§ 3.9 p.m.
§ Lord CHALFONT rose to call attention to subversive and extremist elements in our society; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps in the light of the fact that I already seem to have been rather peripatetic in your Lordships' House this afternoon, I should confirm that this was entirely due to the gratifyingly large attendance in your Lord-ships' House, and that I am indeed speaking as an independent Peer. My Motion is to call attention to subversive and extremist elements in our society.
§ I should like to begin with a brief explanation of my reasons for introducing this Motion into your Lordships' House today. Perhaps I should say first what it is not; it is not intended as any kind of attack upon Her Majesty's Government, although in what I have to say I shall suggest that the governing Party provide, in one way or another, shelter for a number of people who are almost certainly committed to undermining the existing political system in Britain. Secondly, this is not intended as an exercise in Red-baiting, witch-hunting or McCarthyism, although I predict with some confidence that it will be described as each of those by someone at some stage; and I predict also, with a sense of weary resignation, that before the debate is over someone will have used the phrase "Reds under the bed".
§ These are, however, trials that I shall bear with some fortitude, since no amount of Pavlovian reaction from any quarter will alter my conviction that subversive and extremist elements in our society constitute a very real and serious danger to our democratic institutions. I have spent a great deal of my life studying and analysing in one way or another the threats, both internal and external, to individual freedom and to open societies. Indeed, the first article which I ever had published, a quarter of a century ago, was an examination of the strategy of international subversion.
So, when in the debate in your Lordships' House before Christmas on the Defence Review I referred in a brief aside to the threat to the internal security of these islands, I was not really aware
that I was saying anything especially outrageous. I said then that there are many people in this country ready to undermine the freedom of our political system, and I went on:
This, in my view, is as much a threat to our security as any threat from outside, and perhaps an even greater and more immediate one."—[Official Report, c. 1074, 17/12/74.)
§ Somewhat to my surprise, I was at once challenged by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who said, among other things, that in the absence of facts which are beyond dispute statements of that kind should not be made "in your Lordships' House or elsewhere." This seems to me a statement of quite considerable significance. There is no Member of your Lordships' House more distinguished, more patriotic, more experienced or more knowledgable than the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. If he does not know the facts concerning subversion and extremism in the country, it is fair to assume that very few other people do.
§ In introducing this Motion my intention is to throw a little light on what seems to be a very dark area. I propose to be entirely factual, to identify certain subversive and extremist organisations and, in many cases, to name the people who are involved in them; and, simply by quoting what they themselves have said and written, to indicate what are their aims and policies. I shall then be content to leave it to your Lordships to decide whether or not they constitute, as I have suggested, a threat to our security. But before I get down to the details, it might avoid misunderstandings if I were to set out a few definitions. It was, I think, Dr. Johnson who said that he would debate with any man provided he first defines his terms; and, in any case, Socrates certainly believed it, even if he did not say it. Anybody who suggests, as I do, that there is an internal threat to our political freedom must, I think, first define his terms.
§ It is, after all, perfectly permissible for anyone in a democracy to dissent from the policies of the Government, of whatever political complexion they may be, and to attempt to change those policies, or even to change the Government, through the normal political process. To go further, it is equally permissible to dissent from the system of Government itself and to try to change that by per 822 suading a majority of the people that it should be changed; but here it is important to distinguish between dissent and subversion. This is not an easy matter. It has preoccupied philosophers and political scientists from Hobbes and Machiavelli through to the 20th century and Marcuse and Fanon.
§ For the purposes of this analysis it might be useful to take as a point of departure the familiar proposition that the distinction between dissent and subversion lies in the dividing line between the use and the abuse of the instruments of democracy. In many cases, of course, the question of use or abuse will be largely subjective and will depend on the political viewpoint of the individual. But there is one factor in this argument which seems to me to be unmistakable and to carry a special significance; that is, the factor of violence. Here, again, I think that we must attempt a definition of the terms, because revolutionaries claim that violent disruption and even armed confrontation are justified on the grounds that the State itself uses force, both in making war and in preserving its own internal security. But this betrays a serious confusion between the concepts of force and violence, and for the purpose of the present argument I rely upon a simple, but, I think serviceable and, indeed, in-controvertible proposition; namely, that violence is the illegal or immoral use of force. So here are the questions which seem to me to demand some answers. Are there in Britain a significant number of individuals and organisations who seek to destroy our existing political system and whose abuse of the political process identifies them as subversive rather than as simply dissentient? Is there a possibility that they might use violence—illegal force —in pursuit of their aims? If so, do we, sooner or later, face the real threat of violent subversion of our political institutions?
§ I want to set out to answer some of those questions this afternoon and I must first, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, has rightly insisted, consider only the facts. I think the facts are most conveniently set out in a number of separate but interconnected categories. The first of these concerns what are best described as conventional Communist activities; that is to say, the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain 823 in the political and industrial life of the country. Secondly, I think we should cover that area of political activity which is generally referred to by more traditional Communists as the "ultra-Left". Then there are the activities of international terrorists and their links with our own home-grown revolutionary organisations. Finally, I should like to take some account of the significance of extreme Right Wing organisations and to consider the possibility of what is sometimes called a backlash against the activities of the extreme Left. Before doing that, I should like to emphasise that what I shall describe this afternoon—however it may strike your Lordships—is only the tip of the iceberg, and, for reasons which I think will be obvious to many of your Lordships, it is only that tip which can be described in this House this afternoon. Quite apart from all the people and all the organisations that I shall mention and identify, there are also in our society a considerable number of people who are known in the jargon of Intelligence as "sleepers". These are people who do not at this moment pursue any extremist or subversive activity—indeed, on many occasions, no political activity at all— but who, when the time comes, will be activated and will do whatever they have to do to achieve their political aims.
§ There are, also, in our society what the Russian Intelligence service and the KGB call "termites and maggots". These are their words for the people in our society who are prepared to use positions of trust and influence in order to disseminate— sometimes in a subtle and plausible way —the aims of other Governments and other organisations whose long-term objective is to undermine the political stability of this country. These are areas which it will not be possible to cover in this debate this afternoon. But I should like now to come to the first area of concern; namely, the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the extent to which it has penetrated the leadership of our major industrial trade unions.
I have never been able to understand quite why reference to this provokes such resentment in the trade union movement itself and in the Labour Party. It has, after all, always been a clearly stated and cardinal element in the strategy of inter
national Communism to use organised labour as an instrument of policy. Lenin himself said:
We must resort to all sorts of stratagems, manoeuvres and illegal methods, to evasions and subterfuges, so as to get into the trade unions, to remain in them, and to carry on within them Communist work at all costs.
§ Those are the words of the master, and it does not surprise me that they should be faithfully followed by his disciples.
§ My Lords, the Communist Party of Great Britain is, in conventional political terms, an insignificant force. In the industrial sphere, however, it has an impact out of all proportion to its size. It is a fact that, because its industrial network embraces every major trade union in the country, the Communist Party is inevitably involved to some extent in almost every serious industrial crisis that we have. I do not ask anyone to take my word for this: the Prime Minister himself has said that the Communist Party, unlike the major political Parties, has at its disposal an efficient and disciplined industrial apparatus, centrally controlled from Communist Party headquarters. He went on to say that no major strike occurs anywhere in this country in any sector of industry in which the apparatus fails to concern itself.
Mr. Bert Ramelson, who is the national industrial organiser for the Communist Party, said last year:
The Communist Party can float an idea early in the year and it can become official Labour Party policy by the autumn. … We have more influence now on the Labour movement than at any time in the life of our Party.
Mr. Idris Cox, another leading member of the Communist Party, has said:
Notably more Communists are being elected to key positions in the trade unions. Through the unions they can influence Labour Party Conference decisions.
§ My Lords, those are the words of the official Communist Party. The apparatus for establishing and exerting this influence is classically Communist in its techniques. In most major trade unions in this country there are Communist cells, known usually as advisory committees, which meet regularly to secure an agreed Communist Party line on union policy or on forthcoming trade union elections. The relentless energy and the close cohesion which they bring to the task often result in quite 825 spectacular successes. Let us look briefly at a few figures. The present membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain is about 30,000—it is between 29,000 and 30,000. The British trade union movement alone has some 10 million members out of a total work force usually estimated at about 23 million.
§ A very quick piece of mental arithmetic points to the fact that the Communist Party of Great Britain represents a figure of about 0.3 per cent. of trade union membership and 0.04 per cent. of the total British work force; yet something like 10 per cent. of officials in major trade unions are card-carrying members of the Communist Party. To take one powerful union alone—the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers—it is estimated that there are about 2,500 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in that union. The union disposes of 985,000 votes at the Labour Party Conference but its main policy-making body is its National Committee, which has a membership of 52. Of those 52, 16 are card-carrying members of the Communist Party and, together with their Marxist sympathisers on (he Committee, they have an absolute majority on the National Committee of the union, although they represent only 0.02 per cent. of the voting membership. This seems to me to be, by definition, a disproportionate influence. In the Transport and General Workers' Union, which disposes of a million votes at the Labour Party Conference, at least 15 of the 39 members of the Executive are Communists or Communist sympathisers.
§ My Lords, I do not need to go on with this catalogue to demonstrate that a small but cohesive and vigorous organisation such as the Communist Party can exert enormous and disproportionate influence when it acts as a pressure group inside the trade union movement. It is not for nothing that, of the 42 members of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party, 25 are active trade unionists and of the rest most are paid Communist Party officials.
§ Lord LEE of NEWTON
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to point out in relation to the National Committee of the AUEW, of which I was once a member, that it should be made clear that this is not a permanent body? It 826 is re-elected each year by District Committee members, most of whom are not members of the Communist Party.
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention. That is indeed true. This is not a permanently appointed body and it is quite possible that, in the next election for this body, the proportion might change. I can only devoutly hope that it will. I am merely stating the facts as they exist at the moment. Perhaps I should, in the light of the noble Lord's intervention in relation to this point, underline that there is absolutely nothing illegal or unconstitutional about any of this. It might be argued that the ways in which these people are elected are sometimes on the edge of a constitutional democratic process, but the Communist Party is not an illegal organisation and it has every right to pursue its aims by any means within the law.
Nevertheless, I think that it is important to recognise what has happened. The Communist Party has, after 50 years, totally failed to make any impact at all through the normal machinery of political democracy. That failure has been due very largely to the unremitting hostility of the Labour Party. Frequent attempts by the Communist Party to secure affiliation to Labour have been summarily rejected. Yet we are now in a position when the leaders of the Communist Party can claim —not entirely without justification, I believe—the ability to impose many of their policies upon the Labour Party. That, of course, is exactly what the Communist Party of Great Britain is aiming at.
My Lords, I wonder how many people who watch television or listen to the radio during an industrial dispute are aware of the real political aims that lie behind some of the familiar faces and voices which they see and hear. We see on the screens and hear on the radio senior officials like Mr. Scanlon, Mr. Gill, Mr. Allan Sapper, Mr. Bob Wright; and we see the regional figures when there are industrial disputes —Mr. Dai Francis, Mr. Jimmy Reid and Mr. Mick McGahey. There is the persuasive and articulate Mr. Arthur Scargill, who has said publicly that his aim as a trade unionist is not only to improve the standards of his workers but to destroy 827 the capitalist system in Britain. Then there are the shop stewards. They are one of the greatest sources of Communist strength in the trade unions. There are men like Mr. Derek Robinson, who virtually controls the labour of the Long-bridge plant of British Leyland. There is Mr. Jock Gibson, who performs the same function for the Chrysler factory at Ryton.
My Lords, all these men are either past or present members of the Communist Party or close sympathisers with its aims, and I believe it to be important that the people of Britain should be aware of the extent to which the industrial sector of the Communist Party of Great Britain is succeeding in its aims, and should also be aware that those aims, by definition— because that is what the Communist Party is for—include the overthrow of the democratic Parliamentary system of the country.
My Lords, if the Communist Party of Great Britain is committed to peaceful change, we cannot, I am afraid, say the same of the other organisations of the extreme Left. Perhaps the most significant of these is known as IS—the International Socialism group. This is a revolutionary Marxist organisation sometimes regarded as being Trotskyist in its approach. Certainly, it believes that the dictatorship of Stalin betrayed the 1917 revolution, and that Trotsky was right in advocating world revolution instead of revolution only in Russia.
The leader of the International Socialists is a man called Mr. Tony Cliff, who founded it originally as the Cliff Group of Trotskyists in 1950, but the best summary of the aims of this group is contained in the words of its industrial organiser, Mr. Andreas Nagliatti. Writing in International Socialism, a journal of the IS Group, in February of last year, he advocated the bringing together of various networks of militants on,a programme for fighting around certain minimal demands—against wage freeze and incomes policy, for an end to the Industrial Relations Act and laws against picketing, for democratisation of the unions, for a fighting policy on wages ".There may be many of your Lordships who will see nothing especially revolutionary in those aims, but Mr. Nagliatti went on: 828The revolutionary party is not built around such a minimal conception of what needs to be done. It goes further and sees the need to smash the State, to build a workers' council State and so on.Perhaps it is even more significant in the context of what I am saying that later in his article he writes:In the early stages the greatest care has to be taken to involve broad support, even if it means revolutionaries keeping relatively quiet about their distinctive ideas.Thus, although their ultimate aim is to form a new mass revolutionary party, they react with righteous indignation to any suggestion that they might be prepared to use violence. They claim, however, to foresee circumstances in which the State might use force to defend itself and that violence by revolutionary workers would therefore, be in self-defence. This kind of dialectic is, of course, in direct line from Lenin, and whatever the publicists of the International Socialist movement may say, I believe it is quite clear that they are prepared to use violence. If there is any doubt about this, perhaps we might again turn briefly to some of their own statements. In a radio interview last year Mr. Roger Rosewell, the Merseyside District organiser of the organisation, said:We do not seek a violent revolution, but I think the experience in Chile showed that Socialists often have no alternative.He went on:Whilst we do not seek a Socialist society through the means of violence, we are certainly not going to be intimidated and defeated solely by our refusal to use it.In an article in the Socialist Worker, another organ of this group, a Mr. Chris Harman writes about the Army, which he describes as a powerful weapon in the hands of 1 per cent. of the population, and he goes on:Such a weapon cannot be wished away through the ballot box. It has to be broken from the grasp of the ruling class. In the last 200 years no real social change has been possible anywhere without workers using physical means to defend themselves against the armed forces and calling upon troops to turn against their officers.In a pamphlet about the violent events in France in 1968, Mr. Cliff and another leading member of the IS Group, Mr. Ian Birchall, describe the attacks on the police by student demonstrators and say:… when the means of communication and the machinery of State are in the hands of a 829 hostile ruling class, one cannot expect parliamentary elections to do anything other than play into the hands of this class … in our epoch not a single serious issue can be decided by ballot … in the decisive class battles, bullets will decide.So much for one of these groups. It is a group which, incidentally, is tirelessly active in industrial disputes. Its printing presses turn out a network of publications aimed at most of the trade unions. These are journals called the Post Office Worker, Dock Worker, Car Worker, and Hospital Worker. Wherever there is industrial unrest—whether in the nursing or teaching professions, in the Civil Service or in the Leyland and Chrysler motor works—the International Socialists are active.
Perhaps the next most important revolutionary group is the Workers' Revolutionary Party. I do not want anyone to believe just what I say about their aims and methods; they state them themselves. At the last Election, one of the candidates was a prominent member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Miss Vanessa Redgrave, who claimed that the Government were preparing concentration camps in Britain and that the Army was being prepared to repress the workers in Great Britain as it had done in Northern Ireland. Although Miss Redgrave is a highly publicised member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party, she is possibly not its most profound thinker. The Party is led by Mr. Gerard Healy, a former member of the Communist Party. Its aims, as stated by him, include the disbanding of the Army, its replacement with a workers' militia, and the total repudiation of Parliament as a tool of (he capitalists.
It is a very secretive organisation. It appears to keep its activities and strength secret, but sometimes its activities emerge. One of its principal targets in the industrial fields seems to be Equity, the actors' trade union, of which Miss Redgrave and her brother Corin are the leading militants. They also—and perhaps this is significant—pay a great deal of attention to the ACTT, the union to which television and film producers and directtors and technicians belong.
The third of these movements to which I wish to refer is the International Marxist Group. This organisation fielded three candidates in the 1974 election—Mr. Bob Purdie, Mr. John Ross and the ubiquitous 830 Mr. Tariq Ali. In the course of his election campaign, Mr. Ali said:… the working class can never achieve Socialism through parliament or the capitalist State.He went on to express the view that unless the State took complete control of the economy, any Parliament would be forced into carrying out anti-working class policies; and he went on to say categorically:This would require the arming of the working class against the inevitable violence of the capitalists and the disarming of the forces and the capitalist State, the police, the Army, etc.Others of the group made similar comments during their election campaign, which was not a spectacularly successful one. But until the time comes for them to intensify their activities, I think we shall find that these organisations of the ultra-Left will use less obvious and more effective methods.
Of the many hundreds of people who have written to me since it became known that this debate would be taking place, one was the headmaster of a school not far from London. He told me that a little while ago he was sent two student teachers from a nearby college of education to spend some time in his school in teaching practice. After they had been there for only a few days, one of the boys approached the headmaster and asked why all their history lessons were now about Vietnam. When the headmaster made inquiries, he brought to light the fact that the two student teachers were using their classes entirely for the dissemination of political propaganda about the Vietnam war, using material provided by one of these ultra-Left organisations. The headmaster sent me some of the material and it was certainly not difficult to trace its source. There have been, and still are, attempts to dictate the curricula that are used in some schools, and this—the educational process, the educational element in our society—is an obvious target for subversive and extremists of this kind.
Incidentally, I received in the post this morning a letter which seemed to me by its providence, if not by its substance, to be extremely significant. It was a letter addressed in the most abusive and offensive terms, and written on the letter head of a polytechnic in the Midlands which I suppose even in your Lordships' House 831 had better remain nameless. It was barely literate, but what could be discerned from its was a message, as I have said, of an almost totally abusive and offensive nature. It was signed by a gentleman who described himself as the assistant lecturer in philosophy.
My Lords, the organisations which I have named today are only the main Parties of the extreme Left. There is a proliferation of other organisations in the country which have similar aims or are used and exploited by extremists. I have not time to dwell on all of these in detail, but I mention only in passing the Labour Research Department, which, in spite of its name, has nothing to do with the Labour Party. Its editorial board, which produces its journal, has at least six members of the Communist Party on what is a small board; it also has, I regret to say, the General Secretary of a major trade union and, perhaps even more significantly, a well-known honourable Member of the other House. There is the Counter Information Services which is on the surface a perfectly unexceptional body used quite ruthlessly by the organisations of the extreme Left. There is the very significantly named Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions, which is quite obviously a creature of the Communist Party. Both its chairman Mr. Kevin Halpin and its Secretary Mr. Jim Hiles, are members of the Communist Party, and its main aims are opposition to the Social Contract and a campaign in favour of the release of the Shrewsbury pickets. There are various other of these on which I could spend a great deal of time, but I will not.
However I should like to mention one other because I think it has very considerable significance; it is called the Institute for Workers' Control. Its seminars are addressed by such figures as Mr. Ken Coates and Mr. Tony Topham, two university lecturers who are very familiar to anybody who studies these matters on any kind of continuous basis. Mr. Coates has made the following definitive statement of the tactics of Workers' Control. I think it is a statement which we should bear in mind and perhaps carry with us in the future months: 832Workers' Control"—he writes—begins with simple trade union demands for control of hiring and firing, tea breaks, hours, speeds of work, allocation of jobs and so on. Pressure mounts through a whole series of demands to the point where the whole of capitalist society meets impasse. At this point one reaches a revolutionary situation.That is Mr. Coates's view of Workers' Control, and I do not know whether your Lordships are aware that this organisation held a fringe meeting at the last Labour Party Conference; or that two Labour Members of Parliament took part in it; or that it was addressed by a Cabinet Minister, who not only paid a tribute to the work of the Institute for Workers' Control, but actually claimed to be a member of it. I hope that those whose business it is to consider the current Industry Bill will ponder with care the activities of the Institute for Workers' Control. It seems to me that with people like Mr. Coates educating our workers it might be unwise to leave too much power lying about.
So much then for the extreme Left. I have not gone into any details, as your Lordships will have noticed, about the IRA. I think it would be very irresponsible at this moment to dwell too much on that problem. But I would make only one point, which is that those who have been most responsible for the bombings and the violence in recent months, the Provisional IRA, are very largely nationalist in their political aims. The official IRA, on the other hand, is Marxist in character and it may yet turn out to be in the long term a much more difficult problem than the Provisionals. But it is in the context of the IRA that I should like briefly to mention the subject of the links which exist between terrorist organisations. A number of extremist groups throughout the world have in the past given moral support to the IRA struggle—and not only moral support; arms and equipment have reached the IRA from Arab and other sources. The Libyans alone have supplied the IRA with substantial quantities of equipment, and there was, as your Lordships will know, a consignment of arms from Tripoli which was seized when the motor vessel "Claudia" was arrested by the Irish Navy in 1973.
833 Earlier, in 1971 there had been a consignment of arms from Czechoslovakia. There had been supplies from Canada, from the Quebec Liberation Front, and they have passed through France, with the assistance of the Basque and Breton Separatist Movements, into the hands of the IRA, which has in turn offered and provided equipment and training facilities for foreign terrorist organisations. But this is only part of a very wide network of links between international terrorist organisations. There are branches, for example, of Palestine terrorist groups in Germany, in close link with what used to be called the Baader-Meinhof Group. Members of the United Red Army Group from Japan have travelled to the Middle East to receive guerilla training.
One could go on and on about these links which are a very broad and pervasive network all over the world. In this country the main revolutionary organisations that I have spoken about not only support the IRA, but give it active assistance in the distribution of its propaganda. The pamphlet Freedom Struggle by the Provisional IRA, in which the British Army are referred to as mass murderers, was distributed in this country by the International Marxist Group. In December last year an editorial in the Red Weekly, the International Marxist Group's paper, declared that the 17 people killed in the Birmingham bombings—there were actually 19, but the figure was 17 at that time—were not the victims of the IRA, but the victims of British imperialism.
I could go on at very great length. I have gone on at great length already, but I believe that this is a matter of such enormous importance, and it has surprised me so much that it should be said that the evidence does not exist. The evidence exists all over the place. It is necessary only to look for it and recognise it when we see it. I should have liked to talk a little more about the possibility of a Right-Wing backlash against the extreme Left. It is of course true that if we arrive at a position of political instability in this country, brought about by the activities of revolutionary groups or other subversives and extremists, there would be a backlash from the extreme Right. I have not placed too much emphasis on the organisation of the extreme Right in that context, although it is perfectly easy to 834 do, for the very simple reason that the extreme Right, compared with the extreme Left, is fragmented, badly organised, and usually involved in fighting among themselves, which fortunately does not leave them very much time for subversive activities.
Finally, my Lords, I come to a subject of very great delicacy. It is one, if I may paraphrase Edmund Burke, on which it is difficult to speak but impossible to be silent. I refer to the political complexion of the Labour Party. It is important I think to make one point by way of preface: I am fully aware that according to the procedure of your Lordships' House it is undesirable that any Member of the House of Commons should be mentioned by name, or otherwise identified for the purpose of criticism of a personal nature. I do not believe, however, it to be out of order—and I have taken some advice about this—if I say that a number of Members of the other House have engaged in activities and have made public statements which, in my view, give rise to a reasonable belief that their aims are not those traditionally associated with the programmes and policies of the Labour Party.
Let me be quite clear that in saying this I am not making any indiscriminate criticism of some vague and indeterminate Left-Wing. I am not attacking any identifiable group of Members. Any political Party is bound to be a coalition of interests and, as I said earlier in the context of Communist activity, anyone in this country is entitled to pursue whatever political programme he or she chooses, provided it is carried out within the law. I do however suggest—and I recognise that what I am about to say has to be weighed with very great care; and I have weighed it with very great care—that there are those whose membership of the Labour Party disguises political aims of a more extreme kind. It seems to me, for example, curious that a Member of the House of Commons should be on the editorial board of a publication which is closely associated with the Communist Party of Great Britain.
I regard it as at least questionable that several Members of the other House should not only speak in glowing terms of the Morning Star, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 835 but that they should also contribute to it. I regard it as at least dubious that members of the Labour Party in another place should attend Communist rallies. I am not suggesting that there is anything subversive in this. I am merely suggesting—
§ Several Noble Lords: No!
§ Lord PANNELL
My Lords, I am sure that, in the other place, it raises the question of privilege when a speaker attempts not to identify but merely to hint that certain people are guilty of disloyal practices. Perhaps, as one who has been a member of the Labour Party for 60 years, I may express some sensitivity about this. Most of this stuff is "old hat", but it ought not to be mixed up in matters of privilege.
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, I am in the hands of your Lordships' House. I have studied carefully the Companion to the House and I took advice about what I proposed to say, and, having taken that advice, I have said it. What I have said may, as the noble Lord has suggested, be "old hat". If it is "old hat" I wonder why, when I mentioned it a few weeks ago, I was told that no such evidence existed. All I can do this afternoon is to point out that that evidence does exist, and, indeed, as the noble Lord has pointed out, has existed for a very long time. It is there for any of us to see and, for those of us who wish, to recognise.
My Lords, in the light of that intervention, I should like to say that I have introduced this Motion in no emotional or alarmist spirit, still less in any vindictive spirit. I would not have introduced it at all, had the intervention in a previous debate not suggested to me that it was necessary once again to engage in a brief essay in illumination. The remarks that were made during that debate reminded me, with a vivid shock of recognition, of a passage in Joel Carmichael's short history of the Russian Revolution. Describing the sudden and complete victory of the Bolsheviks in 1917, he wrote—and I quote from one of the early chapters in his book—Before 1917 there was no feeling in Russia that anything serious was actually happening. 836 In spite of the shock that the regime had received in 1905, its stability was quite unquestioned. The Intelligensia was being churned up by ideas, but society at large was solidly rooted in its own respectability and the assurance of continuity that went with it.I believe, my Lords, that there is a good deal of that apathy and complacency in this country today.
I have tried, I hope with some success, to keep my contribution to this debate as unemotional and unpartisan as possible. Everything that I have said is factual and, in most cases, based on published statements and programmes of the organisations and individuals concerned. Anyone is entitled to disagree with the conclusions that I draw from those facts, but if anyone wishes to disagree with the facts, I challenge them to do so.
I recognise that I am talking about a small minority of people in our society. The vast majority of trade unionists are loyal, hard-working men and women whose only desire is to secure and defend fair and reasonable conditions of work and a decent quality of life. The great majority of members of the Labour Party in the country are moderate Social Democrats whose aims are to bring about necessary changes in our social and economic structure through the instruments of Parliamentary democracy. By far the greatest majority of the members of the Labour Party in the other House, whether they are Socialists of the Right or the Left, are committed to the priniciples of Parliamentary democracy, and do not need any educational principle.
If, however, there are any lessons to be learnt from history, one of them is that it is dangerous to ignore or to discount the power of dedicated minorities, whether they are seeking to liberate themselves from oppressive dictatorships—of which they all seem to approve—or whether they are seeking to subvert the institutions of Parliamentary democracy. I calculate that the total number of extremists and subversives in this country, of all political complexions, is no more than 50,000—indeed, I suspect that it is even fewer than that—and this includes the 30,000 members of the Communist Party of Great Britain. One may say that 50,000 people in a population of well over 50 million does not constitute a very serious menace. To anyone who 837 believes that, I offer another statistical fact. In 1905 the Bolsheviks in Russia claimed a membership of no more than 8,000 people out of a population of more than 100 million. Twelve years later, the government of one of the most powerful and apparently impregnable empires in history had been attacked and brought down, and no one who lives within the boundaries of that empire has seen the light of true freedom since that day. I do not need to be told—as I am sure I shall be—that Russia at the turn of the century and Britain in the 1970s are vastly different propositions; nor do I suggest; that the rule of the Czars was a model of enlightenment and compassion. I make the statistical point only to show that the size of revolutionary organisations is no indication of their capacity for subversion. It has been said before, and it will bear saying again, that the price of individual freedom, which I regard as our most precious possession, is eternal vigilance. I hope we are prepared to pay for it. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.56 p.m.
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, the significance of this debate seems to me to be marked not least by the tremendous gathering of your Lordships who have come here this afternoon to have your attention called to the subject matter under debate. I am a little afraid that tomorrow morning the events in another place and the debate on the Civil List there might overshadow slightly what we are talking about. But in the long run I would suggest that the Civil List, and indeed a great number of the other matters about which we tend to argue, will become a massive irrelevance if we do not take seriously the topic we are discussing this afternoon and learn the lessons we should from it.
I am happy at the outset to adopt the definition of terms suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. Indeed, it saves me a good deal of time and I find what he has said on that subject entirely acceptable. Therefore I, perhaps, shall do what a number of the rest of your Lordships will be doing; that is, fill in some of the details with examples of what we have found and what has disturbed us as we did our research for this debate. First of all, I must echo what the 838 noble Lord has said about the aim of the subversionary-minded people and extremists to undermine our society by my two favourite quotations from Mr. Mick McGahey who has been mentioned already. He said:There are many miners now whose thinking transcends short-term economic gains, who have recognised the futility of trying to control the capitalist treadmill by staying on it. We shall therefore break Phase 3 and we shall do all we can to bring the Government down."—and he succeeded—But these are incidents on the road, not the end of the road itself ".On another occasion he said:We must dispense with antiques. Capitalism is an antiquated system that should be consigned to the dustbin of society and a new society created.
§ A Noble Lord: Hear, hear!
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
I do not know which noble Lord agreed with that. I am glad he has identified himself. I thought therefore that in taking part in this debate it might be relevant for me to remind myself of what I had read before—that is the story before, during and just after the last World War —of the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia which was done in the classic pattern and, right up until near the end, by entirely constitutional means, because in that country, what I choose to call democracy was overthrown; and as one reads the story, it seems to me, and I think to some others, that it was overthrown not least by the decency of the democrats.
Perhaps they did not understand in full the tactics of subversion; but to any ignorance that they had there was added at that time a trust in the integrity of international Communism embodied by the USSR and a faith in the patriotism of the Communist colleagues with whom they were happy to co-operate. Trust, good will and loyalty destroyed the democrats then. At this stage in the revolutionary activities that are going on in this country, I join with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in suggesting to the House that complacency and ignorance could well play a marked part in their success among us.
This is not surprising. The pattern of all subversion is by now a deliberate one 839 and an unscrupulous one. In its fulfilling, as one wrote who has been through the experience in Czechoslovakia:No falsehood is too great, no betrayal too vicious, no treachery too infamous, no deceit too contemptuous to be avoided.I follow that with my own quotation from Lenin. He told his followers that they were touse any ruses, dodges, tricks, cunning, unlawful methods, concealment and veiling of the truthto achieve his appointed aims. The pattern is very clear and it has worked all over the world. I have no reason to think—however "old hat" it may be in the view of the noble Lord, Lord Pannell—that it has changed; although now, of course, there is more than one set of contenders, more than one organisation, which is putting it into effect.
As I re-read the story of Czechoslovakia, I found that I recognised the traces of many occurrences which bear a striking resemblance to incidents in our life in Britain today. I must confine myself to three or four examples. At the equivalent stage at which I think we are in this country, the main activity of the subversionists was infiltration and, as the noble Lord himself said, one of the targets was then (and it has always been) the trade unions. No doubt there are many industries that are important; but one of them has a double function in that, when one considers the media in this country, the control of the media is also a key element in any form of subvertsionist activity. I thought, therefore, that it would be interesting to see whether I could study in a little depth what is going on in one part of the media.
The media in this country are, as we all recognise, not particularly easy to control as they are at the present moment organised. However, as has been found elsewhere, the Press can be crippled if, for example, supplies of newsprint are cut off, particularly to the democratic newspapers. They can be upset if the distribution or loading of the printed newspapers is disorientated, or if the type-setters refuse to set up an article or a newspaper of which they do not approve. Those are all recognised methods used elsewhere; and perhaps there have been instances here which bear a resemblance to some of those things. Proper control, 840 therefore, of the right unions could no doubt be an aim of infiltration which would also have the effect of controlling the Press in this country.
Perhaps I am not too suspicious in my mind when I look at the motion that has been accepted to be debated in Cardiff next April at the annual meeting of the National Union of Journalists. It comes under the heading of "Redundancy". It is a long motion and I pick this out of it. They wish to base their policy on the following lines: the establishment and maintenance of minimum staffing levels; and two other things. Then they go on: In cases where companies show themselves to be bankrupt or in such dire financial straits that they cannot maintain staffing levels, the union should, in order to safeguard members' jobs, call for the nationalisation of the company without compensation under workers' control, this nationalisation to preclude any Government control of editorial content. It was a fairly remarkable proposition; but it is the nationalisation element of it that I shall consider.
§ Lord CASTLE
My Lords, could the noble Viscount indicate that that is not the policy recommended by the National Executive, but that of one of 100, 200 or 300 branches?
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
Yes, my Lords, it comes from the Book section. I am very well aware that the union is indeed committed—I think by its meeting last year—to a policy of nationalisation. I wanted to see what form nationalisation would take. There is an unsigned editorial in a recent edition of the union's own newspaper which gives a possible—and I accept at once that it is just a possible—blueprint. It is a long and detailed matter. The plant and machinery should be nationalised, is the suggestion, and also the means of newsprint production and the means of distribution. There will be regional printing centres under the control of elected Press Committees drawn from the local community and the print unions. There will also be a national organisation. Access to printing would be on the basis of a prospectus for the paper that one wished to print; that is, based upon a policy prospectus; and if the paper were to deviate the local committee could force 841 a return to the prospectus, or presumably, withdraw the facilities.
The blueprint is drawn up in a very attractive way. I can very well see that if it were to be run in a straightforward way, if it were to be run with trust and in accordance with the sort of spirit that, I think, democrats would undertake to run it in, it is a perfectly acceptable structure on its face. What interested me was that for the unscrupulous it would provide a superb method of control of the Press, if it was to be used in that way. It is not, perhaps, altogether a coincidence that the National Union of Journalists is one of the unions where the International Socialists have set up what they call a "fraction'. That movement, I believe, plans 80 new factory branches this year and a number of others in the white collar unions. The purpose of these branches has been expressed by Mr. Cliff. He defines it as this: a situation to link together the most militant workers in every factory, mine and office. Through such an organisation, he says, militants can develop the experience of working together and of relating every struggle to the overall aim of overthrowing capitalism. That, I should think, is what the fractions are intending to do.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, speaking as the oldest member of the National Union of Journalists, may I ask whether the scheme proposed by the union in that editorial which the noble Viscount has quoted represents something much better for democratic opinion than the control of the whole of our media, which is so influential, by 30 or 40 persons?
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, it depends on who is running it. I am not saying that the scheme, from whomsoever's pen it flowed, is, in itself, unacceptable. The point that I am making is that it provides for those who would like to be unscrupulous a magnificent and simple method whereby they could control the Press, if that is what is to happen. It so happens when talking about the influence of the media—I was interested in what the noble Lord. Lord Chalfont, said about the other party involved with the ACTT in the television world—that the International Socialists were involved in an organisation called the Free Com 842 munications Group. The avowed aim of this group was to establish workers' control of the Press, radio and television. I believe that the group is at the present moment dormant, but I equally believe that the campaign is still very much awake. What interested me about that particular group was that it was being assisted by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust. That is an example of the "decency" to which I was drawing attention, and the kind of occasion where we go out of our way to undermine the very institutions that we are attempting ourselves to support.
In the National Union of Journalists those members who are International Socialists shelter behind something called theJournalists' Charter, which I think is one of the newspapers that the noble Lord. Lord Chalfont, referred to. They themselves say this of the Journalists' Charter:The charter has begun to take off. Surprisingly it is not generally considered to be an International Socialist front and we believe that it does fulfil a very useful function by building up a network of militants and has great value as an excuse for the International Socialists to build up militant contacts throughout the country. The group is very keen, with good prospects of recruitment, union work, etc. They are planning a pamphlet on the manipulation of information and propaganda for I.S."—"manipulation of information and propaganda," my Lords.
There were other areas of infiltration in Czechoslovakia, and one of them was the Civil Service. I have no idea—and do not expect the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, to tell me—whether there is any truth in the suspicions that the most recent leak from the Department of Trade has anything whatever to do with a dirty tricks department on the Left Wing which has somehow infiltrated the Civil Service. But if by any chance this should turn out to be the case, there is nothing surprising: it is part of the classic tradition. And let me use the words of the same Czech diplomat who had to work in a foreign office in Prague directly after the war which was heavily infiltrated by Communists. He said:No confidential work could be performed, since loyalty to the Government had been superseded by loyalty to the party.I have time for only one more example. Political denigration of one's 843 opponents, and particularly their motives, is a traditional method of propaganda. With a bit of luck, it may actually get rid of one's opponents. It may alter the particular policy at which it is directed. But, above all, it certainly conditions and indoctrinates over a long period the less well informed parts of the population. The campaign about the two Shrewsbury pickets attracts wide support—and I do not wish to go at all into the merits of it. I wish merely to draw attention to one small aspect, not one of the more obvious ones because, as usual, this is being dealt with by those who are truly subversive in a very subtle way. The conviction has been called by some people a class judgment and the law of conspiracy under which the sentences were imposed has been attacked as an anti-working-class law. The political motives of the then Attorney General—and, I rather think, the judge—have been attacked.
Again, I do not find it altogether irrelevant to look at what is happening in another Left-Wing law centre to see whether I can draw the requisite parallel. This, I think, is a different group, who say:We try to run a law centre to assist people defending themselves and to give legal advice in particular for political trials involving a root and branch attack on prosecution motives.They continue:Our struggle is not limited to the courts. It is about more than defence. It is part of people's 'crime', tenant groups, strikes, squats, occupations, a class offensive against the criminal treachery of the people in power.That denotes the reason why the judge and my right honourable friend the former Attorney General and others have been attacked as to their personal motives, and why the case has aroused that particular form of criticism; because this is again an example of the traditional methods of the subversives and the extremists.
My Lords, we have been frequently and copiously warned. There is a great deal of information available—I should think your Lordships will produce much of it this afternoon. No doubt the security services are well aware of a great deal that we do not know. I should have been fascinated to have the briefing of 844 the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and I hope that he has satisfied himself that the security services do indeed know a great deal more than the information which is available to all the rest of us. That is the only question I ask him: whether he has in fact been able to satisfy himself of this. For what I suggest is that we should learn quite calmly and dis-pasionately, as I hope I have been this afternoon, to recognise each manifestation of these symptoms for what it really is: to use the Communists' own metaphor, to peel off the mask and see the creature which hides within. My Lords, it is a creature we shall ignore at our peril.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY
My Lords, we on these Benches would like to welcome this debate which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has initiated this afternoon. As we have already heard, there are many subversive and extremist organisations in this country, and unfortunately they will continue to propagate and thrive as those in authority continue to bury their heads in the sand. As has been said, many people in this country misjudge the Communist Party because of its abysmal failure in elections. And so the Communists, faced with their inability to build a mass revolutionary Party, developed an alternative plan which involves capturing the trade unions, operating under central leadership in the key industrials and using their industrial strength by this method to political power. They are able to carry out their tasks because they are well disciplined and well financed. It is the work inside, on the factory floor and in the mines where class warfare against the employer is conducted.
My Lords, the threat is obvious. We are largely dependent on coal for our survival and most of our exports are produced in the engineering and allied industries. I dislike quoting Mr. McGahey again, but I am going to. In July 1973 he said:It is not negotiations in Downing Street we want, but agitation in the streets of this country to destroy this Government".He continued:He was not only convinced that the miners could take on the Tory Government and defeat them, but end them for ever.I would add here that if we are not careful he could well defeat this Labour 845 Government in the not too distant future due to his warning a few days ago that he "could not care less about the Social Contract". Mr. Frank Chapple, the leader of the Electricians' Union, explained how rank and file trade unionists are exploited when he said:How many workers at a shop floor meeting realise they are really attending a second meeting? The first meeting has already been held by the militants in private, who have already decided what action should be taken.Mr. Sam Aaronavitch, a leading member of the British Communist Party, said in February 1973 at a Marxist rally that if the Communist strategy is successfully pursued it will be the breakup of the Right Wing trade union and Labour Party leaders and create a political crisis for the Right Wing. This new strategy has already succeeded and the Labour Party leadership, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, will agree with me, can no longer depend upon solid and overwhelming trade union support; This is a truly historic change, and one for the worse.
The International Socialist, or the IS, which specialises in "flying pickets", has implemented plans to increase its power in nearly every sector of employment from industry to the media, including students and the world of entertainment. In 1970 the IS played an important part in the dock strikes. A publication called Socialist Docker was produced and widely circulated. It attacked the official union leadership and advocated that militant pickets should visit "scab" ports —another way of describing the "flying picket" technique used in later disputes. It is not coincidence, either, that two out of the eight pickets who were arrested outside a cement works in the Midlands in 1972 were London members of the IS. Early in 1971, the IS instructed students to prepare lists of supporters leaving universities and colleges who could be urged to seek jobs in industrial areas specified by the IS leaders. As regards the Free Communications Group which I was going to mention, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, has already said what I was going to say, so there is no need to repeat it.
In June 1972 a detailed investigation of the IS activities in the North-West revealed that some young teachers were 846 the instigators in an attempt to penetrate every major factory in the area. It stated:Their highly organised subversive activities range from classroom to car factories, and from dole queues to docks. Their aim is 'workers' control', with the subsequent destruction of the capitalist society ".On 23rd November 1972 the IS held a meeting at Lancaster Polytechnic. Mr. Paul Foot reported that the number of factory branches had increased to 40. The Socialist Worker, which 5 years before was a four-page paper with a circulation of 5,000, had become a 16-page paper, with sales of 31,000. Since then, sales of 40,000 have been claimed. Another organisation, which is called the Workers' Revolutionary Party or the Social Labour League, must not be dismissed as just another fringe movement. It is by far the most dangerous of the Trotskyist organisations in this country. It is larger, better organised, and, from the point of view of industrial agitation, more intelligently led than its rivals.
To understand current Trotskyist operations, it is necessary to take a quick look at the past. Until 1956 they were a small, comparatively insignificant group; but they gained very heavily when, following the debunking of Stalin and the brutal Soviet suppression of workers in Hungary, there was a mass exodus of some 8,000 disillusioned members of the Communist Party. Many of them, experienced in industrial agitation, joined the Trotskyists. This led in 1959 to the formation of the Socialist Labour League. In 1963 the Socialist Labour League launched a series of conferences in the main industrial centres, organised training schools and prepared costly plans for improving its journal, The Newsletter, which is now called The Workers' Press. Mr. Mike Banda was appointed editor, and it was announced that he would lead a team of professional journalists.
In December 1969, six years later, it became clear that the main Trotskyist attack would be on the motor industry. A ten-man advisory committee was set up, operating in conjunction with the All Trade Union Alliance, with representatives from nearly every major vehicle producing plant in the United Kingdom. In July 1973, the ATUA convened an extremely well attended conference at Belle Vue, Manchester. Special trains were put on for the delegates, who numbered 847 4,000. They discussed once again the use of "flying pickets" during industrial disputes and were instructed in Marxist theory and practicalities, in preparation for the "coming decisive battles" to build a greater "revolutionary leadership" in industry.
A more frightening aspect is how the ATUA exploits the entertainment industry and the Press and has actively encouraged the Young Socialists. May I add that the Young Socialists and the Labour Party Young Socialists are in no way connected. Men and women, many of them internationally known in the field of entertainment, have, wittingly or otherwise, helped to build the Trotskyist Youth Movement. Indeed, it is a fair assumption that the glamour surrounding the show business world has helped to recruit many young people who might otherwise never have thought in terms of extremist politics.
In February 1972, well over 4,000 Young Socialists, described as "The advance guard of the British Revolution ", were at a rally at Alexandra Palace. A team of some 50 actors and actresses supported the event and presented a series of sketches giving the Trotskyist version of Britain's industrial history over the past 200 years. This grotesque masquerade was a big attraction to the young. In the same year, 1,500 Young Socialists received training in the techniques of disruption at a summer camp which was held at St. Lawrence Bay, Essex. A feature of this event was the tight security and military discipline. Any would-be observer found that entrances were guarded, and was told in no uncertain terms that he was un-welcome.
In 1973, at the Empire Pool, Wembley, another Trotskyist rally was sponsored by no less than 40 actors, writers and playwrights who, according to a publicity hand-out, "associated themselves with the working class movement". The list of sponsors included some very well known names. I think it is fair to point out that not all of the sponsors were necessarily in complete agreement with the Socialist Labour League. Nevertheless, they would be infantile in their politics if they were naïve enough not to realise that the event was designed to 848 increase the power of a revolutionary movement. Indeed, as Mr. Roger Smith, a principal organiser, said,The actors and directors will be involved not as professionals but as members and leaders of a revolutionary movement".A few months later, in July 1973, the Young Socialist Summer Fair was held at Stockwell Manor School. This event raised large sums of money for the campaign. The presence of Harry Corbett of "Steptoe and Son" and Nyree Dawn Porter of "The Forsyte Saga" helped to glamourise and ensure its success.
A resolution which was passed at the Young Socialist 1974 Conference stated:It will be the young trade unionists in their factories and offices who will be in the forefront of the campaign to fight for socialist policies and build the Workers' Revolutionary Party to lead the working class to power. In this struggle, it is of the utmost importance that every member of the Young Socialist joins his or her trade union and attends branch meetings regularly. All elections in your factory or place of work must be contested. Expose the Right Wing and recruit your school friends, work and college mates into the Young Socialist or the Workers' Revolutionary Party".A series of weekend schools was started in various parts of the country for instruction in revolutionary principles and how to initiate an all-out attack on moderate trade union leaders and to accuse them of "betraying" the real interests of the workers.
My Lords, how do we combat this subversion and extremism in our country? First, we must know and find out what is in the minds of those who seek to overthrow by undemocratic methods our present way of life. This is not the easiest of tasks. Most revolutionaries are dedicated people who are prepared to make sacrifices to further their cause. They are enthusiastic about their cause because of a strong and, indeed, unshakeable conviction that it is just. They confidently believe that nothing can stop them from achieving their ultimate aim of destroying free enterprise, Parliamentary democracy, and establishing a Communist State. It is not, as they see it, a question of whether they will win, but of when and how. Thus, my Lords, to counter subversive activities we must recognise that organised attempts to subvert the authority of the trade unions are actually taking place. We must identify the revolutionary groups and understand the circumstances under which they 849 operate. We must therefore make every effort to remove these circumstances.
The Marxists repudiate any responsibility under capitalist laws. They do not accept moral and ethical standards, or Christian beliefs. They deny all loyalty to a country or government that, according to them, allows "exploitation" of the workers. They do not respect private property which—if one accepts the teachings of Marx—rightfully belongs to the workers who produce this property. They profess only one loyalty, and that is to the "working class". The mind of the Marxist is certain of ultimate victory, sure of his infallibility, convinced that he has justice on his side and is utterly intolerant of any opposing viewpoint. The conviction that there can be no other opinion leads to the suppression of all free speech, where Communism rules by the iron hand of the secret police. The subversives and extremists are widely insidious in their endeavour to stop industry and commerce from operating at full productivity. Industry is prevented from reaping the full benefit of new methods, while at the same time any action is supported which will increase costs and feed the inflationary spiral, which will eventually escalate to hyper-inflation, as has occurred in Chile with disastrous results. The downfall of the Government, Labour, Conservative or Liberal, would, they are convinced, follow as a matter of course. To them class warfare means exactly what it says—revolution, including the use of violence and sabotage if necessary.
My Lords, subversive activity cannot be destroyed completely, yet the challenge must be met, contained and rendered as ineffective as possible within our free society. Exposing subversives is the first step. The more people who are aware of the danger, the easier it will be for decisive and positive action to be taken. Being aggressors in the "class war", the extremists usually take the initiative. They are often aided and abetted unwittingly by well-meaning people. Nevertheless, there is no reason why the propaganda initiative should be with them. The record of free enterprise within a system of Parliamentary democracy is one of stupendous achievement. It is not by accident that the highest living standards in the world exist in countries where the great competitive industries are in the 850 hands of free enterprise concerns. We have only to compare these standards with countries where Communist rule prevails, where freedom has been destroyed, and where the living standards are nowhere near those enjoyed in the free world.
While not minimising the problems that exist in an imperfect society run by imperfect human beings, the success of free enterprise should be promoted in much greater depth and scope to the people of our country; not in an apologetic way, but with the confidence that history has proved it to be the most efficient way to run industry. We must not go on the defensive when we try to support free enterprise. Nothing succeeds like success. We must steal a march on the extremists. Management must recognise problems before they reach exploitable proportions. The battle cry must be, "Anything that is good for industrial relations must be bad for the wreckers." The workers must be in the picture, and the information conveyed both to eyes and ears, based on the concept of, "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." Only then will all workers on all levels accept that management is not trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Lack of adequate information and knowledge leads to misunderstanding, which provides the extremist manipulators with the ammunition they need. Grievances must be speedily handled. It cannot, however, be overstressed that while subversives are adept at manufacturing grievances, their usual tactics are to exploit and magnify problems that already exist.
Most important of all is the fact that subversives, like other people, feed off their successes. When blackmail in the form of strikes, or the threat of strikes, wins concessions higher than would have been achieved by negotiation, it is understandable that workers come to regard the extremists as astute leaders. There is a thin dividing line between sensible compromise and concessions. An uneasy and temporary peace may set the scene for even bigger troubles at a later stage. The antidote for subversion and extremism is strong leadership, particularly by management at shop floor level. Men and women respond to leadership and it is when good leaders are absent that the trouble makers come into their own.
851 The maintenance of good industrial relations, the establishment of faith in the agreed procedures for settling disputes, first-class two-way communications between boardroom and bench, the ability to combine fairness with firmness—these are the essential ingredients of good leadership. The great need of today is for men of calibre and courage who are prepared not just to stand up and be counted, but to speak out and act against those who avowedly seek to use industry and the unions as stepping stones to a subversive and extremist take-over of our country. Edmund Burke said:All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Lord SHINWELL
The noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, will hardly expect me to follow him, although it seemed to me to be a well-delivered essay; not immaculate, but what might be described as "well brushed". I have heard it all before. As for the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, apart from the legal jargon which is naturally and inevitably associated with his deliveries, and apart from being an academic exercise, his speech, generally speaking, was completely irrelevant.
The significant feature of this debate was the acclaim by the Tory Opposition —I will come to the Liberals in due course—for the speech delivered by my noble friend Lord Chalfont. I gather from the euphoria which was manifest that statements made by my noble friend Lord Chalfont were found acceptable. They believed them—or, if you like, pretended to believe them. If so, being scared (as they must be), frightened by the imediate threat from the extremists— that was the line used by my noble friend Lord Chalfont—and if the matter is so vital, so important, so fundamental with our democracy threatened, and if our society is on the verge of a precipice and things are so catastrophic, why was this important topic left to be ventilated by an independent Member of your Lordships' House?
After all, recently the Tory Party was apparently—I will not take it further than that—in a condition of disarray. Now it has settled down. But why did not the Tory Party put a Motion on the 852 Order Paper challenging the Government on a fundamental issue of this character? I repeat, why leave it to an independent Member?—neither fish, fowl, nor good red herring. It is a challenge. But there is yet time. My Lords, we shall hear a number of speeches acclaiming the virtues of my noble friend Lord Chalfont, speeches which accept his statements of fact and his views, but that is not enough. Why not challenge the Government if this is so fundamental, so important, so vital? I hope we shall have an answer from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, at the end of the debate.
§ Lord SHINWELL
Already? I have hardly warmed up. After all, while my noble friend Lord Chalfont was speaking for almost an hour the Benches were crowded, but I had to get up with wide open spaces to reply to—so far as it is possible for me to reply to what has already been stated—and already I am interrupted. Why? I ask the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, to forbear. He comes from a long line of diplomats, so let him exhibit a little diplomacy on this occasion and have some sympathy for me in the circumstances that confront me. Already my ideas have been interrupted, and I shall have to gather them up again.
My Lords, let me make it clear beyond peradventure, beyond any possibility of doubt, that if I believed that the extremists of the Communist variety, or the International Socialist variety, or any brand, intended to use violence immediately— that is the operative term—in order to overthrow our society and put an end to our democracy, I should oppose it with all the passion at my command. Let me make a confession. I am a subversive element.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, let me explain. I want to change the face of society. I want to put an end to the slums; I have experienced them. I want to put an end to unemployment, which I experienced before there was any question of unemployment benefit, at the beginning of the century. I have suffered all the bitterness of impoverishment. I dislike it; it is distasteful to me. Now that I 853 do not suffer as much as heretofore, I hate it, because other people suffer. I recognise that changes in society are inevitable. If they are to be effected, the proper course, the civilised course, the constitutional course, because that is the familiar expression, should be the only means of effecting the change.
When I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, it was nostalgic because I recall, before the First World War, when I lived in Glasgow and became interested in Socialism and in politics, we used to forgather in tea-rooms. One of the main topics of discussion was whether changes should be brought about either by direct or by constitutional action. When we left each other, we used to say, "See you at the barricades". How brash and how valiant we were! But we came down on the right side, for constitutional, democratic action. That has been the policy of the Labour movement ever since. Of course there are mavericks; of course there are eccentrics—freaks, if you like. Perhaps I ought not to say it—forgive me for saying it—there are people with loud mouths, who go off the deep end either deliberately, maliciously or because it enables them to ingratiate themselves with the public at large. There are many reasons for it. I do not bother much about them; I understand them. But let us try to face facts.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, spoke about the Communist Party as if it were a danger. But what happened at the last Election? Unlike the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, or the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, or the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, I have no notes. I am relying on my memory and it can be challenged. At the last General Election, the Communists put 44 candidates into the Election and, in return, they received 32,000 votes in all. And what about the Right Wing extremists of the National Front? They had 55 candidates, and got 72,000 votes. What a calamity! What a threat to our democracy! They placed their Manifestoes before the electors and asked for votes. The Communists got a trumpery 32,000, those extremists with all their propaganda! I shall use the names. I did not invent them; it was the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I shall use names such as Mr. Scanlon, Mr. Coates, and 854 a number of others. But still the Communists received only 32,000 votes in the whole country for their 44 candidates. Is that a real threat?
Of course, there is much talk. Let us face what is happening with regard to infiltration into the trade union movement, because that was one of the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and, indeed, by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. What are they protesting about? The noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, referred to workers' participation, saying that we must protect private enterprise, and so on. But there are many associated with management who evince no dislike for worker participation. Indeed, they welcome it. Some have gone so far as to agree to trade union leaders —or representatives of trade unions— engaging in examination of the firm's books. There is a change in the situation, and in the climate of industry. I ask the forgiveness of the Tory Party for saying this, but this change has been brought about not because the Tory Party in the past invented the legislation to amend trade union Acts and made it easier for trade unions to organise, but because the protests and the strength behind the trade unions have now been used. Some people dislike protests and say that there are too many demonstrations—"demos" as they call them. People say, "Why can't they be civilised?". Protest?—read the history of your own country, or read the history of France, or that of Russia, or the history of any of the countries which are regarded as civilised or which profess to be civilised. It occurs to me, quite incidentally, that I am to be followed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol. If it had not been for the very vigorous, almost ruthless protestations in which Luther was involved—and he was a violent man; I have read the biography of Luther; what a violent ruthless person he was, and what invective! not a Communist in the country could have touched him—we should not have had the Reformation. I hope the right reverend Prelate will bear that in mind when he is addressing your Lordships' House. And who are they, the noble Lords opposite, to talk—the ancestors of noble Lords opposite? Have they heard of King Charles I? They did not execute him directly, but they arranged it.
855 Let us come to the franchise. If it were not for protestations and demonstrations—I will come to one in particular in a moment—it is doubtful whether we should have had adult suffrage. What happened in 1832, 1837, 1865—the struggle, the contention, in order to get the vote? In the last century, out of 25 million potential electors only 800,000 had the vote. They have all got it now, even those aged 18. How was it brought about? By protest, by struggles, and by threats and sometimes violence. What about Peterloo, Manchester Fields, in 1867, when 60,000 people gathered together demanding the right to vote. They asked for the franchise; others were eligible, but not them. The authorities brought out the Hussars who wielded their sabres and slashed many down; eleven were killed and there were 600 wounded. Read the history of your own country and see what has happened.
But all that does not mean that I condone either extremist talk or extremist action. One of the best speeches I have ever heard was from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham. Many times I have crossed swords with him, but I have always recognised his remarkable talent and ability. I remember when he spoke about vandalism and hooliganism and the lack of civilised behaviour, and I described it as the essence of poetry: because I believe, as a civilised person, as a democrat, that this is the kind of society we want, but we have not got it. How can we, when there are still 50,000 homeless people in London and so much impoverishment remaining in the country in spite of all the legislation.
I come to subversive elements. Incidentally—this is a digression—the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to some writers who would indulge in extremist language, revolutionary language. I reviewed a couple of books for a periodical the other week. One was by an academic theorist, a university professor. He said that the Labour Party started on the wrong foot; they should not have troubled about Parliamentary action; it is not very effective. They should have organised the workers and taken everything over. That is what he wrote. Notice how I replied to him. What about the subversive elements. Look at the Liberal Party. I said I would 856 come back to them. They have a brass face to talk about subversive elements. Did they ever hear of somebody named Lloyd-George? Do they know how he was regarded in the years before the first World War—what they said about him? Even I myself when I met him in the other place never used anything like the language the Tories used of him.
§ Lord SHINWELL
He did not need to use them: he was too astute to do anything of that sort. The noble Lord— I do not know his name—
§ Several Noble Lords: Lloyd-George.
§ Lord SHINWELL
He did not know Lloyd-George as I knew him. I speak from experience. Even Winston Churchill was regarded by the Tory Party on occasion as subversive, so much so that they would not include him in their Governments.
My Lords, I am not going to do what Lord Chalfont did and speak at great length; your Lordships would not appreciate it. I come to what I think was a rather ungracious part of the noble Lord's speech when he referred to the Labour Party in the other place and my noble friend Lord Pannell interrupted. I do not raise the question of privilege; I never did even in the other place, although I was a member of the Committee of Privileges for many years. I never liked that sort of thing, I do not like what some people say, but they have a right to say it. I do not even complain about what Lord Chalfont says, but I object to his interpretation. It was certainly ungracious to refer to people in the other place because some of them are Left Wing. Why? They think the Labour Government are not proceeding as rapidly as they should, that their policy is not satisfactory and they are not expeditious in implementation. I know what they say. You have that even in the Conservative Party; in fact some of them have been so recalcitrant that they have been transferred to the Back Benches, some very prominent people. You have it in all Parties.
I want to conclude by putting this to your Lordships' House. Yesterday I 857 heard a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and I read part of the speech by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham. What were they asking for-Liberty. Give us liberty. It reminds me of what Patrick Henry said many years ago—" Give me liberty or give me death". He preferred liberty, and so does the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham, and so does the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and so do we all prefer liberty, freedom of speech; not abuse, not violence, but constitutional democratic action. I want to say to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that if there was anything I disagreed with him about it was this. When we had our Defence debate and he spoke about the strategic aspects of defence, and I endeavoured to do so because that was my purpose in the debate, he interrupted and referred to the internal situation which he regarded as an immediate threat. It seemed to me to spoil the whole point of the debate. Since then he has put down a Motion on the Order Paper and has written an article in The Times. I am not going to quote it; I hate quoting, and anyway my critics say I cannot read. There was an article by Lord Chalfront on Monday. I do not know what he gets for it, but he would not have written that article but for my inspiration. What about a commission, at least a percentage?
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, I should be delighted to come to some arrangement if we could enter into a negotiation. I shall then, of course, have to report back to my Executive.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, that is the most gracious thing that the noble Lord has said in the course of the afternoon. My point is that it was a prelude to the speech that he made today, and it is not good enough to come and make a speech of an hour's duration with a prologue. The least that The Times can do now is to take note of what I have said —because I have no notes—and do the same for me.
Let us make an end of these irrelevancies. The facts are obvious, we read them in the Press, the media, every day, either about Mr. Scanlon, Mr. Jones, Mr. McGahey, or Mr. Scargill, who said that £10 is not worth a bag of crisps. What nonsense they talk. Pay no attention to 858 them. I do not blame the Tory Party for any anti-democratic actions in which they indulge; that is their own business, let them do as they like. The Labour Party is a democratic Party; the Liberal Party professes to be a democratic Party, but it is not much of a Party anyhow.
I repeat, I believe that if there were extremists in this country whose intentions were to organise the workers and use violence to overthrow either the Government or society, I would condemn them with all the influence at my command, and I ask others to follow my lead.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of BRISTOL
My Lords, after the mellow but pungent political wisdom to which we have been privileged to listen, I think that what I have to say may sound rather naïve or ingenuous, but here I stand because "I can do no other", which, my Lords, will be my only reference to Martin Luther. I intervene in this debate because I believe that Lord Chalfont's Motion highlights what may well be the crisis of our times, and one which is borne witness to by a variety of assumptions which more and more pass unchallenged: the assumption that the best way to change the law is to break it; that the way to achieve justice is by injustice; that the way to achieve freedom is by violence.
When recently we had a debate in the General Synod of the Church of England on the subject of violence and nonviolence, I was impressed by a remark made by that wise writer Leslie Paul, who said that there has been only one political invention in this century, and that is terrorism. The more I reflect on that remark the more I find it to be the kind of focus point of all that lies behind what we are now discussing. I believe that it is true that a great many other ideas which pass as contemporary are essentially 19th century Marxist or evolutionary, or 18th century enlightenment, or are the heritage of Catholic medieval categories of social thinking. But the new feature in the situation, the feature that pinpoints all that we are here discussing, is the growth in violence. That is why I wish to concentrate for a little on the phenomenon of violence in order that we may, from that point, go back to the wider issues of extremism and subversion, because it 859 is, as it were, a grim crescendo: subversive, extremist, terrorist, all of which have a common link.
I would for a moment analyse some of the things that lie behind the facts which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and others have adduced. Terrorism, of course, is quite different from assassination. Assassination is as old as government. I remembered a phrase which I thought ran:The most effective form of government is tyranny tempered by assassination.I was foolish enough to look it up in a dictionary of quotations and found that it was not half so telling, but that an unknown Russian diplomat of the 19th century remarked:Every country has its own constitution; ours is absolutism moderated by assassination.But terrorism is compounded not only of all that formed the assassin, but other things as well.
I suggest that there are four main ingredients in the phenomenon of terrorism. First, hatred born of the frustration of injustice not otherwise cured; secondly, a new feature is the technological advances which make it possible to kill at a distance so that the terrorist can be an assassin in safety; thirdly, there is the kind of moral blindness which shows a complete indifference to how many innocent people suffer in order that one should achieve one's own end; and fourthly, there is utter devotion to the cause.
This is the nadir of what we have been talking about; this is the ultimate to which subversion and extremism will lead. We ask ourselves, what is the answer?—the answer, that is, which does not descend to the moral level of what we are fighting against. It is the essence of the liberal dilemma that we are forever in danger of being corrupted by the corruption we fight. If we take those four areas, obviously the first demand upon us is sensitivity to the injustice which causes the resentment and its removal, and that is the perennial task of politics. With regard to what in the terrorist is killing and in others is other forms of destruction, sophisticated destruction and sophisticated killing call for sophisticated counter-measures; and these, as many today only too well know, 860 are the intolerable strains that are placed upon defence and police forces.
But when it comes to the moral blindness which is completely indifferent as to how many innocent people suffer in the achievement of one's objectives, then this can only be described as the kind of moral blindness for which there can only be a moral cure. The kind of vandalism and violence which takes no heed of who is being hurt is essentially a moral problem. So is the fourth ingredient, the element of devotion to the cause, because devotion can only be matched by devotion. Devotion means not only readiness to die but much duller things, like a devotion great enough to make you willing to attend dull meetings. Free democratic institutions, in other words, will be secured only by enough people being devoted to them.
I realise that one of the perennial dangers for those who speak from these Benches is that one produces a sermon; but if so, let it be a good sermon. To end with such a moral platitude as that would be a bad sermon, because I think one needs to be a good deal more specific than simply to say that free democratic institutions are ultimately secured only by enough people being devoted to them. I think the devotion that is called for is a very realistic devotion. That, I think, is our principal reason for welcoming this debate. Let us first recognise, again to go over those four areas, that in dealing with injustice we must always be extremely self-critical because it is of the nature of all systems of justice defined by finite man that they enshrine injustice as well as justice.
We need to be highly critical of what we claim to be just. We need to be highly critical of those who are clamouring for things to be changed in life as it is, because there is plenty that does clamour to be changed, and we shall come nowhere near to meeting that rancour in sense of injustice unless we have the imagination and the self-criticism to recognise the points at which what we had taken to be justice is, in fact, unjust. Similarly with regard to the methods of coercion which are needed by police and other forces for dealing with the destructive elements in society. Here, again, we need to analyse the distinction which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, mentioned, between violence 861 and force. I think it is not enough simply to say that force is the legitimate use of force and that violence is the illegitimate use of force, because of course that is to introduce a highly subjective criterion into what one considers to be justified. But also one must remember the dangerous sense in which society corporately exercises not only force but violence; and, at that point, too, moral criteria must come in.
We are all aware that some kind of moral transformation has taken place in between the kind of police force which we would defend and that of which the Gestapo (to mention only the past and not the present) and such repressive systems are guilty. So, again, what is needed is a continuous vigilance that in our exercise of coercion we are always self-critical that we are using no more force than is needed for the purpose, and that the innocent should never be the victims of it. That connects with the third point, that the inflicting of suffering on others in order to secure one's own ends is always, to some extent, inevitable in social action. But again the area where we have to be so very critical is in estimating how minimal that action can be in order that our objectives may be secured, so that the innocent are never deliberately hurt and the guilty only hurt under the law.
This is part of the aspect of devotion. Devotion, in other words, must never be blind devotion. One of the reasons I think we all in your Lordships' House welcome the opening of this topic is that it has been a process of casting light, of raising questions, of bringing out facts which have got to be faced, so that in our devotion to free institutions we are aware of the kind of dangers that we confront— are clearly aware of them, for certainly it is true that the price of liberty is not only eternal vigilance but costly and informed commitment.
§ Lord PEDDIE
My Lords, before the right reverend Prelate resumes his seat, perhaps I might make the comment that it was not easy to follow his somewhat esoteric arguments. But may I ask whether he could find justification on some occasions (judging by the arguments which he advanced) for the uses of violence and assassination?
§ The Lord Bishop of BRISTOL
My Lords, I think that the question is one of those which calls for a somewhat qualified answer. My brief answer is, Yes, because what one person in exercising the use of force would consider justified and would therefore call "force" corresponds with what those who disagree with it would very well call "violence".
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Viscount BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, may I apologise at the outset to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, in that I shall probably not be here when the debate finishes, But, with things as they are now, if one wants to get home before Friday morning one has to fit in with the plans of British Rail on Wednesday night. I do not wish to follow closely the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, because I want to approach the subject from another angle. But I feel that as I go on there are certain points on which we shall find ourselves in some agreement—more perhaps than I found myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. I want to say only one thing about what he said. If I understood him aright, he wanted us to believe that because the Communists, and for that matter the Right Wing Parties, got very few votes in the last General Election, they are not a threat to be taken seriously. On the other hand, if I heard the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, correctly, he wished us to believe that those forces relied much more on underground subversion than on open conflict with the Government in Parliament. He made a case and produced facts which I hope before the end of the day will be either confirmed or denied, because they need one or the other. I was going to try to approach this problem—
§ Lord WIGG
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, can obviously look after himself, but he did not just distinguish between political activity on the one hand, and underground methods on the other. What he said was that the Communist policy was not to make a platform effort on the political scene, but to endeavour to operate through the trade union movement, and that situation cannot be equated with going underground.
§ Viscount BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, 863 went wider than that, but we shall see it all in Hansard tomorrow. I was going to try to approach this subject from a different angle of keeping public order. It is, after all, the failure by a Government, whichever Government it may be, to maintain public order which provides the seed bed in which subversive organisations can flourish; and the reverse is true the more you keep public order. It has always struck me that those to the Centre and to the Right in politics attach considerable importance to two things: one is the creation of wealth as opposed to its distribution; the other is the maintenance of public order. We are not concerned with the first today, but we are very much concerned with the second.
As people go further and further to the Left in politics, it seems to me that the importance of public order diminishes, or goes on diminishing until you get to a certain point—the point to which my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross referred—because when you reach a certain point you find that the iron curtain comes down, the handcuffs go on and order of the most grim and repressive kind takes the place of disorder. Quite independently of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, I had thought of taking the example of what happened in Czechoslovakia in 1947 and again in the 'sixties. Therefore, I shall not repeat what he said but shall merely come back to saying that the key to the problem is this: a great many of the people who are outwardly concerned with the liberty of the subject are genuine people, anxious for that cause. Mixed up with them, however, are people of another kind.
Looking a long way back, I remember that my late leader, the late noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was talking on this subject and described the people I have just mentioned as being decent, kindly liberals who did not realise that among them were people who were dressed in the same clothing but who were there with very different intentions. That is a point which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, made. Those people are there to weaken the power of the State in order to disrupt it. I think that a great many people who genuinely wish that order should be kept do not realise that some of their actions do not tend in that direction.
864 My Lords, I tried to speak a little on this subject twice before—once in a debate on industrial relations and once in the last debate on the Address. I shall not repeat what I said then, except to say that the system of unofficial strikes contributes to disorder. I wish that I could find a similar instance of how employers associations contribute to disorder, but I regret that I cannot, though I shall try to remedy the deficiency by drawing attention to two instances from the world of capitalism. The first is the case, three or four years ago, of an insurance company of some size which went into liquidation to the great distress of a large number of shareholders, whose only real offence was that they were unwise enough to think that because they had lived on subsidised food for a long time, buying it below its cost price, they could do the same thing with insurance. Shortly before the failure of the company, it was admitted by the insurance authorities into the British Insurance Association. I suggest that the admission of that company into the Association led to the creating of the disorder which occurred on the company's failure.
My Lords, let us go to the banking world for a moment. In recent years, a large amount of money has been advanced to the organisations which are usually called the fringe banks. Subsequently, quite a lot of that money has been seen to have been used in ways which are, I imagine, quite different from those which the lenders intended. Here again, those who read the newspapers may have noticed that a team from the Fraud Squad had to go to Australia at public expense on an errand entirely unconnected with the Test cricket which was taking place at the time. Again, we can draw our own conclusions, but there is no doubt that wrong lending in the banking world contributes to disorder on a scale which sometimes cannot be foreseen. I do not think we have heard the last of this yet.
My Lords, having ventured on to fairly thin ice, I want to step on to ice which is even thinner and upon which any respectable angel would fear to tread. However, I am fortified because my noble friend Lord Colville trod there before me and he is a lawyer, as I am not. I refer to what I shall call the use of legal proceedings designed to defeat or to 865 obscure the ends of justice. To illustrate what I mean, perhaps I may ask noble Lords to think of the Watergate case across the Atlantic. There, it was widely felt, by those who knew, that certain people in positions of power in America had behaved in such a way as to justify the withdrawal of public confidence from them. Clearly, it was desirable to clear up the matter as soon as possible but, what with legal proceedings, grand juries, and so on, the problem has taken years to unravel. Could that have been the right way of using the law?
My Lords, I should like now to come to certain events connected with the Party to which I belong, in which, very recently, questions about the leadership arose. Let us think for a moment how frightful it would have been if legal processes had been allowed to intervene in a matter which clearly wanted settling at the earliest possible moment, and of how we have escaped a public mischief of the first water.
My Lords, there is a point upon which, coming as I do from Shropshire, I think I am bound to comment: it is the incident of the Shrewsbury pickets which has attracted renewed attention. I shall not attempt to discuss the legal proceedings beyond saying that the persons involved were tried by the ordinary processes of law and that if other people in Shropshire agree with me, they will be extremely glad that, until now, the authorities have not seen fit to interfere with the course of the law. I fervently hope that they will go on taking the same line.
§ The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)
My Lords, could I intervene at this stage, as the noble Viscount has indicated that he will not be here later this evening? The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, raised the matter and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, has now asked for an assurance that the authorities will not intervene in the case. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has made his position absolutely clear. There is no question of his changing his position; he has no intention of turning himself into a higher court than the Court of Appeal. Therefore, there is no question of his intervening in a decision which has been made.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, would the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, also confirm that, in this matter, the Home Secretary advises the Crown personally, and that it is not directly a Government responsibility?
§ Viscount BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has said what he did and I am sure that we should all be grateful to him for having intervened at this moment. As I said, the point to which I wish to draw attention is not the trial itself, nor what happened to the defendants, but the fact that on two occasions a large number of law-abiding people were interfered with by the so-called pickets. This was at the time of the incident and on the first day of the trial. Those people were thereby prevented from carrying out their lawful work. If anyone wants to know more about what happened they can read the evidence that was given in the trial and see what those law-abiding people thought. But is it really right and is it really the way to govern the country that so much attention should be paid to the right of the individual to create trouble and so little to the right of the community to be protected from it? Also, there is the point that the country has, on top of it all, to bear the cost which I believe will run into six figures. The taxpayer will have to pay that. Can the ordinary person be asked to believe that all this was perfectly proper action in furtherance of what I believe is still technically a pay dispute? I should doubt it.
My Lords, that brings me to almost my last point which is how necessary it is that the law, whatever it may be at the time, should be such that the police know exactly where they are and are able to enforce it as they are supposed to do. Yet another point is the proper use of police time, and this is one of three points that I have always thought it important for anybody in your Lordships' House to study. I say this because, if I am spared, I shall have been in the House for 40 years this coming autumn.
867 The first point is never to have anything to do with retroactive legislation; the second is never to have anything to do with any clause in any Bill which presumes guilt and needs the proof of innocence; and the third is to make quite sure that whatever legislation we pass does not make the wrong use of police time. This applies to social legislation on such matters as homosexual practices in the street. We need all the police time we can get to deal with the maintenance of public order, and the police in turn need clear laws so that there shall be no doubt that when the police think it is right for them to intervene they know they will be protected by the law in so doing.
This matter of police time is very important. Noble Lords will have read in recent days how police inquiries into the disappearance of a young girl from Bridgnorth had to be stopped because all the police engaged in the inquiries had to deal with a riot by football fans at the Aston Villa match. I wonder what the moral of that story is? I am not sure. Perhaps it is that we pay a higher price than we realise for not including corporal punishment in the list of deterrents.
Noble Lords will not be surprised when I declare that I have a sneaking sympathy for the French statesman Talleyrand, who I believe once said that he preferred injustice to disorder, which brings me to the point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol. I tried to find the passage in Duff Cooper's Life, but failed to do so; however, I am sure that it is there. Talleyrand was a Frenchman and that brings me again to the question of our duties in regard to the European Economic Community to take our share in keeping order. This business of keeping order is an international as well as a national matter, and if we are to play our part in this direction we must behave like charity and see that it begins at home.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Lord GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, made some interesting points about some of the deficiencies in our society, and, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol said, these are matters about which we shall have to read carefully and 868 not superficially in Hansard. I apologise for not following that train of thought specifically. I shall come back somewhat nearer to the kind of presentation which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, made—with a difference which I shall explain. Perhaps, first, I might mention two points on the side. One is that there has been some mention of a counterattraction today in another place. There may be discussion in another place, initiated by the Morning Star, no doubt with the thought of discrediting to some extent the Conservative Party and in part the Monarchy. In neither of those objectives will the Morning Star succeed, and particularly in the latter, given the dedication of the vast majority of the British people to Her Majesty and the Royal Family, in which they seem to have the immediate agreement of all the people of Mexico.
It is very appropriate indeed that this subject should have been launched from these Benches. We here are a group of people who have no Whips except perhaps the whips of conscience. We have no political ambitions or disappointments, and in general the idea which we try to follow is the search for or the proclamation of truth in so far as each of us has some experience and something to say. Thus, not only this House but Parliament and the public in general arc deeply indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for breaking the ice finally in a formal way on this subject, a subject on which a very great many people in this country wanted somebody to speak out. It was easier to speak out from these Benches where, as I say, there are no obligations to take one line or another, but only the obligation to try to get it right. We owe our deepest thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for having taken on a task which is not a particularly grateful one, but which is extremely important.
I am not concerned in this argument to defend or attack capitalism or the affairs of political Parties. It is more specifically the question of political subversion on which I wish to concentrate and to take up—as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is not in his place—the line taken by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. The noble Lord is serene in his 90-plus years, enjoying the total affection of this House and the great gratitude of many 869 people for his services to the less advantaged parts of our society. But I have a feeling that in this argument his very serenity and his splendid sense of humour are an enemy to judgment in that the subject is one of the actions of people with whom in many cases the idea of lightheartedness does not exist.
I hope to deal with certain currents of thought and symptoms of what we are talking about rather than giving instances, though I shall be able to bring forward a few. I want to deal with certain of the aspects of ideas which flow around and which bewilder the innocent, discourage the serious minded, and even perplex those who are more sophisticated. In talking about "our society", I will take the noble Lord in the drafting of his Motion to mean the society in which we live; in other words, an international society which we read about every day and which we see pictured each day and night on the screen. Perhaps I am justified in extending beyond the present time and space by the fact that when, two and a half years ago, there was a massacre at Tel Aviv Airport it was committed by Puerto Ricans, it happened in Israel, it was performed by Japanese who had obtained false documents in Germany and Czechoslovak weapons in Italy. So we are dealing with a phenomenon of some compass and breadth.
One cannot discuss these matters scientifically until, like the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and others, one goes back to the events in Russia in 1917–18. I am not trying to prescribe the kind of government for the Soviet Union now, but relating two important things that happened. The first is that the master revolutionary, Lenin, first practised his tactics in partnership with political elements a little to the right of himself and his adherents, the Social Revolutionaries and so on. At the moment when he judged it expedient and effective, he threw them out and took over absolute government. That was in October-November 1917. On 19th January 1918 a constitutional assembly met which had some 600 members of whom only 169 were Bolsheviks.
However, under the pressure of military presence and military force sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, that conference adjourned and has never reconvened, and as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said himself 870 from that day on there has been no freedom of speech and no freedom of expression in the Soviet Union. That gives some clue as to the methods which one can expect from the kind of elements about which we are talking, and it is no good brushing them off as curious fanatics; they are deadly serious and deadly professional.
It may be thought that, because in these days there are multitudes of different extremist societies—whether Marxists, Trotskyists, Maoists, and Anarchists, and even some pretty ineffective Fascists—somehow it is all rather easier to cope with than it was then. And of course we are not Russians, and we have not just lost a war. But I think it is just worth while sobering oneself up with the memory that in 1904 Lenin purposely split the Communist Party in half —divided it—because he spotted a winner in the ultimate conflict between the radical parties. So that division was not necessarily divisive in that difficult situation.
I am aware, and I have said this in your Lordships' House before, that the British people congenitally dislike talking in terms of ideology. They have a pragmatic sense which saves them from many mistakes. But when a subject arrives which has a very deep ideological content, they find it repellent and baffling and tend to turn away from it. As we have heard, they tended to turn away from the real iniquities of Nazism until the very last moment. So I myself will turn now from the theory of the subject to one or two instances of a totally miscellaneous kind which I think show something of what we are up against.
I have a young friend who, towards the end of the Vietnam time, was persuaded, because she had a kind heart, to join in a demonstration in front of the American Embassy to protest against the American proceedings. A photograph was taken of the group in which she was in the front row, and from the moment that photograph was seen it was clear that in the fourth row, out of reach of the police, were the real ideological hooligans who were at the back of the demonstration and who had taken very good care to be out of reach.
I now turn to the police. One of the campaigns which has been most difficult 871 to contend with has been a very persistent and very nasty campaign against the police, with the coining of the phrase "police brutality". It just happens that among the material that I collected for this debate is the piece of paper I have in my hand here. It is called Freedom. Very good, but if you read it you find that it amounts to nothing but one tirade after another about the police and about Interpol. 1 think we have the greatest confidence in Sir Robert Mark and in the police generally to cope with this on the police relations side as well as on the physical side, but that has been one of the most consistent campaigns which for a time won far more adherence than it should simply because this basic element of conspiracy exists in our midst, whatever we may care to believe.
Perhaps we can also add some of the wilder products of trendy thinking. I happen to have attended not very long ago a meeting at which a young man of great seriousness discussed with us—and indeed lectured us—on the right of the child as a human liberty to decide not to go to school. This was in all seriousness and everybody was very polite. Again, I do not say that this threatens our institutions, but it simply illustrates the kind of anarchic thinking which goes on in our midst and about which we are all—rightly, to a point—extremely polite.
I now turn to a more serious matter which must be familiar to everyone who studies these things—that people of very extreme views invariably try to stir up class hatred. I hope myself, and I see it all around me, that we are gravitating out of that period, if it ever really existed in our society. But I was rather shocked to read that the other day in another place one honourable Member asked another whether something he said was not intended to exacerbate class feeling. To this the other replied that if it was, he would not apologise. I find that extremely frightening, because if there is a moment since the Second World War at which the people of this country want a real sense of unity, it is now. But there are people—perhaps more than one might think—who are dedicated to the idea that there is a fundamental and total difference, almost to the knife, between classes of society. It is a frighten 872 ing retrogression to a more primitive state of society. More practically, it gives rise to the formation of, for instance, the Middle Class Association which again divides us further. I do not blame the founders, but if people are going to stir up this class hatred it will divide our society in an extremely painful and dangerous way.
I said that I would be retailing ideas and incidents a little at random, and there is another doctrine which I think is very much tending to distort the public's perspective; that is, the question of wealth and power. If one looks at and listens to radio and television as much as I do, one notices that never is a person of wealth mentioned without the person conducting the programme giving a slightly embarrassed giggle. On the other hand, power, which is not the same as wealth—particularly in present society —is always regarded as something that just happens and which happens to be there. Perhaps everybody has forgotten about Lord Acton. I might at least place it on record—although your Lordships will know it—that he said that,Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.Why cannot this notion of power be treated with the same critical faculty as the notion of wealth and again, perhaps it would be less divisive of society.
I do not want to return to the matter of Cliché Secretariat and its products, because I dealt with that at perhaps too great a length in my speech on the Address last November. But I should just like to assist in giving that tatty cliché "Reds under the bed" one more push into the limbo which it has richly earned. It has nothing to do with the case these days, if it ever had. But I should like to mention one other aspect of what we are dealing with; namely, secretiveness. I do not know whether your Lordships saw the news picture from Portugal about 10 days ago, which showed a small town mostly in darkness. There was an invisible crowd repeating a slogan over and over again, and the commentator said that the picture was being taken in the dark because the leaders of the demonstration did not wish to be identified. Is that the way we want to run democracy? I mention Portugal quite specially, because the struggle there is a real one—the ideas and methods of 1917–18 873 are reproducing themselves in a different way on each side, but they can be recognised at once.
There is one other point which I wish to mention before I seek to sum up my remarks. Many of us feel that we are suffering from divisions which are provoked in our community, but compared with some unfortunate countries we have not yet: seen the worst. We have certainly not yet seen the worst when it comes to the urban guerilla—the terrorist who, according to a book written on this subject by the Brazilian terrorist, the late Carlos Marighela, has a top priority proficiency with sub-machine gun, and who regards a dead policeman as war and a dead guerilla as murder. We have not yet got to that, but it is abroad in the world.
What action would I like to see taken? I would not want the Government of the day to do any of the wrong things, like seeking to impose censorship or taking the kind of extra-legal counter-action which has been provoked by this kind of action in some countries, and makes successor Governments equally open to worldwide condemnation. I would not want them; instead I think I would ask for awareness. I would ask for more openness on these matters in the media. If one goes around the country, one meets people who say: "Such-and-such a thing happens here", but somehow everybody does not know that it happens. We must show more awareness and more openness, and I was particularly grateful, as many people were, to see a news broadcast about the Shrewsbury pickets in which Mr. Reg Prentice bravely said to demonstrators: "No, I am not going to approve of what you are doing on behalf of two people who chased their fellow workers across a field with iron bars."
There is perhaps a slight increase in boldness, but I think we want a little more, not only because of the activities of the extreme groups which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, described so meticulously and so dispassionately, but also because, in the middle of the many humane, enlightened improvements we are making in this time, most of us would agree that certain of the better features of British civilisation, admired very much around the world, are being subjected to 874 what I can only call a kind of drip-drip erosion. I am sure that one is right about this, because how else would a Chief Constable in Yorkshire last weekend have expressed his alarm at his police, and indeed those of the country, being overwhelmed by the lowering of standards.
I believe that the two interact—that there are people who, because they are passionately addicted to overthrowing our present system of society, regard it as their duty to make our institutions work badly and our standards lower themselves as if by their own will. What I would ask the Government to do—and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Karris of Greenwich, would be knowledgeable and judicious about this—is to give us a message which could really be summed up in two words, "Signal received"— in other words I should like him—and 1 hope he will feel able—-to assure us that the Government have heard what we are saying and, having heard, will listen.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Lord SOPER
My Lords, those of your Lordships who were looking forward to this debate, as I was, were no doubt wondering what would be the structure of the initiatory speech by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. Knowing him, I was quite certain that he would not talk at length about "Reds under the bed" or any other part of the furniture of the house—and indeed he did not. He treated that with the contempt which it deserves. He presented us with a set of statements upon which it was for us to make the appropriate comments and to take due regard. But I am sure he would have been disappointed if that had been the end of the matter, or indeed if we had contented ourselves with saying that we must do something about the problem, and then to go away and think what ought to be done.
The other day I drew the attention of my doctor to some subversive elements in my throat, and he said, "There's a lot of it about". There is a lot of subversion about, and it would I think be foolish to underrate it, and although I very much admire the spirit in which my noble friend Lord Shinwell spoke—though I think he was a bit off course in regard to the Reformation and a bit hard on 875 Calvin and Zwingli, to say nothing of Erasmus—I was struck by the phrase he used in reference to a speech made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. It was the essence of poetry. And I reflected that it was the Lakeside poets, when attempting to define poetry, who said that it was "emotion recollected in tranquility". I believe that there ought to be a generation of emotion from what has happened in your Lordships' House this afternoon, and indeed it is an emotive subject. I certainly would regard it as a disaster if that emotion were remembered in complacency. But if it is to be remembered with due regard to the tranquility of mind which alone can give it purchase upon our future actions, then I believe we ought to take very carefully the injunction or the statement of none other than Sir Winston Churchill who said on one occasion:Recrimination is only justified as a spur to action.The reflection which comes to my mind after the long catalogue of evidence of subversion—and I do not doubt it—is that our proper reaction is to secure both short-term remedies as far as they are available, and a long-term reaction to a problem which, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said, goes a very long way back. I cannot go back as far as he, but I remember 50 years ago the kind of subversive activity, and I compare it in my mind with the sort of subversive activity which I mildly suffered only today in a large place near here. It was idealogically fostered and it had a very strong cerebral element in it so far as the communists were concerned.
I do not hear much today about the labour theory of value or the expropriation of the expropriators, and I am not sure that those who indulged upon their disquisitions on this theme were particularly well informed; but they had a view that, even if they indulged, as they were bidden so to do, in all kinds of mayhem, they were using violence, sub-version and terror as an indispensable means to secure a forgone conclusion, something which was inevitable and which required that kind of attitude as a means.
I testify to the fact that in recent times there seems to me to be a diminution 876 of the ideological background, particularly among the official communist Parties, who in most countries have now become far more patriotic and nationalistic minded than dedicated to the principles of Marx as interrupted by Engels, and that the mantle of the international attitude to disorder from the fermented subversion has now fallen upon groups very much smaller, and, in my judgment, very much less to be feared. I do not believe that we are confronted with an immediate danger, and I think it is foolish to pretend that to quote the manifestations of violence in the speeches of those who have been mentioned today carries with it the implication that they would in fact endeavour to carry out such attitudes of mind if they had the chance. The Italian Socialist Party, the Italian Communist Party, the French Communist Party, the Communist Party in Yugoslavia, to say nothing of some of the new changes in Soviet Russia, are a demonstration of the backlash of a kind of liberalism which I think goes far to inhibit the sort of fears which have been expressed today—at least in their ultimate connotation. I do not regard that as complacency, but I do regard it as a very considerable shift in the kind of menace which threatened 50 years ago.
There is a second and vast change to which my right reverend friend the Bishop of Bristol, and the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, have referred, and that is the attachment of a particular kind of violence, to the seditious and subversive elements which have been present and I think more or less on a level of dangerous consistency for the last twenty or thirty years. The reference to urban guerilla warfare is I think most pertinent, because it has transformed the situation in which small groups can render nugatory the effects of large contingents of soldiers. And it is a melancholy reflection for those who trusted in the traditional ideas of military might that the most sophisticated and powerful military nation the world has ever known was bogged down by the comparatively small group of people first in Korea and later in Vietnam because of the emergence of the highly sophisticated small weapon, the fire power of small groups and the techniques of urban guerilla warfare. Added to this is, I think, an unquestionably great increase in violence 877 as an immediate reaction, both verbal and physical. I blame the media (as I am sure your Lordships would seek to do) for its constant suggestion that the real civilised virility depends on the capability to deliver a chop—and, indeed, the kind of attitude to the recent Japanese and Chinese films is, I think, very dangerous accentuation of this issue. I would in a moment presume to suggest that there are practical measures which would reduce the capacity of those who are subversively-minded by the reduction of the ability to get into touch with and utilise the sophisticated methods of modern violence and not least the acquisition of the weapons with which to carry it forward.
There is another aspect of the whole situation which I think, if we are to consider in depth the problem of subversion and extremism, should not go unexplained or unrelated to the general situation. It is that the nationalisms which have in so many cases predominated over basic international Communist ideologies have raised, in an acute form, the problem of violence and sedition within many of the communities which have aspired to or are already within the general framework of a nation-State. It may be of interest to your Lordships— and if I have mentioned it before, perhaps, you will forgive the repetition— that when I began to speak in Hyde Park, 50 years ago, to see a black face was uncommon and to see a black speaker was unprecedented and extraordinary. Last Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock about 40 per cent. of those at Speakers' Corner were black-faced or brown-faced and five out of six of the speakers were coloured. What did they say? Many of them in highly exuberant language talked about subversiveness in nationalistic terms. It causes me to reflect on the predatory and violent nature of the nation-State and on whether one of the preconditions of modern subversiveness is not intrinsically associated with a new and mad kind of nationalistic spirit.
My Lords, I turn from the word "disorder" or "subversion" to the word "extremism". I must confess that I feel unhappy at the way in which certain elements in the situation today still seem to have been entirely missed. It may sound presumptuous of me to say so, but I believe that there is a necessary878 extremism that, in any case, belongs to the situation in which we live. I believe that capitalism is in a terminal condition. I think the evidence for that could be multiplied and is acceptable even to those who would wish to disbelieve it if they could. There is no doubt that there is a crisis that has been promoted by the oil situation which gives a death blow to the rationale of the whole capitalist system. If the criterion of scientific inquiry and knowledge is the ability to predict public events—and I suggest that that is not a bad definition of science— then I remember that when Einstein propounded his theories about relativity (and I did not understand them) he predicted that if people went to a certain place in the South Pacific and looked at a certain planet on a certain evening, they would see things which would corroborate what he had put down on paper as his theory. He said that only about five people in the world understood this. I was astonished to find in Hyde Park the next Sunday that four of them were there in my crowd. Nevertheless, the truth is acceptable that the system—a social, economic and political system which is unpredictable to the extent that this system was unpredictable but in terms of the oil crisis—is one which falls under a considerable amount of suspicion and is, I think, is in a terminal condition. That being so, it seems to me to be wrong to assume that there is something necessarily bad about extremism. I will come to that in a moment.
My Lords, I shall now propose one or two short-term answers to the immediate problem of subversion. I am appalled at the ease with which a variety of arms can be obtained and used by ordinary people. I detest as being wickedness of a mortal character the way in which sophisticated countries are busy everywhere selling arms to people, so that they can go out thereafter and kill each other. It is abominable, and I think that at whatever cost and whatever are the economic reasons, we should be ashamed to continue to do this. It would not be impossible to restrict the use, of ordinary and simple arms which are now available to anyone, as I know, as a social worker. If, as the kind of comment the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, made, we are to take note of what was said today and act on it, it is surely an acceptable piece of practical advice 879 to say to the Government: "Will you tighten up the laws which will encourage those who are violent to keep their violence within the length of their fists, and discourage those who are violent from the lethal capacity that the small weapons, the guns, the machine-guns and the revolvers, can give to them? "This is a practical piece of advice that could be well understood by the Government and could be acted upon.
Finally, my Lords, I turn to something which causes me considerable surprise, and which may not be acceptable to your Lordships. I have heard the word "capitalism" mentioned a number of times this afternoon; but I have not heard the word "Socialism". I propose to redeem that loss; because I am an extremist in the Socialist sense. I am for the abolition of the capitalist system, not by violent means, for I am a pacifist, but by democratic means. I do not want to teeter up and improve a system which in my judgment is in a terminal condition, which has proved incapable of meeting the demands of the 20th century, which is increasingly dangerous and in which fewer and fewer, even of those who hitherto support it ideologically, still believe. The ever-increasing and necessary participation of the community and the ever-increasing problems make it impossible for laissez-faire capitalist enterprise even to get started; and even more serious is the miserable misapprehensions that some people seem to have as to what Socialism is.
I accept part of the blame. We are not particularly eloquent in the Labour Party in defining our Socialism, but I believe in Clause 4; and so long as this is part of the Socialist programme, then it is the Social Democrats who should ask permission to join us and not to be regarded as defenders of our faith. They are not. I believe in common ownership; but when leaders of the Conservative Party tell me that common ownership means State ownership, then I give up. It means nothing of the kind. I do not believe in the State; I believe in the community. It is the community which should have, in matters of public need, the common ownership of those things requisite and necessary for it. People can say this is "old hat" and that 880 we have been proclaiming it for long enough. I would suggest that it is the kind of answer which meets the extremities of a situation and is, therefore, the kind of answer to be taken more seriously than it has been.
Whatever may be the failures of those countries which have gone far too long a distance in tyranny and terror—and I am not defending the denial of liberty—economically and politically, I believe that we are entering willy-nilly into a situation in which capitalism will prove to be increasingly futile and we shall be faced with the option of having a violent kind of Socialism or one that is democratically engineered or democratically maintained. I testify to that faith, and believe that subversion in a non-violent Socialist society comes much nearer to conversion; and it is the conversion of people to the belief that this is the answer which I believe is in itself not only the required reply to the subversiveness from which we now suffer but the entrance upon the kind of full life which we all enjoy and hope to see.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Lord GISBOROUGH
My Lords, speaking after the noble Lord, Lord Soper, I shall no doubt be considered an extremist on the other side of the fence. There are over 20 extreme organisations, all of whom are working hard to destroy the present capitalist system and our democratic form of Government, but all seem to be disagreed on how to do it and what to put in its place. I should like to say something about one of the more inflammatory journals of one of the more inflammatory groups before continuing—that is, about the Big Flame group on the ultra Left. They are a group originating in Liverpool, and have not been mentioned, I think, so far this afternoon. They aim primarily at the Ford and other motor companies, and Ford branches have members from both within and outside the plant. They urge that they should try to seize on every incident, grievance and other cause, however small, as a vehicle for war on the bosses and capitalism. They advocate in their pamphlet Big Flame Ford Special No. 2, published in July 1974, sabotage by all sorts of means such as non-co-operation, acting "thick", not doing the job properly, stopping work for any 881 reason. Furthermore, they suggest—do not recommend, for legal reasons—other methods such as dropping bolts on the assembly line, setting off fire sprinklers, and they even talk about killing and assaulting supervisors. This group has branches in Birmingham and Manchester and elsewhere, but luckily is not very big.
A word about the International Socialists. They are now opening a large-scale campaign to increase their influence in unions, basing their strategy on Tony Cliff's book, The Crisis, Social Contract or Socialism. International Socialist Jim Nicol has insisted on the campaign's having top priority of the massive resources that he claims are available to the International Socialists during the next few months. These resources seem to come from places like Libya and Cuba, just as the Communist Party of Great Britain get much of their resources from sales of the Daily Worker behind the Iron Curtain. By far the strongest of all the groups that may have been mentioned, though perhaps not the most militant, and not always the most publicised, is the Communist Party of Great Britain. They have the broadest and most distributed membership. Frank Chapple, General Secretary of the ETU, likens working for the Party as being part of a ruthless industrial and political Kray brothers' organisation. General Secretary John Gollan, writing in World Marxist Review, clearly sets out the aim: to control the unions and, with that, the bulk of the Labour Party funds in order to force Left-Wing policies.
Many of these Left-Wing groups have supported terrorist movements; and one must remember that over 200 bombs have been exploded in Britain in the last few years. The Red Weekly journal of the International Marxist Group, stated the need for immediate withdrawal of troops from Ireland in the need for solidarity with the IRA, and said that this is the best way to hit the British ruling class and aid the Irish revolution. At the demonstration on 27th October in London, chants of victory for the IRA were followed by speeches from representatives of the International Socialists, the People's Democracy and other groups, as well as from two Members of Parliament whose names were reported in the Press. The Red Weekly has referred to the just violence of the IRA, and said of the 882 Aldershot tragedy that it was unfortunate that through a technical error British Army officers were not killed. Indeed, Workers' Fight declared that incidents like Aldershot are not terrorist exercises in any Marxist definition of the term.
There are, of course, extreme Right-Wing groups also with totally different aims from the Left Wing's. They present a different problem, but are no more acceptable to the community than the extreme Left. Indeed, Eric Tomlinson, one of the Shrewsbury two, used to belong to the National Front. These groups are not just talking shops; they often support, and therefore are guilty of what a great majority of people in this country believe to be, totally criminal activities.
What, then, do these groups do? Senior car shop steward Reg Parsons, one time leading figure in the All Trades Union Alliance, part of the Workers' Revolutionary Party, has now dissociated himself from the Trotskyists and warned his union how the subversives work. He was invited to discussion groups and joined without any card, just by word of mouth. He was trained in industrial and political agitation and the distribution of literature, and travelled the country speaking and recruiting militants in factories and universities. He pinpointed the lack of attendance at union meetings by ordinary workers as the key to the success of the militants, and said it would be suicidal catastrophe for the whole nation, and for the working class in particular, if the latter were taken in by the propaganda of the revolutionary wreckers.
Peter Carter, a leading member of the Communist dominated Building Workers' Charter Group, said last April that they must aim at a confrontation with the employers in the spring of 1975; the 12 months till then must be used as a training period where they could get the lads fighting on such things as bonus payments, he said. He issued a directive that set the Building Workers' Charter Group to campaign for a course of conflict against the employer and trade union leader alike. This is typical of hundreds of cases—there is not time to go through them all. Very seldom do these extremists agree what they want to put in in place of the present system of government. They want what they call a Socialist country and the end of the 883 capitalist system; and we have had a clue from the noble Lord who has just spoken.
Indeed, in the Socialist Worker, which I suspect he may have had a hand in writing—it is almost his words—they say that they stand for,overthrowing capitalism, not patching it up or gradually trying to change it.Then, just extracts:There is, therefore, no parliamentary road to socialism. … For rank and file control of the trade unions"—That is fair enough. Then:All settlements to be voted on by mass meetings. … Against productivity or efficiency deals. Against any forms of incomes policy under capitalism. … For nationalisation without compensation under workers' control. … For the building of a mass workers' revolutionary party, organised in the workplaces, which can lead the working class to power ".And there is a great deal more than that.
It cannot be too strongly stressed that this means the destruction of the trade union movement as we know it. They wish to impose their own political philosophy on Britain, while all in disagreement as to what that philosophy should be; and this is strange, surely, for a lot of Parties which cannot win enough support to gain a single Member of Parliament. However, their lack of success at the polls matters not to them. They believe that even with only 30,000 supporters they will be enabled to take control of the unions and, through the affiliation of those unions to the Labour Party, to take control of the Labour Party. As a maximum of 7 per cent. of the great majority of the moderate and hard working trade unionists attend or vote at branch meetings, it is easy for the extremists who do attend to carry resolutions on behalf of the 10 million trade unionists. This gives them a totally disproportionate influence to their numbers and allows up to four-fifths of the Labour Party funds which comes from the unions to be at the control of this tiny minority.
They seek to destroy the Social Contract on the grounds that it contributes, in the words of George Matthews, editor of the Morning Star, to the false idea that it is excessive wages which are responsible for inflation, high prices and the country's economic problems. The Social Contract is a charter, said the 884 issue, to cut wages and is treachery. Thus, I do not think it unreasonable to deduce that, when Ministers, supported by the great majority of the population, say that further breaking the Social Contract will make the country bankrupt, the Communists in control will be telling each other: "One more heave! We are nearly there." What hope, therefore, is there for the Social Contract?
One of the greatest risks of the subversion is to the Labour Party itself, and this is, of course, gleefully admitted by the Communists. Labour leaders have sturdily resisted Communist Party applications for membership, but once they control the union the door is open. One must note, however, that the executives of APEX, union of the professional, clerical and computer staff, is proposing to relax its ban on Communists representing the union at their April conference subject to declarations of political affiliations.
At an International Research Group conference in October 1973, Idris Cox explained how it was most decisive that the Communists should win over the Trade Unions. He said that, while not big, the Communist Party is able to influence the Labour Party through the affiliated Trade Unions which, with its unique structure, represents the strongest force within the Labour Party. He said, "Our comrades hold key positions at regional and national level". Indeed, in October 1972, Lou Lewis claimed that at that time 80 per cent. of the shop stewards in the country were Communists and hard liners. For example, NALGO is now dominated by the NALGO action group, NAG. NAG is well organised and led by the International Socialists. In a letter to their district council secretaries, five members of the National Executive Committee of NALGO wrote that NAG makes no concessions, takes up unreasonable attitudes and resorts to criticism, abuse, and character assassination. The signatories said that they were not opposed to militancy with responsibility, but that they did not want deliberate disruption, confrontation and violent revolution. They said the position in London, Leeds and Sheffield of International Socialism will spread throughout the country if drastic action is not taken forthwith by the members of NALGO. In a leading editorial of their Local Government 885 Chronicle, NALGO members were advised not to dismiss these facts as an hysterical outburst or a witch hunt. Members must attend their meetings to stop the extremists taking over. Once in, they are very difficult to root out. These extremists appear to be able to obtain high pay awards. But they are not, in fact, just after more money for the miners or anybody else; they are after power and revolution. They talk about democratic elections in their unions, but they could not be less democratic. Left Wing democracy is not rule by the majority but rule by a tiny number of activists getting themselves elected, speaking from every branch and giving the impression that the whole membership of a union is militant, while we all know that an enormous majority of the British working population are moderate, hard-working, just want to get on with their jobs and are reasonably satisfied with the pay that they get. The extreme activists want disruption in industry, because the more misery the disruption causes, the more the Communists can claim that the capitalist system does not work. In particular, they do not want to stem inflation. One needs to refer only to Lenin, who said that the best way to destroy a society is to destroy its currency.
What, then, must be done? First and foremost, it is imperative that all political leaders should thoroughly study the problem, be aware of what is happening and not be biased in their approach either way, Left or Right. It would probably be highly desirable to form a separate Government Department under a Minister to keep watch on this unconventional subversive warfare, to advise and to take action in the field of counter-education. There is no reason why the propaganda initiative should be with the extremists. Free enterprise has achieved a far higher standard of living than has been gained under any Communist State and it is necessary to say this over and over again. Responsible people must speak out and lead public opinion against subversion. The danger lies in not being able to see subversion until it is too late. The working population must be made to realise when they are being led by Communists, and that it is not for their own benefit, other than in the short term, but for the benefit of Communism, and all that that 886 would mean to them, to their unions and to their freedom.
Politicians must be prepared to name the subversives and draw attention to exactly what they are doing. If the British workers are being used as dupes, as they very often are, they, too, have the right to be told. Similarly, industrialists who suffer from Communist infiltration and stoppages must face their workers and tell them squarely what is going on. I believe that the vast majority of every workforce is responsible, moderate and patriotic and will respond to reason and information.
It is essential that the public should be made fully aware of these extremist groups and what the real issues are about, so that the extremists do not collect support for their activities from well-meaning people who are unaware of what they are really supporting. These groups thrive on ignorance and fear, which they are able to cause by propaganda and intimidation. Surely at least we can reduce the ignorance. For too long have these Left Wing Socialists been allowed to get away with the totally ill-informed, mischievous and unanswered attacks on the principle of profit.
Recently, there have been various articles in the Financial Times, the Economist and, perhaps, other newspapers to explain what is the relative role of profit. This is excellent, although I would not imagine that either of these newspapers is widely read on the factory floor. So this information must be published where it can be read. Only by ensuring that the role of profit is widely known and understood can industry expect its workers to be able to resist and argue against the Left Wing extremists. It is very much easier for extremists to cause trouble by exploiting a grievance than to start one off. Indeed, this is their chief means of getting into a situation. Therefore it is essential that every grievance should be dealt with as soon as possible and that full information should be given to all workpeople during negotiations to avoid misunderstandings and to avoid their being deliberately misled by activists. There is still great scope for employers to set up better machinery for settling disputes, and this machinery should be well and continuously publicised.
The key to the fight for our freedom are the 11 million trade unionists. By not 887 attending union meetings, the extremists speak in their name. Everything must be done to encourage and to help members to attend their union meetings and to vote at their election of officers. Not only should the postal vote be available for them but this postal vote should be paid for by the Government. The politics of candidates should be declared. Every publicity and encouragement should be given to members to use their vote. Many companies allow time off for union meetings during working hours. Surely this must be a sensible thing to do, although there is often the difficulty that members of the same branch come from different factories.
Industry can, perhaps, work towards this by co-operation. In addition, they should make full use of available resources to avoid the recruiting of known activists. Only last night the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and other were, in effect, speaking of this threat to democracy and free speech. Does democracy still exist when the Communists deliberately set out to make the country ungovernable under an elected Conservative Government and to defeat the wishes of the electorate? The defeat of the Tory Government was quite clearly stated by the Communist Vice-President of the National Union of Mineworkers, Mick McGahey, as the object of the miners' strike, when he was speaking in Aberdeen in January, 1974. Does free speech exist when Left Wing print trade unions can force suppression of articles in the Press; for example, stopping the Observer from carrying the facts about overmanning in the industry? There are many well-known examples of free speech being suppressed by students at universities. We heard of an example at Question Time.
We must fight hard and we must start fighting soon if democracy and free speech is not to be further eroded. Francis Noel Baker, ex-Labour Member of Parliament, said a year ago that the menace of Communist infiltration, not only of the unions, is much greater than any politician has yet realised. We have had examples of this in the last few days. He expressed fear regarding the collapse of our Parliamentary Government. There is much that could be done, but the danger has first to be recognised. There is a great deal more evidence of subver 888 sion than has come out or could have been brought out in this debate. We must realise this, and realise it before it is too late. We must take it seriously and we must act.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Lord CLIFFORD of CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I am one of those who would like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for introducing this subject for debate. I think it is time that it had a good and proper airing, and it is only right and proper that it should come from these Benches. As Professor Joad would have put it, it all depends what you mean by "subversion". To me, it is a movement to divert my country from its democratic aims, its freedom and its Christian tradition of "love thy neighbour" to the opposite, to the benefit of its enemies. Those of us who were at universities in the late 'twenties and early 'thirties played around intellectually with dialectical materialism. We were subsequently brought to our senses by those lessons taught to us in the university of hard knocks—that best of all academies. May I illustrate it by three personal, or near personal—that is, once removed—stories.
In April 1944 I was operating with the Italian partisans in the Appenines between Parma and La Spezia. I was with a banda of the Brigata Garibaldi which, as I am sure many of your Lordships know, is what the Communist controlled group was called. The Commissar, whose nome di battaglia was Claudio claimed, inter alia, to have had his training in Moscow with Tito, who was a hero then. He was the member with the highest IQ and he was a very good conversationalist, as long as one kept him off the subject of politics.
In the little town of Vardi in the Val di Cenno, the Fascist leader was a chap called Gabodo—his real name—whose previous job had been as a black-market butcher and, therefore, he knew all the diverse mountain tracks. For that reason (and others) it was decided that as soon as the snows had gone we must eliminate him. One day we received intelligence that he was going to take his wife from Vardi to Parma, so we went around the mountain tops, down to the bottom of the valley, waded the Cenno and ambushed the bus. We removed Gabodo and a couple of young militiamen and 889 then we were just going off when Claudio put up his Sten gun and raked the bus and then fired at two old women who were running screaming up the road. I rushed up and knocked the barrel of the Sten gun into the air and swore at him powerfully. He turned it on me and then with a cynical smile said words to the effect of, "Oh, you stupid capitalist stooge, you would not realise what it is all about. To achieve our ends we must engender hate."
That was the first lesson. He was a chap who used to say to the lads, when he thought I was not listening:
"Ragazzi, quando arriverano I Inglese nascondete I armi, perche il giorno de la vera battaglia non e ancora arrivato."
In other words:Lads, when the English come hide your arms because the day of the real battle has yet to come ".That was another lesson.
When I got back to London the following January, I met my brother-in-law who was in Intelligence and on leave from Holland at the time. I told him about these things and he arranged for me to go to report to an adjunct of the Foreign Office at the time—wartime—which as far as I could see was staffed by temporary middleaged schoolteachers. Anyway, it was a cold day. I told them where these arms were hidden and when I had come out of the office I remembered that I had left my gloves behind. I went back, the door was still ajar and I was not deaf then. I heard one of them say to the other, "Typical Regular Army blimp", and obviously they had paid no attention to what I had told them. But 2½ years later there arrived at our mess in Hong Kong a copy of the Illustrated London News with one of those little picture items showing the Carabinieri digging up one of the cache's of arms which had been hidden.
In the late 'twenties there were at Gresham's Holt, a well-known public school, three boys. Two were in the junior house, my friend and Donald Maclean, who was then his best friend and now the well known traitor; and in the other house there was a man whose name I will give your Lordships when I have finished this story. This chap went up to Cambridge, became a Communist, became secretary of the International Youth League and visited 890 Moscow. I presume that when he was at Cambridge he was in the Maclean-Philby syndrome. War broke out and while he was in this country we kept tabs on him and stopped him from being promoted, but when he got out to Cairo he dodged that one. He had a good degree in Slavonic languages and therefore became commissioned through the ineptitude of a certain officer, now a retired General, and got into the Yugoslav office which was set up, as your Lordships will remember, after the Germans had overrun Yugoslavia. When my friends left Cairo to drop into Yugoslavia this chap was a G.III there and when my friends came out (they had been with Mihailovic's forces) they found that he was of a much higher rank.
The headquarters was then at Bari in Southern Italy. They came out when they did, because they were suspicious that their messages back had not got through. What had happened was that this chap was doctoring the messages and letting only the ones from Tito get through. Because of this suspicion they made a long journey to the coast and evacuated two chaps, Bill Bailey and Bill Hudson, back to Bari. Bill Bailey flew to England and was flabbergasted to find that his most important message enciphered in the field by my friend and addressed personably to Eden (now the noble Earl, Lord Avon) had never been delivered. All parts had been successfully transmitted and acknowledged by Bari. Bill Bailey then saw Churchill twice and at the end of the second meeting Churchill said to him, "I have been badly misinformed".
This individual was seen by my friend in a photograph of leading Communists during the 1950s. He found out that in 1946 this individual was running European News; in 1949 he was working for the Cominform; about that time he joined the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain; in 1956 he was head of the Propaganda Education Department of the CPGB; in 1957 he was on the Political Committee of the CPGB. He was re-elected in 1959 and 1961; in 1964 he became editor of Marxism Today, a post which he still holds. In fact, he received a mention in the Evening Standard yesterday, when it said that he is now in ill health. I am sorry for anyone who is in ill health, but if he ever 891 reads the Hansard Report of this debate I should like him to remember that a certain amount of ill health was caused by the beating up in Cairo, and the murder later of a certain anti-Communist Yugoslav who is referred to in Julian Amery's book as "Robertson". James Klugmann is his name, an example of an intelligent highly educated and dedicated agent of a foreign power; an ideologist and a disciple of hate and subversion.
My Lords, this is just one of the many ways of subversion. As to how to deal with it, perhaps I might tell your Lordships the third story. I remember that in early 1948 the trade union headquarters in Singapore was taken over by the Chinese Communists. At 2.30 in the morning I led a detachment of troops that surrounded the place. They realised that they had been rumbled and they went away to the jungle where, within the next six months, they started the campaign that we all know about. Fortunately, in this country in those days we had a decisive Government, the Atlee Government, and they had decisive advisers; otherwise, they would have taken over Singapore the next day, amidst a lot of bloodshed—which leads me to the conclusion that the best people to deal with Communist subversion are the moderates of the Labour Party, but have we enough of them now? In December we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, that Ernest Bevin prevented a Communist European take-over in the late 'forties. Would that we had his kind today, and for the unions a Deakin or a Byrne.
My Lords, in a letter to The Times on 23rd November last, Gilbert Hall wrote:The late Tom Mann said something to me in my political salad days that I have never forgotten—'Give us control of three of the key industrial unions, and Parliament is impotent for all effective purposes'. By 'us' he meant the then young Communist Party and those who followed its directions.After going on to say that Communists are not bothered about winning Parliamentary seats because if they can get one or two it is good nuisance value, he said:Tom Mann's dictum has been their beacon light since the 'twenties. Today, 50 years of dedicated erosion of that democracy which characterised the unions in their more idealistic days brings the Communists and their fellow- 892 travellers within measurable distance of their goal".He ended his letter by blaming the political apathy of the "tolerant—it can't happen here" section of the electorate. I will refer to them later.
My Lords, we have heard many examples of the publicised statements of the leaders of the fringe extremists—the Communists, the WRP, the Young Socialists, the International Marxist Group, the Rank and File group, the Trotskyists, the Maoists, the International Socialists, the Young Communist League, the NALGO Action Group, and so on. But though these are all bloodthirsty, class-hate groups which do a lot of damage, they are still without a power base. A lot of people are apt to pay too much attention to them, whereas the power base belongs to the Communist Party. As has been pointed out already this afternoon, the great thing is that the old "Reds under the bed" jibe can now be blown sky high, because if you are prepared to take the trouble, it can be shattered by the written statements made daily in such organs of the Press as the Morning Star, the Socialist Worker, Freedom, Marxism Today, and so on. If you want to know about any of these meetings or want to join any of these groups, there is a lovely bit of propaganda called Agitprop—it sounds Russian. You can join in any of these parties whenever you want. It is published in a magazine in London which can be bought any day.
My Lords, I only hope our leaders know what is going on, and that they are keeping tabs on these elements. The AUEW were host to a meeting recently which got some notoriety. It was sponsored—that is, paid for, I presume—by the Russians. The agenda was prepared in Moscow with Arthur Hearsay in August. The AUCCTU not only "coughed up" £8,000, but the British trade unions seemed to treat the Eastern Europeans as genuine trade unionists. Who runs this organisation?—none other than Shelpin, former head of the KGB. And its head of the international department is Boris Averyanov, a long-time agitator of the British industrial scene. Once again, will our leaders take note that in a book by the Czech defector, the ex-intelligence agent, Josef Frolik, which I think is coming out in May, there will 893 be mentioned three fairly well-known people as having supplied information to the Czechs. It would be comforting to know for certain that these reports are false, and that if they are not that they will be dealt with without fear or favour.
That the KGB uses a satellite intelligence organisation is well documented. John Barren's book on the KGB quotes lots of cases. Some of the most disquieting things happening are infiltration into the academies of learning and the mass media, the abuse of our highly prized right to differ, and the right of legitimate protest. By capturing key positions in broadcasting, journalism, teaching and publishing, they can ensure that anyone who disagrees with them is not allowed a hearing. Erstwhile organisations of liberal opinion have now become suspect, examples such as the civil rights movement used by the Provisional IRA, the National Council of Civil Licence, which is pretty close to the bone, and even Amnesty International is strangely inactive at times when Right-wingers abroad are to be jailed without trial.
Did your Lordships see that so-called objective film on the BBC on how to make a strike called "Leeds United"? It cost £150,000 to make, it was directed by Roy Battersby—was he not once on the Central Committee of the Workers Revolutionary Party? And was not the script by Colin Welland who sponsored the "Road to Workers' Power Pageant", organised by the Trotskyites in March 1973? I should have thought the least the BBC might have done was to say something about the extremist convictions of the makers of a film taking two hours of prime watching time. After all, a Left-Wing journal did at least reward the author of a book called Chile's Marxist Experiment with the accolade of "Fascist Pig of the Year". Fair is fair! There is a large number of people who do not object, but who should object, to this country being used as a sort of temporary headquarters of Marxist International. It seems to me to be quite a fashionable thing. The Chilean Communist Louis Figuera set up a "surgery" for British trade unionists in Transport House on the 7th January, which must have official blessing. The Venezuelan Communist Teodoro Petkoff should have by now finished his advertised fortnight. Is it not rather extraordinary that "Red Juriz" 894 Sayarnov, vice-president of the Communist International Union of Students, came here to advise British students to support the IRA, and to help British students demonstrate against the British Government? As one paper put it, it is rather like Hitler standing as a Liberal candidate.
My Lords, I meant to deal with subversion in schools, but I will only touch on that subject now because I think it deserves a special debate. One of my sources of information is a young lady who teaches in an East End school, who tells me that she and her friends will not join the union because of the subversive actions of local teachers. Is not Max Morris the head of the NUT in London? Is he a Communist? The other is the headmaster of a large South-East London secondary school. He has made some very interesting points. One thing I found interesting; he said that the Communists are themselves rather afraid of the fringe elements because nowadays the Communists are essentially a Party of order amongst pupils rather than what the others are.
The effect of subversion is more dangerous on staff than on pupils. Demonstrations are "in", covering for absent colleagues is "out". Staff generally take the school rather than the union attitude; therefore, it makes the cell principle more active. Most subversion, he says, comes by default, and that the world shortage of able teachers can only aid this subversion; that is, the less competent teacher can only interest pupils by appeasing them. And in certain areas, including his own, the complete polarisation of pupils by colour, the result of the incompetence of successive Governments' immigration Acts and the hamfisted behaviour of some of our do-gooders, he thinks, has laid fertile ground for future subversion among pupils. Though for the moment, he says, the danger is not immediate, because the coloured ones are more interested in the Kung Fu myth and the Malcolm X type of Islam. The other thing that is dangerous for the future is the complete separation of the coloured people, in that area anyway, from their parents. Should your Lordships wish to know the objective straight from the horse's mouth, you need only read Marxist Perspectives in the Sociology of Education by Maurice Levitas.
895 The International Socialists, however, are doing quite well. Your Lordships could read their Little Red Book on Education. You can get it from the Commons Library. Quite apart from encouraging the young to have nothing to do with their parents, neither to obey them nor believe them, it is nicely pornographic, encouraging masturbation and other sexual deviations for the very young. Your Lordships can see what the effect will be if this type of teacher gets control of education. It is all part of the subversive credo that everything of moral, traditional or Christian background must be destroyed, theoretically so as to build the brave new world, actually to make this country an impoverished, over-ripe decaying plum ready to fall without resistance into the waiting lap of Soviet expansionism.
Let us take Ireland. I do not think there are many who do not know of the international terrorists meeting in Dublin on 22nd July, financed, doubtless, by Gadaffi's £5 million gift to the IRA, organised by Sean Kenny after his trip to Moscow in October. Was it not kind of the Russians to give them all that printed propaganda, but then of course, they have to support the "anti-imperalist" struggle in Ulster. This is one example of the natural but sometimes disguised Communist or violent extremist interest in creating civil war. Bernadette Devlin and Rose Dugdale are on their particular bandwagon not because they are pro the Catholic population—I do not believe there is one ounce of religion in either of them—but because they are dedicated International Socialists wedded to the complete destruction of any existing order no matter what the cost in lives and misery.
My Lords, what should we do? I will be presumptuous enough to suggest that it is time for a radical change. First of all, we must give all support to those in the Labour Party and trade unions who are the heirs of Bevin and Deakin. Secondly, make union and Parliamentary voting compulsory, as in Australia and so try to beat the hidden enemy of complacency and "it can't happen here" mob. Thirdly, get rid of the oldfashioned liberal, again with a small "1", inhibitions about not having things like identity cards and other measures to protect the innocent against 896 the subversive. Fourthly, make it illegal, as in Germany and the United States, for teachers to teach politics in class. Fifthly, have a highly mobile centrally organised riot police like the French CRS. If we had had that we need never have made the costly mistake of having to send the Army into Ulster. I know I have ridden this hobby horse of mine before and will again if necessary. Also, reform the TA and Yeomanry. Remember that the latter was started in 1758 to deal with civil disturbance.
I believe that there are threats all over the world now, not only to us but to our way of life and everything else. I think that it necessitates the build-up of our defence forces and especially our reserves. I believe we are in a more dangerous position than in the 1930s, and the guilty men this time are those who are encouraging us to lower our guard. Last time we had the smallest fifth column of any country involved in that war. This time we start with the largest. Must history repeat itself? The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I regret that I do not see adequate signs of realisation of that fact.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Lord WIGG
My Lords, I rarely speak from notes, and I make a practice of trying to debate; that is to say, I follow the previous speaker. It is a bit of a job, but I will try. Twice, if not three times, the noble Lord, Lord Clifford equated the opposite of subversion with the Christian virtues. That is a little odd, because, of course, if you looked at the New Testament you would find there quotations which are as revolutionary as anything ever written by Marx, as anything which is uttered by any Communist. But, of course, there is the fundamental difference that when the noble Lord who has just spoken—and most other Members of this House—talks about Christianity he is not talking about it in a revolutionary sense. The words noble Lords are using, if they are quoting, do not mean that; they become entirely respectable. Whereas, of course, the Communist does mean it.
For the life of me, I am quite mystified as to why we have had to listen for hour after hour to quotation after quotation from people who are really saying the same thing. Just as, if I wanted to quote the Christian virtues, I would go back to 897 the New Testament, so if I want to quote what the Communist is after I go back to the Communist Manifesto.
I must say something here. The standard of political literacy in this House is so low that I ought to say that the Communist Manifesto is not something recently produced by Fleet Street; it was written in 1848 by Marx, and I am reading the Engels translation. These are the concluding words and they are as true today as they were then:The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their aims can be attained only by the forceful over-throw of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite.That is subversive enough. They are inspiring words; they have inspired generations. But, so far as we are concerned, it is not all loss.
The noble Lord was about to interrupt, and I will give him an added reason. I well remember just after I left the Army going down to take part in the Oxford by-election, when my old friend Lord Lindsay was endeavouring to educate the people of Oxford and the people of this country as to the tragic dangers into which the Conservative Party at that time was leading them. I well remember Lord Hailsham, then a little slimmer, no grey hairs, just as vigorous, just as politically irresponsible, and he was describing Lord Lindsay and those of us who supported him as subversive. I am just as subversive today as I was then. A little later on, or it may have been a little earlier, on the same issue I had the great pleasure of opposing in a by-election in Stafford the present chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Thorneycroft.
So who are the subversives? I hold in my hand a copy of the report of the SOE, I would commend noble Lords to read it. It is a report of courage, of cowardice, of treachery, of brave men and women, but it is a doctrine of sub-version. There was a time when the Foreign Office, with the backing of a Conservative Government, were supporting elements in France for de Gaulle against Pétain. This was subversion by Gaullists, with the support of the British Armed Forces, to overthrow Vichy and Pétain. So let us be careful when we talk of subversion.
898 My noble friend Lord Shinwell went to prison for subversion. He was sent there by that wonderful, glorious, best of all legal systems that we have, for protesting against the use of troops in a strike. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, drew for his inspiration, I thought, most amusingly, on the subversion organised by the Communist Party in Russia. Has he never read the history of the Russian revolution? Has he never studied it in depth? If he has not it surprises me, because the one thing that is clear is that when the break came in 1917 what passed for a trade union movement in Russia was all against strike action at that particular time. The society there had become so over-concentrated, if you like had become so rotten, so unable to meet the impact of colossal casualties, that the system ground to a halt. It provided an opportunity for the Communist Party to strike.
One of our great troubles as a country is that the Party opposite, who live to protect their class interests—they always have done, and they always do now— are seeking power by every means, and always looking for stalking horses. They would never have retained power, or won an election, had they not done so, because Britain is a Socialist country. The political interests of the mass of the people of this country do not lie with the Conservatives. What the Conservatives have to do by hook or by crook, by control of the Press and the media, is to stampede the electorate to vote for the Tory Party. Let us think back over my adult lifetime. There was the Khaki Election after the Boer War, the Coupon Election of 1918, the Zinoviev letter, based upon fraud if ever anything was. In 1931 and 1935 there was the plea that we were not going to rearm. When the Conservatives did not do so, they were afraid to tell this country the truth. So where does subversion end and where does it start?
I was intrigued by the words of Lord Chalfont's Motion. Let us look at them: They refer to a debate on "subversive and extremist elements". He is sophisticated enough not to equate the two words as though they mean the same thing, but many speakers in this debate look upon subversion and extremism as though they are one and the same thing. I should have thought that the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, who was 899 speaking for the Conservative Party, would have done his homework better. He asked only one question: what were the Intelligence Service doing about it. Has he ever read the directive of Sir Maxwell Fyfe on the 24th September 1952? Paragraph 4 reads:It is essential that the security service should be kept absolutely free from any political bias or influence, and nothing should be done that might lend colour to any suggestion that it is concerned with the interests of any particular section of the community or with any other matter than the defence of the Realm as a whole.It is quite improper for the noble Viscount to have asked the question that he did. It would be equally improper for the Home Secretary to reply on that issue.
Objectionable as the activities of the Communist Party may be—and they doubtless are—to all in the Party on the other side of the House, and I gather to most on this side, this is not a subject for the security services. It is a political matter. My noble friend Lord Shinwell pointed out that the political results of the work of the Communist Party were microscopic. So, in their wisdom, they say, "Right, the issues are balanced against us. We won't try it." My noble friend also made the point—a point he and I have often discussed—that in no circumstances would he have anything to do with use of force; he would stand foursquare against it. And so would I! but in my case for an utterly immoral reason; you could not win that way.
I therefore believe in the slower and surer method of educating public opinion, if I am given the chance, in advance of the emergence of a situation, so that they are prepared for it, and so that I can prescribe in advance what that situation is going to be. It is for that reason—if I may strike an ultra topical note—that I oppose the Common Market.
I am as sure as I stand here that, sooner or later, under the Industry Bill if it becomes law, a British Minister is going to raise the issue of, let us say, help for Leylands, and when he wants to help Leylands, under Articles 92 and 93 he must go to Brussels. When he gets to Brussels what question is he going to be asked? They will say, "You want to help Leylands. Quite right. But we must look first of all to see how your 900 proposals are going to affect Fiat, or Citroen, or Renault, or Opel." The answer will come back, "We are sorry, we are very sympathetic towards you that through bad commercial practice Leyland has got into a mess." Mr. Heath would have run into this difficulty about Rolls-Royce. They may say then, "We would want to help you, but, unfortunately, this has an adverse effect on these industries in the Common Market, and other industries in other countries, and so we are sorry but you will have to go back." That fact needs to be brought home. If it is untrue, then what I say needs to be demonstrated to be untrue; and if ways can be found round it and still we can stay in the Common Market, those ways should be so described.
One thing is certain, that the Communist Party throughout its history has used every method it can, and it is straining by every nerve to demonstrate that the Common Market is an instrument for international capitalism, and that the West Midlands ultimately are going to be turned into an industrial slum, with rising unemployment from under-investment and the like. If, in the long run, the Communists are right and that is what happens, do not grumble if the Communist Party gains in strength. The Communist Party has gained in strength. I will tell you why: It is because your Lordships have failed. They have got an accretion of political power because you are becoming weaker. You do not matter any more. This House is one stage off becoming a museum. It is for all practical purposes a political museum. All but a slender streak of power has been taken from you. You are no longer of any importance, and you should not be.
The quality of the debate today is at a level not of the sixth form but of the fifth form—pure nonsense. What is true at home is also true abroad. The Communist revolution of 1917 was, what? You tried to stop it. There were 14 invading armies. You failed, and so the revolution grew from strength to strength. Perhaps we ought to be glad—I am glad —because if the Red Army had not stood at Stalingrad I should not be here and neither would most of your Lordships, except the few who might have found it possible to engaged in collaboration with the Wehrmacht. The rest of us would be 901 dead. So the fact; is that Communism and subversion are of use to us.
My noble friend Lord Shinwell, when he was Minister of Fuel and Power, inherited a tragic position—coal stocks of 11 million tons being run down and the secret being kept from the British public because of the war. That did not stop the patriotic Party over there blaming him as though he were responsible for the weather. But who came to his support? The Communists—Mr. Arthur Horner, Mr. Will Paynter. I think that the Communists in our society should not be given power—I fought seven Elections and I know what it is to take on Communism and subversion. An interesting commentary on this debate is, that if you were to add up the number of political fights won by the speakers in this debate—starting with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—the score would be a duck, zero! If noble Lords want to take on Communism, let them not debate it like a crowd of schoolgirls but go out and fight it.
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, will the noble Lord give way. Will he understand that many of us in this House have been fighting Communism outside this country for a long time on behalf of and in the interests of, this country?
§ Lord WIGG
My Lords, that is the noble Lord's opinion. I do not think so. I think he has been doing nothing of the kind. What he has been doing is advertising the authority of the Communist Party far beyond its strength. If that is his diagnosis, I should be glad to debate it with him. If he would choose an academic platform where I could take him on, I would be glad to oblige him. His definition of Communism and how it works is nonsense and reveals a bias against the Labour Party which is quite frightening, coming from somebody who until recently was a Labour Minister. What did he say? I use his words—he wants the Labour Party composed of moderate Social Democrats. That is another name for Tory with no guts!
The trouble about the Labour Party lies not in the number of undisclosed Communists: the trouble inside the Labour Party is the undisclosed Tories— and there are a few of them on this Front Bench here: those who use a Labour platform to push the Tory policies 902 which they could never push through. That is the trouble. I still describe the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, as "my noble friend", and have considerable admiration for him as a distinguished soldier and journalist. But if he wants to engage in some in-fighting, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said, it is not good enough to write an article in The Times and describe the speech he is to make, then to come here to make it and get it fully reported tomorrow by his admirer, Mr. Bernard Levin. It is an odd version of democracy, an odd way of building up an informed public opinion, that you should have The Times, as it were, in your pocket (I put it in that pleasant way, not the other way round). But the point I want to make is that subversion or extremism are names for something that is really quite respectable.
I do not think that the capitalist system works. I do not think it has worked through most of my lifetime—and I remember the slumps and the horrors and have shared them because, like my noble friend Lord Shinwell, I started work at 10 years of age. I have something to thank the capitalist system for! But the truth is that noble Lords opposite have not worked out what they mean by it. I will tell you what I mean by it. I think one speaker below the gangway talked about a free competitive system. Presumably he means a laissez-faire system. If anyone believes that they believe nonsense. The point is that every country in the world now has central planning in some form. The Party opposite do not like it because basically the higher echelons of the Conservative Party do not make money. They are not directors in undertakings which manufacture. I will not mention names. One noble Lord, who was a Conservative Minister, is now labelled a great industrialist. But what is his industrial experience? He produces bars of chocolate and bottles of lemonade, and calls himself an industrialist Take the record of the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, who was here five minutes ago. As an industrialist he could not run a tripe shop! The fact is that they box it up. The noble Lord, Lord Barber, boxed it up, and then trotted up to the leader of a great Bank. That does not inspire much confidence.
The point is that you now have central planning in every country in the world, 903 including that arch home of capitalism, the United States. The issue is, who controls the plan, and in whose interest is the plan made? In the Soviet Union there is a highly centralised system, which is a by-product or, if you like, a direct product, of the acceptance of Marxism and of the revolutionary nature of the society and the fact that they had to fight two major wars and had to deal with two complete reconstructions. As they go along, it is my belief they will tend more and more towards an easement in their political control. Now we are moving in the opposite direction.
One noble Lord suggested that the Conservative Government was defeated as a result of a Communist plot. What defeated the Conservative Government (and I benefited vastly financially from this because I backed my opinion from the night of 14th February onwards so long as I could find somebody to lay me the odds) was the result of action taken by Messrs. Heath, Barber, Carrington, not forgetting Mr. Peter Walker. This happened because they decided to have a confrontation with the trade unions, and they lost.
What we must accept, whether we like it or not, is that political power has now passed from the old landed aristocracy; they are dead ducks politically. It passed from them to the great industrialists, and it has now passed to the organised workers of the trade unions. That one has to expect and accept and come to terms with. If you try to buck it, as the Tories did, you will come unstuck. The Labour Party tried to buck it and they nearly came unstuck—in fact they did. If they try to buck it again they will come unstuck again. It is no good saying that anyone who does not support the Social Contract up to the hilt is engaged in subversion, that he is subversive and an extremist. Nonsense! The issue until very recently was that there was to be a control of wages but no control of profits. People could make vast fortunes by speculation never doing any work at all; but then you expect people in danger of losing their jobs, with a declining standard of life, to accept that and pull their forelocks. The time when the working classes in this country have pulled their forelocks to their betters has gone. The old political doctrine preached 904 by Lord Hugh Cecil, that there is one class born to rule and the rest to serve is gone. There never was any real claim for it, certainly not on the claim of ability. The claim was made and forced through on the basis of economic power and nothing else. And that economic power has now been completely cancelled out. You can call it subversion, extremism, whatever you like, but your Lordships live in a world in which, on the world plane, the Soviet Union and all it stands for, as a source of power, has to be recognised and you have to come to terms with that.
Here at home the trade unions have come to power, and I hope that they will behave a lot better. I am sure they will. They cannot behave any worse than the members of the Tory Party who sat on that Front Bench wielding absolute power. I believe that as they go along the trade unions will do what they say in accordance with the traditions of the Labour Party. Harold Wilson boasts— and it is a proud boast—that he has not read Marx and that the Labour Party owes more to Methodism, more to morality, for which it is often sneered at, than it does to political theory. I am one of those who, like my noble friend, has worked all my life to try to make that situation real and true. I am not worried about gibes and sneers of extremism and subversion and similar epithets because I have been experiencing them ever since I came into politics. If there are extremists and if there are subversive people, they are called that because they mean what they say and they work for a better society not only for themselves but for others. That is a noble ideal and I should be very glad to be both subversive and an extremist.
§ 7.20 p.m.
The Earl of HALSBURY
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, who is to follow me, being in his place, I shall be very brief because the treatment that I wished to give the subject runs rather across the lines on which your Lordships have been debating, as was indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who said that it was territory which we should not be able to traverse in its full generality this afternoon. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont for raising the matter and I am also grateful to him for informing 905 me that the people against whom I wished to tilt a lance are known to the KGB as "maggots" and "termites". I shall remember that on a future occasion when 1 shall hope to have an opportunity of saying something to your Lordships on what the French call la trahison des clercs —the betrayal of society by those who are only what they are and occupy the positions which they do only because society is what it is and because it assigns the values that it does. I shall reserve that for a future occasion in the belief that, with another thirteen speeches to go, I shall not incur your Lordships' displeasure by doing so.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, we are only about halfway through the debate and it is twenty minutes past seven, so I shall try to be as brief as I can. I have two or three remarks which I wish to make, but I might have gone on much longer and have responded to the provocation of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, who made a splendid political speech, though I am bound to say that I did not think all of it very relevant to the subject under discussion.
My Lords, except perhaps for the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, nobody has really denied that the elements about whom the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, spoke exist. We may well have differing views as to the extent of the threat which they pose to our society. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, clearly thinks that they are very little threat at the present time and I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, took the same view. I must say that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, always delights us—and he certainly did so today—with the manner of his speeches, though I feel that his words today had a little less relevance than is sometimes the case. He was speaking, as he always does, without notes and was, perhaps, somewhat carried away by what he was saying. I wonder, if he reads Hansard tomorrow, whether he may not feel that his speech has not been wholly relevant.
I tried to get to the nub of what the noble Lord was saying. It appeared that, as one would expect, he was nailing his flag firmly to the mast of Parliamentary democracy and no violence, and that he was saying that the elements to whom the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont had referred had no doubt announced that 906 they intended to overthrow our democratic system and to indulge in violence but that they did not appear to want to do it immediately, so that there was no need to do anything about it. I share with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, the improbability of living for another thirty years, but I do not feel that that is any reason for either of us not to look ahead a little and to recommend action to be taken, should that prove necessary, against a possible future threat.
My Lords, the elements described by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, consist of people of very mixed motivation. No doubt there are idealists among them. Personally, I think that they are idealists who have been wrongly directed. There are some, no doubt, who are seeking power for its own sake, some who are seeking it for the pickings that it can bring and some, I am sorry to say, who are just mercenaries. That is a nasty word, with nasty connotations, but it has to be applied to some of these people. However, all these people have one declared common purpose. I cannot quite accept the argument that they do not really mean it. Of course I know that people exaggerate to a certain extent, but, none the less, the repeated declaration that what they want to do is to destroy the existing structure of society must be taken seriously. The declared common purpose of these people is to destroy the present social and political structure of the country.
My Lords, how should those of us who believe in our way of life act to frustrate that purpose? First, I suggest—and here I am in agreement with the right reverend Prelate—that we should do this by recognising that our social and political structure is not perfect—is, indeed, very far from perfect—and that there is much which still needs to be done, and done quickly, to make society fairer and more just, to protect the weak and to curb the abuse of power by the strong. This is, especially, the role of Parliament, led, as I hope it will be, by a Government dedicated to the same purpose. Secondly, I think that what we have to do today is —to use an American expression which I rather like—to "keep our cool". We must not become hysterical about this. We have seen the disastrous effect of that in America and we do not want any 907 McCarthys over here. I am glad to say that, though some of the remarks that have been made today suggest rather broadcast accusations around the country, on the whole we have avoided that. I hope that we shall continue to avoid it in the future. Also, I am glad to say that we have not heard the suggestion that a cure for this could be found in making some of the organisations in question illegal. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that that would be totally ineffective. It would have the effect of driving the organisations further underground and, above all, of giving them victory in the battle, because, in order to do that, we would have to abandon one of the cornerstones of free democracy.
My Lords, I expect that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, when he comes to reply, will tell us— and he will be quite right to do so— that these activities are not illegal, but that if people break the law in carrying them out they can be dealt with according to the law. That is clearly the case, but I hope that the noble Lord may be able to go a little further than giving us a purely legalistic answer, because I do not feel that that by itself will really satisfy noble Lords. Does the law perhaps need amendment? We have, after all, already limited the right of free expression of opinion in one matter— that of race relations— and we were quite right to do so. Could it not be that there are other matters in which some limitation ought to be imposed where people are whipping up hatred and contempt?
Again, there are the groups which openly advocate and indulge in violence. Might it not be that some limited modification of our legal system is required, as has indeed had to be introduced to deal with the terrible situation in Northern Ireland? In passing, I should like to say about Northern Ireland that it is truly ironic that the action of the British Government in Northern Ireland is leading to them being accused by people outside of being a police State. People who say that either do not know what is happening or do not know what a police State is. I take it that a police State is a State in which the police act above and outside the law, and I suggest that, if the police and 908 the forces of law and order in Northern Ireland had been working outside the law, they would have had the matter under control by now.
§ Lord WIGG
My Lords, does the noble Viscount really mean that? Does he think for a moment that in Germany during the Nazi period the Geheimstadtspolizei acted without the law? They acted in accordance with a State which had virtually no law. The definition of a police State solely as a state in which the police act without the law seems to me complete nonsense.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, I am sorry if the noble Lord feels that I am talking complete nonsense. As I often disagree with him, his intervention gives me a certain amount of confidence. He may be technically correct, in which case if there was no law then I imagine that the police were acting outside the law. I will read carefully tomorrow in Hansard the precise terms of the noble Lord's intervention. I felt that it was worth mentioning that point, because it is most unfair to this country to charge it with being a Police State in relation to its dealings with Northern Ireland.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, while I agree with much of what the noble Viscount has said, may I ask him whether he is aware that if we create the impression abroad that a Police State is developing in some part of the United Kingdom, that will not help our prestige at all? Similarly— and this is something which noble Lords generally do not seem to have grasped— if we create the impression that there are elements in this country described as extremists, call them what you will, who are trying by subversive methods to overturn society and destroy democracy, then that, too, will not help our prestige. We should not always be crying stinking fish, which is what I fear we are doing at present in many directions, including this one.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for that intervention, although I am not quite sure what he is getting at. But perhaps as I continue I will answer his point.
There is another aspect which has been referred to briefly, in which some action possibly requires to be taken. There is 909 evidence that in our educational system there has been a certain amount of infiltration. It is monstrous that in the name of academic freedom, children should be subjected to academic servitude. By all means let children be introduced at a suitable age to the social and political problems of the day, but this is surely a sphere in which the modern approach to education— of children finding out for themselves by debate and discussion rather than by having dogmatic teaching from one standpoint only— is the right way to proceed, and this is something which the education authorities in consultation with the Government should consider.
I take a little comfort for myself in this matter. I think it was the Jesuits who said that if they got hold of a child by the age of five they could control its life. I do not know when that was said, but I suggest that it was at a time when children were a good deal more docile than they are today. Indeed, I would not be surprised if a stiff dose of dogmatic Communism given to six, seven or eight year-olds led to a great victory for the Conservative Party in perhaps 20 years' time, because children seem to react quickly these days against some of the things they are taught.
What can we do? These elements of which we are speaking— and I do not want to enter into an exercise in semantics with the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, about whether they are extremists or subversives— thrive on any kind of grievance, and therefore suggest that the first task for us all is to see that grievances are removed to prove to people that the system we have today is capable of dealing with grievances. There seems to be plenty of scope for this in, for example, industry and I was greatly interested, as I am sure all noble Lords were, in the maiden speech made yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Greene of Harrow Weald I cannot understand why it is not possible for managers, because it must come from that side, to try to anticipate difficulties and settle them before the crunch is reached. Of course, if we could only get the early development of effective worker participation this would greatly help. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, mentioned this and I gathered that he rather thought that my noble friends had been against worker participa 910 tion. That is certainly not so. It is strongly the policy of our Party and a policy which I believe has great hopes.
There are, of course many problems still between managers and workers, but just think my Lords of the number of problems that are settled amicably every day. As the noble Lord, Lord Greene, pointed out yesterday, these settlements get no publicity in the media. Only the strikers and militants get real publicity. I sometimes wonder whether we could on occasions find employers coming forward with fair and acceptable proposals instead of waiting, as seems the case all too often, to be pushed. I have taken part in industrial relations and I know the difficulties. They stem largely from the distrust which unfortunately exists between management and workers, and this means that any offers that are put forward— and this applies equally to offers from the workers' side— are always regarded as the first step in the negotiations. It will, of course, take time to break down this idea, but I feel that with effective worker participation it should be possible to anticipate difficulties and try to meet them before they reach a serious stage.
In the wider sphere of social problems also there are surely possibilities. Our aim should be to break down what is almost an iron curtain at present between the governors and the governed. We must show that our institutions can deal effectively and promptly with genuine grievances, and the feeling of frustration and cynicism in our institutions which is so widespread today should eventually be dissipated. In order to do this we want to be ready to examine critically all our institutions, even the most cherished ones.
I have hesitated and pondered on the final comment I want to make and I have decided to make it. I hope that it will not be considered impertinent, coming from an insignificant Back-Bencher of a minority Party, and I am encouraged by some of the words of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. I believe that a special opportunity to contribute to the fight against subversion exists now, and that it lies in the hands of the Labour Party, and because they have this opportunity a special responsibility tests on 911 them. As has been clearly pointed out, one of the Labour Party's fundamental aims is to establish in Britain a democratic Socialist State. They believe that this can and will be achieved by truly democratic means— by teaching, preaching and persuading the electorate that this is the right course for Britain to pursue. My noble friends and I disagree, as do noble Lords on my left— topographically of course but politically on my right. But we all recognise the right of noble Lords opposite to defend their cause. Indeed, I should say that they have not only a right but a duty to do this, if they sincerely believe, as I am sure they do, that what they advocate is what is best for the country.
But the International Socialists, to take an example, also say that their aim is to establish and create a Socialist State, and they probably throw in the word "democratic" for good measure. Whether their conception of the Socialist State is the same as that of the Labour Party I do not know, though I doubt it. But the very same words are used to describe it, and I would expect that it has at least some features in common. However, the International Socialists and their friends do not believe that this can be achieved by democratic means. They believe that to achieve it, the existing social and political structure must first be utterly destroyed, and that is their declared aim. In this belief I think they are following some 19th century Socialist dogma which is almost certainly out of date today. If it were possible for anyone to destroy utterly our social and political structure there would be no chance whatever of power passing, at that stage, to the people because there would be no machinery for the people to achieve this. Instead the wreckers would have opened the doors wide for a Stalin or a Hitler. That is by the way. The point I want to make is that because the ultimate aim of the Labour Party on the one hand, and the International Socialists and other elements on the other, are in some respects similar and are described in similar terms, it seems to be incumbent upon the Labour Party to dissociate itself completely and unequivocally from these other groups.
The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said clearly that he was opposed to violence, and that he believed in democratic Social 912 ism. Democratic Socialism, I suggest— the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, will probably put me right later on— does not involve breaking down everything we have. The Prime Minister, I recognise, has on several occasions publicly attacked the "wreckers"— that was his description — and so, from time to time, have other Ministers. But I seem to have detected on these occasions that even the Prime Minister has been subjected to some criticism from within his Party. I hope I am not so naive politically as not to realise that the Labour Party, like other Parties, has electoral support from some people who do not agree with all its policies; and it is support that it would be sorry to lose. But it seems to me that the situation is sufficiently serious that the Party— and I am addressing this to noble Lords opposite; not to the Government— should declare on which side of the fence it stands. I am sure that is it on the side of truly democratic advance, and it should in a clear statement— perhaps it might be in a resolution at its next annual conference— make plain its total disagreement with those who, whatever their ultimate aim may be, seek as a first step to destroy our institutions in order to achieve it.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Baroness EMMET of AMBERLEY
My Lords— I might almost say "my long suffering Lords", especially those noble Lords on the two Front Benches who have had to listen to the previous speeches and who have yet to listen to a few more. I assure those noble Lords that I have only one page of notes and that I shall be very brief. I have only one principal point to make, but I think it an important one. A rather eminent lady said recently in a very important speechWhere there is no vision, the people perish.This is a very good saying. The trouble is that today there are groups of people who have a vision but that vision is totally destructive. On Tower Hill a little while ago I felt that the destruction would be complete, but I could not see what would happen afterwards. When the United Nations was founded there was a vision, and that was constructed on a declaration of rights, instead of, to my mind, duties. Because the idealism, which inspired the United Nations when it was begun, has perished and now every 913 nation is claiming its rights and forgetting its duties, the influence and reputation of that organisation has very largely disappeared. That is a lesson we should take very much to heart.
Your Lordships may wonder what all this has to do with the present debate, but I think it is relevant as an indication of the state of the world at the present moment, and, in particular, I am distressed for my own country. I should like to concentrate especially on one aspect. I have had much to do with children, whether as a children's court magistrate, on the County Council, or as chairman of children's committees, and I have dealt with children of every kind. I am convinced that we can trace quite a few of our troubles to our teacher training colleges; and what they are producing at the present moment. I have had personal experience of this in my own family at colleges where some of my young people have trained. We must remember— if we try to blame parents for children being out of hand— that the present parents are those who were trained by the teacher training colleges shortly after the war, when progressive ideas in education were promulgated absolutely wholesale. These are the present parents of the children who are giving us trouble, and I think that we threw out the baby with the bath water.
Of course new ideas in education are invaluable; of course, they have got to be tried; but the old ones which have proved worth while should not be abandoned. I shall deal first with discipline. To me a child is like a young plant which needs a stake to protect it against the elements, the buffeting of the wind, too much sun or too much rain. It needs to be helped. I think that to place responsibility and choice on a child, when it is very young and does not understand, is cruelty, and that is where we start going wrong.
There is also the question of illiteracy — or reading. In my family we all learnt to read between the ages of four and five. I remember that my youngest brother was not allowed to have his fourth birthday because he could not read. There should be no difficulty about a child being able to read by the time it is aged seven, provided it is properly taught. I turn, next, to manners; this is really another way to describe the consideration of 914 others, and it should come from the heart. Young children and adolescents have great hearts, if you touch them in the right way. Manners are of immense importance in the bringing up of the young. So often these things have been left too late, or have been left out altogether, and my experience from the Bench, when dealing with children, is that once there is a crease it takes a lot of ironing out again at a later stage; and a child's character is formed very early in life.
I believe that Christian education in a Christian country should help greatly in the formation of character. I do not think that either the State or our Churches have taken the advantage and realised the potential that they have in this respect. Of course, by that I do not mean that they must be brought up in a strict religious doctrine, but we are still living on the credit of Christian religion, and since, so far, it has not been bettered, I think it should still be taught.
This brings me back to teacher training colleges. Are they turning out the kind of teachers whose far-reaching influence will shape our generation now and for many years to come? I am not happy about it at all. I wonder whether the old vocational urge to pass on the real values in life— the appreciation of the beautiful, the wonderful, the good, the true— has not disappeared. This criticism can also be addressed to the media. Alas!, books have now become so expensive that it is cheaper to buy a comic or to look at television than it is to buy a book worth reading. I hope that this debate is going to open the eyes of those of us who do not believe in destruction, revolution, "grab-as-grab-can", direction, and control by "big brother". But the enemy is at our gates; it is insidious— it has many more subtle ways than we have heard today. It has always been there. If one believes in God one also believes in the Devil — and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, would agree with me. He is always present. Of course, I mean the Devil. The enemy is at our gates and the most urgent matter to me is that the educational world should recapture its sense of mission towards the younger generation and, as Plato put it— I was a classical scholar in my day—Teach them to turn from watching the shadows on the wall, to turn from the wall in the cave to the true light".915 That is what we ought to be doing with our children.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I was fascinated by what the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, said in opening her speech. I think it was really pro-found. She said that the United Nations at its opening concentrated on rights, and that it would be more desirable if it emphasised duties. She went on to say that this principle also applied to our social system, and that when we speak of rights we should also emphasise duties. I regard those remarks as profound, because I think they illustrate the real depth of principles in our present world society and in our domestic society. When the United Nations began, 50 or 60 nations had no right of self-government, and because they were not equal it was obvious that at the beginning of the United Nations the emphasis should be on rights, on the rights of those nations which were denied self-government to be self-governing. It is only in recent years, when those nations have won the right to govern themselves and gained the right to be equal in the United Nations, that the emphasis has been laid upon duties.
I think that is equally true of our own society. Today we emphasise rights, because there is no equality in our society. When there are in our society great masses of people homeless, unemployed— or, even when they have homes, living in appalling housing conditions— with rising prices which they cannot control and the threat to the whole basis of our society, the emphasis will inevitably be upon rights. I am sorry that the noble Baroness has to leave, because I am trying to meet her arguments.
§ Baroness EMMET of AMBERLEY
My Lords, I was going to interrupt to apologise to the noble Lord. Unfortunately, I have a date at 8 o'clock downstairs, but perhaps the noble Lord will still be speaking when I come back. I shall not be very long.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am sorry that I did not hear that last remark. It was obviously a good remark, and the repeated laughter of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint 916 Marylebone, suggests that there was some irony in it. But I pass from that.
I was trying to meet that argument, because I believe it is at the very basis of our discussion. There is emphasis on rights in a society of inequality. There becomes an emphasis on duties when one has an equal opportunity to contribute to society. I believe that the remark of the noble Baroness goes to the very depths of what we are now discussing. I read the articles of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in The Times and I am always tremendously interested in them. I find the fund of facts which are continuously in them very important, but I almost always disagree with the conclusions he reaches. But I want tonight to look at the political philosophy behind his speech, which was particularly developed in his article in The Times this week. He began by saying that violence is not justified in a democratic society. I agree with him entirely. If one has a democratic society and has political aims, then, quite clearly, resort to violence for political aims is not justified.
This problem is a little difficult, because today those who do not accept the duties of a democratic society can so easily resort to violence. Even a few bombs, easily made, can challenge the security of society. But I want to assure the noble Lord— and I imagine this is the view of all of us— that in a democratic society violence for political aims is not justified, it should be condemned and we should be protected against it. That, however, does not end the discussion of violence. Surely, where you have a people who are denied democracy, who are under the occupation of external powers and who are denied self-government, then violence is justified. It is very difficult to decide issues. Everyone is described as a terrorist until he wins, like Frelimo in Mozambique, and the MPLA in Angola. But because they oppose a régime which denies them self-government, because they have massive support and win, the terrorists then become "freedom fighters" and form Governments which we recognise. Therefore one cannot entirely condemn violence for political purposes.
There will be in the minds of some who are listening to me the IRA in Ireland. I would say that there violence is not justified, because the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland— Catholics and 917 Protestants alike— the vast majority of people in Southern Ireland, and the Government of the Republic, agree that there should be some transfer of Northern Ireland only with the will of the majority of the people. Because of that, I would not define the activities of the IRA as violence for political purposes, such as where one people's country is occupied by another people and there is no right of self-government.
My Lords, the third point that I want to take up in Lord Chalfont's interesting essay on political philosophy is that obedience to law is obligatory in a democratic society. I suggest that there should be two reservations to that view. The first reservation should apply when the law of the State imposes upon an individual a duty which is against his conscience. I was in prison for three years during the First World War, because I was a conscientious objector. It would have been wrong for me to obey the law at that time; I should have degraded my own being.
But this duty of not always obeying the law does not apply only in those circumstances. I put it to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that it also applies when an individual is presented with action against what he holds to be an immeasurable menace to society and to democracy and to the victims of that menace. I am thinking of Nazism. Nazism threatened before the war. I am going to acknowledge to this House that, because of my opposition to Nazism, I disobeyed the law. There was an occasion when a leader from Germany of the Socialists who were opposing Hitler came to me and said:" I want to go to Vienna in order to organise common action between the anti-Nazis in Austria and in Germany." He asked," Can you provide me with a passport?" I looked at him. He was the absolute likeness of a certain noble Viscount who had fought with the International Brigade in Spain. I went to that noble Viscount who bore an historic name which was known all over the world; and he gave me his passport so that I could enable that Socialist opponent of Nazism to get to Vienna. When he reached the frontier he had only to present this name of world-wide significance and they passed him.
918 I broke the law. I do not regret it; indeed I am proud of it. But I did more to break the law in that respect. Hitler marched into the Sudetenland; 35 leaders of the people, councillors and others, who were active against Hitler were there. They were destined to be shot. I participated in the forging of passports to enable them to leave the Sudetenland, to pass through Poland and to reach this country. I was breaking the law; but in circumstances like that disobedience to the law is justified and I do not apologise for it. I put it to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that in his analysis of political philosophy he must begin to consider situations of that kind.
My Lords, I pass from those discussions of political philosophy to the noble Lord's own fears. He is afraid of the Communists. Let me say this to him. I am far to the Left of Communists. They want one revolution; I want two revolutions. I want revolution in the West which will bring social justice, equality and socialism, and I want revolution in the East which will bring freedom of thought, freedom of expression, the right of dissent and personal human development. It is fair to say of the Communists of Great Britain— and indeed of Western Europe, of France and of Italy— that they are not now thinking in terms of that revolution by physical violence. They are thinking of it in terms of using the political instruments which exist and, of course, I should be utterly opposed to the use of physical violence for that revolution. But its purpose, the changing of Western capitalist society, the utter transformation of it, to end the injustices and inequalities which now abound, is my purpose as much as it is the purpose of any Communist. The only difference is that I believe so profoundly in the right of freedom of thought, of freedom of expression and personal liberties and I think that both these revolutions must be combined.
My Lords, I wish to conclude by saying this. The noble Lord has mentioned not only the Communist Party but the various Trotskyist groups and has held them to be a danger and a menace. They will be a danger and a menace in our society only if we do not remedy the social injustices which we give them the opportunity to exploit. He mentioned that in 919 the Soviet Union, before the Soviet revolution, the number of Bolsheviks was microscopic— just as the number of Communists and Trotskyists is small in this country today. From that he suggested that although they are small today, they may achieve their revolution tomorrow. Surely the answer is that the Bolsheviks in Russia succeeded for two reasons only: first, the appalling suppression under the Czar; and, secondly, the development of events, almost unique, at the end of that war which gave them the opportunity to seek power on the two slogans of bread and peace. And so it is in this country that the small movements which stand for change by violence will achieve strength only if we fail by democratic means to deal with the social injustices and the crying inequalities which now exist.
I would suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, when he speaks of those who belong to the Left in the Labour Party as I do, or belong to the Tribune Group in the Labour Party as I do, that it is not those in the Labour Party who stand for definite Socialist policies which will deal with these injustices in a fundamental way who are giving any invitation to those who are turning to violence. But there are in our society the appalling miseries of the masses— the homelessness, the slums, the unemployment, the absence of opportunity for children, the hunger of the old-aged. It is only as we deal with those problems that we shall be able to secure the triumph of democracy and prevent the menace of the subversive organisations, so called, to which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has drawn attention.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Baroness HORNSBY-SMITH
My Lords, I hesitate to pick up the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, because this debate was intended to discuss subversion in our country now; but I hope that at some future date I shall be able to take up some of the noble Lord's claims concerning those countries which are no longer colonial, and I would at any time debate with him on the benefits to the members of the State now under General Amin. But to refer to the fundamental and vital issues which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has raised, I would say that 920 he did this House a great service in initiating this debate today. I find it strange that that great democrat the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, should chide us because we give equal rights to all sections of this House, when the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, sits as an independent Member.
It is one of the weaknesses of our centuries old Parliamentary system that when enemies of democracy spell out in the clearest possible terms what they intend to do and hope to achieve, we just do not believe them. Hitler spelt out his intentions in Mein Kampf long before his accumulated successes and the spread of his filthy Nazi creed alerted Europe to its own vulnerability. I can remember, at a very young age in the 'thirties, when Winston Churchill was vilified, I am ashamed to say by members of my own Party as well as members of the Opposition, because he warned us of the impending danger. Whatever we may say about the USSR, she has always been brutally honest about her intention. She has never denied or sought to conceal that her aim was world Communism. The USSR has never sought to conceal that it seeks to export its doctrine beyond its own frontiers, one consequence being to destroy the capitalist system. The USSR has proudly boasted time and again the aim of world Communism— and we have Czechoslovakia and Hunary as silent and impressive witnesses.
I well remember when I had the privilege of representing Her Majesty's Government at the United Nations— as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has done, although he was in a much more distinguished position than I was. At the Assembly we sat in alphabetical order— USSR, UAR, UK— and near me were two charming and most able women representatives of the USSR. We disagreed in our speeches, but we spoke in civilised and friendly terms over three and a half months. I can remember on the last day that one of these brilliant and able women said to me: "Well, goodbye, Miss Hornsby-Smith. I admire your courage. But in your lifetime we shall have the world." Here was a woman with a good university degree— I myself did not go to university and have that advantage; she was a great scholar, a fine linguist and obviously a valuable member of the USSR delegation. She genuinely and sincerely 921 believed what she was saying. This was her creed, her dedication. The only parallel I can think of relates to the last century when the clergy of many Churches went out to obtain Christians in the African continent. The dedication was the same and the conviction was the same.
I am sorry that Lord Shinwell is not here because I do not like answering a noble Lord's point when he is not present, but I do not think that this afternoon the noble Lord, with all his experience and knowledge, was as profound as he might have been and was a little trivial. He asserted that the Communist Party was weak electorally and we could forget it; we were all making a song and dance about nothing. With a free Press and free communications, with a secret ballot and electoral processes properly conducted, the Communist Party has failed to win even a handful of seats in this country, and has failed to win a majority anywhere in Europe, Because of this they have changed their tactics, and on their own admission have turned to gaining power through the unions. They admit it and publicise it. Their documents, about which we have had tremendous evidence this afternoon, are not aimed at their becoming good, loyal trade union members but at their going in and taking over union leadership, whether on the shop floor, in a branch, or at the top. They have endeavoured to do this with the doctors, NALGO and the NUT. Indeed, I think it was Mr. McGahey who, when asked on television whether he had any ambitions to stand for Parliament, said: "Oh, No. I'd have no power with a constituency. I have far, far more power as the leader of my union in my area."
The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, cast his mind back to 1832 and 1884; he said we were worrying too much and that there were protests then. The noble Lord knows as well as I do that those protests and the success they achieved were for an expansion of democracy. The reforms of 1884 were eventually to produce not only the two Parties which we already had but a third Party, the Labour Party. Here was an expansion of democracy. One phrase which the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, used was "constitutional democratic action." I agree with him 100 per cent. However, the people about whom the noble Lord and others have complained tonight are not the people who 922 want to be 100 per cent, good members of the great unions which both he and others have represented. They are people who want to go in and by their little "fraction" and arrangements before they get to the meeting and occasionally, by rigging a vote, to get power which I do not believe will reflect the constitutional democratic views of the noble Lord. I hope that the noble Lord will accept my sincerity when I say that I agree with him on constitutional democracy.
The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, was with me in the other place when we had a massive demonstration from the Trades Union Congress and all the relevant unions attached to it. This took place two and a half years ago. They went to enormous pains to organise the demonstration. They arranged the route with the police. They made arrangements with the Serjeant-at-Arms in the other House. We did our best to find as many rooms as we could for Members to meet the legitimate trade unionists who were to come. The noble Lord knows as well as I do that that completely constitutional demonstration, which was seriously and conscientiously organised by the TUC, was wrecked by the anarchists and by the Communist fringe groups who jumped the gun on that orderly procession from Tower Hill, raced ahead of the properly organised demonstration of many thousands of members of the TUC and affiliated unions, and created a riot in Parliament Square before the genuine trade unions, whom both the noble Lord and I would support as to their right to demonstrate, had even arrived in Parliament Square.
One of the memories of that demonstration which I cherish is this. I had to nip across to see my secretary who was in one of the annexes on the other side of the road. As I came back I heard a burly docker telling one of the anarchists just what he thought of him. Quite unbeknown to me, this docker from Mottingham happened to live in my constituency. He caught sight of me fighting my way through the crowd to get to the House, and he used language to this young anarchist with his poster that I would not dare to repeat in your Lord-ships' House. He told him that he was a disgrace and "We don't want anything to do with the likes of you." Then, catching sight of me, he said, "There's my 923 Member. She may be a … Tory but she works a darned sight harder than you do"! I cherish that as a tribute from one of my constituents who certainly never voted for me in his lifetime.
We have seen the disruption caused by the International Socialists as they tackle industry with instructed cadres— cadres who are instructed in disruption, cadres who are instructed to make all the trouble that they possibly can. They are already established in building, in printing, in teaching and the power industry. They are established among draughtsmen, about which I have very bitter experience in my own constituency. At their very highly organised and disciplined factory branch schools, they instruct their members, not in consort with every trade unionist in the factory but only the chosen who are sufficiently Left Wing— not in the framework of the overall branch or trade union area, but exclusively in their "fraction". We have seen the result in the builders' strike and in the dislocation of the power industry and of the docks. The evidence is there for everyone to recognise who is not blind.
One of the things I genuinely regret is that while the TUC has gathered greater central power it has waned in its focal power. At one time the TUC had very real power. It could disaffiliate those who wooed the anti-democratic forces. I can remember that in the days of the late Ernest Bevin and Arthur Deakin it stayed firmly outside the Communist World Federation of Trade Unions. Woe betide any member of the TUC who waltzed off to a KGB-dominated Communist Trade Union Conference in Czechoslovakia! They would very soon have been "on the mat". One of the people telling them off would have been the right honourable gentleman who was then Minister of Defence in a Labour Government. Today, leading trade unionists, Members of Parliament and even Ministers boast of their co-operation with these undemocratic groups, and they support them from their platforms. I believe that it is the greatest possible tragedy.
The Labour Party gave an open door to these subversive groups when they swept away the list of 70 or 100 proscribed organisations; I think that they 924 opened the door to subversion in their own unions when they did so. Today an area committee or a Communist fraction in a factory can bring a great industry and its supplying and supporting companies to a standstill. The TUC begs and pleads with them to return to work and to follow the lawful negotiating machinery in the setting up of which they have participated and to which they subscribe. It is true that the TUC now sits with the Government and the CBI, and I am delighted that it should be so. However, it should also look to the Communists who are gnawing at the grass roots of the genuine trade union democratic movement. The vast majority of freedom-loving trade unionists in certain industries are being spoken for and directed by small groups of dedicated Communists who preach compassion and concern, but whose sole aim is to put this country under a one-Party dictatorship where freedom of speech, communication and travel will be denied, and the elite of the Communist rulers will decide what job you do, where you work and what you will be paid.
May I ask those who pursue extremism to study the fate of the Democratic Socialists who embraced Communism in Europe— the fate of Dubcek and the fate of Jan Masaryk, who made so homely and so honest a plea that, although I may be a word or so out, I should like to quote what he said. It was this:I want to go back, get on a tram through Prague, and, at the top of my voice, say in that tram, however crowded it may be, ' I don't like this damned Government' and to have no fear that I shall be picked up and condemned for it".That is my democracy. The Communists are the greatest believers in the printed word. They boast that the journal is the organiser. I do not think that any noble Lord has raised this afternoon the point that I wish to raise— I have dropped about six points which have already been covered— and that is the attack being made on the hardworking and dedicated staff of the Department of Health and Social Security. Having myself served both in the old Ministry of Health and in the then MPNI I can speak with some knowledge and experience of the dedication of the staffs that now in the joint Ministry have to carry out this work.
925 The Departments furnish the most comprehensive literature on benefits and how to apply; it is available at the libraries and at the post offices and the Ministry has provided a first-class service. But the Communists produce their own Claimants' Guide, and with a contemptuous sneer at the Department of Health and Social Security they far more frequently refer to it as the "SS". Anything they do not like is fascist. They refer to it as the "SS", not the "DHSS" and this appears time and again in their literature. In one case they do use the initials DHSS, and they say:The DHSS is a collection of full-time skin-flints. To get the better of these people and to make sure we are able to take full advantage of our rights we need to be organised. Strike funds are no longer the mainstay of the people on strike. Supplementary benefits are a much more important source of income.They advise everybody:Play the SS fruit machine and then if it does not pay, hit it hard. If you don't hit it, it won't fall.You are advised to present your applications with mass claims. Go together, harry the Social Services, make life hell for the unfortunate and dedicated officers who are doing their best.
It is a very sad thought for me. I have been all over the United Kingdom to visit their offices and the Social Security workers are being harassed and intimidated as a matter of cold-blooded policy. I had a delegation come to see me not so long ago when I represented a constituency in another place and they demanded iron grilles (which have been supplied) to protect them from harassment from these organised buccaneers. A very able young woman, not of my political thinking, very highly qualified, deliberately sought to work in a congested industrial area because she was dedicated to helping those in whatever need who might pass thorough her hands. Her comments on the changed atmosphere of her job over the past five years, from when she went there, reaching out to help, to today, when she is abused, harassed and bludgeoned into meeting unwarranted demands, present a challenge to all of us who respect the law.
Nor is the Probation Service free from attention. Overworked probation officers find their efforts to help the drop-out, the drug addict and the truant or the inadequate worker frustrated. In their endeav 926 ours to find them employment, to give them confidence and to persuade them to lead responsible lives, they find themselves time and time again nullified by classes of IS instruction which undo all the work the harassed probation officer can do in his hour or hour and a half a week.
Conscious of the power of the media, as other speakers have said, the IS have spelt out: their aims. They boasted in print of being the only political group within the NUJ of any significance and they continued:If the fraction can organise itself tightly there is no reason why we cannot double our membership this year and because this'"—that is the NUJ—is a small and reasonably democratic union we can very easily control it if we work quickly in the right way.We had a debate yesterday and I would not wish to repeat any of it, but this was the programmed task of the IS two years ago.
I come now to my last comment, my Lords, and I have been persuaded to mention it because I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh. Much that he said was very nostalgic to me, and if the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, can go back to 1650 and 1832 I think I can go back to 1945 for a bit. I spent my war years as Principal Private Secretary to the Minister responsible not only for the Ministry of Economic Warfare but also for the Special Operations Executive which organised the many foreign groups of freedom fighters who had left their occupied territories or were hiding in them and sought only to fight for the freedom of their country against Nazi dictatorship.
Today's generation forgets that even when Russia was our ally, when rapidly advancing towards Warsaw she knew the order had been given to the freedom fighters to rise and to create as many diversions as possible for the occupying Nazis in that city as the Russians, they thought, were advancing to occupy the city. We all know that deliberately and coldbloodedly the Russians halted on the other side of the river and those who loved freedom and democracy and who would have been the leaders in a new democratic Poland were left to be butchered. I well remember the colourful and expressive views of the late Ernest Bevin— the cold fury of my Minister who 927 was in our operations room when we had sent the messages for them to rise. I remember the unanimity of Labour, Liberal and Tory Government Ministers that the 125,000 Poles in this country who had been in the army, the Polish squadron, some in the navy and others working with the underground, must be offered permanent residence to save them from the new Communist régime where they would have been transported, or exterminated on their return. I can never forget those former days.
In January 1957 I went to Austria for the Home Office to organise the intake of Hungarian refugees. We took something like 32,000 in at that time and it was my task at the Home Office, with the monumental efforts of our great voluntary services, to shelter them and look after them quickly. They knew what Communism was like. My Lords, the Russians quite openly admit to their desire for world domination. Will we never believe that they mean what they say? The Russian bear may temporarily dance with you but his ultimate aim is a permanent embrace.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, who has just sat down is a lady after my own heart, and I endorse and agree with everything she has said. But I am extremely sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is not here because, with respect, I thought the last part of his speech was really exaggerated nonsense.
I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for initiating this debate. My only sorrow is that we did not have such debates many years ago, because of course we have had subversion ever since I was born. I was pleased to hear the noble Lord say that we must make a distinction between dissent and subversion. I am all for dissent, which brings life into things. I have come across subversion. The noble Lord opposite laughs; perhaps he has not met it as I have. Ever since I came into this House I have spoken about it. I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord for raising this matter. Subversion has now spread through every facet of our society but, as we have heard today, it is chiefly in the 928 industrial sphere where subversion is most prominent.
My Lords, obviously, if economic chaos can be brought about in this country—and that is the object of the Communist Party and the other fringe societies—then Parliamentary Government collapses. The Communists know that their only hope of getting power in this country is by spreading chaos and the poverty that goes with it, because only through poverty is there a fertile seedbed for Communism. I was rather interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, say that he thought the Communist Party in this country was of no importance, because it had only 30,000 card-carrying members. That is true, but it is a very useful fact for the Communist Party, because they have no hope of getting power through Parliament and therefore, people are lulled. The majority of people are like ostriches. I would not liken the noble Lord opposite to an ostrich, but the majority of people put their heads in the sand and say, "There are only 30,000 Communists in the country". But the Communists we must be frightened of are those who go under other labels, and we have plenty of those. At one time in my life I had occasion to do a certain amount of research into Communists under other labels, but I will not go into that now.
The high standard of living in this country is anathema to the Communists, and to the other societies on the fringe of Communism. They will do anything to smash the high cost of living, because as long as we have it, they cannot gain support. When we think of people like Mr. McGahey who says that every miner should have a basic pay of £6,000 a year, he knows as well as I do that that is quite impossible. His only reason for saying that is to try to break the mining industry. I doubt very much whether he cares about the working man. He is only after power. These people are prepared to tell any lies, to use any propaganda trick to get power. Through placing its members in official posts in trade unions, the Communist Party already has tremendous power.
It is interesting to note that the Communist Party is the only political Party in this country which requires to know from those wishing to join, where their 929 place of work is. It is the only political Party interested in that sort of question —for obvious reasons. They want to know where you work, so they can use you to form a Communist cell. We have heard read, I think it was by the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, a quotation from Lenin, that Communists were to worm their way into industry through the trade unions. I will not repeat the quotation. The trade union leaders—and I have a high admiration for most of them—know all this.
I can quote Lord Carron when President of the Engineers' Union. I do not want to weary your Lordships with quotations, but when the noble Lord was speaking about a strike in 1967, he said,These are hammer blows at our very existence as a trading nation, quite deliberately intended ".He then went on to say,It surely does not require a genius to see the linkage between events divorced in geographical location but identical in nature and expression. Be it the docks, building sites or other spheres of activity, all appear to stem from the same origin ".He is only one of many trade union leaders to express similar sentiments.
On the subject of being divorced in geographical location but identical in nature and expression, there have recently been many instances in this country. There may be a car firm which has several factories, but it is extraordinary that in only one of their factories will they have strikes. In the others, where exactly the same pay and conditions occur, there will be no strikes at all, the reason being that the factory with strikes is the one with the Communist cell. That is the only reason for the strikes. Let us take the case of the Barbican building site. Here was a large firm undertaking several building projects, all with the same pay and conditions. The men on the Barbican site came out on strike for a year, and there was a court of inquiry. The court of inquiry found that a Communist-controlled unofficial committee had played an active and mischievous part in the strike. Only that site was affected. Conditions at other sites were no different; the strike was due entirely to the Communist cell.
If we think of the seamen's strike in 1966, the right honourable gentleman the 930 present Prime Minister played a brave part, and all credit to him. He was very firm about it. He exposed to Parliament the part played in the strike, to quote his words,by an efficient and disciplined industrial apparatus controlled from Communist Party headquarters ".I remember telling a story in this House after this strike about a businessman importing goods from Czechoslovakia. When he went to Czechoslovakia to arrange the import of his goods—in May, I think it was—he was told there, "Do not import your goods into the London docks and do not import them into England in August, because there is going to be a strike". I tell that story to show the international ramifications of the Communist Party.
My Lords, it has always been a matter of conjecture where the Communist Party in this country gets its money from. Before the war, it used to get money through a timber importing firm, but where it gets money from now, I do not know. I do not think the money comes from contributions. They buy a great number of copies of the Morning Star which are distributed in East European countries. I think that source of income is quite helpful to the Communist Party. After all, the head of the Russian trade unions, as we have heard, is the former head of the Russian secret police. As we have heard, they support any trouble spots in the West, whether in the North of Ireland or in an industry here; and, obviously, to support those trouble spots they must get their money in somehow. It presumably comes in through firms importing Russian goods, but I do not know.
I have been on television programmes with a character called Jimmy Reid, whom I found not quite my cup of tea. I remember that before the trouble at Upper Clyde there were several meetings on the Clyde with members of the British Communist Party and Jimmy Reid, and at the same time that they had those meetings they also met certain members of the IRA. I do not want to go into that. I will not mention the other groups. The International Socialists, the IS as they are called, are the most irresponsible of the Communist groups and probably the most dangerous. I think they will be violent, and, of course, they have 931 organised a great deal of student unrest. I have pointed all this out, but how can we prevent it or combat it?
Of course, intrinsically, I suppose we must educate the public to the dangers of the Communist take-over in this country. It is not practicable, but if only we could send so many thousands of them every year behind the Iron Curtain, to see the poverty, the dreariness, the dreary clothes, the bad housing, the dreary food, the dreary cabbage soup. Of course, it is all right if you are a tourist in an Intourist hotel. If we could show this to the British public we would have no trouble at all. But, of course, that is not practicable. I really do not know what we can do. We have heard the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet, talking about teacher training colleges. Are we getting the right teachers?—apparently not always.
The only practical suggestion I can make to combat this is for a Government in this country to bring in compulosry voting for unions when they are choosing their executives. I have often spoken about this. It is really monstrous that you can have an executive elected with perhaps only 8 or 10 per cent. of the members voting. In other countries—in Germany, for instance—I am told it is compulsory for every union member to vote. I am quite sure that if we did that the extremists, the Communists, would not have a look in. My Lords, I have spoken enough, but I should like to end, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, ended, with a maxim attributed to Edmund Burke:All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
§ 8.55 p.m.
My Lords, I regard the debate of this afternoon as one which extends very far beyond what some of us may imagine, in a world in which hijacking and assassinations and terrorism prevail and are being regarded as respectable.
The Motion which has been introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, raises vital issues which are confronting not only our country but the civilised world 932 as a whole. It encompasses problems the solutions of which are vital to the future of mankind. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word "subvert", inter alia, as the "overturn or overthrow of religious principles and morality". I propose, in view of the lateness of the hour to refer to one aspect of this which faces us as part and parcel of one world. The chasm into which we shall be led, unless we take active steps in time to stop the sinister forces which are at work, should be realised. We must endeavour to avoid the catastrophe of being destroyed in that chasm. I refer to the breakdown of the international framework which was set up at the end of the Second World War, after the unfortunate failure of the League of Nations. A carefully prepared Charter, to which we were a party and which deals with our own society, was accepted by the United Nations Organisation with a view to bringing amity among and by the nations which constituted its membership.
As an illustration of how the United Nations has failed, I would make reference to a situation which I know very well and in which I have been interested for many years. Our country would look upon the State of Israel as one that has shown some considerable regard for the developing of democratic institutions and taking democratic steps in the various activities in which it has participated. Let me start by saying this. If we really want to deal with our problems satisfactorily the illustration that is and has been given by Israel, how it has carried on, both before its creation as a state and after, would be considered exemplary, in so far as relationships between man and man are concerned, if the world saw a State in its true perspective. It rescued land from the sand and desolation which arose in consequence of centuries of disuse and neglect; in other words, it created something for mankind, for people. If it had not done that, it would have resulted in the land being waste for ever—an eternal waste.
The removal of disease was always regarded as being important for our society and for the society of the world. Disease was cleared by the Jews from rancid marshes, and from the soil that 933 claimed the lives of innumerable pioneers. This is forgotten by so many. They not only gave their lives to make Israel a land fit to live in, but they and their successors have set an example to the rest of the world by developing culture, the humanities, science, social security, and the other attributes so necessary for developing the moral fibre of mankind. They not only gave, and are giving, life but also soul to the soil of that small piece of land situate within a vast area of millions of square miles which were handed over to Israel's neighbours at the end of the First World War by the victorious Allies, towards whose success the Arabs' contribution, as your Lordships will remember, was minimal.
Subversion and extremism are being used by the destroyers of the morals of the world by devious, evil methods; some horribly visible, and others using every device in an attempt to cover their evil designs. One example is the notorious PLO, some of whom we are harbouring in this country. I was rather interested to hear my noble friend Lord Brockway talking about revolution. I cannot imagine my noble friend appearing in this House, or anywhere else, with a laurel wreath in one hand and a gun in the other. The PLO spokesman had the disgraceful audacity to speak at the United Nations Assembly with a gun, which he suddenly pointed to as an indication of what he would do if his laurel wreath was not accepted.
Millions of pounds of money poured into the pockets of the affluent members of the Arab world, with a minimum, if any, exertion on their part, is being thrust into a flood of propaganda hitherto unheard of, in an endeavour to bemuse men and women in this country, as well as in other countries, into the false belief that Israel has no right to live in secure surroundings, or indeed at all. This strategic warfare uses every conceivable medium to obtain its ends. Expert propagandists—and this is what we face in these subversive movements—and advertisers produce shoals of publications, books, periodicals and pamphlets at great expense. Films are similarly used, and half-truths and misleading statements cloaked in cunningly constructed phraseology prevail. No expense is spared in providing a sugar 934 coating for the mind-poisoning propaganda pills distributed so lavishly. But men and women are already beginning to use fair minded intelligence against swallowing these doses which are provided for them.
They see the stranglehold—and I am talking about people not only in other countries but in our own—which the countries involved in blackmail are attempting to put on, and are seeking forms of energy to combat this evil. Indeed, millions saw the gunman Arafat in his true colours in an interview which he gave on 12th February on television, when he claimed that the Palestinians were not divided in their struggle for freedom, because all Palestinian groups are involved with, and participating in, the PLO. "Some of them have resigned from the executive committee, but they are still in the PLO" he said. This clearly shows that the PLO is still continuing its terrorist activities, directly if not by itself, certainly by the organisation which Arafat himself has admitted is still being retained, and which is of course creating the terrorism which we have no need whatsover to endure or to encourage if we want to save our society.
As your Lordships will no doubt know, some of these murder groups have categorically stated that they will use "the armed struggle" on all occasions. Thus the Arab National Youth Organisation for the Liberation of Palestine only recently claimed that they were responsible for the destruction of the TWA plane near the coast of Greece, which resulted in the death of 88 passengers and crew. This is what we are facing, and this, and similar kinds of action, are matters with which we have to concern ourselves when we deal with the subject before us. The inquiry by the United States National Transportation Safety Board resulted in a finding that the destruction of this plane was due to a bomb which exploded in its luggage compartment. I think your Lordships will have no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that Arafat still continues to rely on obtaining his ends by terrorism. Indeed his second-in-command boasted at the Arab Summit conference that he had arranged for the attempts to murder King Hussein of Jordan, and later said that it was still his intention to kill that King.
935 This, and many other acts of terrorism which I have previously described in speeches here, have spread like a cancer throughout a very large number of organisations. This surely indicates that the civilised nations must get together, to cope with the problem, and this is my appeal to the Government of the present time. In dealing with the question of terrorism, and the question that has been raised today, my appeal to them is to see to it that as speedily as possible, we get together with the other civilised nations of the world in consultation. We will not be able to do it through the United Nations Organisation, because most of their members are in fear of blackmail pressure of those Arabs who wish to exterminate the State of Israel. Israel is in diplomatic relationship with us, and indeed has imported more goods from our country than the whole of the Arab world put together.
I say that the time has come when we have to grasp this situation and deal with it from the point of view of human beings, who are not prepared to spare any effort to destroy the kind of action which is taking place in order to terrify our society. The plea I make, and which I repeat to my noble friend, is to consider ways and means of dealing with this problem, not only alone, but also with those countries which are prepared to act in a democratic and humane manner.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Lord GREENHILL of HARROW
My Lords, I am sure that the survivors of this long and important debate are impatient for the concluding speeches of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, and the noble Lords, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and Lord Chalfont. Therefore I shall make my intervention extremely brief. I cannot equal the record of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, but I promise that I will not be more than ten times as long as he. First, with others, I should like to pay a tribute to the admirable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. He spoke with characteristic eloquence and with a good sense of political timing to set out what I think must be recognised as a disturbing situation, one which I think it would be fair to say is not recognised by all Members of this House.
936 From this debate I should like to see follow three actions. First, a confirmation by the Government that they are fully seized of the facts-as set out by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I am sure that they know more, but a public admission that they confirm what he has said would be of great value. Indeed the same point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, when he asked the Government to say that the message was received and understood. The second thing which I should like to see follow from the debate is a confirmation by the Government that the authorities in this country, who have the responsibility of combating illegal subversion, are not being restrained by lack of personnel or funds. The third, and perhaps most important, thing, is that I should like to see a greater readiness on the part of the Press and the public to acknowledge these unwelcome facts, and to oppose them by the full exercise of democratic rights. If these objectives can be achieved we shall indeed have made progress. But there are two other points in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, on which I should like to make a brief comment.
The first point is that he made only a very passing reference to the involvement in illegal subversion of Soviet and foreign intelligence services. This is, of course, common knowledge, and I should like to relate it to the current talk of détente and to the recent visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Moscow. When I spoke in this House last November, I suggested that we should approach the question of détente with some caution. If my memory serves me right—and I am sure it does—Prime Ministers of both Parties who have visited Moscow have all made three claims: first, to have made a breakthrough in Anglo-Soviet relations; second, to have inaugurated a fresh start in those relations; third, to have set the scene for a vast increase of trade. In no case in the past have these exciting and desirable prospects been realised.
No British statesman has a greater experience of negotiating with the Soviet leaders than the present Prime Minister, and I have had the pleasure of watching him do so. He is entitled to ask us to wait to see how it works out in practice. 937 Equally, I think that we have a right to be sceptical. In this country, Governments come and go, but in the Soviet Union the same Government stays put, and there is a steady consistency of purpose, irrespective of personalities, which is easily underestimated.
My Lords, I remind Members of the House that, if the new credit arrangements which have just been made had been made three or four years ago, we should have been offering credit at the rate of £10 million for each member of the Soviet Embassy staff employed in this country in support of espionage operations. All this may well have changed. I no longer know, but I should like to be convinced that the new start in Anglo-Soviet relations means a change from past Soviet policy in this field.
My Lords, the second point in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to which I should like to refer was his comment on the failure of people to learn the lessons of history. Several noble Lords have referred to events in Czechoslovakia. I can remember speaking in 1948 to some Czechs and suggesting that there was a strong danger of a Communist coup. I suggested that all the symptoms of such a coup were at hand. My remarks were brushed aside. My friends said that the spirit of democracy was too deeply ingrained in the Czech people for such events to occur in Prague. There might, they said, be some changes, but changes were desirable and such changes would always be in the true democratic tradition. I was reminded of this conversation while I was watching the "Panorama" programme on the Industry Bill the other day. The representative of one union said that he would welcome the Bill since it was a development which had not been tried in any country outside the Socialist bloc. The Secretary of State for Industry, echoing, I felt, my Czech friends, insisted that there was nothing to worry about since what the Bill proposed was—and I think I quote him correctly—… very much in the British democratic tradition ".My Lords there is clearly a conflict of view here and I trust that the Minister's interpretation is the authentic one, since it is perfectly clear that there are others whose intentions are in no sense in the British democratic tradition. Like the 938 noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, I lived in America during the height of Senator McCarthy's infamous campaign, and heaven forbid that there should be any reflection of that kind of thing over here! But I feel strongly that the care and caution called for in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is the minimum required to protect our democratic system.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Lord AUCKLAND
My Lords, for the last six hours your Lordships' House has been debating a subject of major importance, a subject which, I submit, none of us has enjoyed debating because it is a sad commentary indeed on this great nation that three-quarters of the way through the 20th century we have to debate a subject of this kind. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has performed a valuable service in initiating this debate. Many figures and organisations of different vintages have been quoted to your Lordships and, at this hour, I do not propose to add any further names or organisations, in full or in part. It is, perhaps, necessary, however, to dwell for a moment on why this situation has occurred. It is not, of course, an inherently new situation, although the boil, so to speak, has gathered sufficient pus now to become quite dangerous and action this day of some kind is needed.
One of the main causes of subversion and extremism rearing its ugly head is that there is a feeling of frustration and apathy, particularly among some in the business community of this country. Indeed, the same applies in other countries because they, too, are going through similar problems. The canker of inflation, with its attendant worries of redundancy, and so on, has made many people of relatively moderate and restrained views take an attitude bordering on extremism, some of it not so much to the Left as to the Right, and at this late hour it is not prudent to dwell at length on the implications of these moves.
Considerable reference has been made to Eastern Europe. I have served with noble Lords and honourable Members of another place on host Parliamentary delegations to East European countries and I have been to receptions and various functions in their embassies. One realises what goes on in those countries and what their philosophy represents. 939 But one cannot sweep these problems under the carpet and merely say that Communism, as practised in the extreme in those countries, is much worse than merely bad. One must try, so far as one can, to show that there are alternatives. One likes to think that when representatives from those countries with whom we have full diplomatic relations come over here, they are, at least to some extent, impressed by our democratic way of life, and that it does something, albeit a little, to decrease the extremism and all its attendant vices.
I remember going round a comprehensive school in South-East London with a delegation from Bulgaria. One of the members of the delegation asked how many children attended the school, and on being told that there were 2,000 he threw up his hands in horror because he could not understand how a school could be so large. He said:In my country the schools have something like half this number of children.I have not been to Bulgaria, except by way of landing at Sofia Airport en route to Roumania, where my wife and I spent three days as guests of British Airways and the Roumanian State Airlines, so I cannot comment on the schools in Bulgaria. But as has been pointed out by a number of noble Lords, in Roumania one sees abject poverty mixed with some extremely beautiful and lavish buildings. Much of this foments the type of extremism which can be exported, so to speak, to other countries.
My Lords, finally let me consider why this situation which we have been discussing has come about. Most of us are businessmen as well as politicians, and frequently we hear people say that they have been failed by their politicians, be they of the Right, the Left or the Centre. This situation can be multiplied in almost every democratic country in the world. The cry goes up:We don't trust them. We don't go along with what they are doing.People say—to quote the sinister expression:We will use our own methods.Let me hasten to add that I do not believe this to be the right answer. Nevertheless, it is something which is becoming inherent in our society, and I believe that 940 Governments of all Parties have to reckon with this as being one of the causes, or at least one of the symptoms, of this canker of the two words which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, used in his Motion.
Mention has been made of the situation in the schools. In the Sunday Times there was recently a very interesting series of articles by Mr. Hunter Davies, who at one time was himself a schoolteacher, about a comprehensive school in North London. The articles seemed to me to be fairly written. They concerned a school in which—who knows?—some forms of extremism may well be developing, or have developed. We want our future generations not to repeat mistakes which perhaps some past generations have made, although obviously some of them will be repeated. We are constantly told by our young—I know I am:Well, of course, it is not our fault that we don't do as we are told; but you got us into this mess, and you can get us out of it.That may be something which those of us who are of middle age rather resent being told, but we can resent it until the cows come home because this power being given to young people today will carry on.
If we are to combat this menace of extremism we must develop communications very much more effectively between union and management, and internationally, involving the Commonwealth, the EEC, and Eastern Europe; and above all, we must get our young people involved. Some of this may be very idealistic, but I think in the last analysis, unless some of these remedies can be put into action, the menace about which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in his very convincing opening speech has reminded us, will not depart for a very long time to come.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, some hours ago this debate began with two speeches of, I thought, outstanding quality and sustained interest. The first by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who initiated the debate, and the second by my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, apologised that his speech was long. It was long, but it carried us along with him and it seemed to me to contain material which could hardly have been abridged. I have 941 also listened to almost all the speeches which have been delivered, including those from the Liberal Benches beginning with that of the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, with a very great deal of profit and advantage. It would take me a long time at this late hour to comment upon even a few of them.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, ran into some trouble from his noble friend Lord Shinwell—or if he is not his noble friend, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell— for having initiated the debate. He said that it should have come from these Benches. I think the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, was well answered by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. These subjects are probably better initiated from the Cross-Benches than from any of the Party places in this House. I myself belong to a. Party which has no problems of subversion and few of extremism. We have formed part of the pattern, the tapestry, of Parliamentary life for more than 300 years, and if the efforts of the various groups described by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, are not as successful as they hope, we hope to be here in another 300 years' time. I am sure I wish the same of the Labour Party, but I fear that they have not managed their problems internally quite as well as we normally do. Indeed, the subject proved so sensitive that when the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, probed the wound, the noble Lord, Lord Pannell, started threatening us with terrible penalties from the horrible procedure of privilege which they have down the corridor—which left my withers totally unwrung. I have been through that route too often and I have always got out safe at the other end.
My Lords, the first problem which is raised by this debate is whether there is a problem at all. Quite obviously the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, thought there was not; the noble Lord, Lord Soper, thought there was not; the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, thought there was not. We are puffing about too much heat, they think, The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, in one of his agreeable interventions in this House—considering how much he dislikes us it really is gratifying how often he visits us—said that the Labour Party was suffering from a plethora of disguised Tories but does not need to worry so much about their disguised Communists. He speaks from long experience of 942 being the "hatchet man" of the Labour Party, so I suppose I must take what he says seriously. Frankly on this occasion I do not agree with him, nor do I agree with the other noble Lords who have tried to underestimate the problem. The fact is that almost every democracy in Europe—I hate to use the word because I prefer to use the phrase "Parliamentary government" which is both more respectable and of longer duration than democracy—and I think every democracy except ours has been destroyed at one time or another during our lifetime by subversion: subversion from the Right or subversion from the Left. In each case where the democracy has been destroyed it has given rise to dictatorship. In no case where it has been destroyed has it been destroyed by the will of the people concerned. They clung to their freedoms, they wished to preserve their freedoms; they have lost their freedoms. Some of them have lost their freedom more than once; others only once; others have recovered it. But in each case democracy has not proved the durable commodity that some noble Lords on the Back Benches opposite would have us believe. It has been destroyed, and destroyed by subversion, terrorism and extremism of one sort or another. So I would counsel the Government, and I would counsel this House, not to deride the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, when he exposes the extent to which, on the published material, subversive organisations can be said to exist in this country.
My Lords, I think that we must indulge in a little political theory in discussing their activities. There is no doubt that there has been one successful revolution in our lifetime from which the others have stemmed or which, in the case of fascism, the others have copied. That is the Russian Revolution in 1917. There is equally no doubt that there is a Marxist orthodoxy about the reasons why that succeeded. Some of the tactics employed have been described; but, broadly speaking, it is said that the Communist Party, acting as the spearhead of the proletariat, allied with the peasants and thus destroyed the existing State in a revolutionary situation, giving rise to the dictatorship of the proletariat, desirable and justifiable because it was going to end in the classless society which, of course, has never proved to be the case.
943 The period of "socialism ", which is the word they used although not necessarily the word that other Members of your Lordships' House would use of it, has been prolonged indefinitely. Moreover, one cannot but see in the existing world situation a pattern redeveloping which lends itself to that particular Marxist analysis. The Communist Party spear-heading the grouping of Socialist States (not always now as united as 15 years' ago) is allying itself with the peasants, namely, the underdeveloped world, to exploit the contradictions of capitalist society. And it has scored quite a number of notable successes.
Of course if this were simply a debate, no one would mind the extremism of the views expressed. No one, I think, expressed resentment when the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, or the noble Lord, Lord Soper, advanced the opinion that capitalism, whatever that may mean, was on its last legs. This is perfectly legitimate debating stuff, and if people hold that opinion then they are entitled to express it. But this is not what we are discussing tonight, a debate. I well remember towards the end of the war, the late Aneurin Bevan and I had been doing a broadcasting programme and he was good enough to return to my house in Victoria Square which he knew well, for he had been a fairly intimate friend of my brother Edward Majoribanks. We talked about the political situation and of various Party groups which then existed. I said, "How about the Communist Party?" to which he replied with the characteristic epigrammatic turn of phrase which the Celtic members of our society sometimes achieve, "It is not a Party; it is a conspiracy." It is a conspiracy that we are discussing. It is not a Party. We are discussing people who do not use words in the sense that we use them, who do not use debates for the purpose that we use them. They want to take over society by fear, force or fraud and, so far as I am concerned, I regard the patriotism and devotion of those who have spoken in the sense that there is no danger to be combated, with complete certainty. I do not question it in the least, but I think they are being extremely foolish when they underestimate the danger of our times. I share the view, incidentally, of the noble Lord, Lord Janner, who raised 944 the legitimate point that the success of these methods has been copied widely outside Marxist tenets. We have known the Provos in our own United Kingdom, and he has spoken of the Arab terrorists in a different connection. Both model themselves upon the urban guerilla tactics first employed by the Marxists; so did Hitler, and so did Mussolini.
At this late hour I cannot enter into a long discussion of what we should do to face this out. But, having said that I believe in the reality of the danger, I want to stress one or two rather short points. The first is that we have now for the first time—I think the first time this century, certainly the first time since the war —certain objective factors capable of leading to a revolutionary situation. That is what makes this debate topical; that is what makes it relevant; that is what makes it important. The Russians lost their freedom, not simply because Lenin was introduced like a microbe in his closed railway carriage into the Russian society. They lost their freedom because they had already lost the war. The Government, the régime, the whole institutions of the State had lost their credibility and their authority. If we go on in an inflationary situation, as the German Weimar Republic had to do, and then run into a recession; if we run into the kind of situation with which the French Third Republic was faced between the wars, we shall run into a situation where there are objective factors rendering these ill-intentioned persons more than a danger. They will become a menace. Therefore, we have to take this subject extremely seriously.
However I would say this—and it is perhaps the obverse of what I have just been saying. Obviously, societies and communities are vulnerable to this kind of danger. They can be vulnerable to it in moments of extreme health. But it is the unhealthy body which is vulnerable to disease, not the healthy body, and the first defence we have is not repression but the creation of a healthy body of opinion in this country prepared to believe in the things we believe in and advance the views we hold. And the views we hold are to some extent common between the Parties. I admit that I probably express them in language which is totally different from that which would appeal to the 945 Labour Party, but I do not believe that necessarily the ideas underlying them are incompatible.
I have always believed in something I have called Western civilisation. It is much older than democracy. It consists in a devotion to liberty under law, and that is something which has existed only in the West, and that only comparatively recently. Liberty and law are not two hostile factors warring constantly against one another; they are brother and sister walking hand-in-hand. Liberty is one of the purposes for which law exists. Liberty is not licence. Law is not a system of repression; it is a system of rational rules. Neither, I believe, can be understood or defended without a belief in an objective standard of moral values. Some people have called it natural morality. Others when the word "natural" is used reach for their six-shooter, like Goering, but I rather like the phrase and will adhere to it.
That is the developing system. It is not a fixed series of dogmas; it is a tradition which has grown over the centuries and is still developing. It is a tradition to which this country has contributed probably more than any modern civilisation—perhaps less than Athens, Rome, or Jerusalem have contributed in the past but more, I think, than any contemporary Western society has contributed up to this point. Of course, we enjoy both advantages and disadvantages in having traditional institutions. The Americans have a Constitution which is rooted in a successful revolution—a rebellion against ourselves. Rather like an 18th century building, created institutions have, at any rate, the appearance and sometimes even the reality of a rational construction.
But traditional institutions are never wholly rational. They are justifiable and justified in proportion as they are lovely and. in proportion as they are useful. They are like an old family house with an ancient wing, possibly looking a little dilapidated in half timber but probably with a few modern conveniences scattered about inside and some delightful ways of enjoying a mature and balanced garden. I am thinking of traditional institutions like the Lord Chancellor, for instance! When one comes to inquire into his exact functions, they may not be wholly 946 rational. One might prune a little here or expand a little there. On the whole, however, they are justifiable in proportion as they are lovely and useful.
May I suggest that our best defence against extremism and subversion—I suggest it not in a mood of frivolity, although at this hour of the night I hope I do so in a mood of sociability—is to promote the love of our institutions and an understanding of them. By our institutions I mean some of the things which are often derided. I mean the Crown; I mean Parliament; I mean our courts of justice; I mean our trial by jury; I mean our theory of equality before the law; I mean our Armed Forces who sometimes suffer from danger at a time when we are safe; I mean our police force; I mean our Civil Service; I mean all the apparatus of our traditional State which has grown up over the centuries. We must be prepared not merely to defend them if they were to be attacked by some foreign enemy. We have shown in our lifetime that in such circumstances we are prepared to defend them. However, we must be prepared to defend them in argument by standing up for them whenever we hear them made fun of in the bar parlour, in the factory, in the office, or even in Parliament. My Lords, I have done, because the hour is late, but I am grateful to the noble Lord who has introduced this debate.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ Lord HARRIS of GREENWICH
My Lords, this has been a wide-ranging debate, and that is something of a British understatement! To name only a few, it has ranged from the Common Market to the views of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, on this House and its Members, to the Shrewsbury Pickets, to the views of my noble friend Lord Soper on Clause 4 of the Labour Party Constitution, and it has covered also Anglo-Soviet trade.
It has been the occasion of one of the more notable speeches to which I have had the privilege of listening; namely, the speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. His views I almost totally shared, except for one thing which I regarded as a joke. However, when I realised that noble Lords on his side of the House were not joining in the laughter on our side, I recognised that it was 947 intended to be taken seriously. It was the noble Lord's reference to the admirable way in which the Conservative Party conducts its internal affairs. Before I begin to reply to the debate in general, I apologise in advance to the many noble Lords whose speeches I shall not have the opportunity of commenting upon. But, obviously, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, has just said, to do so would inevitably prolong this debate to a quite intolerable degree.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who introduced this debate— and I think we are all indebted to him for having done so— has long taken an interest in this subject. It is one which has been discussed on a number of occasions in your Lordships' House; and rightly so, for in their various manifestations subversion and terrorism affect each one of us. On the other hand, we must be sure what we mean when we use terms like "subversion ". Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, said there is some need to define our terms, and I think that is right. Subversive activities are generally regarded as those which threaten the safety or wellbeing of the State, and which are intended to undermine or overthrow Parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means. Militancy in the pursuit of trade union or other disputes with employers is obviously not necessarily subversive. We might define terrorism, for the purpose of this debate, as the use of violence for political ends. Not all subversive organisations are terrorist organisations. Terrorist groups generally have subversive aims, but not all the groups which have operated against British interests have the aim of subverting Parliamentary democracy in this country. So much for questions of definition.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, began by speaking on extremism in our political life. He referred to extremist penetration of the trade unions, and to the public statements of those who are committed to the overthrow of our democratic institutions. Some of the organisations to which the noble Lord referred do indeed make no secret of their aims. The Communist Party of Great Britain has not attempted to conceal the fact that its prime purpose is to secure influence within the trade union movement as the 948 means of furthering its political aims. These political aims involve the destruction of Parliamentary democracy and the suppression of freedom as we know it. There are other organisations— indeed, they have been referred to in the course of this debate— such as the International Marxist Group and the International Socialists, who similarly try to infiltrate themselves into key positions and thus to exert an influence out of all proportion to their numbers.
But while it is important to inform and rally public opinion by emphasising the wrecking activities when they occur, it is also important to avoid creating an atmosphere of neurotic over-anxiety. I am sure your Lordships will recognise that there is nothing new in attempts by the Communists at subversion. They have been involved in it for many years and they have in fact been spectacularly unsuccessful. I am unimpressed by quotations from leading figures in the Communist Party, some of which have been read out to us today, claiming an influence— in one example— on the way in which the Labour Party takes its decisions. After all, what are the Communist leaders in this country supposed to do? By comparison with most of the Communist movements in the larger West European countries, they are remarkably unsuccessful, as I have said. To take only one example, the size of the British Communist Party and the degree of support it obtains in this country is negligible compared with the support obtained by the Communist Party in France. The reason for that is the existence in this country of one of the most powerful social democratic Parties in the Western world. That is why the Communist Party has been, and remains, as unsuccessful as it is at the moment.
The right of trade unions in dispute with their employers to further their members' interests, if necessary by industrial action, is a basic freedom and is recognised as such by everyone who has spoken in this debate today. The Government mean to preserve that freedom. Subversive activities are in no way representative of the views of the overwhelming majority of trade unionists in this country. Indeed, we are fortunate in the common sense and responsible attitude of the vast majority of the trade union 949 movement. Only a very small proportion of union members belong to, or sympathise with, organisations such as those I have mentioned.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred in passing to one or two shop stewards in powerful positions in the trade union movement who, he said, had positions of substantial authority in the industries in which they were engaged. I have no doubt that is true, but it is right when one or two, three or four, or many more names are mentioned and referred to as shop stewards, to recognise that the over-whelming majority of the shop stewards in this country are decent democrats who have just as much interest in maintaining our political freedom as anyone else in our society.
A few unions ban members of extremist organisations from holding union office, or require them to declare their affiliation when standing as candidates for office. That is a matter for the unions themselves to decide, and not one for Government legislation. Indeed, it was not one of the areas which the previous Government considered appropriate to legislate for when they brought their industrial relations legislation to Parliament. Similarly, it is for the unions themselves to consider how to encourage an increasing number of their members to take a really active part in union affairs and union elections. In industry, the best safeguard against the small minority of extremists within the trade union ranks is a strong trade union movement, in regular and constructive consultation with the employers and the Government.
My Lords, I should make it absolutely clear that the Government's firm view is that it would be wholly wrong to proscribe organisations because of their political views. The IRA, as the House will recall, was proscribed under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, but this was made necessary by a long series of terrorist outrages in British cities. It is fundamental to our democratic traditions that people should be free to join together to express and further their views, whatever others may think of those views, provided they do not break the law. It is for this reason that our criminal law has traditionally addressed itself to individuals rather than to organisations.
950 If people break the law they can be prosecuted, and the courts have ample powers to deal with anyone who engages in violent activities, whatever may be the object of any organisation of which he is a member. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, predicted that I would say something along these lines. I make no apology for having done so. The alternative policy would be quite unacceptable to this House, to another place, and I think, with all respect to the noble Viscount, to the Liberal Party of which he is a member. My Lords, if we seek to exercise some kind of censorship over all the political activities which are permitted, the only casulaty will be freedom of expression. It is difficult to see how laws could be framed with the special object of restricting the activity of subversive organisations, without making serious inroads into our basic political liberty.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to the possibility of a violent reaction from the extreme Right against the extreme Left. It is the responsibility of the police to deal with violence, from whatever quarter it comes. The Government have no intention of using the services of any private organisation set up with the professed objective of supporting the constitutionally established authority responsible for maintaining public order. The; police need the support of the public, if they are to carry out effectively their duties of maintaining public order and dealing with crime. But members of the public will not help the police by setting up separate vigilante groups, whether on a local or a national basis. The recognised auxiliary to the police is the special constabulary, through which members of the public can give regular voluntary service to their police force. The police neither want nor need the assistance of self-appointed bodies interested only in enforcing their own version of the law.
In making that point, I could, perhaps, refer to the matter raised by the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, when he advocated the creation of a centrally organised riot police. I do not know, but I am bound to say that the experience of the countries which have had such forces does not seem to me to make it a persuasive argument for introducing one in this 951 country, and accordingly the Government have no intention of doing so.
I should now like to turn to the problem of terrorist violence. This was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, and my noble friend Lord Janner. In answer to a Question by my noble friend Lord Shinwell last month, I said that there are a number of organisations and groups in the United Kingdom whose activities may include subversive activities, but that we do not believe that any of them constitute an immediate danger to our political system and way of life. Those relatively small groups which have either advocated or had recourse to politically motivated violence in recent years can have had no real expectation of overthrowing Parliamentary democracy here. For them, senseless and often indiscriminate acts of murder and destruction appear to be a method of achieving publicity or notoriety for their causes on a scale which they would be unable to achieve in the pursuits of their objectives by the democratic process. The Government and the public will not be intimidated by these tactics, but we must all be deeply concerned— this was touched on by Lord Brockway— by the alarming growth of violence for political ends, and by the increase in the number of groups advocating if not practising this violence. In the last few years we have experienced horrifying acts of violence, both in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Most, but by no means all, of these outrages have been attributable to the IRA or elements associated with it.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to international links between terrorists in different countries. As he knows, I cannot disclose the state of our intelligence on matters of this kind, and he will not expect me to reply to him in detail, and I think he acknowledged this when he made his point. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow referred to the resources of the security service. Again it is inappropriate to comment in detail on matters of this kind, but the Government certainly take the view that they are adequate.
It is common knowledge that in the present situation there are links between various terrorist organisations. The noble 952 Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, gave one example of this, and indeed, I shall give another. That example is the occasion when Japanese terrorists were responsible for the invasion of the French Embassy in the Hague in September of last year. And there are indications that the IRA may have received some assistance from Libya. We have made it very clear to the Libyan Government that we regard Libyan support for the IRA as blatant interference in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom. International links between terrorist organisations make international co-operation between Governments in this field all the more important. This point was raised by Lord Janner. In this connection I should like to say how much we welcome the action taken by the American authorities in relation to attempts made by the IRA to obtain material support in the United States.
As events in the Middle East and Western Europe, as well as in this country, have shown, British interests both at home and abroad, including our aircraft and shipping, remain vulnerable to attack by comparatively small but extremely mobile, well-trained and ruthless groups of foreign-trained terrorists. We are continually re-examining our measures to counter this threat, and I touched upon these matters in general terms in a debate initiated by the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, last June. I said then that the Government would not rule out any action, however difficult, so long as it is consistent with our traditions as a civilised democracy. Last November, in response to continued and indiscriminate outrages in British cities, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary introduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill. With the co-operation of all Parties in your Lordships' House and in another place, the Bill became law in a matter of days. My right honourable friend has never suggested that the Act would put an end to terrorism. What the Act does is to give to the Secretary of State and to the police certain additional— and exceptional— powers which it was expected would be useful. That expectation has been fulfilled by the event.
The new Act is one example of the Government's determination to take all practicable measures that changes in the 953 character of the threat facing our country may require. I might also refer to a point made by my noble friend Lord Janner; the measures on aviation security announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade in another place on 13th January, following the hijacking of a British Airways BAC 1-11 the previous week. My right honourable friend said that at the time of the incident all airlines had been requested to undertake, and have implemented, a full search of all passengers and hand baggage on all international scheduled flights and flights to Northern Ireland, and a random check covering at least half the domestic flights. Following the hijacking, my right honourable friend asked airlines to institute full searching of passengers and hand baggage on all domestic, as well as international, scheduled flights.
A man has been charged as a result of the incident, and the case is thus sub judice. But 1 may say that the conduct of the operation demonstrated the value of the Policing of Airports Act 1974, as a result of which policing responsibility at Heathrow was taken over by the Metropolitan Police. My right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland, have already announced their intention of designating Gatwick, Stansted, Prestwick, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports under this Act. In England, Stansted will be designated on 1st March, and I hope that orders relating to Gatwick will be laid at an early date. We are examining, in consultation with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade, the possibility of designating further airports: we particularly have in mind the major municipal airports, such as Birmingham.
I have described today the Government's views on the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and others. But I should like to conclude by taking the matter a little wider, as did the noble and learned Lord. Lord Hailsham, and deal in fact directly with one point which he made at the end of his speech, because I agree with him on the fundamental point which underscores the debate we have had today. Our country is at the moment facing formidable problems. We are experiencing a rate of inflation which, unless checked, can have the most serious954 consequences for the social cohesion of this country. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out the gravity of our present situation, and I am sure that, whatever may be our differences in this House, his general analysis is now widely accepted.
I am sure that if we can surmount our present difficulties, we will be able to withstand, without a great deal of difficulty, any amount of pressure from those within our society who reject our democratic form of government. But it is obvious that we still have to make substantial progress before we can conquer our current economic problems. While we are engaged in this struggle, I consider that a particularly heavy responsibility rests on all of us in public life. It is right, of course, for there to be vigorous debate between our political Parties— and indeed within them. That is, after all, what democracy is about. But at a time when we have to recognise that the values on which democracy rests are being challenged not only here, but in many other advanced industrial countries, it is particularly important for us to conduct ourselves with restraint and moderation.
There is a widespread public anxiety about our current situation; and it is justified. At such a time it is particularly important for us to question whether it is altogether appropriate for us to indulge ourselves in some of the more routine political charges and countercharges which the public find both baffling and irrelevant. I believe that this country will surmount its present problems and merge stronger and more resilient. I recall Lord Attlee's words towards the end of his life, that there was no country in the world in which he would have preferred to live his life than our own. We have civilised traditions of decency and fair play which are the envy of the world. Let us try to play our part to get our country out of its present difficulties.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, I am grateful to your Lordships' House for the way in which this Motion has been debated today. One noble Lord in the course of the debate has said that the House of Lords is a museum, that it is obsolete. I can only say that today it 955 has provided the forum for what I regard as a memorable debate on a subject of very considerable national importance. It has been a debate which has been wide-ranging, thoughtful for the most part, and profound. There has been no more intellectually stimulating, profound and moving speech than that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, whose contribution, I thought, raised the debate to a level which is in the highest traditions of Parliament and of your Lordships' House. I can only say to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, who I hope I can still call my noble friend, that if he was fortunate enough to hear a speech like that in his fourth form then he was happier than I in his choice of educational establishment.
If those that I have spoken of tonight achieve their aims (and they might well do as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, has said) given a state of social and political disintegration, we shall have no more debates of this kind, either here or in another place. We shall have no more freedom of expression, and freedom of speech. We shall have no more opportunities between civilised men to discuss ideas and political aims in a civilised and compassionate way.
If I might pick up only one point in this debate where I think there has been either a failure of communication or a 956 failure of understanding, it is in the number of times that noble Lords have risen to say that the Communist Party in this country is small, weak and politically unsuccessful. Yes, my Lords, of course, it is; it is unsuccessful because aims and political ideas of this kind will always fail to flourish in a healthy Parliamentary democracy where there is a strong social democratic Party, as there still is in this country, devoted to the aim of preventing political ideas of that kind succeeding.
But I believe, as I have said, and as many of your Lordships agree, that those political liberties and freedoms are now under a serious and immediate threat, and in this context I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for his thorough, courteous and constructive reply to the debate. It has given me great encouragement because, whatever may be the views of anyone else inside or outside your Lordships' House, from his speech it is clear that Her Majesty's Government at least recognise the threat with which we are faced, and are prepared, like most of the rest of us in your Lordships' House, to deal with it. In the light of this encouraging and stimulating debate, which I hope will create further debates throughout the country, and in the light of that reply from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.