§ 12.0 noon.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)
I beg to move,That this House approves the declaration of joint policy agreed to by the three great Powers at the Crimea Conference and, in particular, welcomes their determination to maintain unity of action not only in ''achieving the final defeat of the common enemy but, thereafter, in peace as in war.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
Before my right hon. Friend proceeds to address the House, may I ask him whether it would be for his convenience to have an interval during his speech?
§ The Prime Minister
I hope that if I flag, or falter by the way, the House will be so kind as to give me its indulgence, in having a break about one o'clock. I have a good deal of ground to cover.
The recent Conference of the three Powers in the Crimea faced realities and difficulties in so exceptional a manner that the result constituted an Act of State, on which Parliament should formally express their opinion. His Majesty's Government feel they have the right to know where they stand with the House of Commons. A strong expression of support by the House will strengthen our position among our Allies. The intimate and sensitive connections between the Executive Government and the House of Commons will, thereby, also be made plain, thus showing the liveliness of our democratic institutions, and the subordination of Ministers to Parliamentary authority. The House will not shrink from its duty of pronouncing. We live in a time when the quality of decision is required from all who take part in our public affairs. In this way also, the firm and tenacious character of the present Parliament, and, generally, of our Parliamentary institutions, emerging as they do fortified from the storms of the war, will be made manifest. We have, therefore, thought it right and necessary to place a positive Motion on the Paper, in support of which I should like to submit some facts and arguments to the House at the opening of this three days' Debate.
The difficulties of bringing about a Conference of the three heads of the Governments of the principal Allies are only too obvious. The fact that, in spite of all modern methods of communication, 14 months elapsed between Teheran and 1268 Yalta is a measure of those difficulties. It is well known that His Majesty's Government greatly desired a triple meeting in the autumn. We rejoiced when, at last, Yalta was fixed. On the way there, the British and United States delegations met at Malta to discuss the wide range of our joint military and political affairs. The Combined Chiefs of Staff of the two countries were for three days in conference upon the great operations now developing on the Western Front, and upon the war plans against Japan, which it was appropriate for us to discuss together. The Foreign Secretary, accompanied by high officials and assistants, some of whom unhappily perished on the way, also met Mr. Stettinius there. On the morning of 2nd February the cruiser which bore the President steamed majestically into the battle-scarred harbour. A plenary meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff was held in the afternoon, at which the President and I approved the proposals which had been so carefully worked out in the preceding days for carrying our joint war effort to the highest pitch, and for the shaping and timing of the military operations. Meanwhile the Minister of War Transport and the American authorities concerned had been labouring on a vessel all to themselves at the problems of shipping, which govern our affairs at present and which affect the movement and the reserves of oil, food, munitions and troops. On all these matters, complete agreement was reached—very difficult and complicated matters, like making an international Bradshaw in which the times of all the express trains may have to be varied, if half a dozen unforeseen contingencies arise. No hard-and-fast agreements were made on any political issues. These, naturally, were to form the subject of the triple conference, and they were carefully kept open for the full meeting.
The reason why shipping is so tight at present is that the peak period of the war in Europe has been prolonged for a good many months beyond what was hoped for last autumn, and, meanwhile, the peak period against Japan has been brought forward by the American victories in the Pacific. Thus, instead of one peak period fading out or dovetailing into the other, there is an overlap, or double peak period, in the two wars which we are waging together on opposite sides of the globe. Although for a couple of years past our joint losses by U-boats 1269 have ceased to be an appreciable factor in our main business, and although the shipbuilding output of the United States flows on gigantically, and although the Allies have to-day far more shipping than they ever had at any time previously during the war, we are, in fact, more hard-pressed by shipping shortage than ever before. The same double peak of war effort, of course, affects all our preparations for the turn-over to peace, including housing, and the much-needed supplies for civilians. All these facts call for the most strenuous and searching economy on the military side, where indulgence, or miscalculation, or extravagance of any kind is a grave injury to the common cause. They also lamentably hamper our power to provide for the dire needs of the liberated territories. I am not prepared to have this island cut below its minimum safety reserves of food and oil, except in cases where sure and speedy replacement can be made. Subject to this, we shall do everything in our power to help the liberated countries. It is easy to see the rigorous character of the discussions which Lord Leathers—who is highly competent in these matters and is admitted to be a magnificent authority on all this aspect, and who holds it all in his head, has conducted on our behalf, and we may be satisfied to-day with the fair and friendly distribution of burden and hardship which has been agreed upon between Great Britain and the United States over the whole inter-Allied shipping pool.
There was the diplomatic conference proceeding on one cruiser; there was the military discussion proceeding on another, and the discussions on shipping going forward on a third vessel. Then, at the end, the President arrived, and the results were submitted to him and to me. I kept in touch with what was going on, and we jointly approved all these matters, on which action was immediately taken.
After that, we all flew safely from Malta to the airfield in the Crimea, and motored over the mountains—about which very alarming accounts had been given, but these proved to be greatly exaggerated—until we found shelter on the Southern shore of the Crimea. This is protected by the mountains and forms a beautiful Black Sea Riviera, where there still remain, undestroyed by the Nazis, a few villas and palaces of the vanished Imperial and aristocratic régime. By extreme exertions and 1270 every form of thoughtfulness and ingenuity, our Russian hosts had restored these dwellings to good order, and had provided for our accommodation and comfort in the true style of Russian hospitality. In the background were the precipices and the mountains; beyond them, the devastated fields and shattered dwellings of the Crimea, across which twice the armies have surged in deadly combat. Here on this shore we laboured for nine days and grappled with many problems of war and policy while friendship grew.
I have seen criticisms in this country that France was not invited to participate in the Conference at Yalta. The first principle of British policy in Western Europe is a strong France, and a strong French Army. It was, however, felt by all three Great Powers assembled in the Crimea that, while they are responsible for bearing to an overwhelming degree the main brunt and burden of the conduct of the war and the policy intimately connected with the operations, they could not allow any restrictions to be placed upon their right to meet together as they deemed necessary, in order that they may effectively discharge their duties to the common cause. This view, of course, does not exclude meetings on the highest level to which other Powers will be invited.
France may however find many reasons for contentment with the Crimea decisions. Under these decisions France is to be invited to take over a zone of occupation in Germany, which we will immediately proceed to delimit with her, and to sit on the Allied Control Commission in Germany, which regulates the whole affairs of that country after unconditional surrender has been obtained. France is to be invited to join the United States, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China in sponsoring the invitations to the San Francisco Conference, which has been arranged for 25th April this year. She is invited to join the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in operating the procedure laid down in the Declaration on Liberated Europe. She is also a member of the European Advisory Commission, to whom most important tasks have been relegated, including advice to the Governments upon most important matters connected with the treatment of Germany. This Commission, with French assistance, has 1271 already completed in great detail all the terms upon which unconditional surrender will be received and accepted. Everything is provided for in that sphere. If we were confronted to-morrow with a collapse of the German power, there is nothing that has not been foreseen and arranged beforehand by this important European Advisory Commission consisting of Mr. Winant, Ambassador Gusef, and Sir William Strang, of the Foreign Office.
§ The Prime Minister
No, it applies to what I have said—to the arrangements for the occupation as far as they can be foreseen, and also it is to advise us on various matters connected with, Germany apart from the actual taking over by our military authorities. All these arrangements show clearly the importance of the role which France is called upon to play in the settlement of Europe, and how fully it is recognised that she must be intimately associated with the other great Powers in this task. In order to give further explanations of the proceedings of the Conference, we invited M. Bidault, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, to visit London at the earliest opportunity. He was good enough to come, and during the last few days we have had the pleasure of a series of clarifying talks with him, in which he has been able to become fully informed of the whole position, and to express in the most effective manner the views and wishes of France upon it.
On world organisation, there is little that I can say beyond what is contained in the Report of the Conference, and, of course, in the earlier reports which emanated from Dumbarton Oaks. At the Crimea, the three Great Powers agreed on a solution of the difficult question of voting procedure, to which no answer had been found at Dumbarton Oaks. Agreement on this vital matter has enabled us to take the next step forward in the setting up of the new world organisation, and the arrangements are in hand for the issue of invitations to the United Nations Conference which, as I have said, will meet in a couple of months at San Francisco. I wish I could give to the House full particulars of the solution of this question of the voting procedure, 1272 to which representatives of the three Great Powers, formerly in disagreement, have now whole-heartedly agreed. We thought it right, however, that we should consult both France and China, and should endeavour to secure their acceptance before the formula was published. For the moment, therefore, I can only deal with the matter in general terms.
Here is the difficulty which has to be faced. It is on the Great Powers that the chief burden of maintaining peace and security will fall. The new world organisation must take into account this special responsibility of the Great Powers, and must be so framed as not to compromise their unity or their capacity for effective action if it is called for at short notice. At the same time, the world organisation cannot be based upon a dictatorship of the Great Powers. It is their duty to serve the world and not to rule it. We trust the voting procedure on which we agreed at Yalta meets these two essential points and provides a system which is fair and acceptable, having regard to the evident difficulties which will meet anyone who gives prolonged thought to the subject.
The Conference at San Francisco will bring together, upon the invitation of the United States, Great Britain, the British Commonwealth, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the provisional Government of the French Republic and the Republic of China, all those members of the United Nations who have declared war on Germany or Japan by 1st March, 1945, and who have signed the United Nations Conference Declaration. Many are declaring war or have done so since Yalta, and their action should be treated with respect and satisfaction by those who have borne the burden and heat of the day. Our future will be consolidated and enriched by the participation of these Powers who, together with the founder members, will take the opening steps to form the world organisation to which it is hoped that ultimately and in due course all States will belong. It is to this strongly-armed body that we look to prevent wars of aggression, or the preparation for such wars, and to enable disputes between States, both great and small, to be adjusted by peaceful and lawful means, by persuasion, by the pressure of public opinion, by legal method and eventually by another category of method which constitutes the principle of this new organisation.
1273 The former League of Nations, so hardly used and found to be inadequate for the tasks it attempted, will be replaced by a far stronger body in which the United States will play a vitally important part. It will embody much of the structure and characteristics of its predecessor. All the work that was done in the past, all the experience that has been gathered by the working of the League of Nations, will not be cast away, but the new body will differ from it in the essential point that it will not shrink from establishing its will against the evil-doer, or evil-planner, in good time and by force of arms. This organisation, which is capable of continuous progress and development, is at any rate appropriate to the phase into which the world will enter after our present enemies have been beaten down, and we may have good hopes, and, more than hopes, a resolute determination that it will shield humanity from a third renewal of its agonies. 'We have all been made aware in the interval between the two world wars of the weaknesses of international bodies, whose work is seriously complicated by the misfortunne which occurred in the building of the Tower of Babel. Taught by bitter experience we hope now to make the world conscious of the strength of the new instrument and of the protection which it will be able to afford to all who wish to dwell at peace within their habitations.
This new world structure will, from the outset and in all parts of its work, be aided to the utmost by the ordinary channels of friendly diplomatic intercourse, which it in no way supersedes. For our part, we are determined to do all in our power to ensure the success of the Conference. On such an occasion it is clearly right that the two leading Parties in His Majesty's Government and in the British nation should be represented and all Parties bound for the future in these decisions. I am glad to inform the House that His Majesty's chief representatives at this Conference will be my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Lord President of the Council, the Leader of the Labour Party. I am most anxious that this principle should be established even in what are perhaps the closing stages of this memorable coalition. I am anxious that all Parties should be united in this new instrument, so that these supreme affairs shall be, in Mr. Gladstone's words, "high 1274 and dry above the ebb and flow of party politics." I confess that I have not verified that quotation, and I ask for all indulgence if I should be proved to have made any slip.
The Crimea Conference finds the Allies more closely united than ever before, both in the military and in the political sphere. Let Germany recognise that it is futile to hope for division among the Allies and that nothing can avert her utter defeat. Further resistance will only be the cause of needless suffering. The Allies are resolved that Germany shall be totally disarmed, that Nazism and militarism in Germany shall be destroyed, that war criminals shall be justly and swiftly punished, that all German industry capable of military production shall be eliminated or controlled, and that Germany shall make compensation in kind to the utmost of her ability for damage done to Allied Nations. On the other hand, it is not the purpose of the Allies to destroy the people of Germany, or leave them without the necessary means of subsistence. Our policy is not revenge; it is to take such measures as may be necessary to secure the future peace and safety of the world. There will be a place one day for Germans in the comity of nations, but only when all traces of Nazism and militarism have been effectively and finally extirpated.
On the general plan, there is complete agreement. As to the measures to give effect to it, much still remains to be done. The plans for the Allied Control Commission will come into operation immediately on the defeat of Germany; indeed, they are far advanced—advanced, as I have said, to the point where they could be instantly made effective. On the longer-term measures, there are many points of great importance on which detailed plans have yet to be worked out between the Allies. It would be a great mistake to suppose that questions of this kind can be thrashed out, and solutions found for all the many intractable and complex problems involved, while the Armies are still on the march. To hurry and press matters of this kind might well be to risk causing disunity between the Allies. Many of these matters must await the time when the leaders of the Allies, freed from the burden of the direction of the war, can turn their whole or main attention to the making of a wise and farseeing peace, which will, I trust, become 1275 a foundation greatly facilitating the work of the world organisation.
I now come to the most difficult and agitating part of the statement which I have to make to the House—the question of Poland. For more than a year past, and since the tide of war has turned so strongly against Germany, the Polish problem has been divided into two main issues—the frontiers of Poland and the freedom of Poland.
The House is well aware from the speeches I have made to them that the freedom, independence, integrity and sovereignty of Poland have always seemed to His Majesty's Government more important than the actual frontiers. To establish a free Polish nation, with a good home to live in, has always far outweighed, in my mind, the actual tracing of the frontier line, or whether these boundaries should be shifted on both sides of Poland further to the West. The Russian claim, first advanced at Teheran in November, 1943, has always been unchanged for the Curzon Line in the East, and the Russian offer has always been that ample compensation should be gained for Poland at the expense of Germany in the North and in the West. All these matters are tolerably well-known now. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary explained in detail last December the story of the Curzon Line. I have never concealed from the House that, personally, I think the Russian claim is just and right. If I champion this frontier for Russia, it is not because I bow to force. It is because I believe it is the fairest division of territory that can in all the circumstances be made between the two countries whose history has been so chequered and intermingled.
The Curzon Line was drawn in 1919 by an expert Commission, of which one of our most distinguished foreign representatives of those days, Sir Eyre Crowe, was a member. It was drawn at a time when Russia had few friends among the Allies. In fact, I may say that she was extremely unpopular. One cannot feel that either the circumstances or the personalities concerned would have given undue favour to Soviet Russia. They just tried to find out what was the right and proper line to draw. The British Government in those days approved this Line including, of course, the exclusion of Lvov from 1276 Poland. Apart from all that has happened since, I cannot conceive that we should not regard it as a well-informed and fair proposal.
There are two things to be remembered in justice to our great Ally. I can look back to August, 1914, when Germany first declared war against Russia under the Tsar. In those days the Russian frontiers on the West were far more spacious than those for which Russia is now asking after all her sufferings and victories. The Tsarist frontiers included all Finland and the whole of the vast Warsaw salient stretching to within 60 miles of Breslau. Russia is, in fact, accepting a frontier which over immense distances is 200 or 300 miles further to the East than what was Russian territory and had been Russian territory for many generations under the Tsarist regime. Marshal Stalin told me one day that Lenin objected to the Curzon Line because Bialystok and the region round it were taken from Russia. Marshal Stalin and the modern Soviet Government make no such claim and freely agree with the view taken by the Allied Commission of 1919 that the Bialystok region should go to Poland because of the Polish population predominating there.
We speak of the Curzon Line. A line is not a frontier. A frontier has to be surveyed and traced on the ground and not merely cut in on a map by a pencil and ruler. When my right hon. Friend and I were at Moscow in October Marshal Stalin made this point to me, and at that time he said that there might be deviations of 8 to 10 kilometres in either direction in order to follow the courses of streams and hills or the actual sites of particular villages. It seems to me that this was an eminently sensible way of looking at the problem. However, when we met at Yalta the Russian proposal was changed. It was made clear that all such minor alterations would be at the expense of Russia and not at the expense of Poland in order that the Poles might have their minds set at rest once and for all and there would be no further discussion about that part of the business. We welcomed this Soviet proposal.
One must regard these 30 years or more of strife, turmoil and suffering in Europe as part of one story. I have lived through the whole story since 1911 when I was sent to the Admiralty to prepare the Fleet for an 1277 impending German war. In its main essentials it seems to me to be one story of a 30 years' war, or more than a 30 years' war, in which British, Russians, Americans and French have struggled to their utmost to resist German aggression at a cost most grievous to all of them, but to none more frightful than to the Russian people, whose country has twice been ravaged over vast areas and whose blood has been poured out in tens of millions of lives in a common cause now reaching final accomplishment.
There is a second reason which appeals to me apart from this sense of continuity which I personally feel. But for the prodigious exertions and sacrifices of Russia, Poland was doomed to utter destruction at the hands of the Germans. Not only Poland as a State and as a nation, but the Poles as a race were doomed by Hitler to be destroyed or reduced to a servile station. Three and a half million Polish Jews are said to have been actually slaughtered. It is certain that enormous numbers have perished in one of the most horrifying acts of cruelty, probably the most horrifying act of cruelty, which has ever darkened the passage of man on the earth. When the Germans had clearly avowed their intention of making the Poles a subject and lower grade race under the Herrenvolk, suddenly, by a superb effort of military force and skill, the Russian Armies, in little more than three weeks, since in fact we spoke on these matters here, have advanced from the Vistula to the Oder, driving the Germans in ruin before them and freeing the whole of Poland from the awful cruelty and oppression under which the Poles were writhing.
In supporting the Russian claim to the Curzon Line, I repudiate and repulse any suggestion that we are making a questionable compromise or yielding to force or fear, and I assert with the utmost conviction the broad justice of the policy upon which, for the first time, all the three great Allies have now taken their stand. Moreover, the three Powers have now agreed that Poland shall receive substantial accessions of territory both in the North and in the West. In the North she will certainly receive, in the place of a precarious Corridor, the great city of Danzig, the greater part of East Prussia West and South of Koenigsberg and a long, wide sea front on the Baltic. In the West she will receive the important 1278 industrial province of Upper Silesia and, in addition, such other territories to the East of the Oder as it may be decided at the peace settlement to detach from Germany after the views of a broadly based Polish Government have been ascertained.
Thus, it seems to me that this talk of cutting half of Poland off is very misleading. In fact, the part which is to be East of the Curzon Line cannot in any case be measured by its size. It includes the enormous, dismal region of the Pripet Marshes, which Poland held between the two wars, and it exchanges for that the far more fruitful and developed land in the West, from which a very large portion of the German population has already departed. We need not fear that the task of holding these new lines will be too heavy for Poland, or that it will bring about another German revenge or that it will, to use a conventional phrase, sow the seeds of future wars. We intend to take steps far more drastic and effective that those which followed the last war, because we know much more about this business, so as to render all offensive action by Germany utterly impossible for generations to come.
Finally, under the world organization all nations great and small, victors and vanquished will be secured against aggression by indisputable law and by overwhelming international force. The published Crimea Agreement is not a ready-made plan, imposed by the great Powers on the Polish people. It sets out the agreed views of the three major Allies on the means whereby their common desire to see established a strong, free, independent Poland may be fulfilled in co-operation with the Poles themselves, and whereby a Polish Government which all the United Nations can recognise, may be set up in Poland. This has become for the first time a possibility now that practically the whole country has been liberated by the Soviet Army. The fulfilment of the plan will depend upon the willingness of all sections of democratic Polish opinion in Poland or abroad to work together in giving it effect. The plan should be studied as a whole, and with the main common objective always in view. The three Powers are agreed that acceptance by the Poles of the provisions on the Eastern frontiers and, so far as can now be ascertained, on the Western frontiers, 1279 is an essential condition of the establishment and future welfare and security of a strong, independent, homogeneous Polish State.
The proposals on frontiers are in complete accordance, as the House will remember, with the views expressed by me in Parliament on behalf of His Majesty's Government many times during the past year. I ventured to make pronouncements upon this subject at a time when a great measure of agreement was not expressed by the other important parties to the affair. The Eastern frontier must be settled now, if the new Polish administration is to be able to carry on its work in its own territory, and to do this in amity with the Russians and behind their fighting fronts. The Western frontiers, which will involve a substantial accession of German territory to Poland, cannot be fixed except as part of the whole German settlement until after the Allies have occupied German territory and after a fully representative Polish Government has been able to make its wishes known. It would be a great mistake to press Poland to take a larger portion of these lands than is considered by her and by her friends and Allies to be within her compass to man, to develop, and, with the aid of the Allies and the world organisation, to maintain.
I have now dealt with the frontiers of Poland. I must say I think it is a case which I can outline with great confidence to the House. An impartial line traced long ago by a British commission in which Britain took a leading part; the moderation with which the Russians have strictly confined themselves to that line; the enormous sacrifices they have made and the sufferings they have undergone; the contributions they have made to our present victory; the great interest, the vital interest, which Poland has in having complete agreement with her powerful neighbour to the East—when you consider all those matters and the way they have been put forward, the temperate, patient manner in which they have been put forward and discussed, I say that I have rarely seen a case in this House which I could commend with more confidence to the good sense of Members of all sides.
But even more important than the frontiers of Poland, within the limits now 1280 disclosed, is the freedom of Poland. The home of the Poles is settled. Are they to be masters in their own house? Are they to be free, as we in Britain and the United States or France are free? Are their sovereignty and their independence to be untrammelled, or are they to become a mere projection of the Soviet State, forced against their will by an armed minority, to adopt a Communist or totalitarian system? Well, I am putting the case in all its bluntness. It is a touchstone far more sensitive and vital than the drawing of frontier lines. Where does Poland stand? Where do we all stand on this?
Most solemn declarations have been made by Marshal Stalin and the Soviet Union that the sovereign independence of Poland is to be maintained, and this decision is now joined in both by Great Britain and the United States. Here also, the world organisation will in due course assume a measure of responsibility. The Poles will have their future in their own hands, with the single limitation that they must honestly follow, in harmony with their Allies, a policy friendly to Russia. That is surely reasonable—[Interruption].
The procedure which the three Great Powers have unitedly adopted to achieve this vital aim is set forth in unmistakable terms in the Crimea declaration. The agreement provides for consultation with a view to the establishment in Poland of a new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, with which the three major Powers can all enter into diplomatic relations, instead of some recognising one Polish Government and the rest another, a situation which, if it had survived the Yalta Conference, would have proclaimed To the world disunity and confusion. We had to settle it, and we settled it there. No binding restrictions have been imposed upon the scope and method of those consultations. His Majesty's Government intend to do all in their power to ensure that they shall be as wide as possible and that representative Poles of all democratic parties are given full freedom to come and make their views known. Arrangements for this are now being made in Moscow by the Commission of three, comprising M. Molotov, and Mr. Harriman and Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, representing the United States and Great Britain respectively. It will be for the Poles themselves, with such assistance as the Allies are able to give them, to agree upon the composition and constitution of the new Polish 1281 Government of National Unity. Thereafter, His Majesty's Government, through their representative in Poland, will use all their influence to ensure that the free elections to which the new Polish Government will be pledged shall be fairly carried out under all proper democratic safeguards.
Our two guiding principles in dealing with all these problems of the Continent and of liberated countries have been clear: While the war is on, we give help to anyone who can kill a Hun; when the war is over we look to the solution of a free, unfettered, democratic election. Those are the two principles which this Coalition Government have applied, to the best of their ability, to the circumstances and situations in this entangled and infinitely varied development.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
I am sorry to interrupt the Prime Minister, but this point is highly important. So much depends upon the interpretation of the words which the Prime Minister is now using. My only reason for interrupting him is to ask whether he can possibly develop this point a little more. For instance, is there going to be some kind of international supervision? His interpretation will make a great difference to many of us.
§ The Prime Minister
I should certainly like that, but we have to wait until the new Polish Government is set up and to see what are the proposals they make for the carrying out of these free, unfettered elections, to which they will be pledged and to which we are pledged by the responsibility we have assumed. But I have not finished. Perhaps some further words of comfort may come for my Noble Friend. I should be very sorry if I could not reassure him that the course we have adopted is simple, direct and trustworthy. The agreement does not affect the continued recognition by His Majesty's Government of the Polish Government in London. This will be maintained until such time as His Majesty's Government consider that a new Provisional Government has been properly formed in Poland, in accordance with the agreed provisions; nor does it involve the previous or immediate recognition by His Majesty's Government of the present Provisional Government which is now functioning in Poland. We are awaiting—[Interruption]Let me remind the 1282 House and those who have undertaken what I regard as an honourable task, of being very careful that our affairs in Poland are regulated in accordance with the dignity and honour of this country—I have no quarrel with them at all, only a difference of opinion on the facts, which I hope to clear away. That is all that is between us.
Let me remind them that there would have been no Lublin Committee or Lublin Provisional Government in Poland if the Polish Government in London had accepted our faithful counsel given to them a year ago. They would have entered into Poland as its active Government, with the liberating Armies of Russia. Even in October, when the Foreign Secretary and I toiled night and day in Moscow, M. Mikolajczyk could have gone from Moscow to Lublin, with every assurance of Marshal Stalin's friendship, and become the Prime Minister of a more broadly constructed Government, which would now be seated at Warsaw, or wherever, in view of the ruin of Warsaw, the centre of government is placed.
But these opportunities were cast aside. Meanwhile, the expulsion of the Germans from Poland has taken place, and of course the new Government, the Lublin Government, advanced with the victorious Russian Armies, who were received with great joy in very great areas in Poland, many great cities changing hands without a shot fired, and with none of that terrible business of underground armies being shot by both sides, and so forth, which we feared so much, having actually taken place during the great forward advance. These opportunities were cast aside. The Russians, who are executing and preparing military operations on the largest scale against the heart of Germany, have the right to have the communications of their Armies protected by an orderly countryside, under a Government acting in accordance with their needs.
It was not therefore possible, so far as recognition was concerned, to procure the dissolution of the Lublin Government as well as of the London Government simultaneously, and start from a swept table. To do that would be to endanger the success of the Russian offensive, and consequently to prolong the war, with increased loss of Russian, British and American blood. The House should read carefully again and again, those Members 1283 who have doubts, the words and the terms of the Declaration, every word of which was the subject of the most profound and searching attention by the Heads of the three Governments, and by the Foreign Secretaries and all their experts.
How will this Declaration be carried out? How will phrases likeFree and unfettered elections on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballotbe interpreted? Will the "new" Government be "properly" constituted, with a fair representation of the Polish people, as far as can be made practicable at the moment, and as soon as possible? Will the elections be free and unfettered? Will the candidates of all democratic parties be able to present themselves to the electors, and to conduct their campaigns? What are democratic parties? People always take different views. Even in our own country there has been from time to time an effort by one party or the other to claim that they are the true democratic party, and the rest are either Bolsheviks or Tory landlords. What are democratic parties? Obviously this is capable of being settled. Will the election be what we should say was fair and free in this country, making some allowance for the great confusion and disorder which prevail?
§ The Prime Minister
One cannot entirely avoid some nucleus of party inspiration being formed, even in this country, and no doubt sometimes very able Members find themselves a little out of joint with the party arrangements. But there are a great number of parties in Poland. We have agreed that all those that are democratic parties—not Nazi or Fascist parties or parties of collaborators with the enemy—all these will be able to take their part.
These are questions upon which we have the clearest views, in accordance with the principles of the Declaration on liberated Europe, to which all three Governments have duly subscribed. It is on that basis that the Moscow Commission of three was intended to work, and it is on that basis it has already begun to work.
The impression I brought back from the Crimea, and from all my other contacts, is that Marshal Stalin and the 1284 Soviet leaders wish to live in honourable friendship and equality with the Western democracies. I feel also that their word is their bond. I know of no o Government which stands to its obligations, even in its own despite, more solidly than the Russian Soviet Government. I decline absoluely to embark here on a discussion about Russian good faith. It is quite evident that these matters touch the whole future of the world. Sombre indeed would be the fortunes of mankind if some awful schism arose between the Western democracies and the Russian Soviet Union, o if all the future world organisation were rent asunder, and if new cataclysms of inconceivable violence destroyed all that is left of the treasures and liberties of mankind.
Finally on this subject, His Majesty's Government recognise that the large forces of Polish troops, soldiers, sailors and airmen, now fighting gallantly, as they have fought during the whole war, under British command, owe allegiance to the Polish Government in London. We have every confidence that once the new Government, more fully representative of the will of the Polish people than either the present Government in London or the Provisional Administration in Poland, has been established, and recognised by the Great Powers, means will be found of overcoming these formal difficulties in the wider interest of Poland. Above all, His Majesty's Government are resolved that as many as possible of the Polish troops shall be enabled to return in due course to Poland, of their own free will, and under every safeguard, to play their part in the future life of their country.
In any event, His Majesty's Government will never forget the debt they owe to the Polish troops who have served them so valiantly, and to all those who have fought under our command I earnestly hope it may be possible to offer the citizenship and freedom of the British Empire, if they so desire. I am not able to make a declaration on that subject to-day, because all matters affecting citizenship require to be discussed between this country and the Dominions, and that takes time. But so far as we are concerned we should think it an honour to have such faithful and valiant warriors dwelling among us as if they were men of our own blood.
1285 I think I might remind my right hon. Friend that I have indicated I might ask for special indulgence, and this would appear to be a convenient moment.
§ 1.11 p.m.
§ Sitting suspended
§ On resuming—
§ 2.18 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister
The brief interval which has separated us, enables me to carry the House to altogether different fields. We leave the Crimean shore and travel Southwards to warmer climes, in which also we find many matters where British interests are important and where we are involved. President Roosevelt invited the Emperor of Ethiopia, King Farouk of Egypt, and the King of Saudi Arabia to meet him at Ismailia before sailing for home, and conferences upon his cruiser were accordingly arranged by him. I myself took leave of the President on the i5th of this month in Alexandria Harbour, after long and most agreeable talks about the state of our affairs in the light of the Crimea Conference, and also talks about our special business in the Far East, in which, as the Japanese are aware, we both take some interest.
We also spoke of our joint occupation of Italy and of our policy there. Upon this, as the House is aware, there was a great deal of misunderstanding in large sections of the American Press some weeks ago. During our recent talks I repeatedly asked both the President and Mr. Stettinius to state whether there are any, and if so what, complaints by the United States Government against us for any steps we have taken in Italy, or have not taken in Italy; and I received categorical assurances that there are none. Moreover, I must place it on record that when I visited Italy in August last I made a series of proposals to His Majesty's Government, of which I informed the President, for mitigating the severity of the Allied occupation in Italy, and generally for alleviating the hard lot of the Italian people. These matters were discussed at our second Quebec Conference, and it was at Hyde Park, the President's private country home, that he and I drafted the declaration of 28th September, which was, and is, intended to make a very 1286 definite mitigation in the attitude of the victorious Powers towards the Italian people, and to show our desire to help them in clue course to resume their place among the leading nations of Europe. Last Saturday the right hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Harold Macmillan), who is acting President of the Allied Commission, and Admiral Stone of the United States Navy, who is its Chief Commissioner, were received by the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary of Italy, and announced to them the new measures decided upon in favour of the Italian Government, in fulfilment of this September declaration.
As I myself have taken the lead in bringing these proposals forward and eventually securing their adoption, I am not prepared to accept suggestions from any quarter—although we suffered injury and ill-usage at Italy's hands in the days of Mussolini's power—that Great Britain has fallen behind other victorious Powers in taking a generous view towards Italy, or that we nourish any design of "power politics" which involve Italy. The sentence I used was that we had no need of Italy for any of our designs, and that was wrested from its context, but, as a matter of fact, it was a reply which I was bound to make to suggestions in some quarters of the United States Press that we were embarking on some power politics—whatever they may be—in the Mediterranean. I am glad to say that the facts I am now setting forth have been explicitly accepted by the United States, or at any rate in all responsible quarters, and that this view was thoroughly endorsed by the President and Mr. Stettinius, and I have received quite definite assurances that no complaints of any kind were or are preferred against us, which would call for any reply on my part, such as would certainly be forthcoming.
Our two nations can, therefore, proceed on their joint task in Italy—which in future will be burdened with many new complications and difficulties—in the closest confidence and unity. We look forward to Italy's return under a truly democratic regime to the community of industrious and peace-loving nations. In her efforts to help herself, Italy can count upon British good will and upon Allied good will. She can count also on such material aid as is at our disposal, and she will continually receive her fair share. 1287 I said some time ago that Italy would have to work her passage home. She has some way to go yet, but it would be less than just if I did not pay a tribute to the invaluable services, the full tale of which cannot yet be told, of Italian men and women in the Armed Forces, on the seas, in the countryside, and behind the enemy lines in the North, which are being rendered steadily and steadfastly to the common cause. New difficulties may be cast upon us when the great districts in the North are cleared, and when the problem of feeding the great masses for whom we shall then become responsible is thrown upon us and upon the provisional Italian Government, which Government may itself be called upon to undergo changes as a consequence of the greatly increased constituency for which it will become responsible, through the liberation of the Northern districts.
My right hon. Friend and I thought it would be becoming, as well as convenient and agreeable, that we should also see the two rulers who had made long journeys to Egypt at the President's invitation, and that we should pass in friendly review with them the many matters in which we have common concern. It was our duty also to pay our respects to King Farouk of Egypt, and we thought it right to seek a talk with President Shukri of Syria in order to calm things down as much as possible in the Levant. It should not, however, be supposed that anything in the nature of a general conference on Middle East affairs took place. The mere fact that the Regent of Iraq and the Emir Abdulla of Transjordania were not on the spot should make this perfectly clear. Any conference would naturally include authorities of that sort. There was no question of shaping now policy for the Middle East, but rather of making those friendly personal contacts by which public business between various States is often helped. I must at once express our grief and horror at the assassination of the Egyptian Prime Minister, Ahmed Maher Pasha, with whom my right hon. Friend had a long and cordial interview only a few days, almost hours, before he fell a victim to foul play. His death is a serious lass to his King and to his country. The sympathy of Great Britain for the widow and family of the late Prime Minister of Egypt has, of course, been expressed, not only in telegrams from the 1288 Foreign Office, but also by various personal visits of our Ambassador, Lord Killearn, and I am sure the House will associate itself with these expressions. There is little doubt that security measures in Egypt require considerable tightening, and above all that the execution of justice upon men proved guilty of political murder should be swift and exemplary.
The Egyptian Government have, we feel, acted rightly and wisely in deciding to declare war on Germany and Japan, and to sign the United Nations Declaration. We did not press the Egyptian Government at any time to come into the war, and indeed upon more than one occasion in the past our advice has been to the contrary. There were evident advantages in sparing the populous and famous city of Cairo from wholesale bombardment, and we have been content with the attitude of Egypt as a co-belligerent. Egyptian troops have, during the war, played an important part. They have maintained order throughout the Delta, they have guarded many strong-points and depots, and in all kinds of ways they have been of assistance to our war effort, which has once again proved successful in shielding the fertile lands of the Delta from the shock of the foreign invader. We have had every facility from Egypt under our Treaty of Alliance, and successive Egyptian Prime Ministers and Governments have given us support in the manner which we deemed to be the most effective. Egypt is an Associated Power, and she should take her rightful place as a future member of the world organisation and as one of its founders, when the occasion is reached at San Francisco at the end of April.
We are also very glad to welcome Turkey into the ranks of the United Nations. Turkey declared herself most firmly on our side by the Treaty of Alliance in 1939, at a time when the gathering dangers were only too apparent. As I explained to the House on a former occasion, Turkey became conscious of unexpected military weakness after the war had started in earnest on account of the influence—the decisive influence—of new weapons with which she was quite unprovided and which we were not in a position to supply. As these weapons exercise a decisive effect on the modern battlefield, the Turks felt that they could no longer confide their safety to their renowned infantry and to the artillery of the last 1289 war. We did not, therefore, for a long time press them for a Turkish declaration of war. It was not until after the Teheran Conference that we considered that the moment had come when Turkey could enter the struggle without grave imprudence. The Turkish Government did not feel able to do so at that time, but they have aided us in various ways which it would not be profitable to recount, and we have never had the slightest doubt where their hearts lay. They also will be welcomed by Great Britain into the ranks of the United Nations, and I do not consider that the ties, renewed between our two countries after the miserable disasters of the last war, have been in any way impaired.
I was greatly interested in meeting King Ibn Saud, the famous ruler of Saudi Arabia. I had the honour of entertaining this most remarkable man to luncheon in the Fayoum Oasis, and of expressing to him the thanks of Great Britain for his steadfast, unswerving and unflinching loyalty to our country and the common cause, which never shone more brightly than in the darkest days and in the hours of mortal peril. His aid will be needed at the close of the war in reaching a solution of the problem of the Arab world and of the Jewish people in Palestine. I have hopes that, when the war is over, good arrangements can be made for securing the peace and progress of the Arab world and generally of the Middle East, and that Great Britain and the United States, which is taking an increasing interest in these regions, will be able to play a valuable part in proving that well known maxim of the old Free Trader "All legitimate interests are in harmony." [Laughter] I knew that would give pleasure to the right hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris). My right hon. Friend enjoys these reminiscences of by-gone controversies, or comparatively by-gone controversies.
My discussions with the Emperor of Ethiopia raised no serious difficulties, because an agreement for the next two years had already been reached, as the result of the Mission to Ethiopia which Lord De La Warr had just completed with much patience and address. It was a satisfaction for me to see for the first-time in the flesh Haile Selassie, that historical figure who pleaded the cause of his 1290 country amid the storms of the League of Nations, who was the first victim of Mussolini's lust for power and conquest, and who was also the first to be restored to his ancient throne by the heavy exertions of our British and Indian Armies in the far off days of 1940 and 1941.
Finally, we had the pleasure of a long discussion with President Shukri of Syria, in which we did our utmost to enjoin a friendly attitude towards the French and to encourage negotiations for a suitable settlement with the French, affecting not only Syria but also the Lebanon. I must make clear, once and for all, the position of His Majesty's Government in respect of Syria and the Lebanon, and in relation to our French Allies. That position is governed by the statements made in 1941, in which the independence of these Levant States was definitely declared by Great Britain and France. At that time, and ever since, His Majesty's Government have made it clear that they would never seek to supplant French influence by British influence in the Levant States. We are determined also to respect the independence of these States and to use our best endeavours to preserve a special position for France in view of the many cultural and historic connections which France has so long established with Syria. We hope that it may be possible for the French to preserve that special position. We trust that these States will be firmly established by the authority of the world organisation, and that French privilege, will also be recognised.
However, I must make it clear that it is not for us alone to defend by force either Syrian or Lebanese independence or French privilege. We seek both, and we do not believe that they are incompatible. Too much must not be placed, therefore, upon the shoulders of Great Britain alone. We have to take note of the fact that Russia arid the United States have recognised and favour Syrian and Lebanese independence, but do not favour any special position for any other foreign country. All these and many other matters affecting the Middle East are fitting and necessary subjects for the Peace Conference, at which we must resolutely strive for final settlements of lasting peace between all the States and races comprised in the Middle East, and in the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean.
On the way back from the Crimea, to say "Good-bye" to the President at 1291 Alexandria, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I stopped in Athens. I must say that from my point of view this was the high spot of the whole journey. I could not help recalling the grim conditions of our visit only seven weeks before, when the cannon were firing close at hand, and bullets continually struck the walls and people were killed and wounded in the streets not far away. The contrast between these violent scenes and the really rapturous welcome we received from vast crowds of delighted citizens was one of the most vivid, impressive and agreeable experiences of my life. Peace reigned over the beautiful, immortal city. Its citizens were wild with joy. His Beatitude the Archbishop was seated in the Regency, firmly grasping the reigns of power. Together we drove through the crowded streets, lined by the first instalment of the new national Greek Army, until I found myself called upon to address what was, incomparably, the largest and most enthusiastic gathering that, in a very long experience of such demonstrations, I have ever seen. There is no subject in my recollection on which the policy of His Majesty's Government has received more complete vindication than in regard to Greece, nor has there been any on which greater prejudice and misrepresentation have been poured out against them in the United States—[Interruption]—not without some assistance from these shores. All this was done with a gay, and, as I said, a wanton disregard of the ill-effects produced on the spot, and the encouragement given to the resistance of the terrorists in Greece. I am sure we rescued Athens from a horrible fate. I believe that the Greek people will long acclaim our action, both military and political. Peace without vengeance has been achieved. A great mass of arms has been surrendered. Most of the prisoners and hostages have been restored. The great work of bringing in food supplies has resumed its former activity. Public order and security are so established that U.N.R.R.A. is about to resume its functions. The popularity of British troops and of those who have guided the course of policy, such as Mr. Leeper and General Scobie, is unbounded in these regions, and their conduct continues to receive the approbation of His Majesty's Coalition Government.
1292 I should by no means lead the House to suppose that our difficulties are over. The Greek National Army has still to be formed, and to be effective to maintain impartial order. The Greek Budget has to be balanced in some way. The drachma has to be restrained within reasonable limits; the raw materials have to be provided to enable industries of various kinds to get to work in Athens, where there are considerably more than a million people. The sense of unity and responsibility has to grow stronger with the Greek people. And here I must remark that the future of Greece is in the Greeks' own hands. The Greeks must not expect that the whole process of their restoration can be accomplished by British labours or American assistance. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary remained a day longer in Athens than I did, and he was at pains to bring home to the Greek authorities the fact that, now that political stability has been achieved, financial and economic problems must take first place, and that the burden and responsibility are upon the Greek nation and that they must on no account sit back and leave these tasks to foreigners.
I trust that these remarks will in no way detract from the great kindness and enthusiasm with which I was received a little while ago, but if my words should cause pain I am not entirely sorry for it. The intense political activity of the Greek mind must continue to give way to practical problems. As soon as possible they must reach that election, fair, free, unfettered, with secret ballot and on a basis of universal suffrage, to which everyone is looking forward, and which can alone regulate and adjust everything that has been done. I look forward to it with the greatest confidence. I particularly welcome the wish of the Greek Government that Russian, British and American observers shall he free, on the spot, to make sure that the will of the people finds complete and sincere expression. So much for that episode, upon which we have had several exciting and even momentarily heated Debates in recent times.
I thank the House very much for their courtesy and attention. I would revert, for a moment or two before sitting down, to the Conference as a whole, and in relation to the grave matters which I mentioned before the interval with which the House indulged me. It was the custom of the Conference at Yalta to hold its 1293 meetings of the three Heads of Governments and Foreign Secretaries late in the afternoon, and to sit for several hours each day. Here the main issues were deployed, and the measures both of agreement and of difference were clearly revealed. I remember particularly one moment when a prolonged silence fell upon our small body, maintained for two or three minutes. It was immediately found very convenient to remit the measures of agreement or of difference, wherever our discussion had carried us, to the morning meetings of the Foreign Secretaries. Each Foreign Secretary presided over these meetings in rotation. So excellent was the combined work of the Foreign Secretaries that our problems were returned to us nearly every day in time for the full meeting, in a form in which final agreement could be reached and lasting decisions taken.
There was a proposal on the agenda for the institution during the present anxious period of regular meetings of the Foreign Secretaries, an improvement of the combined and collective work which has often been asked for here, in order to prevent avoidable divergence of views, and to concert the actions of the three Great Powers. This was to meet a felt want, and to serve to bridge the unavoidable gap in the meetings of the three Heads of Governments. There was, however, no need to argue this matter at Yalta, because the work of the three Foreign Secretaries proved itself so invaluable, efficient and indispensable that its continuing collective activity was acclaimed by all. It is, of course, only a temporary arrangement, appropriate to these times of special stress, when so heavy a military burden is resting on the three Great Powers. We may expect it eventually to merge in the larger and permanent organisation which will be set up at San Francisco, once that organisation is in full working order, and the Peace Conference has finished its labours. In the intervening period these meetings of the three Foreign Secretaries to whom, from time to time, the Foreign Secretaries of other countries may be added, will prove of undoubted advantage.
Here is the moment when the House should pay its tribute to the work of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I cannot describe to the House the aid and comfort he has been to me in all our difficulties. His hard life when quite young 1294 in the infantry in the last war, his constant self-preparation for the tasks which had fallen to him, his unequalled experience as a Minister at the Foreign Office, his knowledge of foreign affairs and their past history, his experience of conferences of all kinds, his breadth of view, his powers of exposition, his moral courage, have gained for him a position second to none among the Foreign Secretaries of the Grand Alliance. It is not only my own personal debt, but even more that of the House to him, which I now acknowledge.
I suppose that during these last three winter months the human race all the world over has undergone more physical agony and misery than at any other period through which this planet has passed, In the Stone Age the numbers were fewer, and the primitive creatures, little removed from their animal origin, knew no better. We suffer more and we feel more. I must admit that in all this war I never felt so grave a sense of responsibility as I did at Yalta. In 1940 and 1941 when we in this Island were all alone, and invasion was so near, the actual steps we ought to take and our attitude towards them seemed plain and simple. If a man is coming across the sea to kill you, you do everything in your power to make sure he dies before finishing his journey. That may be difficult, it may be painful, but at least it is simple. Now we are entering a world of imponderables, and at every stage occasions for self-questioning arise. It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled et a time.
I trust the House will feel that hope has been powerfully strengthened by our meeting in the Crimea. The ties that bind the three Great Powers together, and their mutual comprehension of each other, have grown. The United States has entered deeply arid constructively into the life and salvation of Europe. We have all three set our hands to far-reaching engagements at once practical and solemn. United we have the unchallengeable power to lead the world to prosperity, freedom and happiness. The Great Powers must seek to serve and not to rule. Joined with other States, both large and small, we may found a world organisation which, armed with ample power, will guard the rights of all States, great or small, from aggression, or from the gathering of the 1295 means of aggression. I am sure that a fairer choice is open to mankind than they have known in recorded ages. The lights burn brighter and shine more broadly than before. Let us walk forward together.
§ 2.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
My right hon. Friend, as always, places me in a considerable difficulty, which I freely admit. But I should like, if I may, very wholeheartedly to congratulate him on cite of the most masterly speeches I have ever heard him make. He has, for once—at any rate for once recently—made a speech which has not provoked any Members of this House to anger. I hope he will continue that practice, for, since he talks about the heat that was engendered over the Greek situation, let me say frankly that he had a good deal to do with it. Indeed, my right hon. Friend himself created a political crisis of the first order. Happily, however, those days are past.
I should like, if I may, to associate myself with the tribute paid by the Prime Minister to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. He and I have to do what we Can to try to make this House a place to live in and work in, not always with success, but, at least, always with the most agreeable relations. I appreciate very much the debt which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister owes to the Foreign Secretary, and I, myself, speaking as one who has to help to conduct the affairs of this House, pay my tribute to him in his capacity as the Leader of the House.
I would prefer to follow the order of the White Paper. I think many Members of the House were in some difficulty about the Motion which now appears on the Paper, or the Motion that might have appeared there. I can appreciate the Prime Minister's desire to make it known to the world that this House, and all this House means, were behind him in the great efforts which he made at the Yalta Conference, efforts which he made in many directions, I have no doubt, with considerable success, against great or substantial opposition. On the other hand, I would have preferred a quiet, friendly Debate without commitments, because the Prime Minister may take it from all of us here that when the Prime Minister is right we shall always unani- 1296 mously support him, and, therefore, if his conscience is perfectly clear he does not need to call for perpetual Votes of Confidence. However, the Prime Minister thought fit to put down a Motion which he has now moved. If I were to be committed to every word in the White Paper and to every word of the Prime Minister's speech I should feel some reluctance in giving it my support in the Division Lobby. But if my right hon. Friend appreciates that there may be many Members of this House who, on one point or another, have mental reservations which they may express, and if I may take it from him that those reservations can be freely expressed and that he will not use it in evidence against us; if my right hon. Friend will assume that on the points where there is no disagreement, we are wholeheartedly behind the Government, on terms like that, I think I can support the Motion in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I think there might be people who would not like to support it, and I think the right hon. Gentleman has put some Members of the House in a very difficult position, and I am quite certain that he knows it. Therefore, on the section of the White Paper on the defeat of Germany, whatever may be said during these three days in the House, no enemy subject, great or small, ought to draw comfort from what is said here. This Debate ought to be conducted with a sense of responsibility. For my part, I wholeheartedly support the paragraph dealing with the defeat of Germany, for that surely is our aim.
There is a section coming next on the occupation and control of Germany. I welcome the statements made by my right hon. Friend this morning. The destruction of foul ideas does not necessarily involve the destruction of a people. It would be wrong to think of our problem in those terms. What precisely is meant byeliminate or control all German industry that could be used for military production"?I do not know. It may be capable of clearer definition, but what is certain is that we must destroy any hope or opportunity of the German people in peace time developing war potential. That does not necessarily mean, I hope, the impoverishment of the German people. Not this 1297 country, nor any country in the world, could profit by the more or less permanent impoverishment of 60,000,000 to 80,000,000 European people. It would be foolish economically and it would be bad from the broad humanitarian point of view. But we must draw the teeth—the second teeth—of the German nation. There might be easy ways of dealing with this problem. I do not believe that it need involve crippling Germany's peace-time capacity for peace-time production. It may be that there will be necessity for a large measure of international control. There are not very many commodities which are really the key commodities for war purposes—a few of the rarer metals. A war cannot be won merely on iron and steel or ersatz rubber.
§ Mr. Greenwood
Of course we do not know what the next war will be like, but at least we do know what an important part these rarer metals are playing in the manufacture of aircraft and of all kinds of weapons of war, and it will be reasonable for the nations who control the supply of those materials—and the British Empire happens to control a large supply of some of them—to ration Germany after the war to normal peace-time requirements and developments. If she were so unwise as to devote those resources to some preparations for war which could not be discovered by any kind of international inspectorate, well, so much the worse for her. But it must be made clear to the German people that, when this war is over, in no circumstances can we or the other United Nations, no matter what methods may have to be applied, permit her to develop her capacity and to develop resources which could be used for war-time purposes.
Reparation must be made, and I am very glad to see we have not committed the follies that we committed after the last Great War about reparations. Reparations in kind will need a good deal of working out, but it seems to me to be the only way in which to bring home to the people of Germany the crimes that they have committed and the only way, in fact, to get them to put right what they have put wrong. Therefore I think the House will agree that now, instead of asking for 1298 impossible millions of pounds, which might be nothing if we got them, we should adopt a policy of reparations in kind.
I leave aside the United Nations' Conference to come to the section of the White Paper dealing with the declaration on liberated Europe. The Big Three must not in any event regard themselves as the overlords of Europe, and I was glad of some words used by the Prime Minister this afternoon which indicated that that was not in his mind. I do not think that the Big Three ought to determine the fate of the smaller—the dozen or whatever number it may be—nations which do not possess either our economic resources or our military power. The value of a nation to human life, culture and civilisation is not measured by its size, it is measured by its quality, and I hope that in dealing with liberated Europe that will be borne in mind.
This section links with the following section on Poland, to which my right hon. Friend paid a good deal of attention this morning. In the previous section dealing with liberated Europe as a whole there is this sentence:The three Governments will consult the other United Nations and provisional authorities or other Governments in Europe when matters of direct interest to them are under consideration.I follow the arguments of my right hon. Friend with regard to territorial readjustment.
I agree that what is far more important is the preservation of a free, independent, sovereign Poland in the fullest sense of the term. As I have said, it is not the size of the body, it is the quality of the body that matters, and that is so in the case of Poland. I do not wish to exacerbate a situation which has already become somewhat acute, but I would point out to the House, that it is foreign to the principles of British justice that the fate of a nation should be decided in its absence and behind its back. I do not regard the territorial problem as vital, but the other problem is vital—that there should be in the East of Europe the living beacon of Poland free and independent, as a warning note to any future aggressive Germany. I do not hold any brief for the Polish Government. I do not think it has been too well treated by His Majesty's Government. I think it has made mistakes. I have told my Polish 1299 friends that it has made mistakes. I admit all that, but I say it really is a cardinal sin for three Great Powers—one of whom has an interest which we have not got—in the absence of the people whose lives are being bartered away, to determine the future of any country.
§ The Prime Minister
The whole object is to create a Polish Government which can, unitedly, decide upon the future.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I think we all want a united Polish Government which can decide upon the future but, as regards the territorial issue, the Poles have been allowed to say very little about how their coat is to be cut. The fact is that before a decision of this kind is taken, I really do feel that the Poles—all the Poles—might have been consulted in the matter. If I were to enter into the realms of controversy on this issue, I would say that an authority has been given to the Polish end of the Polish Government, rather than to the Government which has hitherto been recognised by this country and is still recognised. However, it is perfectly clear—and I have expressed this view to what Polish friends I have, during past months—that there must be a provisional Government, national in character, representative of all organised political movements, to prepare for the future of the Polish people. [HON. MEMBERS: "All?"] Yes, all reorganised political movements, and I include the Communists in that, if that is what my hon. Friends are thinking about. My Socialist friends in Belgium are not enamoured of the Communist Party, but they realise that in their country there is a strong Communist movement, and they are prepared to co-operate with it during these interim days. Then, when we get free and unfettered elections, the people can decide for themselves. It is a pity that in these initial arrangements, both the Lublin Government and the Government here were not properly consulted.
§ The Prime Minister
They are being consulted now. It was not possible to invite a Polish Government to Yalta, because one of the Great Powers recognised one Government and the others recognised another, and it was absolutely necessary for us to adjust our views upon that great division before any invitation could be sent and before we knew to which Govern- 1300 ment it should be sent. What is happening now is that a Government recognised by all the Powers is being brought into being representative of the broad elements of Polish national life. That Government will settle, subject to what I have said about the election being free and unfettered, the future course of affairs in Poland and will have the recognition of all the United Governments, I trust, until such time as its situation can be placed on unchallengeable footing by free, unfettered, universal suffrage exercised at the elections.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I still stick to the point I made before. I realise the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, with one Government recognised by one State, and another Government recognised by two other States. But I still feel that a decision on those lines and of that character, scope, magnitude and importance to the Polish people of the future ought not to have been taken, so to speak, behind their backs. I hope I am not hurting my right hon. Friend's feelings.
I now return to an earlier part of the White Paper dealing with the United Nations Conference. I think it high time there was a world conference, and that we should share the responsibilities of the Big Three with the other nations of the world. Therefore, I think the proposal for a Conference at San Francisco two months hence will be welcome in all quarters of the House. However, I return to a point I have made before, namely, that of the three Great Powers, we seem to be the third, and when there are world conferences, they are held anyhere but here. This is a matter of pride, I think, and of the part and place we have taken in this war.
I see no reason why conferences should necessarily be held at places with attractive rural names like Dumbarton Oaks or Bretton Woods, or at places reminiscent of the spas of pre-war days like Hot Springs. I am not against these attractive names; I am against where those attractive names have been placed on 1301 the globe. They are much too far away. Here we are; we are to have a very vital conference for the future of the world, held in San Francisco. I have nothing to say against San Francisco. I shall not be a delegate so I am not personally interested, but it does seem to me to be unfortunate that all the great meetings have been held outside this country. The future of Poland is to be settled in Moscow by three people more or less after consultation, but I accept that; all the development from Dumbarton Oaks is to be settled at a Conference in San Francisco; and all we get out of it, as a recognition of the importance of London in the world, is that once every three or four months my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is to meet his two opposite numbers in London. I hope that when they come, they will be given a truly royal welcome so that our place in the world shall be amply and fully recognised.
This Conference which is to take place following Dumbarton Oaks, will be enormously important from the point of view of the future of the world. I myself think it high time that such a Conference was held. I realise, however, the great difficulties there may have been—transport, the labours of people concerned with other work and so forth—but now we have got it. While it is quite clear that we must have that world organisation, to which my right hon. Friend referred, for the purpose of securing peace, and getting that measure of security with which the League of Nations, unfortunately, did not provide us, that is not the only aspect of the world problem which we have to face. I agree that it is of vital importance that what I may call the political aspect of world organisation in the future should be faced now, and conclusions reached; it is equally important that, in the economic spheres, world conclusions should be reached.
It is difficult to know which to put first as the creator of war, political disturbances or economic injustices. I incline to the feeling that the second is the greater cause of war. That means some kind of economic organisation parallel with, and equal in importance to, the Conference which is to take place in San Francisco in April. I hope the Government will press forward with proposals for that, 1302 because I am satisfied that unless we do, somehow, make available for all people what resources there are in the world, without any political considerations whatever, we shall create possibilities of a further world war. That, in my view, cannot be done without some economic organisation parallel with, and co-equal to, the world political organisation, and I hope my right hon. Friend will see the wisdom of dealing with that side of the problem.
I do not want to speak at any length on this matter, but there are many issues now crying aloud for solution in the economic sphere, which will affect our prosperity in the future and the prosperity of overseas States. I am glad to think that U.N.R.R.A. has now recovered its equilibrium, and is beginning to operate in Greece. Once we start working U.N.R.R.A. to the full in liberated areas, as we must do, we are launched on the rehabilitation of the world, and no purely relief measures can possibly meet the situation at all. There is, therefore, need, during the immediate period, for the rehabilitation of Europe and for providing food, clothing and shelter—the Americans are kindly going to help us in that respect—and with raw materials and the like. Once we do that we are, in fact, beginning the reconstruction of life following upon the damage that has been done. I hope, therefore, that we shall press forward rapidly with the economic tasks that lie ahead of us.
The last section of the document, dealing with the question of unity for peace, as for war, is a declaration of far-reaching importance. I believe in unity for peace as well as for war, but it is not easy. Unity for war, when you have a common enemy, is one thing; unity in peace calls for statesmanship of a high quality, and a good deal of patience. In the Debate on Greece, when I said that we must exercise infinite patience with the Greek people, hon. Members opposite jeered. I believe that we must, because they have gone through bad times, and do not understand modern democracy as we do. We have to create the conditions in which they can grow, and develop their own lives, and in the post-war period we shall have to show infinite patience with ideologies of which I do not myself approve. I doubt whether we stand mid-way between 1303 Moscow and Washington on these issues, but at any rate I do not find myself in wholehearted agreement with either of those great capital cities.
We shall have an enormous opportunity at the end of the war, because I believe that the comradeship forged in war, and in the hours of common danger, ought to be strong enough to sustain the strains of peace. I hope that that will be so, and I hope that right hon. and hon. Members in this House will always remember the great declarations which have been made on their behalf by my right hon. Friend and his colleagues, as His Majesty's Government, and also the declarations by other Governments to which we have subscribed. What the Prime Minister said is profoundly true. Unless unity is preserved into the days of peace Hitler will have won this war. In the hell to which he deserves to go, he would gloat over it, for if we cannot maintain that sense of unity in the cause of freedom in peacetime, if the forces of freedom are dispersed, or waver, or weaken, then the world which Hitler sought to destroy will stand in peril of its future. That will gravely impede the march forward of mankind to an era of peace, progress and liberty. I hope, therefore, that we shall consider this last section of this Motion with a sense of the obligations under which we are placed and will see that the sacrifices of this war are made worth while by the true winning of the peace.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) I feel certain misgivings about certain sections of this Yalta Agreement, yet it would Le ungenerous of me If I did not at once pay tribute to the very wide achievements, over a very large area, which have been won for us by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. The military co-ordination of strategy, for instance, is most impressive and has led us to the very threshold of victory. Nor do I complain that the Prime Minister has, on this occasion, asked us to vote. As a great constitutional Prime Minister, paying proper attention to Parliament, it is natural that, after having put his name to a world agreement, he should wish to see the stamp of approval put upon it by this House.
1304 I would also like to express my personal appreciation to my right hon. Friend, as a great constitutionalist, in that, although I interrupted the continuity of his speech, he did not exercise his powers to have me deported to a more salubrious climate in this island. We have freedom of speech and we have political privileges in this country which we cherish. I do not know whether the Prime Minister really appreciates the importance of his speech to us on the back benches to-day. From him, alone, could we have an interpretation of the Yalta Agreement, and a further interpretation of the Press reports. We get nothing from Russian sources and with due deference to the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth. (Mr. Petherick) the Russians are extremely good at "keeping things under their hats." Therefore we rely on the Prime Minister's interpretation and before proceeding, I would ask the Foreign Secretary to fill in a good many of the blanks which the Prime Minister has left. In 1939, when the people of this country had to make a choice between peace and war, they chose war because they were convinced, to the point of certainty, that so long as appeals to force were the rule in international affairs, there could be no peace nor progress. Since then, whenever we have had time to lift our eyes for a moment from our own self-preservation, we have re-affirmed our intention to rebuild and to restore at least the elementary standards in international behaviour.
A first British interest in peace, a first British desire, is to provide, over the widest area possible, a setting in which the individual may live out his life in liberty and under justice. That is a British conception, but we believe it to be a world interest. It is true we must face facts. It would be comfortable to believe that relationships between different communities of men were always governed by reason, but the reality as history reveals it, is that the governing principle is that of power. Power has not been destroyed in this war; it has been redistributed. It is still there. It is still used. It is still the basic element in all human war relations. Any settlement at this time must take account of it.
I think a valid criticism of the peace settlement of 1919 was that it allowed too much for the triumph of reason, and too little for the fact of power. While all that is tree, yet it is also tree to say that 1305 the world can never pass from the old order of the rule of force, to the new order of the rule of law, except by way of a period during which the Great Powers themselves are willing, and are seen to be willing, to exercise restraint in the use of power. The position in post-war Europe will be a state of great power and great weakness side by side, and that does not lead to stability. One reason why there is world concern over the differences between Russia and Poland, is because it is the first case, a test case, in the relationship between a Great Power wielding great military might, and her smaller and weaker neighbour. That is the reason why there is world concern over this matter. As far as Poland is concerned there is no country which by reason of its opposition to tyranny has earned a greater right to independence. There is no country to which independence has been more specifically pledged in treaty and declaration, and there is no country which in its weakness has a greater claim upon the magnanimity of its friends. The British approach to this problem cannot rest upon sentiment, but our hearts would need to be of stone if we were not moved by these considerations. But our relations are generally specific undertakings given in treaty, both to Poland and to Russia.
This House is familiar with our obligations to Poland. What are the instruments which govern our relationships to Russia? First, there is the Atlantic Charter, which is not as ethereal as some people would have us believe. It is in the Preamble to the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1942. It is deliberately brought into this Agreement as a guide to the conduct of Great Powers towards other Powers in the world. Certain questions, therefore, ought to be posed and have to be answered to see whether this agreement can, in fact, come within the framework of the Atlantic Charter. What about territorial questions, and what about territorial settlements, the question of the Curzon Line, and the strict limitation of modifications in Poland's favour? Does the treaty conform to that section of the Atlantic Charter which reads:The High Contracting Parties desire to see no territorial changes that do not conform with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned"?What about the free elections about which I asked the Prime Minister, and 1306 to which I shall return? Do they give a real hope that that section will be fulfilled which readsthat they wish to respect the rights of all people to those forms of Government under which they wish to live"?Are there arrangements to end the shootings and deportations and the outlawing of the Polish Home Army? Do they give real promises that the conditions will be fulfilled in whichall the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear"?The questions which arise at the moment are under the last two headings, but the Prime Minister is right about the territorial settlement. The Russians have never receded for one moment, from the view that in this matter they alone are the judges and what they have taken, they will keep. That is their attitude, and I feel rather different from some other Members about this territorial matter. I believe that if you try to force what is an act of power, within the framework of the Atlantic Charter, you will not whitewash the Act but you will break the Charter. When the Prime Minister says that he accepts this as an act of justice, I must take a fundamentally opposite view. We have, dozens of times in our history, accepted this kind of arrangement as a fact of power. I accept it as a fact of power, but I cannot be asked to underwrite it as an act of justice. This is not a quibble in words. It is not a quibbling legalistic interpretation. I believe, most profoundly, that it is an essential British interest that we should be seen to preserve our moral standards in international behaviour. When our plenipotentiaries go abroad and sign agreements for us, they go, it is true, in command of great Imperial power, but they also go as representatives of a great Christian people.
I am going to leave that territorial settlement on one side with that reservation, which, although I do not like it, would not prevent me from voting for the Government on this occasion, because I would never encourage the Poles to believe that they could get this territory back. I would not encourage them to believe that we can help them to do it. All we can do is to aid them to achieve a Poland as nearly as possible equal in status to what it was before the war. I turn, therefore, to the second instrument 1307 which regulates our relations with Russia, the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1942. If I might interpret the word "treaty" to the Prime Minister it would be that a treaty "is a rule and not a guide." Perhaps the House will allow me to read Article 5:The High Contracting Parties agree to act according to the principles of not seeking territorial aggrandisement for themselves, and of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.On that basis it was our hope—it is our hope—to build up good relations with Russia, In 1944, the Russians signed a Treaty with the French which, otherwise closely parallel with our own, had no such Clause. It was an ostentatious omission and it is natural that we should ask ourselves, which is the genuine edition of Russian foreign policy, the 1942 or the 1944, because the Foreign Secretary did not put this Clause into the AngloRussian Treaty without reason. To us, it represents a fundamental conception, namely, that of a Europe of small, free, sovereign, independent States, in which we wish to be one of the family. That is the conception of Europe which we want to see, and it is not entirely selfish—not entirely governed by reasons of security. We do not measure a country's contribution to civilisation merely by the numbers within its borders. Therefore, a Europe of small, free, independent States is a fundamental British interest, and we interpret this Clause as covering the right of Poland and other sovereign States to real independence. We could never be a party to a process under which a whole range of the smaller countries of Europe was drawn, by a mixture of military pressure from without and political disruption from within, into the orbit of another and a greater Power.
Therefore, for me, two vital questions arise in this Debate. First of all, does Russia recognise this Clause as valid and binding, and will she make her actions correspond to her pledged word? Secondly, does Russia hold approximately the same ideas and conceptions of the structure of Europe as we do? On the answer to those two questions, very much depends. Unless you have sanctity of treaties, unless nations are going to keep their pledged word, there is not even the minimum condition present for the coherence of international society, and 1308 unless all the great nations start with at least some common principles and common agreement on fundamentals, all the machinery that we create at San Francisco, or wherever it may be, will contribute nothing to the security of these islands, or to the peace of the world. Machinery is nothing, if good will and agreement are not there.
I want to put before the Foreign Secretary some of the questions which were left unanswered by the Prime Minister. As long as they are unanswered, I am unable to decide how I am going to vote, reluctant as I am even to abstain on an issue of this kind. I want to vote for the Government, if I can, and to give them authority to go forth to more world Conferences and to wider agreement. What answers will the Foreign Secretary give to these difficulties in which I find myself? As the White Paper is framed, and as Press reports have come to us, it looks as though the Lublin Committee is going to be the foundation of the new Government. Is that intended or is it not? It would have been cleaner to scrap bath Governments, and start afresh. If you want a new Government, it would have been a fairer thing to do. Is it intended that this Government should really be new and that Lublin should not be its foundation? I come to the question of free election. It is imperative that these elections should be really and truly free, and a good deal depends on what is our Government's intention with regard to the machinery to achieve it. I should have liked to see joint machinery set up between ourselves and the Russians and the Americans, with the possible addition of other nations, which would cover the case of elections not only in Poland but in Yugoslavia, Greece, or wherever it might be—in other words, that this should be real international supervision and that there should be no doubt left about it.
The third and last condition that I should have liked to see is this. Hon. Members will have noticed in the White Paper a provision in the Agreement about Yugoslavia, which says that legislative Acts passed by the Assembly of National Liberation will be subject to subsequent ratification by constituent assembly. Can the Foreign Secretary say why that was left out of the Polish Agreement? If it is put in the Yugo- 1309 slav Agreement, why is it not here, and can it be added? On the answer to some of these questions, my vote is bound to depend. There are much wider issues here as I have tried to suggest—much wider than the freedom of Poland. This is the first case—a test case. Can we go forward with confidence into a world organisation by which peace may be built up? My answer is that we can, but only if the three nations have certain common principles, and three of them at least must be there. Integrity of dealing, respect for the rights and interests of others and responsibility in the use of power.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Sir William Beveridge (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
It was Mazzini who said once that the morrow of victory was more dangerous that its eve. We all realise that, and all of us in this House will respond to that appeal with which, at the end of his speech, the Prime Minister crowned his work at the Crimea Conference, that we should approach the problem which now lies before us with restraint and deep responsibility. I will confine myself to touching on four points only—the boundaries of Poland, the Government of Poland, the future of Germany and the future world organisation. With regard to the boundaries of Poland, I am thinking of the Eastern boundaries. There we have the choice, broadly, between the Curzon Line, which was accepted by the Supreme Council in 1919, and the 1939 boundary which was secured by the Poles under the Treaty of Riga in 1920. For three years the Powers in Paris tried to get the Poles to give this up, offering one amendment alternatively after another, including a 25-year mandate. Finally, in March, 1923, the Powers capitulated to the Poles and accepted the 1920 boundary which lasted to 1939. When this capitulation was announced in this House by the Prime Minister, Mr. Bonar Law, many questions were asked. Among them he was asked under what conditions the supreme Powers had accepted the Treaty of 1920, and he said they had done it on the condition that Poland, which had been in occupation of Eastern Galicia for three or four years, must recognise that ethnographical conditions made autonomy necessary in that region. I am not sure whether there has been any autonomy in that region since then or not.
1310 As between these two lines, the Curzon Line has the moral basis of an impartial investigation, while the line of 1939, going back to 1772, rests on history and on force. We must all realise that to rest an international arrangement on history and force rather than on impartial decision, is the way to return to war. I have no hesitation in supporting the Curzon Line as a starting point in defining the Eastern boundary of Poland. I would only ask those who are dealing with the drawing of the frontier in detail to remember that the Curzon Line was laid down as the minimum for Poland on the East; according to Professor Temperley's history of the Peace Conference, the American and French delegations thought that the boundary should be more to the East. I hope that we shall be able to obtain whatever modifications to the East are justified by fair ethnographical considerations.
If we accept the Curzon Line now on the ground that it is really justice, it leaves no real ground for compensation for the Poles on the West or elsewhere. In spite of that difficulty, I, personally, would also support the proposal to make East Prussia and Danzig Polish and to remove the German population from those regions. I support that not on the ground of compensation for Poland for taking away from her something she should never have had, but on the practical ground of giving to Poland a compact territory inhabited by Poles only, of giving her an adequate sea-board, and of making room for those Poles who find themselves beyond the Eastern boundary under Soviet rule and wish to move into Poland. They ought to be able to do so on terms of ample compensation. The giving of Danzig and East Prussia to the Poles and taking them away from Germany is also an act of poetic justice. Is it not the origin and occasion of war? After all, what was the German objection to the Polish Corridor? It was the ridiculous objection that Germans could not go to another part of Germany by sea and that therefore Poland must be cut off from the sea. For a country which was claiming Colonies to object that they were required to travel by sea to East Prussia, was ridiculous. I suggest that they should in future be saved from that necessity. By the cutting off of East Prussia we could make the source of this quarrel into a monument and symbol of their defeat.
1311 It may be said that these territorial adjustments conflict with the Atlantic Charter. I do not think that they really do. The Atlantic Charter implies that no peoples should be required to live in a State, in which they do not wish to live. We cannot say that the Atlantic Charter rules out the kind of territorial readjustments, with transfer of population, which is proposed here. I am afraid that I cannot accept all the arguments which the Prime Minister gave in support of his proposals as to Poland. I need not emphasise the differences except to say that the fact that Russia has liberated any part of Poland is not any reason why she should have any part of it. Nor is the fact that in Tsarist times Russia possessed Finland any reason for giving her all she wants now. We must base our decision as to the Eastern boundary of Poland on the justice which we tried to do after the last war but which we were not strong enough to do. I do not feel happy about the suggestion that Poland should be encouraged to extend Westwards into territories which are now German and which presumably will still be occupied by Germans. It is not necessary for the purpose of giving the Poles a proper homeland. The Prime Minister committed himself—I do not know whether he meant to commit the House—to certain changes in Upper Silesia. They are not in the White Paper. The Crimea Conference decided only that these things would be settled at the peace conference. I hope that they will be left to the peace conference and that there the dominant consideration will be that of making a lasting peace.
On the Government of Poland, I can speak more shortly than I would otherwise have done because, on the whole, I agree with the hon. Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) that it is essential for us to see that the Polish Government is one chosen to please the Poles, and not one chosen to please either Soviet Russia or ourselves. We all wish that it had not been necessary to make any settlement about the Polish Government now, but if it has to be made now, it has to be made especially for a military reason: that operations are still proceeding across Poland, and Soviet Russia must have a friendly Government in Poland which she is crossing to get to Germany. If that is the reason, it makes it all the more im- 1312 portant to be certain that the Government which succeeds is not necessarily a continuation of the Provisional Government.
We must take great care to make certain that those who, on our behalf, are concerned with the formation or advising as to the formation of the new Provisional Government have every opportunity for their work; that they are able to discover facts not only in Moscow but in Poland, that they are able to make certain that before the election takes place, all Poles, wherever they may be, have got back to Poland; that they should make certain that all Poles, whether pro-Russian or not can become candidates; and finally, that the election is held fairly and under international observation, which means elections held after the withdrawal of any Soviet Armies and any Soviet police. All of us must be there on equal terms as international observers. That is essential. Our honour is pledged, if we support this Vote of Confidence, to see that Poland gets an independent Government, chosen to please the Poles and no one else. We cannot accept anything that does not allow us to fulfil that obligation. If we are assured of that, we can go to our Polish friends and ask them to think not of 1772 but of 1945 and the future. We can ask them that they should become not British nationals but remain Polish nationals and should help to build up a worthy Poland.
My third point is in regard to the future of Germany. I need not tell the House that I share to the full the detestation of Nazism and desire to make Germany impotent for war not for a period of years but for all time. I couple with that the conviction that we cannot undertake the government of Germany as a subject State, using our youth and risking our youth against an underground war in Germany, for an indefinite period. I feel that in what the Prime Minister said there were one or two questionable phrases. One was where he mentioned that part of the Crimea Conference Report, which states:eliminate or control all German industry that could be used for military production.Really, that means all industry. We must not approach the matter in that way at all. I suggest that we should approach it by getting a Technical Committee to advise us at what stage of production it is necessary to stop Germany from 1313 turning what may be useful goods into destructive munitions in order to be sure that she cannot start a war with any hope of success. That is a technical problem. Personally, I hope that it would be found necessary to interfere only at a very late stage of production indeed. After all, you cannot make aircraft or tanks or bombs in quantities in secret. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I should be very much surprised if the experts agreed with hon. Members opposite and not with me. I hope that on the advice of a Technical Committee we shall find it possible to keep Germany impotent for war while avoiding anything that may impoverish Germany. I hope also that we will not attempt to partition or dismember Germany. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Partition of a country by force is futile. If we split Germany into three States and if the three States can each have arms separately, they will unite them at the moment they want to unite them. If, on the other hand, none of the three States can have arms separately, why are we to insist upon their having separate railways systems, post offices and banks?
§ Mr. Colegate (The Wrekin)
Would not the hon. Member agree that Germany, as we know it to-day, was put together by force?
§ Sir W. Beveridge
I do not think the people of this country will agree to using their youth and risking their youth in forcibly trying to keep Germany divided into nominally separate States, which will actually be working together.
The other phrase about which I feel some doubt is that which refers to extirpating Nazism. You cannot extirpate anything by suppression. You can only do so by providing something to replace it. People talk a great deal about reeducating the German youth. Education involves the co-operation of the pupil and you cannot educate someone who does not wish to be educated. If we are not to govern Germany, we have to find a German Government which will cooperate with us, and we will not get that unless we give them some hope, unless we say: "The road to war is barred and bolted against you for all time, but every other road to civilised life in the com- 1314 munity of nations is open to you." We want to open it sooner rather than later. I do not believe that Britain or the United States will willingly tolerate any attempt to suppress the German people. I think they will agree with that brilliant phrase used by the American writer Lippmann, that in dealing with our enemies we should aim to makedefeat … irrevocable and peace acceptable.Both sides of that are equally important.
I come now to my last point, to the world organisation, on which I have really only one thing to say. Any attempt to cover the subject fully would take far too long. We cannot make an end to war merely by making Germany and Japan impotent for war. We must do that, but having done that we shall become responsible for protecting them against attack by others. We have to substitute an alternative to war for the settling of all disputes between all nations, and not merely in regard to Germany and Japan. The world organisation for peace which was outlined at Dumbarton Oaks and will be before the San Francisco Conference, is designed to do that. Whether it will succeed in doing that depends essentially on whether the Great Powers, by their action and attitude, can win the confidence of the other nations, can persuade the other nations that they mean to use their strength, not for themselves, but for the maintenance of the rule of law between nations. The Great Powers must convince the other nations that when they speak of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving nations they mean that the rights of a nation shall not depend in any way on the strength of its arms. Otherwise every nation will have to arm again, and armaments will breed war. Whether or not we can win that confidence will depend a great deal upon how the new world organisation is constructed at the San Francisco Conference, and it will depend also on the nature of the agreement that the three Powers have reached on the method of voting on the security council. That is still a secret.
I do not want to seem captious. I am sorry that we have not been told what agreement they have reached, but I am even more sorry for the reason of keeping it secret to-day, namely, that the three Powers cannot tell us what they have 1315 agreed until they have discussed it with France and China. That means that those five great Powers are to present a fait accompli to the world. Surely the three Great Powers could have said: "This is what we think, but it is the world which is going to decide and not we."
§ The Secretary of Stine for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
That is precisely what we have said.
§ Sir W. Beveridge
I understand that we are waiting until we have got the other two. Why need we wait until we have their assent to what the three propose? Are they going to claim for the Great Powers a position of privilege which is inconsistent with equality. Upon the answer to that question depends the answer to the question whether we shall win for the world organisation that confidence, without which rearming for war, and a certain return to war, will not be prevented.
Before I conclude I should like to refer to one of the points made by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). He emphasised the necessity of preserving unity among the Great Powers. I agree that that is imperative. The failure of the Versailles Treaty can largely be traced to the fact that the victors were never sufficiently united, but broke up in disagreement almost immediately. Everyone of us must recognise the enormous services that our Prime Minister has rendered and goes on rendering to the world, regardless of weariness, regardless of travel, in seeking to promote unity among the Allies. But there is another imperative besides that of agreeing with our friends. We have to stick to principle. We have to stick to principle in international affairs, and if it happens that one cannot both stick to one's friends and stick to principle, one must stick to principle; because principles do not change, but friends, even if they appear for the moment to be unreasonable, may change and become reasonable. Opportunism, appeasement, self - regarding policies, power politics, all lead to the grave of all our hopes.
I ask the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, as one of those who appreciate their difficulties in negotiating with the great Powers, to appreciate our difficulty in giving a vote one way or the other, on 1316 a Motion of this sort, on things which I agree it would be difficult often to consult us beforehand on things about which, so far as my party is concerned, we apparently shall not have a chance of consultation later. I am prepared to accept the Eastern boundaries of Poland, and I think that perhaps if they have to be accepted they may be settled now. But I would ask the Government if they can give any assurance on the following points. The first is that we should not be consenting parties to anything that infringes the independence of Poland or to the proscription of Polish patriots, and that we will take practical measures to give effect to our obligation to see that Poland in whatever territory is truly free. The second is that we shall not, without previous consultation, be committed to an unrealistic policy—I use that adjective advisedly—of continuing to govern Germany indefinitely, of dismembering Germany, and of impoverishing Germany. Third, I hope that we shall not, without consultation or beforehand, be committed to a world organisation for peace which appears to make that organisation into a dictatorship of the Great Powers.
The formidable hour of peace is upon us. Lasting peace is the thing that the people of this country, and I think of all countries, most passionately desire. I am sure that the people of this country realise also that lasting peace can be founded only on justice, The issue before the world, to echo the words which the Prime Minister used once, is whether in the immediate future the strong nations can agree to be just.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Campbell (Bromley)
I do not intend to say much about Poland, because I believe that the decision taken by the Big Three at the Crimea Conference was the best solution, in the very difficult circumstances. I would like to say that, from my social intercourse with foreigners during this war, I would like to endorse all that the Prime Minister has said about the Foreign Secretary. I have met many foreigners, from many nations, and they all have the very highest regard for the Foreign Secretary, not only for his wisdom, but because he is approachable. I believe that a man who is approachable is very often more appreciciated than a man who perhaps is, one might say, even more able. I was glad 1317 to notice that the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France had come over here, to discuss, among other things, future arrangements between our two countries. A few days ago I was looking up some papers of mine, and I found a most interesting letter that I received from the great French statesman, M. Georges Clemenceau, in 1922. I have it beside me here. I happened to meet him when he was in Java in 1919. I was then British Consul and acting French Consul, and it was my duty to take M. Clemenceau over the country. He wrote me a letter, from which I will read:Without England France was lost, and without France where would England be? Divided from another was ultimate victory for the Germans.That was in 1922. I agree with those views, and I believe it is to our mutual benefit now', and to the benefit of the world as a whole, that we should supply France with all the available armaments and such things, but I do not believe that the French nation have as yet justified their claim to become equal partners with England, America, and Russia. I will give my reasons. Those of us who have interests in the Far East, and relations and friends who are still in the hands of the Japanese, cannot easily forget that the Japanese were permitted to occupy French Indo-China, which resulted in terrible disaster and loss of life and territory to the American, British, Chinese, and Dutch nations, and to our Colonies and our millions of native dependants, and which will cause us all great embarrassment for many years to come, even after the Japanese are defeated.
We have heard with very great pleasure that the American Forces, assisted in some cases by the Australians, have had such great successes against the Japanese Fleet, Mercantile Marine, and Air Force, and that Japan itself is being constantly bombed, But many of us are anxiously awaiting the day when the British Fleet, the British Air Force, and eventually the British Army, will be playing their rightful part in the Far East. I perhaps know the Far East as well as anybody in the House. I have said, and I repeat, that the whole of our prestige, our business, and everything else depends on our taking our lawful part in the defeat of Japan. May that take place as soon as possible.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
I suppose it is inevitable in a Debate of this kind, that relatively small matters should occupy most of the discussion, and that what is vitally important should take very little time because it is really common ground. From a general view, the achievements of the Crimea Conference are perhaps among the most hopeful things that have happened in the world in the last 25 years or more. We ought to congratulate ourselves on having a Government with a public opinion behind them that can carry them through and support them.
The future of Poland is very important, as is the future of every country, but it would be most unfortunate if we spent half of this Debate discussing Poland. Those who are sincerely anxious about the future of Poland are entitled to voice their anxiety; but there are a good many people in this country, or a certain number in this country, and in this House, who are not really anxious about anything except nursing their own anxieties, enmities and fears about the Soviet Union, and if they were not professing anxiety about Poland, they would be about something else. The best thing we can do is to remind them that enmity and suspicion of the Soviet Union have done more in the last 25 years to bring about wars than anything else except Fascism—which is an important exception, I agree. The second thing of which we should remind them is that, when any opportunity to test them has been provided, it has been discovered that those suspicions were unfounded and the fears had no basis at all. It is a responsible matter to give credence to all the different stories about the Soviet Union's designs on Poland, because it gives the enemies of this country a handle. I am trying not to say this with bitterness, but if we were to take the type of speech already made in this House, and others that will still be made, and turn them from good English into bad German, they would simply be speeches by Hitler, and people should face that.
The first point I want to make on that subject is this. What about the good faith of the U.S.S.R.? I might have dilated upon that, and probably hon. Members would not be surprised if I had given a number of instances of its good 1319 faith, but I do not wish to make my speech longer, but rather to keep it shorter. The Prime Minister, who can be trusted to form an objective judgment about it, has said a good many things about it in an unqualified way. The Noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) did not do any good service in challenging the good faith of the U.S.S.R. and in suggesting to the House that there are two standards of honour—the good one, which we have, and the bad one, which they have. I can, at any rate, congratulate the Noble Lord upon his speech in that it was less mischievous than the one which he made in this House a few months ago on a similar topic.
I would like to put some practical observations before right hon. and hon. Members who are anxious about the future of Poland. They think, and a lot of others think, that the Soviet Union does not want a strong Poland, but that it does want a Poland which it can control—a puppet, if you like. I would only suggest that the Soviet Union, in common sense, quite apart from fair dealings and Socialist principles, for one of which the Prime Minister praises her, but for both of which I praise her, cannot possibly want a weak Poland and a Poland that is a mere puppet. The reasons I give are these. With any Government, the one vital thing to which most of their attention must be turned is peace in the future, and we can only get it by giving our attention to-day to the fact that Germany must be politically, morally and industrially disarmed. That is not an easy, simple or quick job, and the one thing we do want are strong countries around Germany. If we present Germany with a neighbour who is weak, we present her with a country which, as soon as Germany can get on her feet again—assuming that she does not go democratic, and I think she will, but we cannot gamble on that—will become as much a puppet of Germany as Poland, in the early stages after the last war, was a puppet of France, and, in the later stages, a puppet of Germany. It is common sense that the Soviet view in these matters is that there must be a strong Poland. Nobody thinks that Russia is a fool, and, if she has any sense, she wants a strong Poland.
The second question is, Does she want to absorb Poland herself or make a puppet 1320 of Poland? Puppets have been a very prominent feature of the international situation for a good many years, but the U.S.S.R. have a very distinguished record, for what records are worth, for not wanting puppets around her. That was the reason behind her hastening in 1917 to give freedom to Finland, because Finland did not want to be with her, and, later, giving freedom to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Russia never has sought to make puppets. I do not see for one moment why she should desire, in the very least, to make the Polish state a puppet. It would only lead to endless squabbles with Great Britain and the United States. Further, the Soviet Union has shown very clearly in recent months that she values, as least as much as we do, the vital business of the three Great Powers remaining friends.
I ought to look at the suggested possibility of Russia wanting to make Poland into a Soviet Poland which would enter the Union. I do not believe that hon. Members who take such a great interest in Poland need be worried about that. Not only the history of the U.S.S.R. but sheer common sense will tend to show that they do not want an unwilling member of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. If the people of Poland, when they get a chance to express their views in a free general election, really want to become a Soviet Republic and join the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, every pledge that we have given pledges us to help them to do it. I do not think the Polish people want to do that. I think they want to go on for a long time to rule their own country for the first time for centuries, and I do not think they want to be a Soviet Republic, but, if they do, we are all pledged to accept it. If they do not want to join the Soviet Union, what fools the Soviet Union would be to try to make them. One of the amazingly remarkable things demonstrated in this war is that a multi-national State like the Soviet Union, with a great variety of races and with a hideous history of repression in Tsarist days of almost all these races by one of them, has remained completely strong and coherent, so that the ordinary observer does not know that it is a multinational State. Remember that every nation within it has the absolute right to secede at any moment, but none has wanted to, because it is perfectly happy where it is. No Government with the 1321 slightest sense wants to add to 18 separate Republics, embracing 189 peoples, one more, strongly national, vigorous, quarrelsome, politically argumentative people which does not want to be there. It would be like putting one bad egg in a consignment of 100,000 to make the lot rotten. Of course, they would not do anything so foolish, and the one thing we can be quite sure of is that the last thing the Soviet Union would do would be to drag Poland into the Soviet Union by the scruff of the neck if it did not want to go.
The Noble Lord the Member for Lanark made three points about Poland. He said it was famous for opposition to tyranny. True, they are very famous for opposition to tyranny, famous for opposition to Tsarist tyranny. So were those territories which lie to the East of Poland. They destroyed it, Poland only escaped from it. The moment the Polish people instead of the Polish landlords have a real part in the government of their country, the fact that the Polish people are opposed to tyranny, and know what tyranny is like, is likely to become even more apparent.
The Noble Lord said we had all pledged independence to Poland. We have, and I hope I have shown and that other people have shown, and will show, that the independence of Poland is vital to all of us, to the Soviet Union at least as much as to anybody else. He spoke strongly about the right of peoples to choose their future. I think he was applying it to what is sometimes known as Eastern Poland, that is that territory East of the Curzon Line. I do not want, in a Debate of this kind, to go far either in substance or form in expressing the bitterness which a great many of the facts arouse in me, but if anybody is going to talk about the right of the Polish people East of the Curzon Line to choose freely, I must point out that on the most optimistic pro-Polish statistics of any reliability at all, the Poles East of the Curzon Line are less than 20 per cent. of the population. Even in peace time, when landlords and their dependants, and civil servants had been counted out, I do not suppose the percentage was more than 8 or 9. If we wanted to get the views of the Polish people East of the Curzon Line the first trouble would be to find them. Then if we asked them what they thought about being in Poland they would say: "We do not mind being in a democratic Poland 1322 but all we see in Poland are pogroms against the Jews and beatings up of the other non-Polish populations," as I could prove from the columns of the "Manchester Guardian" and other reputable papers. The last people we need be worried about are the Poles to Lire East of the Curzon Line.
I want to say a few words about the speech of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir W. Beveridge). I hope he will forgive me for saying that the view that he ought really to be a member of the Labour Party rather than of the Liberal Party is shown by his speech to have been quite wrong. That speech was unconsciously a very dangerous one. I do not wish to embark on criticism of it in general. I wish merely to take a few points in it. He said: "Do not let Poland expand Westwards into Germany. Compensation is a wrong basis on which to deal with these matters, and it is not just." I rather agree—I do not think much of compensation as such, and never did. But we must have a strong Poland, and a strong Poland is sufficiently near to the bone, so to speak, to come within the category of things to which almost anything must be sacrificed in order to secure the peace of Europe. If we asked Poland to base the economy of the nation on anything like the population between the old Western frontier and the new Eastern frontier there would not really be a strong Poland, even giving her Lvov.
What are the objections to her expansion Westwards? There will be an ethnological objection. But a great deal of the population of the territory which is proposed to be taken from Germany is at any rate very substantially Polish, and for my part I regard the wholesale exchange of populations, if necessary, as something infinitely less serious and grievous than the risk of Europe becoming a battlefield again. I would say: "Most certainly move the German population," though, I think, as the Prime Minister pointed out, a good deal has already moved out. East Prussia can strengthen Poland at the expense of Germany.
§ Sir W. Beveridge
How many Poles does the hon. and learned Member think would have to migrate from Eastern Poland, for whom room must be found?
§ Mr. Pritt
From Eastern Poland in the sense I have used it there would be little migration, because there are very few Poles 1323 there. The Poles in East Prussia numbered probably 53 per cent. pre-war. [Interruption.] Something like 53 per cent. of the whole population of East Prussia is of Polish origin. I do not think that the change will make the country too large for the people in it—not for long.
The same hon. Member was very anxious about the control of industry in Germany. He pointed out it had broken down before. But it did so partly because the victorious nations quarrelled, and partly because many people in the victorious nations did not want Germany to be weak, because they wanted her to fight the Soviet Union. This time we have three countries who mean business. It is a very big job to control all the industry of Germany, but it would be a ten times bigger job to prepare for the next war because we had not controlled that industry. I am very strongly in favour of undertaking the burden of controlling industry in Germany. Nor do I believe in the possibility of a prolonged underground war in Germany. If I did I should believe in the healthiness of Fascism. Fascists are not of the stuff that runs a prolonged underground war on a great patriotic basis. They run war on the basis of the support they receive from industrialist supporters and from their own people in whom they have injected their poison.
The last point I wish to make in answer to the same hon. Member concerns his statement that a weak Germany will be in danger of being attacked. I think there lies behind that a line of reasoning the falsity of which I think is worth exposing if I can do so. Many people are talking on the assumption that Germany may be attacked or that Germany will build up her strength and attack somebody if we do not keep her weak, and they are in consequence fearful of alterations of frontiers and revanche. I want the House to consider the possibility of a much wider and more hopeful view. If we do extirpate utterly the military power, direct and indirect of Germany, then we may have eventually a democratic Germany more easy to work with and more willing to work with us. We shall have a position in which the three Great Powers in the world—if you like, put France and China with them and say the five Great Powers—will all be in substantial agreement; and Germany will not be in any position to 1324 attack. And she will not be attacked because there will be no one who needs or desires to attack her. By making the Crimea Agreement His Majesty's Government have advanced us on that path, and by giving them support here the House will advance us on that path.
If we extirpate the military power of Germany to which we are pledged and if we extirpate Fascism in Europe to which we are pledged and we keep friends among ourselves, one could be sorry for munition manufacturers. There will not be any war because there will be nobody to fight anybody. I do not mean that we are near the millennium, but when you have got rid of Germany and other aggressor countries, whatever conflicts may then arise, the Teheran-Crimean agreements will make it very difficult to have a major war. Therefore, to have made the Crimea Agreement is a very great thing and for this House to support it, is a very great thing. I have tried to point out—I do not know with what success—certain practical suggestions which will make those most opposed in the House think. I do not need to call on anyone to exercise good will, but I say plain common sense shows that the U.S.S.R. want a strong Poland. If there should be a Division, I shall support the Government.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Captain McEwen (Berwick and Haddington)
It is, to me, a wonderful thing to think that somebody of the status and standing of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) should be able still to become starry-eyed about a system. There is a certain charm about it and I admit I had a feeling almost of envy as I listened to him. This is going to be a very difficult speech to make as the issues are so important, and the subject is such a wide one. Some of the difficulties have been indicated by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I would like, in the first place, to congratulate sincerely my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary on the energy which they have undoubtedly shown at the Conference which has just closed, and on their safe return from a hazardous journey. I did, however—and this perhaps in parenthesis—regret that even after 26 years' experience it should still be thought necessary to indulge in this peripatetic diplomacy. Who, after all, to-day 1325 would be His Majesty's representative, say, either in Rome or in Athens, liable to be surprised at any moment by the sudden appearance at his elbow of that astral projection of the War Cabinet in the person of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan), to be followed probably, descending from the political stratosphere, and owing to the secrecy which necessarily follows his movements, arriving slightly in advance of sound, by the Prime Minister himself, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary, and before long no doubt by the rest, by Uncle Joe Cobley and all.
§ Captain McEwen
Although on one occasion he made that request, I should not think it is one that he would frequently make. I regret also the decision of three Foreign Secretaries to meet in the separate capitals. It is an extension of the same pernicious system. The Foreign Secretary's business, I should have thought, was to be done in his own country, and this idea is based on the axiom, though it is not a tenable one, that the better they know each other personally, the more they will like each other. But I chiefly regret Poland. Poland, if not the reason for, was at any rate the occasion of, our declaring war in 1939, and it will be denied by nobody that our relations with Poland have ever since then been excellent, and moreover that the services rendered by the Poles to us and the Allied cause in every theatre of the European war have been beyond all praise. I was glad to hear from the Prime Minister—particularly because I happened to ask a Question on that subject the other day which received a somewhat Departmental answer from the Home Secretary—that facilities will be offered to such Poles as desire it, to adopt British nationality after the war.
§ Captain McEwen
After consultation of course with the Dominions. At the same time, it was not a statement which lent any great weight to the Prime Minister's general argument, and into that I need not go any further. But even before the recent Conference, doubts were expressed in many quarters concerning what might 1326 be the result of that Conference when it was held. I have here a copy of the Memorandum given by the Polish Government to His Majesty's Government and the American Government on 22nd January, which states that the Polish Government are confident that the Government of Great Britain will not agree to be a party to decisions concerning the Polish Government without the consent of that Government. In the same document the Polish Government express the hope that at the Conference of Allied Powers, the British Government will give expression to their resolve not to recognise the puppet Government and say that the recognition of such a Government in Poland would be tantamount to a betrayal of the inhabitants of Poland, in defence of whom the present war was begun. That shows, at least, that these doubts were held and felt in many quarters. Nor was it any secret that His Majesty's Government's Ambassador in Moscow was strongly of the opinion that the Lublin Committee ought to be recognised as the sole legitimate Government of Poland at an early date. I think there was no secret about that. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
We cannot hear the interjections of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, which are much more important than the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Captain McEwen
This is something evidently which is capable of widely divergent interpretation. On the one hand, my right hon. Friend averred that it was a masterly compromise, wherein nothing was given up and all is referred to the future. On the other, the view taken by the Polish Government, and shared by not a few in this country, is that it amounts to little more or less than a complete acceptance of the Russian point of view. This also, let me say, is my own view, and it is one which I can assure you, Sir, is at least widely shared in Scotland.
I am dealing this afternoon with one single point. There are other points in the agreement which invite argument, but I wish to confine myself to the sole point of recognition. Arguments have been put up already, and will be put many more times in the course of this Debate, about the making of the Lublin Committee into the nucleus of the new Administration, the ignoring of the Polish Government here 1327 in the negotiations, and the apparent lack of safeguards in the matter of carrying into effect the promised elections in Poland. However, I want to deal in the first instance with the excuse which has been put forward—What else could we have done? I do not say that has been put forward to-day, but I have heard it before. Quite apart from the unworthiness of such a reason being put forward by a great Power which has been dealing, presumably, on an equal footing with other great Powers in a conference, in my view it would have been better to say frankly that we could not, in this instance, agree. I know that would have been a violation of the canon which governs at any rate the greater conferences, and which demands that at the close of them there should be issued a communiqué which states that in every detail agreement has been arrived at. I say that it covers the major conferences because it does not always cover the lesser ones, and I would instance in that respect Dumbarton Oaks and Chicago.
Then it is said: "If that is the line you take, then you would have left the Poles in Poland to what you consider to be a Russianised Lublin Government and done nothing for them." On the whole, and taking the admittedly pessimistic view of the future of the Poles under the arrangements which have been reached, which I do, I would answer: "Yes, I do not think they would have been much worse off." [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Believe me, I am not only thinking, or even mainly thinking, in this respect of Poland; I am thinking of this country. Had we refused to agree, and stuck to the Arciszewski Government, the "London Government" as the Lublin wireless never fails pointedly to refer to it—and incidentally, why should London become a derogatory term in the mouths of anybody? I would like to know where Lublin was in 1940—had we stuck to that Government I say we would at least now have no cause to be ashamed. If it is said further that had we done so we would have found ourselves in complete diplomatic isolation, why then, I can only marvel that even now, at this late hour, we have still not learned the lesson of 1940—that it is a very little thing to stand alone if we are convinced that we are standing for the right, nor, in that cause, will we ever lack friends for long. It is 1328 no use harking back into the past, but I cannot help thinking that it is a pity we did not link up this question of the independence of Poland with the 20 years' pact of friendship with Russia when that agreement was concluded. I have already said that this is a difficult matter to deal with. It may seem very simple to certain hon. Gentlemen opposite, but, believe me, it is a very complicated one.
§ Captain McEwen
Therefore, without, I trust, causing any provocation, perhaps I may illustrate the situation as I see it by a simple simile. It is as if I saw someone, to whom I was bound by ties somewhat in excess of the ordinary ties of humanity, in the embrace of a bear. My expressions of concern are met by all sorts of reassuring and soothing words. I am told that this bear is, in fact, a tame bear; I am reminded that bears have many engaging qualities, that they love honey and that they occasionally indulge in a playfulness which is almost human; as to what is happening before my eyes, I am told that I can talk as much as I like about a bear's hug but that is nothing more or less than prejudice and, in fact, this is merely the bear's way of showing his affection. Well, that may be, but I cannot help feeling that history, natural and otherwise, is in this matter on my side. What has been done in the Crimea Conference has been done, but I for one cannot join in the chorus of approval which has greeted its doing, and both for the sake of my own conscience and in the hope of lessening the possibilities of this sort of thing repeating itself at some future stage, I feel I cannot allow it to pass without registering a definite but uncompromising protest.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)
If hon. Members of this House have doubts in their minds as to how to vote on this occasion, I at least have none, for I wish to give whole-hearted support to the Motion and to congratulate the Prime Minister on the results of this great historic Conference. In the last century the Crimea was the scene of a tragedy in the history of relations between this country and Russia. It is very fitting that it should now be the scene of an entirely new page in the history of our relations which, I 1329 hope, will prove lasting for the future. I am glad, too, that the Conference decided, apparently finally, that the Curzon Line is to be the basis of the Russo-Polish frontier. If ever there was an impartial inquiry made into the reasons for fixing the frontier on the basis of race and religion, the Curzon Line was an example. For some time past, however, that line has been challenged and the Atlantic Charter has been invoked for the purpose of claiming that there should be some other line. There is no question in my mind that the objection to the Curzon Line on the part of the London Polish Government hides, in actual fact, nothing less than an old Imperialist claim which the Poles have no right in this day to substantiate. There may have been some historical reason for it in the past when Russia was weakened, after the Mongol invasions, when the United Crown of Poland and Lithuania was able to extend into what was virtually a vacuum. But those days have long since gone, and now it is surely a waste of time. One is only too glad to feel that at the Crimea Conference a sound decision has been arrived at.
There may still be some adjustments of territory. For instance, Bialystok is a good case in point. There you have a strong Polish population, surrounded by non-Polish elements, and a little give and take there would be very desirable, and might do something to sugar the pill. I am also glad that in the matter of the future Government of Poland the Conference seems to have come to wise decisions. I am one of those who have held the view for some time that the Polish Government in London, as at present constituted, is becoming less and less entitled to speak on behalf of the Poles. At the same time, I have always held—and I said so on the last occasion on which I had the honour to address this House—that I did not feel that the Lublin Government were fully representative of all the democratic elements in Poland, and I am glad that the Conference has come to that decision—the decision to broaden the basis of that Government. I do not doubt in my own mind that the Lublin Government, even as they are now constituted, would gradually gain in experience and authority by the simple act of feeding and clothing the people with the aid of their great Eastern neighbour. But that is not enough. There are democratic Polish elements abroad who, at all costs, ought 1330 to be encouraged to go to Poland and join the Lublin Government in creating a really national, democratic, and progressive Poland. I hope that if this Debate does anything it will at least encourage those elements abroad to pluck up their courage and go there and co-operate. Indeed, I hope that those of us who speak in this Debate will try to encourage it.
There is one point which ought to be cleared up, and I noticed a passage from the Prime Minister's speech which seemed to be hopeful in that direction. There are to be elections for the new Polish Parliament as soon as possible. The importance of these elections for the future of Poland and of Eastern Europe cannot be exaggerated, but I think it is necessary that there should be present at them representatives of the Great Powers in Europe, to watch and supervise over them. I say that not because I want to cast any doubt on the great Power that is nearest to Poland, and clearly overshadows her, but I think it would create a good deal of confidence among those Polish democrats who are now doubtful, if something like that could be arranged.
If that is not done I see the danger of steering into spheres of influence—and that applies not only to Poland but to Greece as well—and it is very undesirable that that should take place. There has been a tendency to develop in that direction since the Teheran Conference. I wonder whether the Crimea Conference will change that, so that the idea of spheres of influence will be exorcised altogether, and there will be more direct cooperation between the three Great Powers in all these cases where delicate situations arise, such as in Poland and Greece. I should like to see Russian representatives present when the elections are held in Greece. I think that would be a reasonable compromise and desirable in every possible way.
I am glad that the Conference agreed to leave the question of the Western frontiers of Poland to be decided in detail at a later date. I think that is wise, because on that matter I am not altogether too happy. It seems as if Russia is rather anxious to induce the Poles to accept a wide extension of territory in the West. I think the Poles have the right to say those famous words, Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes— "I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts"—
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Is my hon. Friend quite satisfied that this proposal for compensation really emanated from Russia?
§ Mr. Price
It is quite clear from the Russian Press that Russia is very much in favour of this, but if my hon. Friend knows something else perhaps he will inform the House if he is called in the Debate. In any case, it may be sowing dragons' teeth to extend the Polish frontier to Pomerania and the Mark of Brandenburg. It is about as unreal as claiming that the Polish frontier should be in what is dearly non-Polish territory in the East.
Moreover, I do not see why Poland should be compensated for something which she had no right to possess. There is no large or even small Slav population in Pomerania or the Mark of Brandenburg. I know that in the Spreewald, near Berlin, there are small colonies of people who once were called "Wends," originally Slavonic people. But the whole country is predominantly German miles beyond the Oder, until you get to the neighbourhood of Posen. Therefore, I am sure we should create fresh difficulties by expelling the population in what is purely a German territory. I am glad that the Conference did not decide to fix anything definite in that direction, hut, on the other hand, I agree with those who have expressed the view that East Prussia is an entirely different question. First of all, there is a large Polish minority there. Moreover, East Prussia has been regarded by Germany as a colony from which she drew unprocessed raw material and to which she sent, in return, manufactured goods. Further, that unprocessed raw material was produced in the main, not by German labour at all, but by thousands of Polish natives who crossed the Frontier and worked on the Yunkers' estates. The finances of East Prussia were entirely dependent upon those of the Reich. The whole basis of East Prussia was thoroughly unsound economically and even more so now that half the population as it is reported has gone.
The second point was that not only was it an uneconomic colony, but it was the military bastion which was built up as a dagger to strike at the heart of Poland. While it might be thought very unwise to extend the frontiers of Poland right away into the West, into what was German territory, that objection does not apply in the case of East Prussia, and any 1332 decision taken by the Allies in this connection was a right one. If the Powers continue to work along the lines foreshadowed at the Crimea Conference, I feel that all will be well. Therefore, I do not hesitate to give my fullest support to the Motion moved by the Prime Minister.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Captain Alan Graham (Wirral)
All the enemies of Nazi Germany must rejoice at the declaration made by the three Heads of Governments at the Conference at Yalta of theirinflexible determination to destroy German militarism and Nazism, and to ensure that Germany will never again destroy the peace of Europe.Continued co-operation between the Great Powers, amongst whom we must, inevitably, include France, and continued resolution on the part of peoples concerned, even if it has to be spread over many years, and at the cost of many sacrifices, are the two essential conditions to such a happy consummation. Once, however, this is achieved the blood, tears, toil and sweat will have been worth while. Our basic purposes for which we went to war, namely to secure our national and imperial security and, no less important and in direct contrast to the Nazi creed, to maintain our belief that the State exists for the individual, will have been triumphantly vindicated.
It is essential, because of this belief, that Nazism must be extirpated if our civilisation is to continue. The system of government where the rights and development of the individual are sacred, cannot exist peacefully side by side with another system of government, where the individual simply does not count. For the one system to live, the other must die. Therefore it was, I presume, with an equally deep conviction on the part of the three Heads of State at Yalta of the vital necessity of the rights of the individual that, in their pronouncement on the Polish question, they insisted on free and unfettered elections being held in Poland as soon as possible and based on universal suffrage and a secret ballot. Of course it would not be possible to consider Poland truly liberated unless the Poles could claim and practise such an elementary form of democracy.
This announcement was happily reinforced by the references in paragraph 5 to Principle 3 of the Atlantic Charter, 1333 affirming the right of all peoples to choose the form of government ender which they would live. If the three Heads of Government are sincere in attaching importance to this principle, 'how comes it that in discussing the future of Poland no representative of the London Polish Government was called into council? Two out of the three participating Governments have recognised its legality, and that Government has made its views quite plain in the Memorandum which it sent to the British and American Governments on 22nd June. The present legal Government of Poland was consulted neither before nor after the Conference. Nor was it even mentioned in the announcements of the decisions of the Conference. Yet, this is the sole legal constitutional and recognised Government of our Ally Poland. This is the Government to which the Polish Armed Forces, now numbering nearly 200,000, and the Polish Home Forces of the Underground Army have sworn loyalty and allegiance, as the rightful office-bearers of their nation and State. Their Prime Minister, Mr. Arciszewski, a veteran Socialist, and so representative of the Polish people that he was the head in Poland, until last autumn, of the whole of the underground movement, has simply been ignored. He has not even been received by our Prime Minister, who legally recognised the truly representative quality of this Polish Government.
On Thursday last I was visited in this House by the representatives of half a million Polish workers and underground fighters from France, mostly Socialists and miners, thoroughly good democrats. They were unanimously supporters of Mr. Arciszewski and his Government, both in opposition to the unconditional surrender of the Eastern half of Poland, and to the surrender of the independent Government of Poland, into the hands of the Lublin puppets. I have here a cable from a body representing the 90,000 Poles in Argentina, which I propose to read:The Crimea Conference has carried out once more the partition of Poland without the Polish people's consent or knowledge and has put in foreign hands the true attribute of a nation's sovereignty to create a Government. This, after six grim years of war against Germany is an incredibly hard blow. A tragedy for all of us. To form this new Government Mr. Molotov assisted by two Ambassadors has been appointed. Commissar Molotov is the one who, in 1939, signed with Ribbentrop the agreement to wipe off the Polish State, who can be held responsible for 1334 the deportation of one million and a half of Poles, who took away Polish citizenship from all Poles in the Soviet Union. In spite of this, in the Big Three's opinion the Polish people should trust Molotov more than President Raczkiewicz or one of the venerable Polish Archbishops, as arranged in Greece. We Poles are seeking for a manly conscience that would protest against such revolting facts. Shall we find it?On 15th December practically every speaker in the House affirmed the utterly unrepresentative quality of the Lublin Committee, yet it seems that the opinion of this House has been flouted by the decisions of the Yalta Conference. The Lublin Committee is referred to in the pronouncement of the Conference as the "Provisional Government now functioning in Poland" and this body, vaguely expanded, is to be the new Provisional Government of Poland charged with the holding of free and unfettered elections in that country. We know the importance which the three Heads of Government assembled at Yalta so rightly attached to these free and unfettered elections, but what sort of chance have they? The so-called Provisional Polish Government at this moment is so controlling the country that no independent opinion, however democratic, is allowed to be published at all, all wireless receivers have been confiscated and broadcasts can only be heard at certain places controlled by the Provisional Government. The Lublin Minister of Education, M. Skizesencki, has informed the professors of Cracow University that the Rector of the University and the Deans of the Faculties will not be elected as formerly but appointed by the Government. Professors, writers, artists and scientists are forced to sign declarations denouncing the Polish Government in London as traitors to the Polish cause and especially attacking the President, M. Raczkiewicz, M. Arciszewski, and even our Prime Minister's favourite, M. Mikolajczyk. If they refuse to do this they are arrested and imprisoned or else just murdered.
At this moment members of the former Home or Underground Army, particularly officers, are being arrested, deported, and even shot. The private soldiers of the Underground Army are mostly being rounded up, and forcibly enlisted under the command of General Zymierski, the Lublin Commander-in-Chief. He, incidentally, served five years' imprisonment in pre-war Poland for having, when in the Quarter-Master- 1335 General's Department, embezzled money allotted to the purchase of gas-masks for the Army. I presume that the Big Three do not expect General Anders, and the honourable officers of the Polish Army still fighting by our side, to accept the leadership of such a Commander-in-Chief! Finally, since 1939, more than 2,000,000 Poles have been forcibly deported to Russia and Siberia. Such are the auspices under which these three unhappy gentlemen, Messrs. Molotov, Harriman and Sir Archibald Clerk-Kerr, are expected to supervise the reorganisation of the present Provisional Government, and enable free and unfettered elections to take place. What optimism, what heroic faith in the democratic behaviour of the actual rulers of present-day Poland, the Russian secret police!
I will now pass to two questions—which I wish to put, in regard to the Yalta decision on the Curzon Line, although in the eyes of all Poles, frontier questions, important as they are, come second in importance to national independence.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of Order. An hon. Member found himself extremely puzzled a few moments ago because he did not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman was quoting, and therefore reading, sonic telegram that he had received, or whether he was reading his speech. I gather that he has long left the telegram, but it looks rather as if he is reading the whole of his speech.
§ Captain Graham
I prefer to refer to my notes out of conscientiousness. The hon. Member is usually acute enough to know what is happening.
§ Captain Graham
Why, in a matter affecting the sovereignty and territorial inviolability of Poland, did the Big Three, who expressly reaffirm in paragraph 5 their determination "to build a world-order under law," not accept the offer contained in the present constitutional Polish Government Memorandum of 22nd January toagree to any method provided for by international law for a just and equitable settlement of the dispute with the participation of both sides"?1336 The other question is: How can the Prime Minister reconcile the honour of this country with his ignoring of the explicit understanding at the time of the signing of the Anglo-Polish Treaty of Mutual Assistance that, if this country were to enter into any new undertakings with a third State, their execution should at no time prejudice either the sovereignty or territorial inviolability of Poland, and vice versa? If the right hon. Gentleman felt that, in spite of that explicit undertaking, he had, none the less, to make some arrangement which would violate the territorial inviolability of Poland, the least he could do was to take into consultation the other party to this Treaty, which is the legal constitutional Government of Poland sitting in London. It is, indeed, a mournful reflection that this Empire, which stood alone in 1940, except for Poland, against the might of triumphant Nazi Germany, cannot now, when she has mighty Allies by her side, stand up for juster treatment of her first and most martyred Ally of this war. But if, indeed, it be so, let us at least comport ourselves with dignity and honour. Do not let us pretend that something which is unjust is in reality right. Do not turn away from our own shores those who have given their lifeblood for the protection of our homes.
If we must consent to the fact of our Polish Allies being robbed of their homes, let us find them a new home in our Empire or elsewhere. Let us grant them the pensions that our own soldiers and wounded men receive, and, at least, the right to work here and if, after this treatment, they still care to receive it, British citizenship. To send them back to a Sovietised Poland, or to hand over Poland to the Government of the Lublin Committee, with the power that lies behind it, would be nothing less than the betrayal of innocent blood. We can only conscientiously consider the decision of the Yalta Conference in regard to Poland if the Government can ensure that contingents of Allied troops shall be present in the country to supervise, not merely the elections but the general conditions of life itself in Poland. Otherwise, we cannot avoid that most severe of all condemnations which lies upon those who betray innocent blood.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
I suppose that the Foreign Secretary will not have much 1337 difficulty in disposing, if he wishes, of the brief which we have just heard read. I do not in the least quarrel with the hon. and gallant Member for having read it, because, as has been pointed out, it is the practice that Ministerial statements should frequently be read from that Box in order to ensure greater accuracy, and in this House, as the House well knows, the hon. and gallant Member may be regarded in some sort as a Ministerial spokesman. I quarrel with him the less because I propose myself in a few minutes to have recourse to a rather full note.
§ Mr. Baxter
May I ask the hon. Gentleman why he refers to my hon. and gallant Friend as a Ministerial spokesman, when his entire speech was in criticism of the Government?
§ Mr. Driberg
I do not think that my hon. Friend appreciated the subtlety of my remark. To my mind, the most significant speech that has so far been made from that side of the House, with the exception, of course, of the Prime Minister's opening speech, was that of the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen). While we accept and pay tribute to the sincerity with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke, yet at the same time, in view of the influential position which he holds on the Conservative Benches, his speech seemed to me to be an ill-omen of the mood and of the sense of responsibility with which that great party is proposing to go to the country and confront the problems of the peace that lie ahead of us. [Interruption.] Yes, for one of the most important guarantees of the continuance of that peace must be the perpetuation of close friendship and the real implementing of our Alliance with the Soviet Union. I challenge any hon. Member to deny that and to say that it would not be disastrous if that Alliance broke down.
I was extremely interested and impressed by most of the Prime Minister's speech. I was going to say a few words about Greece, but I do not think I have time—[Interruption]—If I am challenged, then, I think that I can say at least that I thought that the Prime 1338 Minister's pointed reference to His Majesty's Coalition Government was even more apt than he perhaps realised, since it is evident to those who have followed the course of events in Greece that it was the influence of the Labour Party within that Government and the Left Wing critics in this House and elsewhere that very largely contributed to the happy settlement of the Greek crisis. If I may, I will also pick up for a moment a minor point in reference to Greece—the Greek elections. It is also relevant to the problem of the Polish elections, and it is a point that may, I believe, be accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House without dissension or derision. I can see great difficulties in the promised Allied supervision of free and unfettered elections. It is satisfactory to hear that we are to have Russian, American and British observers in Greece, and, I suppose, in Poland, but do not see how enough Allied observers can be found to keep guard over every little mountain polling booth in every remote Greek village. I do not see how we can guard absolutely against some kind of victimisation or terrorisation. I hope hon. Members will believe that I am just as anxious as they are to see that there are really free and unfettered elections both in Poland and in Greece. I should like to hear more from the Foreign Secretary about the number of observers who are to be sent and how they propose to do their work and really give some kind of effective guarantee that the elections will not be a mere formality of democracy.
There are two points on which the Prime Minister is to be especially congratulated. The first, which has not been sufficiently recognised in the speeches we have so far heard, is the substantial achievement of having overcome the Dumbarton Oaks hitch about voting procedure. That is a most important point for the future organisation of peace. The second and main achievement is having overcome the dissension about Poland, which could have poisoned the future unity of the Allied nations
Before I come to the subject of Poland, I want to deal with one or two other matters which are relevant to the White Paper report of the Crimea Conference. The first is in connection with the post-war control of Germany. It is evident that during the period of occupation and control we shall have to start that process 1339 which has become a regular cliché, the process known as re-educating the German people. I wonder if the Foreign Secretary could give us any idea of how it is proposed that this should be done. I do not know whether it is hoped that we can re-educate the entire adult population of Germany. It is certain that we cannot spare the teachers to do so. It is also certain that the Germans would not take that re-education kindly from foreigners and that it will, therefore, be necessary to employ for the purpose such "good Germans" as can be found, either within Germany or among the refugees here and in America. An hon. and gallant Member below me asks "Where are they?" Even Lord Vansittart, in one of his articles or speeches, has put the possible percentage of good Germans as high as about 25, so I hope that we can take it that we shall be able to find enough Germans—perhaps among those who still survive of the former trade unionists and Left Wing opponents of the Nazi régime, and perhaps among the Catholic priests and Protestant pastors who put up a valiant fight for many years against Hitlerism. It may be that the best method of re-educating large masses of the adult population of Germany will be the reparations in kind—the reparations in human-kind—which our Soviet Allies are demanding. If several million Germans spend several years working in the Soviet Union, they may start learning a bit about politics and about life.
On this same point, I would like to ask the Foreign Secretary, quite seriously, whether any plans are being made for the control or guidance of the Press and radio in Germany during the period of occupation and immediately afterwards. These are obviously going to be the most important public instruments of general reeducation. What is being done about them? They clearly cannot be left uncontrolled; but what plans are being made?
The second of my points concerning the immediate post-war problems relates to another process which will have to go on simultaneously with the occupation and control of Germany, and that is the repatriation of the millions of people who have been uprooted from their homes and moved about Europe, largely by the Nazis, to work in German factories and mines. There was a Debate in another 1340 place a few weeks ago which, to my mind, was profoundly disquieting and depressing. It dealt with this problem of what are called, in the terrible official jargon, the "displaced and stateless non-repatriables." It has been estimated, by officials and people who are in the best position to make the estimate, that the number of people in Europe so uprooted, who will need to be sorted, identified, classified, re-assembled, and prevented from drifting along the main roads of Europe under their own steam, totals no fewer than 30,000,000 human beings. That vast problem will have to be tackled simultaneously with the other immediate post-war problems which I have mentioned, if we are to avoid tremendous chaos and the possibility of complete anarchy throughout Europe.
This Crimea declaration is the great charter of future peace for Europe and the world. But there are two danger-points in Europe to-day, two points at which Allied unity is seriously threatened. The first is Spain. Fascism has shown that it is not only intensely nationalist but also essentially international and aggressive. There cannot be any security for democracy in Europe or for British strategic interests in the Mediterranean while Spain remains Fascist. I am not, of course, advocating, and nobody would be foolish enough to suggest, an extension of the war in a military sense. It is perfectly possible to deal with Fascist Spain by applying economic and diplomatic sanctions.
The second main danger-point is the continued existence of the Polish émigré Government in London. The Prime Minister told us this morning that at any rate formal recognition is still to be extended to it for some indefinite time; but that the dissolution of the two so-to-speak rival Polish Governments will not, of course, be simultaneous. Naturally it will not—because the Lublin Government is now in Poland and is actually doing the job, whether we like it or not, of administering Polish territory, distributing food, and so forth. On the other hand, I agree with hon. Members that a large number of the Polish Armed Forces, to whose heroism I join in paying tribute, still owe allegiance to the Polish Government in London. That makes the problem a little more intractable. I do not know whether the Armed Forces of Poland, who are 1341 fighting very gallantly in Western Europe, will feel that their allegiance to the Government in London is unshakable; but I am told that quite a number of them were seen in London last week, and even a few Polish officers, buying flags on the Red Army flag-day.
I am not suggesting that all the Poles in the London Government are completely devoid of wisdom or statesmanship. In one of the many Polish publications issued in this country I saw, in translation, some very interesting remarks the other day. I think the publication represented the Peasants' Party. In an article entitled "Elements of Hope," the writer was shrewd enough to say that Russia's very insistence on international recognition of the Curzon Line was itself proof that Russia had no designs on Polish territory as a whole, as has been so wantonly alleged in some of the more irresponsible anti-Soviet quarters in this country—including, I am sorry to say, the Scottish Roman Catholic hierarchy, copies of whose latest manifesto were distributed to hon. Members this morning. The article went on to point out, wisely, that the break-up of unity among the major Allies would have been in the first instance a disaster to Poland, and it praises the statesmen of Yalta for their wisdom.
Although there are these saner influences in the Polish Government in London, I am afraid it must be said that for the most part that Government has been a cause of more mischief and harm among the Allies than has any other of the foreign Governments to whom we have shown hospitality. They have, indeed, built up a much larger and more expensive bureaucratic apparatus than any of the others. I do not think that the total figures have yet been published.
§ Captain Alan Graham
Is the hon. Member aware that the Polish troops in this country are more numerous than in the case of any other Ally, except the United States? What justification has he for alleging that they have a more expensive bureaucracy?
§ Mr. Driberg
I am going to quote some of the figures of the money that has been advanced to the Polish Government in London by the British Treasury, at the expense of the British taxpayer, for bureaucratic and governmental purposes, quite apart from the maintenance of the 1342 Polish Armed Forces. I do not think that the total figures have been published yet, but, for the four years 1941–44, we have advanced to the Polish Government well over £40,000,000. I understand that their demand from the British Treasury for this year is £15,000,000 further. I wonder whether it is going to be given to them, or whether it has already been given to them, and I wish the Foreign Secretary—
§ Mr. Driberg
No, Sir, it does not. It excludes sums for the Armed Forces, and is advanced for the maintenance of the bureaucracy alone.
§ Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas (Portsmouth, South)
Can the hon. Member tell us how that amount compares with what has been received by other Governments in this country?
§ Mr. Driberg
I have not the figures with me, but I can get them for the hon. and gallant Gentleman. In most cases the figure is considerably less. Comparing, for instance, the number of people among other Allies who have been granted diplomatic privileges, which is perhaps a rough basis of comparison, as showing the number of persons employed by Ministries, we find that whereas Czechoslovakia has 71 persons with diplomatic privileges, and Greece 16, Poland has 124. Among those with diplomatic privileges, Belgium has two Army officers, Czechoslovakia eight, and Poland 11. In pretty well every case that one can check the Polish Government in London has a far more expensive bureaucracy than any of the other Allies in London.
§ Mr. Thomas
More than go per cent. of the money advanced to the Polish Government goes for education and to paying the troops who are now fighting for our cause.
§ Mr. Driberg
The figures are not fictitious at all. I have checked those figures, which come from an extremely reliable inside source—[HON. MEMBERS: 1343 "Name"]—very near to some of my hon. Friend's best friends. I am sorry to have gone on longer than I intended, but I have been interrupted quite a lot. There are one or two figures which I should like to quote, as illustrations, from the Budget of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which for 1942 was £485,000, and by 1944 had gone up to £975,000—nearly £1,000,000. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has an uncontrolled privy purse, which amounted in 1944 to £32,000, in addition, of course, to his tax-free salary. It is from that sum, incidentally, that the lavish entertainments and banquets at luxury hotels, to which some hon. Members of this House have been good enough to go on occasion, are financed. This Ministry, in particular, has built up the most elaborate network of diplomatic and consular representation throughout the world, while it has been in this country. Establishments have been set up in all sorts of countries which never had diplomatic or consular relations with Poland before. In 1942 a Polish chargé d'affaires, with consular officials and clerks and so on, suddenly turned up in Addis Ababa—and all at our expense. They set up a most elaborate organisation at Chungking, too.
I have not time to quote the figures for the Polish Ministry of Information, but they are even more staggering than those for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1944 the sum was getting on for £1,000,000, and there have been large subsidies for all sorts of publications in this country. "Free Europe" got £4,800 from them. Also, an extremely interesting Polish "information" activity is the Soviet Research Centre, which increased—[Interruption]. Yes, the Soviet Research Centre is maintained by the Polish Ministry of Information in London. It cost £5,000 in 1943, and £14,400 in 1944. I do not know what its purpose is, except to put out the usual kind of poisonous propaganda against Soviet Russia which is always circulated by the Polish Ministry of Information. Such a disreputable rag as the "Weekly Review" is another of the publications which have been subsidised in one way or another by the Polish Ministry of Information, in that case by the buying up for free distribution of large quantities of copies of the periodical. I apologise to the House for having taken up so much time. I would only urge that 1344 at the earliest possible moment recognition should be withdrawn from this bogus emigré Government, that it should not be allowed to become in future the focus of anti-Soviet propaganda and activities in this country, and that the members of it, now that their country has been liberated by the Red Army, should be invited to repatriate themselves.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward (Kingston-upon-Hull, North West)
The hon. and gallant Member for Wirral (Captain A. Graham) has dealt with the position in Poland. He described the situation which had arisen during the formation of this Lublin Government, and compared its position vis-à-vis the Polish Government in London. It is not my intention to follow him at any great length, first because I have not any great time, and second, because I have other things to say, but in my humble opinion everybody admits that Poland and the Poles have suffered in the last five or six years terribly—"terribly" is not a sufficiently strong word to express it. All the same, to say that the adoption of the Curzon Line is tantamount to another partition of Poland is nothing less than an exaggeration. It appears to have been forgotten during the Debate to-day that the Polish Government themselves have done a bit of partitioning on their own. It will be well within the recollection of the House that, when the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia and occupied it, when one might have expected that the Poles would have come to the assistance of a race who were their relations, both by race and language, on the contrary they at once took the opportunity to occupy Teschen and the surrounding country. They stabbed their relations in the back.
§ Captain Graham
The Czechs, in fact, in defiance of the Council of Ambassadors in 1919, seized Teschen in spite of the Polish majority there. Thomas Masaryk himself admitted, "We only took Teschen because we needed the coalmines of Karwina."
§ Sir A. Lambert Ward
Let us take another case. In 1919, after the Council of Ambassadors had decided and delineated the frontier between Lithuania and Poland, what did the Poles do but invade Lithuania and occupy the capital Vilna, of which they remained in possession until 1345 turned out in 1939? What tight have the Poles to the line East of the Curzon Line, except the right of might, which enabled them to take it in 1920? I am not attacking the Poles in any way, but I think it is fair and necessary to say that the Poles will not come to the peace conference with absolutely clean hands. The Prime Minister spoke at some length of what one might call the makeweight, to make up to the Poles on the West the territory that they are about to lose on the East. He said that, instead of the Polish Corridor, they were to have Danzig. But is that all? Are they not going to have the deep-water harbour of Neufarvasser, which is the deep-water harbour of Danzig? Unless Danzig has been extensively dredged in the last few years, no vessel drawing more than six or seven feet could reach Danzig itself. It seems to me that the whole of East Prussia, including Konigsberg, should be transferred to Poland. If we want future peace it would be advisable to have, one might almost say wholesale transfers of population between Poland and East Prussia. We have heard suggestions that 53 per cent. of the inhabitants of East Prussia were Polish by descent. It is very difficult to define the descent of East Prussians. Certainly go per cent. of them speak the German language. That is countered by the fact that a very large number of the better educated classes are bilingual. The position can be ascertained only by something like a plebiscite. It would be a platitude, in fact almost an impertinence, on my part to praise the wonderful speech which we listened to—
§ It being Six o'Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.