern flanks of NATO would not have been in the chaos they are in at the moment.

The most delicate of all the situations at present is that of Portugal. We have to encourage without pressure the Armed Forces' movement towards democracy. If we use pressure they could turn towards Russia. The Colonels there are different from those late and very unlamented Colonels in Greece. Those could not become Russian satellites, because they had too-sharp memories of the Communist civil wars. The Portuguese, on the other hand, have no direct memory of Russia since the Russian Fleet briefly anchored in the Tagus in 1807. Therefore, if we appear to interfere too much they will turn to Russia for help. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said in his speech that he was fully aware of this problem, as did the noble Lord, Lord Carrington.

What, then, are the two positive things we can do? We must, after this putrid referendum is over and assuming and hoping the answer is "Yes", go all out for a united EEC foreign policy, closely linked with the other Atlantic pillar, the United States. The second one seems to me vitally important, and that is the standardisation of our defence equipment. We must also allot to various NATO nations in Europe the task of producing armaments so that we can buy one piece of equipment, say from Germany, which all the European NATO Powers will buy, and they will buy one piece of equipment from us, together with all the other European NATO Powers. This must make the various defence budgets of Europe go further and must increase our defence capability.

The last and possibly the most difficult point is that Europe must have a united policy on the Middle East, which will do what it can to produce agreement and disarmament in that part of the world. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said— and obviously one must agree with him —that this must be done in close support of Dr. Kissinger, because if we do not do this there is a powder keg in the Middle East in which, it seems to me, a lot of irresponsible people are running about blindfold, shouting and throwing matches about all over the place. It out-flanks NATO and gives the Russians another chance to meddle.

My Lords, this speech, as I said at the beginning, is solely due to the profound horror I felt when visiting the Berlin Wall, further tempered by a feeling of disgust at the thought of the vast quantities of money that the present Russian Czars are spending on arms instead of their people, and the equally vast sums of money we must spend to defend the right of Mr. Mick McGahey to talk the drivel that he does.

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for introducing this Motion, and to say that we are very lucky he is in his rightful place now. He has a wealth of experience of which we can make full use. I should like to categorise the security problems which the noble Lord has raised into external and internal. To show that I agree entirely about this matter I asked a question about the Special Constabulary in regard to the internal threat. My object was to calm down any crisis that might come. I was told by the Government that the police must not be used in this way; they must not take part in industrial strife and must be completely impartial; furthermore, they had plenty of powers in an emergency. So I should like to deal with the external threat now.

Most speakers have agreed that the threat is from Soviet Russia and China; that is to say, it is a Communist threat. We are entitled to look over the last 30 years and I cannot help feeling that two matters stand out. First of all, there has not been a nuclear war. In fact, there is a nuclear stalemate. But there have been many limited wars. I believe that somebody added them up yesterday and they number over 50. Secondly, what has been proved is the superiority of the latest weapons. The nuclear submarines have a colossal roundworld endurance. Still the tanks with the best guns and the best armour win the battles. And aircraft which are only recently out of date are shot out of the sky by the more modern versions. What is not shown in the Defence White Paper is the quality—it cannot be, I imagine. But we make a great mistake if we do not think that Soviet quality is very good.

I should like now to touch upon Asia. Apart from the internal Civil War inside China which resulted in that country's becoming Communist in 1949, there have been four big, limited wars: Korea, Indo-China, the Malayan emergency, and the confrontation with Indonesia. The lesson of all these has been that if the allies make promises they must stay long enough to keep them. One must not break faith with allies in Asia any more than with allies in other parts of the world. In thinking of Indo-China, as we all do, I would add that the sentiments of the Americans were very good when they went in. A Communist Government would have been established in Saigon within a matter of weeks if they had not gone in. But they did not stick it out. The tactical lessons are, incidentally, that the North Viet-namese advanced through the country without any air support, and that the best way of dominating the jungle is by soldiers and not by air bombing. Although air bombing produces a very terrible, but momentary, effort, it does not dominate the jungle.

I would refer now to the Middle East. In 30 years the Israelis and the Arabs have been at war, I believe, four times. So far the Israelis have won, largely because they are prepared to die for their country. The Arabs ought now to give up their plan to drive the Israelis into the sea and to make use of the Jews in the area. They are experts in trade and in universities and such spheres, and the Arabs should make use of them—their local, home-grown reinforcements. An additional safeguard would be if the present United Nations 10-mile gap between the Armed Forces were widened. It should be widened if possible—and there is plenty of room in the Sinai Desert —to fifty miles. I think the SAM's range is about forty. Then the armies would not be able to get at each other. It is the ground Forces which cause us the trouble. This ought to be done before any Geneva Conference is held. The Arabs have been more difficult than expected. The fear was that Russia would penetrate into Africa, but there has been a delay. The Arabs are being very difficult; we have plenty of experience of that.

As to NATO, in the Alliance there has been no war in Europe for the last 30 years. The reasons for this have been stated by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, but I should like to repeat them in my own way. The first is the United States' nuclear power and the second is the 300,000 United States soldiers in Southern Germany. Despite their numerical superiority, the Russians have always estimated that the risks have been too great. I should like to ask the Government a question. The 1966 Statement on Defence stated: In recent years the threat to peace has been far greater outside Europe than within it. When such instability leads to open war it may imperil not only economic interest in the area but even world peace. Nine years is a short time in defence matters. I should like to ask the Government whether they have completely ignored recent events in Asia and the Middle East, and why they have changed their mind, because they have certainly done so.

I come next to the disarmament conferences which to my certain knowledge have taken place for well over twenty years. The result has been absolutely zero. What hope is there now for the present three conferences which are on the list: the SALT talks; the MBFA Conference, which we have just heard from a noble Lord is likely to last for many years; and the Conference on European Security and Co-operation? Are we being made to look fools? At any rate, there is very little hope of good results. The Russians must be having a jolly good laugh when they read our British Defence Statements.

The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, was careful in his Motion to refer to the "free and independent countries". Therefore, I feel that we ought to add up the score. We must assume that the Soviet is working towards world Communism and therefore that a State which is run by a favourable or Communist Government is a step towards that aim. Although they may call it co-existence, we heard the explanation, and that is a convenient label. How are they doing? Not at all badly. How many States have the Communists taken over in 30 years? I have jotted the number down, but I will not bore your Lordships with the list. By force, by external means, they have taken over nine countries. By internal means they have taken over six countries. Having conducted only limited wars, that is not at all a bad record over a period of 30 years. This list does not include States where they have tried and failed, but the Communists are not in a hurry. Malaysia is one example; Thailand is another; and Burma is yet another. Oman is another continuing war. In most of these countries, the West has had the possibility of losing, but the Soviets and China do not mind at all. They measure time in quarter centuries, but we are always in a hurry to obtain quick results. I shall remember with exceptional pleasure that in the Malaysian emergency we gave independence to the country when they were in the middle of their war, but it was very pleasant when I went back to Malaysia a couple of years ago to be thanked officially for the good framework, good relations and friendship that we handed over to that country. It was very nice and rather unusual to be thanked.

If I may summarise, the West have lost about 15 countries and, if they go on like this, they may well lose more. There has been no nuclear war, but there have been very profitable, limited wars to the Communists. It is very good for the Communists to support wars with other people's casualties. Although the United States of America is still the unquestioned leader of the West, there is no question but that they have burned their fingers and taken part in a tragedy.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, that the balance of world power has been very much affected. In Asia, the Soviets have waited for 10 years to instal a favourable Government in Saigon, Cambodia and Laos. The easy targets are now in their view. In the Middle East, they have succeeded so far in making Communists of only Iraq and Syria. The Arabs have been unexpectedly difficult. They are accustomed to being dominated on the spot. There was always peace when they were dominated by Britain having a force on the Suez Canal and in Aqaba. It is taking much longer in the Middle East. The internal success in Cuba has not given the Soviets direct entry into South America which has been proving more difficult. However, they are not in a hurry. In Africa, the Chinese are well ahead of the Russians.

Turning to the attitude of the West, first of all I think that, unless we are content to continue our retreat, now is the time not to weaken alliances but to strengthen them. At the present moment, Britain is a very bad ally in NATO. We ought to be alert, also, to the possibility of internal takeovers which will be described in more detail by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. We ought to assign Forces, which at present we do not do, to CENTO and SEATO. A presence is far better than a promise to consult, because on the day you may say you cannot go there. We ought to pay special attention to the sea routes. It is not enough to protect the shores of the United Kingdom and Northern Europe. We ought to keep places like Simonstown and Freetown on our list.

Finally, we all hope for détente which has been discussed in considerable detail by the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, but it has not yet shown results. The Soviets must be pleased that NATO is weakening itself and hoping that inflation will cause a weakening disease to spread to other allies. Already it has got hold of three of them. In other words, détente so far has been equivalent to deception. All that the Russians have to do is to keep talking at three Conferences and await events. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, that when it eventally comes, détente must be from strength on both sides. It is still some way off.

5.17 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful that, through the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, we have been given this opportunity to call attention to the problems of security which face Britain and the other free—I emphasise "free"—and independent countries of the world and to move for Papers.

Before I begin, despite the fact that I am diametrically opposed to a great deal of what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, I wish to pay a tribute to the noble Lord. I want publicly to declare that, having listened to him over the years, whether or not I have agreed with him, I consider the noble Lord to be one of Britain's noble gentlemen and, more important, a real gentleman. Consequently, I hope that my Celtic nature will control any acerbity that I may show in the emotion of composing this speech and that the noble Lord will not think I condone the cartoon pictures of him which have been made over the years when, according to his own ideas, he was trying to arrive at the truth.

I regret that I shall have to leave the Chamber, but I am going to take part in a very important part of defence. I am going to a farmers' dinner at seven o'clock. I assure this House that, in defence, steel and food are the first line of any sense of security. Therefore, I shall go without trepidation or fear to my farmers' dinner—and I hope it is a good one!

How am I to begin? I wrote a book on SEATO. I was one of the people who said that he considered that the Pact was neither a pact nor anything else. Therefore, I had better quote from what I said. I was at the Geneva Conference in 1954 and, in my book, I quoted the noble Earl, Lord Avon—then Sir Anthony Eden—who said at page 113 of his fine book called Full Circle: Meanwhile Mr. Robertson (U.S. Assistant Secretary of State) whose approach to these questions is so emotional as to be impervious to arguments or indeed facts was keeping up a sort of 'theme song' to the effect that there were in Indo-China some 300,000 men who were anxious to fight against Vietminh and were looking to us for support and encouragement. I said that if they were so anxious to fight I could not understand why they did not do so. The Americans had put in nine times more supplies of material than the Chinese and plenty must be available for their use. I had no faith in the eagerness of the Vietnamese to fight for Bao Dai. They dragged him out of the nightclubs of Hong Kong to be emperor in Vietnam, and, as a result, 55,000 Americans lie in graves in Vietnam because of the wrong path which was taken at that time.

Only a few weeks ago I stood bare-headed in Korea paying tribute to the Gloucesters and to the Americans who had lost their lives in two of the most useless wars in world history. And when the Americans accuse the Vietnamese of fighting as Communists, let us live in a world not where words are using men but where men are using words. In 1776 when the Americans had the audacity to tell King George III and Lord North what they could do with Britain, and fought a civil war and fought against us for their independence, were they Communists? If the word "Communism" had been a universal word at that time the War of Independence in America for freedom from the domination of Britain was no more evil than the war of the Vietnamese against the Americans and the people who invaded Vietnam. Correct? Of course it is correct. So let us adjust our thinking to the world in which we are now living.

Let me quote a little further. The noble Lord knew—and so did I—the puppet Emperor of Laos. Laos is a lovely little kingdom. I have tramped around its roads—it has got only one ashphalt road, from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. The mountain people were given guns, and the Americans said: "We have given them the guns; all we want now is to get them to fight". Two and a quarter million people, and all they wanted to do was to fish in the river Mekong and be left to make love and live happily. Well, the emperor had about 30 wives, so that the whole of the Western world was mixed up with the sons and daughters—Souvanna Phouma, Souphanouvong, Boun Oum, were all related and the Pathet Lao was no more a dogmatic Communist Party than the Left Wing of some of the local parties of the Labour Party.

Boun Oum nearly got the whole world at war. What did he say? The premier, Boun Oum, who was supported by America, sent out a communiqué. Oh, the British! On the Floor of the House in another place I was shot down in flames by my own Party for daring to question this. Boun Oum stated that seven well armed battalions of North Vietnam soldiers from the North had invaded Laos; and then he put a little bit of garnish on it because they were fighting on the Plain of Jars at that time, which some of your Lordships may know, and he claimed that not only were these troops in but that the Chinese sent in troops as well. So President Eisenhower issued a statement, to the effect that the United States would take a serious view of any intervention by the Chinese Communists, so they looked into it.

The evil thing about this false report was that it could very well have involved the world in a war, and it was not until 26th January 1961, at a Press Conference, that Boun Oum admitted that the announcement was untrue and made in order to speed up the support from this Government's friends abroad to show the Laotian people that this Government had plenty of friends—and about 50,000 people died for that in Vietnam. The House of Commons and the Labour Party were dormant about it, and unfortunately 99 per cent. of the Press were dormant about the truth.

I remember after the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 meeting a Vietnamese doctor, educated at Hanoi and Paris, She was 47 years of age; she had fought in the trenches at Dien Bien Phu, and when the second effort was made after Foster Dulles had built up SEATO, she said, "I will fight as I did in the trenches at Dien Bien Phu and where I patched up the wounded. I have six children, five of them sons. They will fight and, if the war goes on for 30 or 40 years, we will fight for the independence of our people". Why cannot the Western world realise this fact? The outbreak in Vietnam in the beginning had nothing to do with Russia or China.

I do not doubt the marvellous service to his country of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne. He knew General Gracey well; he knew that Gracey was down in Saigon in 1945–46, and it was well known that we used Japanese troops to suppress the Vietnamese. It was well known that if the Geneva Conference decisions had been carried out after 1954, and had there been a General Election, Ho Chi Minh would have won it. But it did not suit Foster Dulles. Thank goodness! Churchill—and bless him for this! —had enough sense to say to Dulles, and to others, that he was not going to be drawn into a war in Indo-China, and as much as anything we owe him a tribute for the fact that British soldiers were not forced into that war. We should have taken a greater lead, but this is where—


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord?


Well, nobody has interrupted anybody else. Certainly I will allow the noble Lord to interrupt me, with pleasure.


My Lords, I only thought the noble Lord might be interested in the fact that de Gaulle gave President Kennedy one piece of advice when he first became President, and he told me this himself. President Kennedy asked: "Have you any advice to give me?" President de Gaulle said: "Yes, one piece of advice: keep out of IndoChina".


Yes, my Lords, this was where the Western world made its mistake. I can build this up because I have written about it, and so have other people. What I have said is the truth, whether noble Lords on both sides of the House agree or not. That was one of the great mistakes of the Western World, because Britain should have been more courageous in her replies to the United States of America. There is all this rubbish about it just being created by the Chinese. Noble Lords must make up their minds which Communists they are now accusing of having started this—the Russian Communists or the Chinese Communists. Communism is no longer a monolithic thing; Communism has as many facets as capitalism, and if you say that Communism is spread- ing itself through the world, what is capitalism doing, via the multinational firms? I suppose it is all right for the multinational firms to be more powerful than governments, but let us have a realistic approach to the problems facing us.

Aldabra is an island in the Indian Ocean, and in 1969 Mr. Geoffrey Rippon, the Tory shadow Minister of Defence as he was at that time, speaking at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, spoke at length about Aldabra. He said that the British had finally found a staging post in the Indian Ocean, when, presto!— now listen, my Lords, to this insidious bit, and they all do it—with the aid of Soviet finance all the wild life conservationists came and said that the British would kill all the turtles, so Soviet money had subsidised the British people who wanted to conserve the turtles. That was the accusation. The result was a subversive movement by Russia again.

It so happened that Miscellany of the Guardian was at the meeting and he asked about it. He bearded Rippon and he said, "What is your evidence?" What was Rippon's reply? His reply was, "I have no evidence. I cannot substantiate the charge. I withdraw it. I did not know there were any members of the Press present." Tell me the difference, my Lords, between that and Boun Oum. If we want a clean world, let us get rid of this hypocrisy. Both sides play games like this. If mankind is to save itself, we must abandon this type of game. This is where I come to Dr. Kissinger. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who paid a tribute to Dr. Kissinger. I will not quote, because this is a well-informed House.

In January 1974, there was an article by Michael Brennan on Nuclear Strategy and European Defence. That was followed by an article on Dr. Kissinger in July 1974—many of your Lordships are members of Chatham House like myself—called The Irony of Henry Kissinger, who made his great faux pas when he wrote a book almost suggesting that nuclear weapons should be a part of foreign policy. After that, he wrote his famous book called A World Restored, which analysed the policies of Metternich and Castlereagh. Out of that he drew two doctrines. He wrote: Legitimacy should not be confused with justice. This is a rough and realistic world with which he deals. It means no more than an international agreement about the nature of workable arrangements and about the permissible aims and methods of foreign policy. An order whose structure is accepted by all major Powers is 'legitimate'. An order containing a power which consider its structure of power oppressive is 'revolutionary'. A 'legitimate' order limits the possible by the just. He was not making a case that every conclusion he came to was just, but it fitted the balance of power at the moment.

He was a speechwriter for Rockefeller. Rockefeller was campaigning in 1968 and, in a speech he said: I would begin a dialogue with Communist China. In a subtle triangle of relations between Washington, Peking and Moscow, we improve the possibilities of accommodation with each as we increase our options towards both. I have been speaking for 16 minutes and have reached an appropriate place to sum up. But Kissinger wrote for Rockefeller the words I have just quoted, and that is what we owe to Kissinger. I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising this subject, because Dr. Kissinger broke through what appeared to be an impossible position. Some of your Lordships, like myself, were in America when McCarthy was in power—that evil man; it was good to see George Morrow the other day on the television hacking to bits this vile creature who ruined the lives of innocent people. If we are not careful, it will be done here. Somehow or other, I believe those of your Lordships who want to get into the Common Market, if we get in—

Several Noble Lords: We are already in.


All right, I am not denigrating, but whatever regional bloc it is, it will somehow or other try to find a formula, not of just standing like cockerels crowing on their own dung heap, but trying to get a rapprochement. This debate has been like a man driving down the road and looking in his driving mirror. He is looking backwards and then he wonders why he crashes. This is what is wrong with our policy. This debate has been worth while. Whether or not your Lordships will consider my contribution has been worth while does not matter to me but at least I have, I hope, put a facet of the truth.

5.35 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, is not the easiest man in the world to follow, so perhaps he will excuse me if I do not do that. But I should like to make the point that I have heard some very odd statements in this House; however, with all due respect to the noble Lord, to compare the wars in the American Colonies with the American intervention in Vietnam is very farfetched. The Americans went into Vietnam for no other purpose than to protect the rights of man. The noble Lord apparently thinks that the South Vietnamese would be happy under the Government of North Vietnam, but a Government like that, who can send a boy to prison for 14 years for playing a Western gramophone record, and who can arbitrarily arrest anyone without a trial, is one of the most totalitarian régimes in the world. One cannot really blame the Americans for going into South Vietnam to protect the South Vietnamese from falling under such a Government, and I really think that, on this matter, the noble Lord has rather gone astray.

My Lords, I am glad that this debate has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, because the subject could not come up at a better time. Obviously, we are at one of the most dangerous and hazardous periods in our history with regard to the security of this country. We are at a great disadvantage. I can compare our present situation only with that of a man fighting for his life, but with one arm tied behind his back. The enemy who would destroy the West —and I am not speaking specifically of ourselves alone, but also of the Western Alliance—has already infiltrated us for several years through many Trojan horses.

A short time ago we had a debate which was initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. During the course of this debate we heard of the very great influence and the many dangers of subversion in the countries of the West, but particularly in our country. We now have signs that our public figures are waking up. I am glad to see that my noble friend below me has come out of his long sleep of 30 years, as he called it, although I am sure he was really alive to the dangers. It is very agreeable that our public figures are at last waking up to the danger in which this country and the West are in through the desire of world Communism to control eventually the whole globe.

It must be 15 years ago when I moved debates in this House on the subject of the Overseas Information Services of the B.B.C. in order to try to get more money for these services. When I started doing this, only about £12 million to £13 million was spent on our Overseas Information Services or on, if you like to call it that, propaganda. So far as I could gather, because it was not easy to get any kind of accurate figures, during the same period the Soviet Union was spending hundreds and hundreds of millions on foreign propaganda. The figure was definitely over 1,000.000,000 roubles. Noble Lords can see what difficulties the West has been up against. When Krushchev shouted, "History is on our side, we will bury you", it was not an idle boast. I am not sure now where or when he shouted it—I think in the General Assembly of the U.N.—but I know that he did. He had a certain amount of logic on his side, because when one has the vast military power of the Soviet Union allied to an equally vast propaganda machine spewing out material which is very attractive to millions of unreasoning minds, one is up against a very formidable adversary. It has always surprised me that so many public figures in this country have not realised this sooner. I am glad to say that they are now realising it.

We are not having a defence debate, and one does not want to go into the military problems of security, but it is very unsettling to hear, as we have heard today, of the disarray that NATO is in, especially on the South-Eastern flanks. I understand that our early warning systems are dependent especially upon Turkey for that area. Of course, Greece is out of NATO now, and it looks very much as if even Portugal will be out of NATO. We have hope, of course. The elections there have been a disappointment, I suppose, to the Communists, but after all, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, pointed out, the Armed Forces Movement really have control in that country. It is obvious that, if we had not had the nuclear umbrella of America, we would have had the hammer and sickle flying over London now. I do not think there is any doubt of that. It would have happened, I imagine, at the time of the Berlin airlift. I think the Soviet Forces would have swept across Europe, and I do not know where we would all be now.

What really worries me is the question of North Sea oil. I think one noble Lord said that the Russian naval Forces have grown to a great extent, and that is quite true. The Russian North and Baltic Fleets now go far out into the Atlantic, and the axis of their defence line—as one could call it, their perimeter—embraces the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland. I am told that 60 per cent. of their submarines are in those fleets, and 45 per cent. of their surface warships. I presume that we are taking adequate precautions to defend our North Sea oil. They will have to be very adequate indeed to meet the great strength of the Soviet Fleet in that area. We cannot expect America to police all the oceans of the world, and it is the oceans of the world that arc of potential importance, especially when we think of Australia and New Zealand. I was very glad to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said about détente. I am all for having détente, but it must be, as he said, détente with security.

The only thing I am frightened of is that the noble Lord does not realise quite how much security we will need. To have detente with Russia, the West needs a great deal of security, and we do not have that security at the moment. I sincerely hope that we will build up our security so that we shall have that. We have heard that, in conventional Forces, the Warsaw Pact has three to one against us in men. I do not know the exact figures for tanks and aircraft, but I assume it is not far off that. My noble friend tells me that it is two and a half times. People are right to put their trust in détente, if it is backed up with great security. The other thing that they put their trust in—and I do not quite agree with them here—is the fact that Moscow and Peking will always fall out and be at loggerheads. I do not think that is quite right. They may be at loggerheads over geographical boundaries, but their ultimate aim is the same; world revolution. Therefore, we should not count too much on Peking-Moscow antagonism.

My Lords, I think I have spoken for long enough, but I should like to say this about Ho Chi Minh; he did prophesy that the people of the United States would not have the determination to persevere in the struggle in South-East Asia. He prophesied that some time ago. I do not say that to cast any aspersion on the United States. I have the highest regard for America. When I think how they have defended the Free World, their generosity has been magnificent. But the trouble is that the West must have the will to survive. We appear to have rather lost this will. I do not know whether it is because we have too many consumer goods, too many cars, too many refrigerators, too many TVs, whether life is too easy. I do not know what the cause is. But it is the duty of our leaders to try to instill into the West the will to survive, because if you do not have that will your Armed Forces will not be morally backed up by the home front. It is very necessary for us to have that will.

I shall end by reminding your Lordships what Karl Marx wrote in his 1848 Communist Manifesto. He said: Communism abolishes eternal truths. It abolishes all religion and all morality". My Lords, that has come true. The noble Lord, Lord Home, said that three times is a lot. Of course it is. We saw how the Paris Agreement and other agreements have all been broken by the Russians. If they adhere to the words of Karl Marx, as they do, there you are! Put in plain English, what is expedient to the Communist Party at any moment is moral. Unless we understand that we shall go on being made fools of.

I presume the Foreign and Commonwealth Office make a study of international Communist Party meetings. I sincerely hope they do. For instance, a meeting was held in Budapest last December. One of the up-and-coming Russian politicians—I cannot pronounce his name, but it is Pomarev—was representing the Central Committee. This meeting was held for the Communist workers Parties of Europe, and it was a preparatory meeting for the Communist summit meeting later this year of all the Communist Parties of Europe. He was speaking on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, in other words, on behalf of Brezhnev, and he took a very hard line against the West. Therefore, I can only say, by all means have detente, but beware, because the West cannot continue being made fools of.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join other noble Lords who have expressed their thanks and appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for initiating a debate this afternoon on what I believe to be a most timely subject in present world circumstances. I propose to address myself primarily to the problems of our own national security, but what I have to say will be of general application to other free and independent countries in the world.

My own experience of responsibility for security in military operations, in civil administration, and in industry has led me to the belief that there are three essential processes, three requirements, to be met in considering this problem. The first is to assess on the best available information the nature, extent and timing of the threat, or threats, and to keep that assessment up to date. The second requirement is to get general acceptance of the existence of the threats and their nature and extent, and to get understood generally throughout the country as a whole what the threat is, and what its timing and extent is likely to be. Thirdly, I believe that it is essential to maintain, or to set up, an organisation capable of dealing with whatever threats there are, and to keep that organisation or organisations, efficient and up to date.

In war the security of his troops is the first responsibility of any commander. It is his duty to make certain that they cannot be caught by surprise, or put into a position which they cannot deal with. They must never be unready for any eventuality. I maintain that the same applies to any Government of any country. It is the first responsibility of the Government to make proper and full provision for the security of the nation, and for the protection of its freedoms and its independence. I suggest that the first questions on this subject that Her Majesty's Government require to ask themselves are: are we exposed to armed aggression in this country or in areas that are vital to our interests, and are we likely to be faced with demands by foreign Powers backed by force, or by the threat of force, to which we cannot accede without damage to our freedoms and our institutions? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, that there is no immediate, or even early, danger of a military assault on NATO by the War-saw Pact Powers, but I remember so well that twice in my own lifetime we have been faced with a dictation which we have either had to accept or fight at a disadvantage. Who can say that that will not happen again?

I suggest that Her Majesty's Government must ask themselves the question: are we vulnerable to subversion backed by violence—attempts to undermine by force our political institutions, our freedom of thought, of speech and of choice within the law? I no longer have access to any secret information, but from what I see happening around me, and from what I hear being said and discussed, I believe that some of our countrymen—few they may be in number—are intent on imposing on this country a totalitarian system of government, or on denying to individuals the freedoms that we have enjoyed over the centuries, and which I am most anxious that my grandchildren, and their children's children, should also enjoy. These men may be few in number, but they already wield significant power.

I have had some personal experience of dealing with people of this kind—Communists, Marxists, revolutionaries, call them what you will. I have had dealings with them in Europe, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East. I know something of their methods and dedication to the cause which they have taken up, their patience and timelessness in getting fulfilment of their plans, and the ruthless discipline which they impose on all who come within their power.

There are some people in this country, and in other parts of the Free World, who fondly believe that they can ride this tiger. I suggest to them that they had better get out their history books and study what happened to people of the same ilk—moderates, as they might be called—first in the French Revolution and then in the Russian Revolution. They should also ponder over recent casualties among moderates in the persons of Mr. Dubeek and General Spinola. I believe that we are faced with such a threat. It may still be some way off, but it will inevitably materialise unless we take active steps to forestall it.

So much for the nature, extent and timing of the threat. The second question that I would pose is: are the facts known, understood and accepted by the general public in this country? I have grave doubts about this. I find that most people do not want to know. They are happy to live now and pay later, as the common expression is; to leave it to future generations to pay. How many people up and down the country will even hear, much less take heed, of the grave warnings uttered by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, here this afternoon? Another noble Lord who spoke before me mentioned the need for wider publicity for what is said in your Lordships' House, and I heartily endorse that, particularly when someone with the experience, knowledge and wisdom of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, is speaking. I maintain that successive Governments of this country have failed in their responsibility to keep the public informed on this critical matter of national security.

So I move on to the third responsibility that I have mentioned: to maintain, where it exists, and to set up where it docs not, an organisation, or organisations, to meet the threats. So far as external aggression is concerned, we rely on the forces of NATO, to which we contribute, backed by American nuclear power. Whatever way you look at it, the recent events in Vietnam must put some question mark against the future credibility of that continuing American interest and all-out support for our security on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I have great confidence in the Americans. I fought with them throughout the Second World War, but there are other considerations and factors which may come into play, which were mentioned by other noble Lords this afternoon, which put a smaller question mark against the credibility of that future support. Our own Forces have been considerably weakened over recent years and recent measures that are now in hand will weaken them still further. But this is not the appropriate time to go into details about that aspect. I hope on a future occasion to have the opportunity of expressing in your Lordships' House my views on the defence cuts. However, it is a matter of great concern to me.

On the issue of international subversion, I suggest that except for the police force, which is undermanned, our defences are virtually non-existent. We have no organisation that could ensure the maintenance of the essential services in this country in the event of widespread politically-motivated disorders. I am not a supporter of what have been called "private armies". When I am asked, as I frequently am by friends and acquaintances, whether they should join one of these organisations, I reply, "No. If you are of the right age you should join the Territorial Army. If you are older than that you should join the Special Constabulary in your district, the Red Cross or some other organisation which can and will play a useful part in any widespread national emergency". I am frequently asked, too, whether or not the Armed Forces can, as they have in the past, maintain the essential services in the event of such a disastrous, catastrophic situation. On my limited knowledge of their capabilities, I would say that they no longer have the manpower or the skills to maintain the essential services on which all of us in this country depend for our daily life.

Finally, I firmly believe that the security of any nation rests on its strength, not solely or even mainly on its military strength, but on the strength that stems from a sense of common interest, common purpose and the acceptance of individual responsibility for the defence of our national institutions and freedoms. I sincerely believe that in the longterm, and in the absence of effective counter-measures, there is a threat of internal subversion, backed by force, to overthrow our free society. I submit that it is the responsibility of any Government to put themselves in a position to counter that threat, whatever form it may take. Above all, I maintain that our future security depends more than anything else on the creation of a sense of common purpose and responsibility in defence of our liberties, and on the leadership that is needed to bring that situation about.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for introducing this important subject. On a personal note, may I say how good it is to see the noble Lord back with us once more. Having served under him when he was the Leader of this House, it gives me, and I am certain your Lordships as a whole, a feeling of great security to have an elder statesman of his calibre with us again.

Having looked at the list of speakers in the Whips' Office this morning, I feel rather like a horse and jockey who have entered the Liverpool Foxhunter's Cup but find themselves entered for the Grand National the following day. Basically, I wish to speak broadly on the political front and try to cover the various points made by noble Lords who spoke previously. First, I have a word for the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, concerning Cyprus. We recently had a good Statement about the current position there. I know Cyprus fairly well and, of course, the situation at the moment is serious and delicate. Therefore, I shall be exceedingly careful in what I say. But I think that in the negotiations going on it is essential that not only the points of view of the Turks and the Greeks should be taken into account, but also those of a great many people of Cyprus who come from both those communities and who now call themselves Cypriots. This is a theme which has developed very much over the last few years. They take the line, "We are basically not really Turkish, not particularly Greek. We have had our difficulties and problems, but we are now Cypriots". In principle, I know that the Minister will probably agree.

The second country which I should like to deal with, and which I think historically gives a good example of the issue we have been debating this afternoon, is Portugal. It is interesting to analyse the Portuguese situation over a period of time. It started off with a monarchy that was very weak and which collapsed. Then we had an endless period of military juntas trying to form a government. Finally these military juntas, who could never hold the power of the country for any length of time and were always argu- ing among themselves, had to send for Professor Salazar from Queenborough University to get his opinion on the economic state of the country, and then they realised that here was a man who could positively run the country. As we know, Salazar finally took total control of Portugal for many years.

It reminds me of a short story which I know is true, because it was told me by our Ambassador some years ago when I was in Portugal. When Salazar was having to take total control, the military junta were still arguing whether or not he should be allowed to have it. Finally, in desperation he turned and said, "There are always very fast trains back to Queenborough." At that moment he took over. Look, my Lords, at what has developed since. I know a great deal of history will be debated concerning the dictatorship of Salazar. But he had many good intentions. Salazar held the Portuguese and the Portuguese Empire together. Being an economist, he produced a steady economy for a number of years. Probably one of the most important factors that he tried to accomplish, but which did not happen in his lifetime, was to produce a middle-class in Portugal to balance the great riches of the few with the great poverty of an enormous number of the Portuguese people. We all know of the unpleasant sides of his dictatorship —the secret police, the way political agitators were put under house arrest or taken off to prison to be "cooled off", not in the sense of torture but just put away in order to, as one might say, gain their equanimity.

There is no doubt that since his death we have seen the pattern being repeated. There have been political Parties that have basically eaten their way, under Communist guise, into the structure of Portuguese society, and then there has been a military group holding the country. Where has this taken the situation? It has produced the total collapse of what was the Portuguese Empire. I am not going to discuss whether or not an empire is a good thing. The fact is that Angola and Mozambique were extremely rich areas of Africa and, after all, my Lords, the Portuguese, being a great maritime nation, were the first people to discover South Africa. They came before both the Dutch and ourselves. I was recently in South Africa, at a time when the position in Angola and Mozambique was developing more rapidly as the position in Portugal developed. One saw the chain of events and the reaction of the South African Government. The Prime Minister of South Africa quickly started to pull out of Rhodesia. He realised that Mr. Smith was much too entrenched to be able to get any satisfaction, and he had to contain a situation so that he himself could produce a position of détente.

There is no doubt about the dangers of Communist infiltration in a country that is not in a very stable state. This afternoon we have discussed in detail the elections which have taken place in Portugal in the last few days and which have shown that the Portuguese have a stability about them that is very good. But they have yet to form a constitution, and, as has been said already, there will be a long battle ahead before the Portuguese achieve any form of stability.

My Lords, I should like to turn for a moment to our own Island. We know the danger of Communist infiltration into any country, and at the moment there is no doubt that we are going through difficult times. This is the type of situation on which the Russians feed. I do not want to sound scaremongering, and I do not intend to be so, but the situation has been discussed this afternoon and we all understand what it is. It is one in which our people in this country are bewildered and uncertain, and that is just the sort of breeding ground on which Communism can take a hold. Let us be honest as to what has been happening. I know that the Government have been in grave difficulties over the last few months. Business people and English people living in South Africa have asked what is going on here. We may approve or disapprove of apartheid and the way South Africa is going, but there is no doubt that at the moment that country is surging ahead economically. It is depressing to have to be on the defensive and to try to explain the problems we have to deal with on the lines we have discussed this afternoon. People appear to feel that we are not pulling together as a nation and getting out of our difficulties.

The noble and gallant Lord who spoke before me mentioned one point about the police, and on this I am going to end. I apologise to the noble Lord who is winding up for the Government because I know that this is not his Department, but I feel that this is rather an important factor and I hope that he will pass it on to the appropriate quarter. We have heard how the police throughout the country are undermanned. This is a fact which we have to accept. I am sure we all have the greatest respect for the police, whether they work in the cities or in the counties. We know that wastage is occurring, and somehow it has to be stopped. The police are undermanned not only in the counties but also in the Greater London Area.

The other day in this Chamber we discussed a point connected with Colonel Stirling and his group of gallant gentlemen who have announced to the world that they are prepared to take over and ran the power stations and everything else for this country if there arises a case of dire necessity. I think everybody agrees that the conception was good, but that Colonel Stirling went about it in the wrong way. As I happen to live in London, close to a police station, I called in the other day and asked the police about the position of the Special Constabulary. Most of us hear little about special constables. They do a magnificent job, a great deal of it in their spare time. They get themselves properly trained over a short period and can be of great use to the police in a crisis. This morning I received a message from the Police Federation to say that the top age for joining the Special Constabulary is 60. That is a reasonably high age, and quite a number of the gentlemen who have joined Colonel Stirling's group could well join the Special Constabulary, and I am told that the Special Constabulary would be delighted to have them. There they would be able to carry on any work needed if an emergency should arise.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, may I join with other noble Lords who have expressed their gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Home of Hirsel, for introducing this debate in your Lordships' House today. May I say also what a great pleasure it is to hear once again in your Lordships' House the voice of a man who is not only a politician of distinction and experience but a statesman of world stature as well.

The subject which he has brought to the attention of your Lordships' House today is one of the most important we could possibly debate. There can be no doubt in the mind of any intelligent observer of the scene that there is a constant and increasing threat to the political institutions of the Free World. It takes its form in four different elements. There is the external military threat, to which reference has already been made; and I was especially interested and gratified to hear the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, draw attention to the fact that the growing preponderance of Soviet military strength in Europe is gradually leading us towards the position at which the nuclear threshold, the point at which we might have to use nuclear weapons in any war in Europe, is becoming progressively lower. This is a vitally important factor which we should never allow to leave our minds. The next element is the general expansion of Communism, to which the noble Lord also referred, which is taking place throughout the world and of which today we have had the final tragic act with the unfolding of events in South-East Asia. International terrorism is the next, and we have debated that subject in your Lordships' House before. It would be unwise not to regard that, too, in the long run as a very real threat to the political institutions of the Free World. Then there is the internal threat from subversion, and several noble Lords have kindly referred to the debate which I initiated in this House recently on this topic.

It is interesting to note that although this debate, in common with many debates in your Lordships' House, has not received very spectacular notices in the Press—and, indeed, there was a certain amount of scepticism about the facts which I put forward in your Lordships' House—there was one response which I found enormously interesting and moving. I received a massive personal mail from people throughout this country saying that they, too, had fears about the threats to which our politicial system was being subjected from within, and I believe that this threat is now being more and more recognised in this country. I wish this afternoon to look briefly at the ways in which the internal threat, the subversion threat from inside, is often linked with the external threat, and I begin by saying that there is some evidence, I believe, of a change in the emphasis of the way in which the Soviet Union is conducting its foreign policy towards the West. In the past it has been customary to regard its efforts as being mainly in the political and military sphere; its gathering of intelligence and espionage activities has been largely a matter of political and military intelligence. Now I believe there is growing evidence that the Soviet Union's present tactic, for the moment at any rate—as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, there is a Russian strategy which is immutable and inexorable and there are Russian tactics which change—is one which tends to concentrate far more on the industrial field than on the political and military fields, and this is a change of emphasis of which we in the West should be aware. There is also evidence that there is now a co-ordinated effort to disrupt the major industries of the West, to undermine our economies and, of course, in that way to achieve exactly the same end as could be achieved by military conquest, but at a much lower cost.

In this connection, I will concentrate on one case history and deploy a few facts about that case history to demonstrate what I mean. The motor car industry is, by common consent, the keystone of the national economy in most developed industrial countries. It is therefore, not surprisingly, a prime target for the Communist Parties of Western Europe, and for the people who co-ordinate these affairs in the Kremlin and in the other Eastern European countries. The World Federation of Trade Unions, which is well known as a Communist front organisation, for some considerable time has been paying special attention to the automobile industries of the West. Shop stewards from the car factories of West Germany, France, Italy and this country —Communist shop stewards—have been attending congresses of the World Federation of Trade Unions, this Communist front organisation, since as far back as 1952; and in May, 1957—I am sorry to burden your Lordships with historical facts, but in the end they build into a picture—an international liaison committee for car workers was formed at a meeting held under the auspices of the World Federation of Trade Unions. That meeting was attended by 20 shop stewards from the British automobile industry and every one of them was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. That Committee has since met at intervals. It met in Paris in 1958 and in Milan in 1960.

In 1971 a conference was held in London by the Communist Party of Great Britain to discuss what is euphemistically known as the future of the car industry. Last year there was an international conference of automobile workers held, again to discuss the future of the car industry. One may say that this is all very interesting as an historical review of a moderately interesting kind and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, will say that it is rather like driving along looking in the driving mirror; so let us take a look at the present and the future. On 3rd March of this year there was held in Dusseldorf a meeting of the Communist Parties of Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and West Germany. The Communist Parties at this conference decided on a plan of action for the automobile industries of Western Europe. The British delegate at that meeting was Mr. Tom Mitchell who is the South-East Midlands secretary of the British Communist Party and a shop steward in a leading car factory in the Midlands. At that meeting, which was intended to be secret, co-ordinated plans were drawn up for the disruption of the car industries of Western Europe. It was as simple as that.

That was on 3rd March last, and in case anyone should think that it was an isolated and soontaneous event, on the following day, 4th March, Moscow radio broadcast an attack on the car industries of Western Europe. It was a long, ideological attack, calling for action against what they described as the capitalist countries and their car industries. High prices, the broadcast said, and inflation had been unprecedented in Western Europe and were the result of premeditated action on the part of the monopoly of the car industries. That was the day after the meeting of those Communist Parties in Dusseldorf. On the following day, 5th March, the Morning Star, the organ of our own dear Communist party, published an article in which it said that the first steps in this campaign were to be a week of activity in the car industries of Western Europe—that is, from 13th to 19th April, this month.

In that week practically all the major car industries in Western Europe—certainly in Italy, Germany, France and in this country—felt the repercussions of that meeting and the decisions taken at it. This was clearly a centrally controlled, carefully co-ordinated plan to disrupt the car industries of the West, upon which a great number of the economies of the West depend. It is continuing and I hope that those people who have expressed scepticism about the degree of Communist infiltration and subversion that goes on in this country will, when next we have strikes at the Renault factory, the Fiat factory, the Ford factory or British Leyland, remember the conference in Dusseldorf on 3rd March and the plans drawn up there. I wonder whether, after pondering on that conference and its results, anyone will be able to claim that our industry and, through our industry, our economy and our political system are not under direct threat from sub-version, and subversion which is not only helped, but in many cases co-ordinated from outside the country.

We are, I believe, beginning to wake up to that threat. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, has contributed most valuably to that process today. He has warned us, as have other noble Lords, of the constant threat to our liberty and our political freedom. I believe that that threat is how as great— or perhaps even greater than—it has been since 1939. I believe that, if we look at the combined threat of the external military forces of the potential Communist enemy, the co-ordinated action of international terrorists, at the general expansion of Communism throughout the world and at the way in which all these actions are being reflected in this country by those who seek nothing less than the destruction of our political system, this adds up to a very sombre picture.

As the noble Lord opposite has said, I do not wish to be a scaremonger. Yet I believe it important constantly to be bringing this fact to the notice of the people of the country. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked him, whether he will—not perhaps today but some time—tell us quite clearly on behalf of the Government and the country that it is not only Back-Bench and Cross-Bench Peers and Members opposite who see this threat. I hope that he will tell us that Her Majesty's Government see it too and that they are determined to meet it, because I believe that it is vitally important that the people of this country should be made aware of the dangers, in the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Home, has made us aware of them today. Nothing would be more valuable, I believe, than a clear statement by Her Majesty's Government that they too recognise the existence of this threat— external and internal—are determined to meet it when the occasion demands, and are preparing now to meet it.

The comments of Communist and other Left-Wing media on the recent events in North Vietnam have, as the noble Lord, Lord Home, has said, in some ways been deeply depressing. When the word "liberation" is used for what has gone on for the past few months, or indeed years, it seems to me that we should pay a little attention to our use of language. What has happened is not liberation but, whatever it is, it has been the result of the operations of people who are dedicated, patient, austere and resolute in the pursuit of their political aims. In South-East Asia, they have for the moment achieved those aims. I believe that that should be a lesson for us all in Western Europe and in this country. I believe, as I feel does every other noble Lord in this House, that our most precious possession is political freedom. But, unless we are prepared to be as dedicated, patient, austere and resolute in defending it as they are in attacking it, it may not survive.

6.37 p.m.

The Earl of LYTTON

My Lords, I was quite spellbound by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. I think that it lasted for 36 minutes and it is the only speech of that length which I have ever felt to be in-complete. I wished that the noble Lord would go on for another 10 minutes. He hardly mentioned China and he mentioned Japan not at all; indeed, nobody has mentioned Japan today. I look forward to a second speech from the noble Lord, perhaps when we come to the defence debate, and I shall listen with the same enjoyment. May I also say how young the noble Lord looks compared to his appearance on television, which I think has been a great handicap to him. I am also always enthralled by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to whose views I listened with rapt attenton.

With regard to defence, I shall add nothing to what has been said on the absence of the prospect that NATO will be attacked by the Soviet Union or by the Warsaw Pact countries. What I myself apprehend is that the target will not be NATO but Tito, or rather his bier. I am not sure that the Russians will not arrive for the funeral and remain to pray for rather a long time after it is over. That is my immediate apprehension about the next physical movement of the Red Army in Europe adjacent to the part which we regard as free.

My Lords, there is an aspect of this question upon which I should like to dwell. First of all, I agree with those who say that the numerical strength of Communists in most countries is relatively small. However, I am absolutely astonished that it is as small in this country as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, told us in his wholly splendid speech on the subject the other day. I think that it was put at something like 004 of 1 per cent. The only place where I have seen the results of an election in which Communists took part was Austria in 1945. Then the Russians permitted the only instance of free elections they have ever allowed, believing that the presence of the Red Army was such that they would receive overwhelming support. There, the percentage of votes cast for the Communist Party was 14 per cent. in the British sector and 10 per cent. in the Soviet sector. The nearer one is to the Russians, the fewer votes the Communists receive.

I was interested to notice that in Portugal—if the information we have received is correct—the Communists have registered less than 14 per cent. in what I believe to be a free election. If that is really so, that is an example of a country which has been run by a wholly unpopular dictatorship for a very long time, with every sort of opportunity for underground subversion. When they come to the surface and are free, still they register less than 14 per cent. of the votes for the Communist Party. In the case of Vienna in 1945, the winners were almost equally the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats.

I think we have to concede that in Portugal today it is the Socialists who have ousted the Communist Party, and who have done the most to reduce it to relative impotence. I am not in a position to say whether the Army is so permeated with Communists that it is going to overrule this democratic result. My suspicion is that Communists never exceed 14 or 15 per cent., but frequently rise to that figure, and being dedicated people who very often serve the interests of the people they represent, they get into the position which has been explained chapter and verse by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and which I do not challenge.

I have studied the works of Marx—the Communist Manifesto rather than Das Kapital and the Little Red Book. I cannot get beyond that to the works of Mao; they are unreadable. But I see that in those cases they try to convince us that there is a momentum of events which is leading inevitably to the result they seek. I find that there is a certain truth in that. For instance, there is the momentum of size and monotony of work in industry, which makes me enormously depressed when I visit certain parts of industry, particularly the motor car industry.

If anyone were to choose a spot to try subversion, I should say that the motor car industry is the spot to try it. It is boring; it is monotonous; it has a vicious smell and an appalling din in various parts of it. That would be the place to go to try subversion. Think of its size, my Lords. It is impersonal. One wants leadership. When the size is so great and is not broken up by subdivision into units where intelligent and sensible people could practise leadership, naturally selfappointed leaders come along. If the boss is never seen at all and is invisible, then naturally this is what happens. We must try to correct the momentum of size. We have not taken a grip of the momentum of boredom and the dullness of people's work—regardless of what they are paid. On top of this is the philosophy—I call it the "apostolate of discontent"—that is the essence of Communism.

I was walking behind two men in Athens with a Greek beside me. He said: "Those two men in front are Communists. "I said: "How do you know? Do you know them?" He said: "No". I said: "Have you ever met them?" He replied: "No". I asked: "Have you ever seen them before?", and he answered: "No". I then asked: "How therefore can you tell that they are Communists?" The man with me replied: "I can tell for certain. They never stop talking. They are always discontented about something. And you can see it by their backs. You don't need to hear what they say." That is the doctrine we import. We do not export a fanatical doctrine of happiness to the Soviet Union. Why not? It should be our function to create a happy society to combat this "apostolate of discontent". I think I have said enough on that point.

My Lords, I have time to mention just one more matter. We fail to grasp nettles which I believe should be grasped. I refer, for example, to the problem of the Middle East. Why can we not solve it? We have had Resolution 242 of the Security Council (1967), proposed by the United Kingdom and carried unanimously. We have also had Resolution 338 (1973) sponsored by the Soviet Union and the United States, and carried nem. con.— with only one abstainer, China. We have the Arabs—if the leadership of Egypt counts—saying on the 13th of this month, through President Sadat: We shall always be ready to fulfil our commitments in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. He then went on to state what the Resolution contains. He dotted the "i's" and crossed the "t's", not only about the withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 boundaries, but about the rights of all States in the region to live behind secure and recognised boundaries.

What is stopping this happening? The argument is utterly ridiculous; it is a kind of Alice in Wonderland argument. First, the Israelis say that they will not budge until the paraphernalia of war has been dismantled. Then the Egyptians say: "We cannot dismantle the paraphernalia of war so long as Arab territory is continuously occupied." Is there no way to get rid of this problem about which everyone of importance—the Soviet Union and the United States—agree? Have we not come to the point where we should say, at any rate to the United States which exercises a dominating influence in this matter: "Look, if you run into a situation where there is another oil embargo, and in order to combat that you send Marines to take over the Saudi oil wells in the Gulf, that is a recipe for Armageddon and we are mightily against it." Let us settle the difficult Israeli problem before it is too late.

Here we have a huge territory occupied by 20 different Arab States—138 million people. Ten of these States are dripping with oil and all of them are naturally rather well disposed towards us. Surely the time has come when we can put into practise and enforce an item of diplomacy on which everybody, so far as I can see, is agreed. That is an illustration of the nettle which people do not grasp—


My Lords, as one of the army of the great divine discontent, I want to ask the noble Earl something else. If "we"—whoever "we" are—wish to influence events in the Middle East, from which I have just returned, had we better not make a Europe with a common foreign policy before we talk about influencing anything there at all? We as Europe might do it—we as Britain cannot.

The Earl of LYTTON

My Lords, am I honoured by the question which the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, has just asked? I am honoured that he should interrupt and ask a question. I am, as he knows, a supporter of European union and of remaining in the EEC. I hope I shall be among the voters for staying in. I hope that it will not produce any feud with the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, who, the other day, just after I had made a speech exactly contrary to his own, arrived in the Guests' Room with a drink, such as I like—I do not know how he knew—but twice the normal size, which I thought was a gesture of comradeship and which I welcomed. But to answer the noble Lord, I am thinking at this moment that we still have a special relationship with the United States in all matters, particularly with regard to the founding of Israel. Have we not? It seems that the noble Lord does not agree—


My Lords, let me make the position quite clear. We did not support the United States in the founding of Israel. The first State to recognise Israel was Russia—the Soviet Union. The Americans supported the Soviets. We ourselves—I was then the lowest form of animal life, a PPS, in the then Government, and I know it only too well—did not think that it was the right thing to do. Neither do I now, looking back on the history, think that I was wrong.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in a disarmining moment, said that he expected me to make a second speech. This somewhat flattered me but rather alarmed the House, and I therefore promise to be as brief as possible. This has been a useful and stimulating debate, concentrating our minds, in the way this House does, in a deliberative, restrained and factual manner on a question of the utmost importance, not only to this country but to the future of the Western world and the things for which it stands. A number of points have emerged from this debate as points of broad consensus. Almost every noble Lord indicated that he or she supported the pursuit of detente. Equally, there was a point of consensus that the achievement of detente depended upon the assurance of confidence and security; in other words, we needed to pursue this very desirable situation with caution, and constructively.

If I may repeat myself, I put it in this way: I do not believe that there is such a thing as detente without an assurance of security. If, therefore, as we believe, the Soviet Union and its friends and allies are genuinely seeking detente, they must equally seek to promote genuine security in Europe as a precondition of a lasting détente. Indeed, Her Majesty's present Government—as indeed did the previous Administration—base themselves on these twin propositions. In answer to Lord Carrington's request that I should state Her Majesty's Government's attitude to challenges to freedom in the world, I would say that I hardly think it needs to be restated. We are opposed to any form of totalitarianism, whatever its origin or form. We would seek to resist it effectively, not only militarily but, to pick up a phrase which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, used, by endeavouring to create in this country a social system that worked on a basis of democracy and equity. The true answer to the excesses of Communism, which is, after all, an economic and social technique, is an effective social system which not only accepts the basic principle of freedom but also the equally basic freedom of economic security for the people of a county.

The third point which I thought elicited general support was a deserved tribute to the United States of America for its extraordinary contribution to peace and stability in the world, certainly during the past twenty-five years, a contribution which is continuing. I am confident that that will persist in the future. I very much appreciate the remark which I think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made in denunciation of those people who take a peculiar delight in the temporary discomfiture of our American friends at the present moment. They are exactly the same people who rejoice in the difficulties of our own country. Also, a number of noble Lords joined in tribute to our great friend and ally in the United States, Dr. Henry Kissinger. When I reflect upon the tremendous exertions, extraordinary ingenuity and education which Dr. Kissinger has devoted to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and elsewhere, and his continued determination to fight for it, I think it is time that a House which commands attention not only in this country but abroad should unitedly indicate its admiration and support for his efforts.

The noble Lord, Lord St. Just, raised a question about Cyprus which I should like to answer. I can assure him that we regard Cyprus not just as a Greek and Turkish question—it is that, of course— but as a Cypriot question. That is why we have emphasised all along that the solution must be based upon the agreement of the people of Cyprus, whatever their racial origin or religious creed, and that it should result in an assertion of independence, the integrity of the island as an independent State.

I come now to the point of substance which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, about the Middle East. I was most interested to hear what he said about the Geneva Conference on the Middle East and the comparisons which he drew with the Conference on Vietnam. Here, I agree in general with what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, had to say on the subject. There are, I believe, great differences between the two situations: The Russian interest in the Middle East is likely to be very different from the Russian interest in South-East Asia. Provided an eventual agreement reflects the essential interests of both the Arabs and Israelis, I believe the Russians will have strong reasons for ensuring its full and continued observance, and that the Russians, as well as the rest of us, will have a strong interest in avoiding a renewed conflict.

Here may I say how much I welcomed the brief but trenchant intervention of my noble friend Lord George-Brown, and congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, on eliciting that contribution—at least, the first part of it—in which he emphasised that we should not expect that one country, that even Britain, should on its own be able to solve these tremendous problems. This is partly a hangover from the period of the Imperium when it seemed to be doing precisely that everywhere. I think it is time, as my noble friend reminded us, that we realised that we are in a partnership with a great many other powerful and capable countries.

I was glad to hear more than one noble Lord refer to the possibility of increasing political co-operation within the Community, leading to agreement and common action among the Nine in international affairs. It is fair to say that the process of political co-operation within the Community has developed rapidly over the past year or so. Whatever the differences may have been about the minutiæ—the important minutiæ—of economic and social policy, there has grown in the past year or so a realisation that the Community can become a united political force for peace in the world. The degree of co-ordination achieved among the Nine at the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Geneva has been a striking example of this. While on this subject, may I pay tribute to the effective political consultation which also takes place in NATO, a somewhat larger organisation which subsumes the Nine. There is no harm in regarding NATO as being the essential organisation of protection for stability and peace in the West, with an injection of special dedication, perhaps, as represented by the Nine.

The final point I want to make is a very brief one; namely, that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, pointed out the importance of being aware of the constant threat to liberty, internally and externally. Of course, Her Majesty's Government are aware of this end. Of course, as I said previously, not only must we arm ourselves materially to resist such a threat, but we must think hard and work hard to create, in parallel with material defence, economic strength and a social system which will give that material defence added strength.

7.1 p.m.

Lord HOME of the HIRSEL

My Lords, it would be base ingratitude on my part to your Lordships if I were to make a second speech, after the response which has been made to the Motion I moved earlier today. I should like particularly to thank the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for his very careful replies. I should also like to associate myself with what both he and my noble friend Lord Carrington said about the contribution to peace made by the United States, and Dr. Kissinger in particular. I would not dissent from his evaluation of the situation in the Middle East—there we shall have to see what happens at the Conference—but I would agree with him entirely that the real answer to Communism is the quality of our own way of life.

All the speeches, if I may say so, have been most thoughtful, constructive and forthright. I believe I have been justified in my feeling that this debate ought to be held as a complement to that which was initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, a short time ago on the subject of internal security. I thought it was proper that we should also have one on the external threat, so that the people of this country may see the world not as we in the democracies want it to be but as it actually is. Therefore, if I may say so, I think this has been an excellent and useful debate, and perhaps I might finally thank the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, for the delicacy of his references to my performances on television. I ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.