§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn." — [Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
The year that has passed since the end of the German war has been darkened by a virtual breakdown or stalemate in the concert and collaboration of the three Great Powers, as well as by a painful decline in British influence and prestige. It would be wrong to cast the blame of these misfortunes upon the Foreign Secretary, to whose sombre, patient speech we listened yesterday. We feel sure he has done his best to resist the sad and dangerous tendencies with which we are oppressed before the world, and he has stood forth as the representative of much that is wise and courageous in the British character. No criticism which I may make on particular aspects of his ^administration is intended to obscure the outstanding services which he has rendered in this period of disappointment and perplexity.
2012 The problems of the aftermath, the moral and physical exhaustion of the victorious nations, the miserable fate of the conquered, the vast confusion of Europe and Asia, combine to make a sum total of difficulty, which, even if the Allies had preserved their wartime comradeship, would have taxed their resources to the full. Even if we in this island had remained united, as we were in the years of peril, we should have found much to baffle our judgment, and many tasks that were beyond our strength. I am an opponent of the Socialist Party but I readily admit that they have made an important contribution to the cause of world peace. They have made this contribution by their resolute denunciation of Communism and by their refusal to allow the Communist Party to enter and permeate their ranks. The Communist Party in this island is not at present a serious danger. Everyone remembers how they urged us into the late war and how, when we were already irrevocably committed, they immediately turned about, on orders from Moscow, and after some —
§ Mr. Churchill
I leave it to you, Mr. Speaker. I really do not mind. I thought, as I remarked on a previous occasion, that the hon. Member was well broken to the House, and not likely to make this kind of observation.
§ Mr. Churchill
I see. I do not think that I need trouble myself very much with the hon. Member's opinion, but I quite understand that he will not like what I am going to say. I certainly will not be deterred from saying it by the prospect of any further insults from him. Every one remembers how they immediately turned about, on orders from Moscow, and after some abject and grovellinS5CV0423P0-May271946 retractions on the part of their leaders, they denounced our life struggle as a capitalist, Imperialist war. We also remember how, thereafter, they did their best, their utmost—which was very little —to hamper our national defence. Nor can we forget that, as far as they were concerned, we might have sunk in 1940 2013 and 1941 beneath the ocean and been blotted out for ever, except as Hitler's serfs, from among the nations of mankind—
§ Mr. Gallacher
That is not true. On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition that if he goes to the Home Office he will find that the first report made on the' blitz and on the means that should be taken to care for the people, was written by the hon. Member for West Fife. [HON. MEMBERS: " Speech."] It is a fact.
§ Mr. Churchill
We might have been blotted out for ever, as far as they were concerned, and I say it will take them many years to live that down in the British Isles. But it is not at home that the Communists are important. The significance of the action of the Labour Party lies in its effects abroad. There is no doubt that it has brought strength to Great Britain at a time when other causes were weakening us, and there is no doubt that it has produced beneficial consequences on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The Foreign Secretary has been a leader in all this and he deserves a full share of the credit.
I shall now permit myself to make a few comments upon various aspects of our affairs in this vast and gloomy field. I must make it clear at the outset that I have no official information. Since I laid down my office at the end of July last, I have not seen any of the Foreign Office telegrams. I form my opinion from my knowledge of the past, from the newspapers, and from distinguished people from abroad who sometimes, when they visit this country, come to see me. His Majesty's Ministers have decided to deal with the Parliamentary Opposition on strict party lines. No doubt we have our own personal relationship arising out of the long comradeship of the war— there is always that background—but there is absolutely no official contact of any kind between the Government and the Opposition in foreign affairs, except occasional acts of courtesy like handing me a copy of an announcement of great importance half an hour before it is read—
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
It is quite true that the actual text of that announcement was only handed over a short time before the meeting, but I must point out that I did bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, and also of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. O. Stanley), our intentions with regard to Egypt in the week before.
§ Mr. Churchill
I was only using this as an illustration. It is quite true, as the Prime Minister has said, that he asked me and my two colleagues to go to Downing Street about 10 days before; but that was not on Egypt, that was on Palestine. He then told us of the White Paper, the report about Palestine. He was not even in a position to hand us a copy at that moment. Conversation ran on and Egypt was mentioned, it is perfectly true. It is also true, if we are to go into these matters, that a few days later I met the Prime Minister in the Lobby and we had a few words in private in my room in which he mentioned—if I may say so—the word " evacuation," and I said straight away we could not agree to that. These were not matters of important consultation. We have not been consulted in any way. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why object? "] I am not objecting at all. The French have hitherto dealt, since the war, with their foreign affairs on a national basis. The United States of America, taught by Mr. Wilson's disastrous mistake in 1919, are careful to include in their delegation leading representatives of the Republican Party; but His Majesty's Government have followed the Russian principle in foreign affairs of one-party Government. I am not complaining. I do not suggest that the practice should be altered at this late stage, when domestic divergencies grow wider and deeper month by month. The facts should be known —
§ Mr. Churchill
As far as I am concerned, when I was at the head of a large majority I offered the right hon Gentle- 2015 man every facility—a room and continuous facilities. As I say, I do not suggest that the practice should be altered as long as the facts are known. They ought to be known and I do not think they are known. We do our utmost on this side of the House to support His Majesty's Government in the foreign sphere, and to impart as far as possible a national character to British foreign policy, but if I should be misinformed on any point in what I am going to say, and the Government have reasons for their action which they have not disclosed, the House, I hope, will make allowance for any error into which I, as a member of the general public, may fall.
Let me begin with Greece. It was not mentioned yesterday. In Greece the course of events has vindicated the policy of the National Coalition Government. This policy in the main has been followed by the present Government. For all purposes of controversy, it rests upon two documents, either of which it is very hard to challenge. The first is the report of the trade union delegation which, under Sir Walter Citrine, at my invitation visited Athens in January, 1945, and revealed the atrocities committed by the Communists in the city. The second is, of course, the report of the British, American and French Commission which supervised the elections in March, 1946. There is no doubt whatever that these elections were the fairest ever conducted in Greece, or in any Balkan State. They have proved conclusively that the Greek people did not wish to have dictatorial power in Greece seized by a Communist minority through a process of revolution, treachery, terrorism and murder, and that we were right to intervene by force of arms to prevent such a disaster.
We have never intended or desired to interfere in the affairs of Greece, except in so far as was necessary to enable the Greek people to decide freely the form and character of their own Government after the confusion of the war and of the German occupation. I thought, and I still think, that it would have been better to hold the plebiscite before the elections, and that is how it was originally planned. The Foreign Secretary told us some months ago mat, while he was not opposed to monarchy in Greece, if the 2016 Greek people desired it, he did not want a " party Monarchy."I am very much afraid that the reversal in procedure which he has adopted runs a risk of bringing about the very thing which he wishes to avoid. Nevertheless, I hope that, should the Greek people vote for a Monarchy, the King will have the wisdom and the virtue to make it clear that he is the servant of the State, on a level above all parties and equally accessible to all parties, I hope our troops in Greece will be able to come home as soon as the plebiscite has been taken. They deserve, and I believe they will receive, the heartfelt gratitude of the Greek people.
His Majesty's Government have shown, it seems to me, a wise restraint, or, at least, a marked lack of enthusiasm, in not interfering in the internal affairs of Spain. None of us likes the Franco regime, and, personally, I like it as little as I like the present British Administration, but, between not liking a Government and trying to stir up civil war in a country, there is a very wide interval. It is said that every nation gets the Government that it deserves. Obviously, this does not apply in the case of Great Britain, but I have a sort of feeling that the Spanish people had better be left alone to work out their own salvation, just as we hope to be left alone by foreigners in order to work out ours. It seemed to me very unwise of the late French Government, under Communist impulsion, to take such an aggressive line against Spain. It is a very shocking thing for the Cabinet of any State to try to solve its own political problems by beating up another country. In this case, French intervention has only had the result of giving Franco a new lease of life.
The Spaniards are a proud and morose people, and they have long memories. They have not forgotten Napoleon and the attempted French subjugation of Spain 130 years ago. Besides this, they have had a civil war which has cost them a million lives. Even the Communists in Spain will not thank foreign Governments for trying to start another civil war, and anything more silly than to tell the Spaniards that they ought to overthrow Franco, while, at the same time, assuring them that there will be no military intervention by the Allies, can hardly be imagined. Still more illplaced is the Polish intervention before U.N.O. Every- 2017 one knows where their impulse comes from. Let us discard cant and humbug. I believe it is a fact, to put it mildly, that there is as much freedom in Spain under General Franco's reactionary regime— and actually a good deal more security and happiness for ordinary folk—as there is in Poland at the present time.
We are now confronted with a proposal that all the nations of U.N.O. should break off relations with Spain. Before I examine that project in detail, there are some general propositions now in vogue which deserve scrutiny. Let me state them in terms of precision: " All oppression from the Left is progress. All resistance from the Right is reactionary. All forward steps are good, and all backward steps are bad. When you are getting into a horrible quagmire, the only remedy is to plunge in deeper and deeper."These rules, it seems to me, from time to time require review by the intelligentsia. They require review in the light of experience and of the circumstances we see around us. I was in favour of not admitting the present Spanish Government to U.N.O. It would have given general offence in the new Assembly, upon which so much depends. But this idea of all our countries withdrawing their ambassadors will only have the effect of preventing us worrying and admonishing General Franco with diplomatic representations and gradually smoothing the way for better times in Spain. It will also affront Spanish national pride to such an extent that there will be a general rally of Spaniards to the Government of their country, and its sovereign independence.
What is to happen when the ambassadors have been withdrawn? Our trade with Spain is very valuable. We get all sorts of things from Spain, from iron ore to oranges. We shall have to go on trading with Spain. We have an important market there, and I suppose that when we have withdrawn our ambassadors, we shall require to have commercial counsellors, or some other arrangement, in order to remain in fruitful contact with one of the oldest and now least aggressive of the nations of Europe. I suppose there would be instituted a kind of diplomatic black market, with its agents going in through the back door, instead of through the front. We may be quite sure that 28 million people living on that great peninsula would be 2018 in some contact with the outer world, even without the ambassadors now accredited to them. I should have thought that we had enough troubles on our hands without getting into such futile and fatuous entanglements, and I do not at' all credit the Government with any such unwisdom.
We all hope that the conference of the Foreign Secretaries, this Big Four or Big Three;—or Big Two-and-a-Half, as the anti-British American newspapers sometimes describe them—will soon make some progress in settling European affairs. [Interruption.] I think it applied to nations, not to individuals. I could not feel any satisfaction when I read in the newspapers that one of the first points upon which they had all been able to come to a unanimous decision in Paris was to confirm the assignment of the Austrian Tyrol to Italy. This was always held by liberal-minded folk in many lands to be one of the worst blots on the Treaty of Trianon which was not, in itself, a model in European annals. It is, of course, quite true—I do not wish to conceal anything—that Hitler and Mussolini, after the most careful consideration of the problem, agreed to confirm and enforce the decision. But, surely, those two miscreants are rather out of the picture today. The sentence I myself contributed to the Atlantic Charter, about no transference of territory apart from the will of the local inhabitants, has proved, in many cases, to be an unattainable ideal and, in any case, did not, in my experience, apply to enemy countries. But I know of no case in the whole of Europe, more than that of the Austrian Tyrol, where the Atlantic Charter, and the subsequent Charter of U.N.O., might have been extended to the people who dwell in this small but well defined region which is now involved in the general war settlement.
Why cannot the natives of this mountainous and beautiful land, the land of the patriot Hofer, be allowed to say a word about their destiny on their own behalf? Why cannot they have a fair and free plebiscite there under the supervision of the Great Powers? Let me put this question. Is it not illogical to have one standard of ethnic criteria for Trieste and Venezia Giulia, and another for the Southern Tyrol? The Soviet Government are quite logical; they are willing to override the ethnic criteria in both cases. I 2019 think that we might try, in this case, to emulate their symmetry of thought. There are no grounds for suggesting that any decisions adverse to the restoration of the Southern Tyrol to Austria were taken by the Government of which I was the head. We made positive declarations, in agreement with our Allies, about the independence of Austria, and by that was meant pre-Anschluss Austria. But this is in no way inconsistent with the addition to Anschluss Austria, or pre-Anschluss Austria, of the Southern Tyrol, if it is the wish of the people of that country. Nothing barring our action was settled by us. It is possible that, in September, some further commitments were made, but that is a matter for which the Government are responsible. I am obliged to the Foreign Secretary for giving me the material on which to check this point, which arose in his speech yesterday, by reference to official papers.
No quarrel remains between us and Austria. Every liberal principle which we proclaim—and the application of liberal principles is the main hope of Europe—will be impugned by the assignment of the Austrian Tyrol to Italy against the wishes of its inhabitants. I have every desire that we should live on the most friendly terms with Italy. I look forward to seeing that historic country take its place in the concert of Europe. As Ministers opposite will remember, I made the utmost exertions, as Minister of Defence, to prevent Italy from being robbed of her fleet, and I was supported by my colleagues in the War Cabinet in the loan to Russia of 13 British warships to prevent the immediate distribution of the Italian fleet, which was fighting with us, between the three great Powers. We have not been told what happens to these 13 vessels now that the Italian fleet is to be divided up among the three great Powers. It might be a graceful gesture to Russia to convert the loan into a gift. We certainly wish to welcome Russia and her navy and her merchant commerce freely to the oceans; we recognise the importance to Russia of access to warm water ports, and I should like to hear from the Government what their intentions are about these 13 vessels. I mention them now, only to show our great care for Italy, and our desire that she should draw a line between the 2020 miserable past and what I trust will be a brighter future.
We were glad to hear the important declaration of the Foreign Secretary about the port and city of Trieste. The concessions already made by Great Britain and the United States in accepting the French compromise, or via media, go very far, and the three leading Western democracies ought now to stand firmly together on this point. The internationalisation of the port of Trieste is, as the Foreign Secretary said, vitally important to the whole of Central Europe and, particularly, to the Danubian Basin. I welcome the firm language he has used upon that subject. From all this tangle, some salient points emerge which the House ought to recognise: the sovereignty of nations, the equal rights of States, both great and small, under world law and, in regard to borderland or disputed territory, the wishes of the people concerned to be ascertained by free and fair elections. We shall be pretty safe if we stick to those simple, broad, well tried principles.
I turn to another quarter. I have been struck, in my visits to Belgium in November and to Holland recently, with the enormous recovery made by those countries since the war, and the vigour with which all parties there are unitedly plunging into the whole process of national recovery. The close relations which are growing up between those two countries, the association of the Catholic Church with extremely advanced liberal and social policies, the general aversion from Communism, all these are evident. But what impressed me even more, was the deep affection of these countries for Great Britain. Rightly or wrongly, they have it in their hearts that Britain, by her resistance when she was all alone, saved the world and enabled their liberties to be regained. Why are we not to be close friends with the Dutch and the Belgians? Has any other nation in the world a right to object to that?
We have all watched with deep satisfaction the steady recovery and rise of France, and the strength and stability increasingly shown by her people. The wounds which France suffered in the war were frightful. They were not only physical wounds; there were times when the soul of France seemed in jeopardy. I never lost faith in the greatness of the 2021 French people or the grandeur of France, and we all rejoice today to see her increasingly taking her place in the forefront of the free democracies of the world. The Foreign Secretary did not make any reference to an Anglo-French treaty. Perhaps it has been wise to wait until the shape which the immediate postwar Governments of France will take has become manifest. But, of course, our relations with France do not depend on signatures attached to formal documents. Our friendship has sprung out of our comradeship, out of our former victory, out of our agony and out of our final triumph. I can only say here, as I said to the States-General at The Hague, that there can be no revival of European dignity and splendour without a strong France. I trust we shall endeavour to establish intimate and cordial relations with all our nearest neighbours on the Continent, in order that all the populations concerned can have the best standard of living possible in these hard times, and also that common regional security shall not be ignored.
Here let me deal with two expressions of prejudice which are now used in an endeavour to prevent friendly peoples coming together to mutual advantage without hostility to anyone else in the world. The first is the word "bloc." To be on good, easy, sympathetic terms with your neighbours is to form a bloc. To form a bloc is a crime, according to every Communist in every land, unless it be a Communist bloc. So much for the word " bloc." It happens also that we are closely associated with the United States. We think very much alike on great world problems on the morrow of our victory —because the British and Americans did have something to do with the victory. The Foreign Secretary often finds himself at these conferences in agreement with Mr. Byrnes, just as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was often in agreement with Mr. Hull, and just as I was often in agreement with President Roosevelt and, after him, with President Truman. Now all this process, without which I can assure hon. Members we should not be sitting here this afternoon, is to be condemned and ruled out by the expression " ganging up."If two countries who are great friends agree on something which is right, they are " ganging up," so they must not do it. We should brush aside these terms of prejudice, which are used only 2022 to darken counsel and which replace, in certain minds, the ordinary processes of thought and human feeling. If the liberal nations of the world—the Western democracies, as they are called—are to be turned from their natural associations and true affinities by bugbear and scarecrow expressions like "bloc " and " ganging up,"They will only have themselves to thank when once again they fall into misfortune.
The House could not but be impressed by the measured and formidable complaint which the Foreign Secretary unfolded yesterday, step by step and theatre by theatre, about the treatment which the Western Allies have been receiving from the Soviet Government. Deep and widespread sorrow has been caused in Britain by the decline of contact and good will between our country and Russia. There was, and there still is, an earnest desire to dwell in friendly cooperation with the Soviet Government and the Russian people. On the other hand, the Foreign Secretary received the approval of the vast majority of the people when he protested against the prolonged, systematic campaign of vilification which has been, and is being daily pumped out upon us by the Soviet propaganda machine. Apart from the Communists and the " cryptos " —that is to say, the Communists without the pluck to call themselves by their proper name—very few people were shocked by the homely language he chose to employ at the London Conference in January, nor indeed, do the vast majority of the House of Commons dissent from the argument he unfolded in the speech with which he opened this Debate.
Nevertheless, I am sure that it is the general wish of the British and Russian peoples that they should have warm and friendly feelings towards each other. We seek nothing from them except their good will, and we would play our part, with other nations, in coming to their aid with such resources as we may have if their just rights or safety were assailed. We were all glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he was still in favour of the 50 years treaty or 20 years treaty with Russia. Personally, I attach great importance to the existing Treaty. I have never made a speech on European questions without referring to it. It may go through bad times—lots of treaties do— but it would be a great misfortune if it were incontinently discarded. But surely. 2023 talking of treaties, this Four Power 25 year treaty between America, Britain, Russia and France, which the United States have proposed to deal with Germany, is a tremendous project. The Foreign Secretary was right to say how much more valuable such a guarantee of the United States to be in the forefront of European affairs for 25 years would be to Soviet Russia for her own security, than the harnessing—" harnessing " was the word—of a number of reluctant or rebellious border or satellite States. I am very glad to know that we are to support the United States proposal, and I thought the words which the Foreign Secretary used about it were singularly well chosen.
However, there is no use in concealing the fact that the Soviet propaganda and their general attitude have made a profound impression upon this country since the war, and all kinds of people in great numbers are wondering very much whether the Soviet Government really wish to be friends with Britain or to work wholeheartedly for the speedy reestablishment of peace, freedom and plenty throughout the world. Across the ocean, in Canada and the United States, the unfriendly Soviet propaganda has also been very effective in the reverse direction to what was intended. The handful of very able men who hold 180.million Soviet citizens in their grasp ought to be able to get better advice about the Western democracies. For instance, it cannot be in the interest of Russia to go on irritating the United States. There are no people in the world who are so slow to develop hostile feelings against a foreign country as the Americans, and there are no people who, once estranged, are more difficult to win back. The American eagle sits on his perch, a large, strong bird with formidable beak and claws. There he sits motionless, and M. Gromyko is sent day after day to prod him with a sharp pointed stick—now his neck, now under his wings, now his tail feathers. All the time the eagle keeps quite still. But it would be a great mistake to suppose that nothing is going on inside the breast of the eagle. I venture to give this friendly hint to my old wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin. Even here, in our patient community, Soviet propaganda has been steadily making headway backwards. I would not have believed it 2024 possible that in a single year the Soviets would have been able to do themselves so much harm, and to chill so many friendships in the English-speaking world.
Let us also remember that the Soviet Government is greatly hampered in its relations with many foreign countries by the existence of Communist fifth columns. There are some States which hang in the balance, where these Communist organisms are aspiring, or conspiring, to seize the control of the Governments, although they are in a small majority in the population. Of course, if they succeed, the State is overturned and becomes harnessed as a satellite, but everywhere else the activities of Communist fifth columns only do Russia harm. In fact, they are an active process in bringing about the very thing which the Soviets most dislike, namely, a general consensus of opinion against them and their ways. I earnestly hope that when this present technique and these methods have been fully tried out and found not helpful to the interests and the greatness of Soviet Russia, they will be discarded, and that a more reasonable and neighbourly spirit will prevail, in which case I am sure we would all be very ready, so far as words are concerned, to let bygones be bygones.
Then there is the Communist spy system, the exposure of which is at present confined to Canada. It has made a deep mark on Transatlantic opinion. These revelations, by no means complete, have stirred the whole Dominion of Canada. Of course, many countries have sought and seek information about the designs of other countries. The difference between the Soviet —
§ Mr. Gallacher
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, and a very serious point of Order. So far as I am aware, only one Communist has been associated with this question of espionage in Canada. At present I understand there is a trial going on, and I do not think it is desirable that right hon. Gentlemen in this House should prejudge the case.
§ Mr. Speakerrose—2025
§ Mr. Speaker
When I am on my feet hon. Members must sit down. Hon. Members cannot put me down by standing up and saying that it is a point of Order. I have often said that in the House before. The point which the hon. Member put to me was not a point of Order; it was a matter of opinion. I rule that it is not a point of Order.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Further to that, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition referred to Communist espionage which was confined to Canada at the moment. No case of espionage has been proved against anybody in Canada at the moment, because there is a trial going on. That is obviously sub judice.
§ Mr. Churchill
I was merely stating the fact that it was confined to Canada at the moment. I stated the fact that the exposure of this espionage across the Atlantic was, at the moment, confined to Canada. I do not know if there are any guilty consciences in the matter elsewhere. That is all I said. It has nothing to do with the question of Order or anything of that kind, or with a trial which is proceeding. I know the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) finds it very-hard to hear things said against him or his party. Here they are only one or two, but in other parts of the world those who think with him are a great peril and danger to a large number of people. The hon. Member is given great tolerance and consideration here, and he ought not to strain the good will and indulgence with which he is treated beyond a certain point.
I am making the point that many countries seek information about the affairs and designs of other countries. There is nothing in that. But the difference between that and the Soviet system is that they do not have to hire their agents in the ordinary way. In the Communist sect it is a matter of religion to sacrifice one's native land for the sake of the Communist Utopia. People who, in ordinary life, would behave in a quite honourable manner, if they are infected with this disease of the mind will not hesitate a moment to betray their country 2026 or its secrets. There are many instances of that. It is this peculiarity which renders Soviet Communist espionage as dangerous as their propaganda is futile: and often even childish. The Canadian Government arid its Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, have only done their duty with courage and justice in exposing what has been brought up in the Dominion of Canada.
Far more serious than anything in the sphere of propaganda or espionage are the facts of the European situation. I have been censured for wrongly championing the Russian claims to the Curzon Line. So far as the Curzon Line is concerned, I hold strongly that this was a rightful Russian frontier, and that a free Poland should receive compensation at the expense of Germany both in the Baltic and in the West, going even to the line of the Oder and the Eastern Neisse. If I and my colleagues erred in these decisions we must be judged in relation to the circumstances of the awful conflict in which we were engaged. We are not now in the presence of the Curzon Line as the Western frontier of Soviet authority. It is no longer a question of the line of the Oder. So long as Poland is held in control the Soviet domination, in one form or another, runs from Stettin in the Baltic to the outskirts of Trieste in the Adriatic, and far South of that. The Russified frontier in the North is not the Curzon Line; it is not on the Oder; it is on the Elbe. That is a tremendous fact in European history, and one which it would be the height of unwisdom to ignore. Not only has a curtain descended, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, but behind that is a broad band of territory containing all the capitals of Eastern and Central Europe and many ancient States and nations, in which dwell nearly one-third of the population of Europe, apart from Russia. At the present moment all this is ruled or actively directed by that same group of very able men, the Commissars in the Kremlin, which already disposes with despotic power of the fortunes of its own mightly Empire. It is here in this great band or belt, if anywhere, that the seeds of a new world war are being sown.
We may be absolutely sure that the Sovietising and, in many cases, the Com-munising of this gigantic slice of Europe, against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people of many of these 2027 regions, will not be achieved in any permanent manner without giving rise to evils and conflicts which are horrible to contemplate. Meanwhile, it was clear from the speech of die Foreign Secretary that the policy of the Soviet Government seems, up to the present, to be to delay all final settlements of peace and to prevent the peoples of Western and Eastern Europe from getting together in friendly, social and economic association, as many of them would like to do. On a short-term view, time is on the side of the Soviets, because the longer a free and peaceful settlement of Europe is delayed, the more time the Russian forces and Communist organisations have at their disposal in order to liquidate whatever elements obnoxious to their ambitions venture to show themselves in these wide lands. The populations of the Baltic States are no longer recognisable as those which existed before the war. They have suffered a double liquidation, both at German hands and Russian hands. The population of Pomerania is said to be but a third of what it was before the war. There was a very interesting article in the " Manchester Guardian " on that point the other day. Every effort is being made to Communise and Russify the whole of the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany.
Poland is denied all free expression of her national will. Her worst appetites of expansion are encouraged. At the same time, she is held in strict control by a Soviet-dominated Government who do not dare have a free election under the observation of representatives of the three or four Great Powers. The fate of Poland seems to be unending tragedy, and we, who went to war, all ill-prepared, on her behalf, watch with sorrow the strange outcome of our endeavours. I deeply regret that none of the Polish troops—and I must say this—who fought with us on a score of battlefields, who poured out their blood in the common cause, are to be allowed to march in the Victory Parade. They will be in our thoughts on that day. We shall never forget their bravery and martial skill, associated with our own glories at Tobruk, at Cassino and at Arnhem. Austria and Hungary are stifled, starved and weighed down by masses of Russian troops. We agree with the Foreign Secretary in all he said on this point yesterday. I do not speak of Czechoslovakia, which 2028 is a special case. For the time being I accept President Benes's statement that it is the duty of Czechoslovakia to interpret Russia to Western Europe and Western Europe to Russia. But for the rest—I do not want to go into more detail—the position is gravely and woefully disquieting.
All this brings us to the problem of Germany. Seventy or eighty millions of Germans still exist in the centre of Europe, constituting its largest racial block. Two-fifths of the German population lie East of the "Iron curtain," and three-fifths to the Westward. Together with the Americans and to some extent the French, the responsibility for the control of this vast mass of three-fifths of one of the most powerful nations in the world lies upon us. It lies upon the three Allied Western Powers. The Soviet Government are organising their own zone through the establishment in power of German Communist elements with Soviet support and control. Different methods are being adopted in the British and American zones. We have to face the fact that, as we are going on at present, two Germanys are coming into being, one organised more or less on the Russian model, or in the Russian interest, and the other on that of the Western democracies, and that the line of demarcation is not fixed with regard to any historical or economic conditions, but simply runs along the line agreed to when the whole future of the war was highly speculative, and nobody knew to what points armies would be likely to go or what would become of the struggle. It runs along the line to which, a year ago the British and American Armies voluntarily retired—a 150-mile retreat in some cases, on a 400-mile front—after the Germans had surrendered.
Thus, the bulk of the German population and their manufacturing resources are in Anglo-American hands and the bulk of their food grounds in Soviet hands. It would not be contrary to the decision reached at Potsdam if His Majesty's Government followed the United States in not allowing any further transference to Russia of German factories and plant under their control except in return for proportionate deliveries of food for the German people, whose livelihood and, indeed, whose lives, depend in some cases upon those factories and upon the productivity of their area. In this way alone, will the burden upon us 2029 be lessened. Either we shall get the food for the Germans for whom we are responsible, or we shall be able to take the best measures possible to enable them to. earn their own living. The first thing is that the Germans should earn their own living. It would seem very foolish to deprive them of the means of doing so, and then have to take the bread out of our own children's mouths in order to keep them alive in a miserable condition.
We should be very glad, and, I am sure, the Americans also would be very glad, to reach the condition of a general peace with the German nation, however truncated or compartmented it might be, in agreement with our Russian Allies. I cannot feel, from what we read and from what we heard yesterday, that this is likely to be the position for some time, and in the meantime the only course open will be to discuss matters with the Soviets upon a realistic basis. We cannot afford, and the United States cannot afford, to let chaos and misery continue indefinitely in the zones of Germany which we occupy. I was deeply impressed by the broadcast address of Field-Marshal Smuts last week. No more than Field-Marshal Smuts have I any need to court popularity or win applause by saying fashionable things. I give my faithful counsel, as I did in bygone years, when I was always in a minority and sometimes almost alone. I must speak of Germany. Indescribable crimes have been committed by Germany under the Nazi rule. Justice must take its course, the guilty must be punished, but once that is over—and I trust it will soon be over— I fall back on the declaration of Edmund Burke, "I cannot frame an indictment against an entire people." We cannot plan or even dream of a new world or a new Europe which contains pariah nations, that is to say, nations permanently or for prolonged periods outcast from the human family. Our ultimate hopes must be founded—can only be founded—on the harmony of the human family. So far as it remains in the power of this island people to influence the course of events, we must strive over a period of years to redeem and to reincorporate the German and the Japanese peoples in a world system of free and civilised democracy. The idea of keeping scores of millions of people hanging about in a sub-human state between earth and 2030 hell, until they are worn down to a slave condition or embrace Communism, or die off from hunger, will only, if it is pursued, breed at least a moral pestilence and probably an actual war.
There are obvious limits to our powers, but so far as we have power, and in agreement with the United States great power may be exercised, we must do our best for the German people, and after the guilty have been punished for their horrible crimes we must banish revenge against an entire race from our minds. We must make sure they do not rearm, and that their industries are not capable of rapid transition to war production, but the danger to European peace and to the future of free democratic civilisation is not, at this moment, Germany—that menace belongs to the first and second acts of the world tragedy. The danger is the confusion and degeneration into which all Europe, or a very large part of it, is; rapidly sinking. Moreover, we need no': fear that our position will be worsened. or that its dangers will be brought more near, by the adoption of clear and firm policies.
Above all, we should not again let the years slip by while we are pushed and slide down the slippery slope. We still have a breathing space. Let us not waste it, as we did last time. The last great war could have been prevented with the utmost ease by prudent, firm and righteous action, five, four or even three years before it occurred. [Interruption.] No right to lay flattering unction to their souls resides upon the benches opposite in this matter. [An HON. MEMBER: " Or behind you."] I am dealing with this great matter which belongs to history; and from which no British party can draw particular credit. Other countries were concerned in that period, and I have no doubt whatever in saying that even up to 1936 it was possible, if we had utilised the full powers of the League of Nations —[Interruption.]—I travelled all round the country on that campaign, which amounted to what is now called " ganging up "The League of Nations against Hitler, but did not succeed.
We are not in dispute about this. We agree with His Majesty's Government that Britain cannot delay indefinitely making a peace with all those countries with whom we have been at war and with whom we have no further quarrel. They have yielded themselves unconditionally 2031 to our arms and to those of our Allies; nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance. We should make a peace with Germany or with whatever parts of Germany are still in our control. We should make peace with Italy who has been our Ally for the last two years of the war. If this peace cannot be achieved by inter-Allied discussions in Paris or elsewhere, then I agree with the Foreign Secretary, and with the Government of the United States, that we should carry the matter to U.N.O., and to the 21 nations who were actively engaged in the fighting—I quote the words used from the Front Bench opposite yesterday—and make the best solution possible. But it must be a quick one.
It is in this world organisation that we must put our final hopes. If we are to be told that such a procedure as this would rend the world organisation, and that a line of division, and even of separation, might grow up between Soviet Russia and the countries she controls on the one hand, and the rest of the world on the other, then I say—and I say it with much regret, but without any hesitancy— that it would be better to face that, when all has been tried and tried in vain, than tamely to accept a continued degeneration of the whole world position. It is better to have a world united than a world divided; but it is also better to have a world divided, than a world destroyed. Nor does it follow that even in a world divided there should not be equilibrium from which a further advance to unity might be attempted as the years pass by. Anything is better than this ceaseless degeneration of the heart of Europe. Europe will die of that.
I had no direct responsibility for the peace settlement after the last war. I was in the Government, but not in the War Cabinet, nor in the main delegations which representatives of all parties comprised, and which met in Paris. Indeed, I vehemently criticised many features of the Treaties of Versailles and Trianon, and what I said is on record. For a decade afterwards these treaties were held up to the world by Liberal and Left Wing opinion as examples to be avoided in the future, and the intelligentsia of those days wrote about a Carthaginian peace. But now we have no peace. President Wilson, Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau were criticised for their long drawn out 2032 and harsh treatment of the conquered. But what is happening now? After the last war, peace was made with Germany and Austria seven months after the fighting stopped. Ten months have passed already, and no one can predict when a peace will be made, or even when relations will be established with the conquered Powers that will be in practice equivalent to peace. Rumania, Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary—they have no peace. Even Italy, which fought at our side after Mussolini's tyranny was broken, has no peace. This cannot go on.
The Foreign Secretary said he would make another effort to bring about an agreed solution of European affairs. That is, of course, for him and for His Majesty's Government to decide. I do not say he is wrong. We all hope earnestly for a successful conclusion to the approaching or, shall I say, impending, conference in Paris. We must certainly await its results. But it is surely necessary for people to begin asking themselves what course we ought to take supposing, as is not impossible, no sort of agreement is reached which would command the moral conscience and approval of the world at large. What are we to do? I am not asking the Foreign Secretary to answer that question now, but, of course, his speech remains incomplete without some effective conclusion. It is no use producing a dozen points of difference with one of the greatest Powers in the world and then breaking off with a mere denial of a pessimistic state of mind.
I well understand the difficulties of His Majesty's Government, but never again will the parties of the Left be able to reproach the men of Versailles. Europe is far worse off in every respect than she was at the end of the last war. Her miseries, confusion and hatreds far exceed anything known that was known in those bygone days. More than once the formidable truth has been stated that great nations are indestructible. Let us beware of delay and further degeneration. With all their virtues, democracies are changeable. After the hot fit, comes the cold. Are we to see again, as we saw the last time, the utmost severities inflicted upon the vanquished, to be followed by a period in which we let them arm anew, and in which we then seek to appease their wrath? We cannot impose our will on our Allies, but we 2033 can, at least, proclaim our own convictions. Let us proclaim them fearlessly. Let Germany live. Let Austria and Hungary be freed. Let Italy resume her place in the European system. Let Europe arise again in glory, and by her strength and unity ensure the peace of the world.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
After the long and exhaustive survey which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made yesterday of the international situation I do not propose this afternoon to speak at any length. I propose to deal with one or two of the points dealt with in Debate yesterday, and some points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will deal with other points when he winds up the Debate. I think my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no need to complain of the reception that has been given to his speech in the House. It is true it was sombre,.because the scene is sombre, but I think there was a very general recognition of the great burdens which he is carrying, and of the way in which he is shouldering them, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I think, recognised that this afternoon.
Yesterday's Debate was notable for the number of speeches made by hon. Members who have persona] acquaintance, and recent personal acquaintance, with various countries, not only in Europe. That is the great value of Debates in this House, that on every subject we always have Members who are well informed, and I thought that yesterday we had some extremely valuable speeches. The most valuable, to my mind, were speeches such as those made by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), who have both recently been to Persia, and who have, obviously, been there with open minds, and have brought back good, faithful reports to the House of what they saw. I think of far less value are those speeches of Members who go out to countries, resolved to see only what they want to see; and, particularly, of those who see everything only through Russian spectacles. I think it is better to see these things through British eyes, while trying as far 2034 as possible to understand the viewpoint of others.
The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon raised the point of how far there should be consultation with the Opposition on foreign policy. Well, I have had to face that question as Leader of the Opposition in time past. I had occasional information of pending action, but I never had a continuous stream of information and all the telegrams given to me. I do not think that that really suits our Constitution. In our Constitution the responsibility rests on the Government, and it should rest on the Government. I do not think Members of the Opposition would wish to take that position of responsibility without power. I agree with the courtesy of information, and as far as possible this will be given, but I think, if I may say so, that we are happier in this country than some of those countries which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, where, with difficulty, they form temporary alliances between three or four parties of equal strength. I believe in a Government and an Opposition, and in an Opposition that is free to criticise. I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would like to have too much responsibility when in Opposition; indeed, I think that he sometimes enjoys a little bit of irresponsibility. I think that when we have a speech made, such as that made by my right hon. Friend, which evokes debate and criticism in this House, but general support, I think, for the main line that is taken, then we show to the world the underlying unity in this country which one can have on foreign affairs.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite raised a number of points, and there are one or two in particular with which I should like to deal He raised the very difficult question of the South Tyrol, and he also adverted in that respect to the question of Trieste. Broadly speaking, it is quite true that we want to adopt the line which will give to the most people we can the rule of their fellow countrymen, but, in the complications of Europe, to get that is really a counsel of perfection. In dealing with ethnic considerations, one must not forget economic considerations. On must remember that some of the lines which were drawn after the first world war—I am sure, with the best of intentions—however ethnically 2035 perfect, were, economically, absurd. In all these matters one must, I think, have a balance of consideration.
Another point which the right hon. Gentleman raised—and this is a particular point I should like to mention—was in regard to Italy's ships. I would say to him that that is still under consideration by the experts, and that there is still no firm determination yet made on it. He also raised the question of Spain. That matter is up before the United Nations organisation. We are considering these proposals, but the real question which faces all of us, is how best we are going to enable the Spanish people to decide for themselves, and get a decent Government. The latter is a very long-term aspiration as far as Spain is concerned, because they have had, I think, a succession of bad Governments for very many years. It is a fact that the Spanish people react very strongly against foreign intervention, and I am sure that we have to take action which will be best calculated to make the Spaniards get rid of their present Government, and also get a decent Government in its place. Because you get rid of one Government, it does not necessarily follow that you get a better one, or that you even get one at all in some countries. We are watching, therefore, the proceedings at the United Nations organisation.
The right hon. Gentleman rightly took up the problem of Germany. That is really the central theme of this Debate. I thought that just now the right hon. Gentleman painted too rosy a picture of what happened at the end of the last war. It is true that there were peace treaties, but war went on. One has to remember that Russia was excluded. There were wars going on in Russia. There were wars in Turkey and in Greece, and there were outbreaks of war in the very area we are considering, Venezia Giulia. They took a long time to settle down. Peace treaties are not made in a hurry; they require infinite patience, and my right hon. Friend is showing great patience, and, as was recalled by an hon. Member opposite, the same thing has been true of British diplomats before. Great patience was needed in getting peace after 1815. In all these things we are naturally impatient to see our views prevail, but the fact is that we have got to work with other nations.
2036 I thought that rather less than justice was done to my right hon. Friend, in suggesting that he had not put up rather more positive proposals in regard to Germany. We have put up positive proposals, and so have the French. We are bound by the Potsdam Agreement, and we must remember—and I am not making any attack on the right hon. Gentleman opposite—that we are bound by a succession of decisions which were taken in the war, decisions, for example, which were taken at Yalta. Yes, they were taken in the urgency of war, and they had to be taken, but other things follow on from them, and conditions change. At Potsdam, we had to take the best decisions we could in the circumstances. The difficulty with regard to Potsdam is this: that we regard Potsdam as laying down some guiding principles to be applied, but our Russian friends have insisted on importing into this agreement a rigid, literal interpretation denying all flexibility to meet changing circumstances. While they seem to us to insist on the letter in regard to certain matters, I think that they disregard the spirit in which we entered on these things in Potsdam.
We desire that Germany shall be treated as an economic whole. We find Germany economically divided. We have been placed in a terribly difficult position, in view of the world shortage, in having an area which was always a deficit area from the point of view of food, and, as I see it, in changing what were intended merely to be lines of occupation into rigid divisions of Germany into zones with separate systems of administration. Our endeavour is that Germany should be treated as an economic whole. We want to work, not for a forcibly dismembered Germany—I believe that that is folly—-but for a federal Germany, a Germany which will get rid of that uniformity and over-centralisation which characterised not only the Nazis, but also the preceding regime. At the same time, we are doing our best to try to develop democratic institutions in Germany, because Germany is not going to be set on her feet by the exertions of people outside. Germany must work out her salvation through the Germans. Therefore, we are continuing to try to work through them to get the economic unity of Germany, to get real democracy into Germany, and to work in the closest harmony with our great Allies.
2037 We do not want to accept the counsel of despair that would divide Europe into two absolutely separate camps. Let me say to the right hon. Gentleman on that point that we believe in the closest cooperation with our friends of all the Western countries—Belgium, Dutch, Scandinavian countries, and, above all, with France. It is perfectly natural and reasonable that we should be good friends with these neighbours with whom we share so many ideas and so much history. I think that no one has any reason to object to our being friendly with our neighbours. With France—and here I agree with what the right hon Gentleman has said—we have very great traditions of friendship. As M. Bidault said the other day, " We have a union of hearts which is even more important than written agreements."I entirely agree that friendship with neighbours is not " ganging up."I would also say this: We do not want, in any way, to get an exclusive friendship with the Western Powers. We are out to get an all-inclusive friendship.
I would like to say one word on that. I think that one of the greatest difficulties is to try to get into the minds of our Russian friends some real understanding of the way we work things in Western democracies. I think that all of us can have understanding of the suspicion that exists in the Russian mind. It comes from history, and not only the history of the last 20 years. We have to remember the atmosphere of suspicion which existed right throughout the Tsarist regime. Our difficulty is this: It is quite extraordinary how hard it is to make our Russian friends understand that there is more than one voice in this country. I would wish that they could be present in the House and hear our Debates. If someone makes a speech somewhere, although he is an impeccable Conservative, and is attacking me and my friends as strongly as possible, it tends to be taken by Russia, in some mysterious way, as the voice of the Government. They cannot seem to appreciate that it is the essence of the Western countries that there should be a Government and an Opposition, and that there should be many voices.
I was talking the other day with a Russian who has some considerable knowledge of this country and he said, " Why are your papers so unpleasant to Russia? "I said, "I cannot help that, 2038 you know; they are free. They are very unpleasant to me. Our papers are open to attack anybody." Well, he could not understand that the papers that attack Russia, and equally attack this Government, were not, somehow or other, under the aegis of the Government. That is the trouble. That is really what has been called the "Iron curtain."It is a curtain between minds. Whenever I meet our Russian friends, I urge them to let us get together and speak to each other freely—all of us. I am quite sure that that is the great need in the world today. I think that we have to look upon the Russian people, to some extent, as if they were people who had been born and lived in a dark forest; they do not seem to understand the sunlight, the wind and air of free democracies I say that it would be a fatal thing to accentuate, in any way, this line of division between Eastern and Western Europe, because we have to try to get across the barriers, and get a mutual understanding. Let me say that, at the same time, we have equally to try and understand the Russian mind and Russian history, and understand why they take the line they do.
I turn to one or two of the points that were made in the Debate by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), with regard to the Far East. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a very extensive journey around the world, but he did not get quite so far as that yesterday. Our policy with regard to China is to do everything possible to secure conditions favourable to our trade. We desire, in the interests of the Chinese people, to see the emergence, as soon as possible, of a stable, strong, united China. That depends, more than anything else, on the settlement of the existing dispute between the Central Government and the Communists. We deplore the continuance of this dispute. I should like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the untiring efforts of General Marshall in trying to bring the two sides together, to promote an atmosphere favourable to a settlement.
There are very great obstacles and difficulties at the present time in the way of trade with China. After all, China was longer at war than any other country, and after many years of heroic struggle against the Japanese, they have a greater need of supplies than the rest of the world. 2039 There are difficulties of transport, difficulties of exchange and labour troubles; and, I regret to say, we find a good deal of difficulty in getting back to their owners some of the British properties which were sequestrated by the Japanese. We are trying—and this was a specific question put to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden—to reorganise the consular service and get it re-established. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary recently had long conversations with the Foreign Minister of China, Mr. T. V. Soong—long and friendly conversations, which I hope will bear fruit.
Perhaps I may deal for a moment with the point raised about Japan. On Japan, I was asked whether we had a political representative. The Government have already selected a British political representative for duty in Japan, in the person of Mr. A. D. F. Gascoigne, who is a senior member of the Foreign Service. He is leaving for Japan in a few days' time, and he will head the United Kingdom liaison mission in Japan which was set up on 1st January, 1946. His primary function will be to safeguard and promote British interests and to maintain the closest possible collaboration with General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, and also with the other British authorities in Japan, such as the Commander-in-Chief of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. I might say a further word there so that the House may realise what is the general machinery of control. While executive authority is vested in General MacArthur, there is an inter-Allied Commission in Washington, which formulates policy, and there is an Allied Council in Japan which advises General MacArthur on the carrying out of the Commission's decisions. The British representative on the Council is an Australian, Mr. MacMahon Ball. Whenever urgent matters arise, the United States Government can give interim directives to General MacArthur without consulting the Commission. That arrangement has not been functioning very long and I think it is too early to give an account of it. I do not wish to say anything more on the work there, except that I think useful groundwork has been accomplished in Japan, and I believe that General MacArthur is doing a great service 2040 to the whole world in his administration in Japan.
There was one other matter, raised by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) and also raised in a most interesting maiden spech by the hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Wing-Commander Shackleton). That is the question of atomic energy. I do not think it would be useful for me to say anything at the present time, because the whole matter is being considered by the United Nations organisation. I was asked particularly with regard to our attitude to the Lilienthal Report. We have been giving very careful consideration to that report. It raised difficult, technical matters on which we are getting advice, and also wider considerations. I do not think I can say more at the present than that it provides a very useful basis for discussion at U.N.O. when the delegates come to consider this whole problem.
Generally, I do not want to traverse the ground that has been covered by the Foreign Secretary. A number of detailed points already raised in the Debate, and others which will, no doubt, be raised, will be dealt with by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. But I think that the House will realise this—that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is showing the qualities which are needed most at the present time, namely, patience and understanding. I do not think we should judge the present state of the world wholly pessimistically. Read back into history and one finds, at every time of settlement, as great difficulties as those which we have to face. But one also finds them overcome, and I believe that in overcoming them now no one will play a greater part than my right hon. Friend.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary in his comprehensive and forceful speech yesterday put up many pegs on which hon. Members hung their own specially informed contributions. I do not lay any claim myself to expertise on the different countries whose affairs have been brought into this Debate. The particular pegs which I shall chose for my observations to the House this afternoon are the four main principles of policy which the right hon. Gentleman enunciated, first, to extend the 2041 scope of the United Nations organisation and to deepen the trust of the nations reposed in it; secondly, to bridge the gap between East and West; thirdly, to exercise patience and toleration; and, fourthly, to avoid what the right hon. Gentleman called "The development of exclusive power politics."I should like to start with the last of these.
It seems to me that the task which confronts us in the coming decade is to eliminate as far as lies in our power the deadly nationalism which divides and antagonises the nations of the world on the morrow of victory. I cannot see any meaning to peace unless it is to reverse the trends which have led and are still leading to more and more power being exercised by the rulers of great empires and groups of States. Nothing has been more remarkable in the last 12 months than how every act to consolidate and to confirm the United Nations organisation has been paralleled by an act to strengthen and improve the standing and authority of every one of its constituent States as separate world forces. For every instruction which the Foreign Secretaries of the world have sent to the United Nations organisation to increase its power and influence, more urgent instructions still have proceeded to the majority of the Embassies to take a firmer stand for the sovereign rights and self-determination of their own home countries. Persia, Berlin and the subject of atomic energy are three examples. The famous saying of Clausewitz has been inverted. It is as if the Foreign Offices of the nations, which were dormant during the war, have now caught the militant spirit and are trying to carry on the war by other means.
It has always seemed to me that in political thinking Russia was a child among the nations, and like a child Russia will persist in playing the old diplomatic game and playing it with the greatest zest. But surely the Western Powers, who pride themselves on being much older and wiser in these matters, would be very foolish indeed to join in that particular game. At present, we are getting nowhere at all. A sense of insecurity and frustration pervades everything that happens. Retaliation is the order of the day. Russia refuses us food for Western Germany so the United States refuses equipment for Eastern Germany. De- 2042 mands are made in this House for this country to follow closely upon the policy of the United States. Russia builds up an Eastern bloc, so we challenge her with proposals for a Western bloc. She puts down an iron curtain; the U.S.A. and ourselves, in so far as that policy is developed, prepare to do the same thing. The result is that, slowly but remorselessly, Eastern and Western Empires are being built up and U.N.O. the offspring of wiser and nobler counsels, of finer understanding, is in danger of being caught and crushed between the two mil-stones.
There is a fundamental difference between the position of this country now and our position before the war. We rejected appeasement then and stood firm against aggression, because it was clear that the expansion of Germany rested upon an overwhelming desire of the German people, and principally of tier younger generation, to put her policy to the test of war, if need be. We also declared our policy and were prepared to put it to the test of war. But now, the circumstances are entirely different. We have had the war. The flashpoint has been passed and the potential in Europe is reduced. Another major war within 15 or 20 years is quite unthinkable, for the simple and fundamental reason that the present generation is far too exhausted to fight it. All the victorious nations today are at a low ebb of vitality. Famine stalks the world, and in every country, not excluding Russia, swords are being beaten into ploughshares in an endeavour to combat it.
I do not believe that there is a great weight of military, economic and social power behind Russian diplomacy today. What we are seeing today in Russian diplomacy is, I suggest, the foam from the tidal wave which gathered momentum at Stalingrad and broke with terrific onslaught on the German army. I firmly believe that that wave has spent its force, and that if we could see through the mist it would be to discover thousands of Russian factories turning over rapidly to production of peacetime consumption goods, and millions of Russian mothers welcoming their soldier sons back to their hearths. I do not believe this is the time for the establishment of defensive positions across Europe, or for the conclusion of political or economic alliances among the Western Powers. On the contrary. I 2043 believe that the iron curtain is thinner than we think it is, and that with the patience and perseverance of which the Foreign Secretary spoke we shall pierce it.
If there is any strength at all in these virtues it is strength which Britain—the oldest of the great Powers—possesses in a marked degree. It would be folly for us to divest ourselves of the best and finest weapon in our armoury. There appear to me to be two major points of application for those virtues of patience and perseverance. The first is the United Nations organisation and the second is the Allied Control Commission in Berlin. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will not be diverted—I do not think he will be, to judge by what he said yesterday—by talk of a Western alliance or a Western bloc, from doing his utmost to break down the barriers which divide the zones in Germany. By every act of retaliation we are adding barbed wire strands to those barriers; by every act of reciprocity and of concession, we are removing them.
The Potsdam Agreement ought not to be abolished. It ought to be implemented. If it cannot be implemented because of the flow of refugees into the Western zones, it ought to be amended and improved in a positive and constructive sense, to take account of the change. The victorious Powers have an opportunity which has never been given to the world before. Germany is a defeated nation. It has no sovereignty and no power. It could be made, although I admit that the road is stony and hard, a great theatre of international understanding, a great laboratory for experiment in the technical means of linking State with State. Some such means will have to be found if U.N.O. is to remain more than a pious hope. Many people, I think it is fair to say, expected that by now U.N.O. would have taken the next step in its career and be reproducing itself in miniature in all the trouble spots of the world where the major nationalities impinge against each other.
U.N.O. is sitting in New York, one of the worst points on the map to have chosen for its ultimate success. It functions there in a rarified atmosphere, and in my view can succeed only if control commissions or analogous bodies, junior organisations to U.N.O. itself, are established through the Middle East and the Far East, 2044 as well as in Germany and Austria, and in all places where the problems of daily life are pressing and urgent and where conflicting nationalities provide situations which the United Nations organisation, its officials and committees could take hold of and turn to their advantage. If that was done, U.N.O. would draw strength and sustenance from these organisations, and would gain immensely in world prestige. Therefore, I believe that the Economic and Social Council and the Military Staffs Committee ought immediately to get down to some of these daily problems in the several theatres of world unrest.
Then again some attempt ought to be made to get round the vicious principle of the veto on the Security Council. Until that is done, U.N.O. will be hamstrung and stunted, and cannot hope to succeed ultimately as a force for peace in the world, I was very glad that both yesterday and in an earlier speech, the Foreign Secretary, together with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), lent very powerful counsel to the idea of direct representation of the peoples of the world on the United Nations Assembly. I believe that some of the Dominion statesmen are beginning to take up this theme. I hope very sincerely that the plan will go forward with the utmost speed. To my mind it offers the best solution to the problem of nationalism which, in itself, is a main cause of world insecurity.
May I say this in conclusion? Britain must make the United Nations organisation the main pillar of her foreign policy. As General Smuts has said, the balance of power has been completely upset by the war, and by the invention of new weapons. British industrial and maritime power no longer suffices to guarantee the security of our Empire and, who knows, it may not suffice to guarantee even our own security at home. I do not believe that a Western bloc will serve to increase our security, or that of the other countries proposed to be included in it. All of them have centred their own policy directly in the United Nations organisation. It will be resented by the Dominions, who will think that our industrial effort is being diverted from them into Europe; it will be resented by the United States who are, above all, concerned to see that the potentialities for conflict in Europe are reduced, and not increased. It will increase apprehension 2045 in Russia and play right into their hands by prolonging the game of power politics, which the world is only too anxious for them to give up.
I am sorry to differ from some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, notably my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), who has strongly pressed this policy. But I must say, in all seriousness and firmness to them, that I believe the policy of the Western bloc to be a stupid and childish policy of tu quoque. Britain is greater than that. The old balance of power theory is working itself out, the old days of finesse in the European Chancelleries are gone. The canvas of world strategy is now too large for the delicate brash-work of the old diplomacy.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Very largely it does. If the policy is a question of simple trade between the nations of Europe there can be no harm in it whatever. I am all in favour of that. But if it is one of military or political significance, or can so be interpreted by some of the major world Powers with which we are trying to get agreement at U.N.O., I think it would be a disaster.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
Would my noble Friend have any objection to such an arrangement being made under Article 52 of the United Nations Charter, since he supports the United Nations organisation?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The association of States which the United States are making in their hemisphere is of far less significance from the point of view of the balance of world power, than would be the formulation of a Western political and military bloc. I do not think Russia resents anything the United States are doing in the Western hemisphere from the point of view of the Chapultepec policy, but what I think they would resent is any formidable political alignment of Western European States. I believe that Britain must attempt something far more imaginative and sweeping than the old European diplomacy. We must, in the words of a famous statesman, " Seek peace and ensue it."If we cannot use our moral influence, our civilisation, our 2046 heritage of liberal government to draw the Russians out of themselves into the adult world of the West, to interest themselves in Western civilisation, then I think we shall have failed to give that leadership to the world which is our privilege, our opportunity, and our right.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks (Broxtowe)
The Leader of the Opposition in opening his speech this afternoon made an attack on the resistance movement in Greece, which he accused of treachery and all sorts of other evil offences. I have studied closely the record regarding Greece of the Coalition Government, and of its agents in Cairo and elsewhere, and I would like to say that as a record of treachery and double-dealing that record would take some beating. As for the White Paper that that Government published at the beginning of last year, I would say that it is the best thing in fiction that the Coalition Government ever did. E.A.M. made one great mistake—to lay down their arms, trusting to the honour of the British Foreign Office. Those arms were picked up by the Fascist forces of the Right. But the whole story is not ended. When British troops are withdrawn it is possible that civil war will break out and that revolution will take place, on which occasion I hope it will be successful. I say, " Long live the Greek Republic and the Greek revolution, and confusion to the Fascist collaborators, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wood ford (Mr. Churchill) so wantonly and so wickedly supports."
Having praised the men in Greece who helped Hitler, the right hon. Gentleman then turned to Spain, and supported the Government of another friend of Hitler and Mussolini—General Franco. It has been said by General Franco that Spain and England were natural enemies, and that so long as this country held the entrance to the Mediterranean, Spain was bound to be hostile to her, and that he would do his utmost to recover, by force if necessary, the fortress of Gibraltar. That record of his views was written in a Sunday newspaper by a former Member of this House, Sir Samuel Hoare, who is now Lord Tempiewood. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wood ford went on to criticise the recommendations of a sub-Committee of U.N.O. that diplomatic relations with Franco should 2047 be broken off. The Leader of the Opposition has spoken often in his time for many causes and many people. He has spoken for the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, for himself and, during the war, for England. This is the first time that we have heard him speak with the voice of the Vatican, although he did so the other day in Holland. I expect that before the end of the Session we may have the unique pleasure of watching him counting his beads on the Front Bench, although he will not, I think, be wearing the hair shirt of that austerity to which, in his vari-coloured career, he has never given' very high praise.
I listened last night to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, like the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett), with a feeling of depression and gloom. There is no strong reason to believe, so far as I can see, that the next meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in a few days' time will succeed any more than did the last. It has been suggested that if deadlock occurs again, which is very likely, as nothing has happened so far to resolve it, all the problems of peace will then be presented to a Conference of 21 nations. Suppose you hold that Conference against the wishes of Soviet Russia, and suppose she does not attend and others do not attend, what will happen then? The next step, it is indicated, is that America and Britain may have to make a separate peace of their own, without waiting for the cooperation of Russia. If that is done it will undoubtedly cause a hopeless and hostile division between East and West, which will lead inevitably to a future war, a war which the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) said, optimistically, would not take place for a very long time. In 1932 I warned the House of the danger of war with Germany. Nobody listened to me then, except the right hon. Gentleman who now leads the Opposition. [Interruption.] I do not know why some hon. Members laugh. The right hon. Gentleman was the only one, as far as I remember, who listened to me.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
We were rather amused because it had been 2048 thought by quite a large number of people that that opposition was led and initiated by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Cocks
I am not asking for priority in the matter. In 1932, on many occasions, I warned the House and the country very solemnly of the danger of war, and I think that I quoted, for the first time in the House, passages from " Mein Kampf," although I do not take any credit for that. I say again now, in the same way as I said it in 1932, that unless our foreign policy, and the foreign policy of other countries, is changed, we are as near war today as we were in 1932, and perhaps nearer. In my view, the Foreign Secretary has been given a hopeless task. He is in the position of a man who, seeing his path blocked by an enormous boulder, tries to remove the boulder without a lever, and no lever can be found. It cannot be done. The only course for such a man is to go around the boulder—in other words, to change our foreign policy, in the direction which I propose to indicate.
The British Labour Party has always stood for the closest friendship with Soviet Russia. The example of Russia in establishing a non-capitalist State in Eastern Europe cheered the Labour movement in many a dark hour of Tory reaction. At the last General Election the thought that a Labour Government in England would mean that friendship with Russia would grow ever warmer and closer, and that the two countries and peoples would be bound together by firm and unbreakable ties, cheered our people, and was cheered by audiences when it was said from our platforms. The phrase that " Only the left can understand the left " was often quoted at our meetings, and was received with the full-throated applause of deep conviction. Besides that special friendship of the Labour Party for Russia, there has been general agreement among all parties that the peace of the world and the success of the United Nations depend upon agreement and cooperation between Britain, America and Russia. The Labour Party issued a leaflet called, "The International Postwar Settlement,"In which it is said:If we three hold together, all will be well, if we fall apart, all will be dark and uncertain.I think most people will agree that today all is dark and uncertain. The spirit of cordial cooperation between the three 2049 Great Powers no longer exists. The rift between West and East is growing wider every day and at every conference. So deep has it become that Miss Dorothy Thompson was constrained to write, in a message to "The Observer " recently, that the people in the United States of America—I commend this to the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset—felt they were drifting towards war. The thought filled them with horror, but they were facing it with resignation. A Gallup poll in America the other day showed that 75 per cent, of those taking part in it thought that war with Russia was inevitable.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that some societies in the United States are notorious for inventing bogies?
§ Mr. Cocks
I was quoting a very prominent writer, Miss Dorothy Thompson, in a distinguished English newspaper. This feeling, however, is not confined to the United States of America. In Central Europe and South -Eastern Europe, and in the Middle East, it is even more prevalent. Hon. Members coming back from visits to those territories tell me that people there—chiefly people in what I think are reactionary circles, and men and women of that type—are asking, not whether the war is coming, because they take that for granted, but at what date it will break out. This is an awful position. It is not to be glossed over with soothing words. Surely, it is our duty to right it if we possibly can; otherwise, we shall be swirled over Niagara by the strong current of events, and civilisation will perish in the glare of atomic annihilation. What can we do to prevent this fate? Let me, at the beginning, say something about the present position and attitude of Russia. In my view, the present attitude of Russia is due very largely to her desire for security. In that I am supported by a hostile witness, Mr. Paul Winterton. In his book called " Report On Russia," he has written the most violent attack on the Soviet system that has been published in this country recently. It is quoted by all who are opposed to Communism as a description of the awful conditions in Russia. This is what he says on the foreign policy of Russia:An examination of Russian policy with a clear and impartial eye does not lead to the2050conclusion that Russia is seeking other people's wealth or territory out of greed, or extending her influence for the sake of enjoying power over others. She has not the least desire to Russify non-Russians or to destroy local culture. She has certainly no desire to dominate the world, as Hitler had. Her aim appears to be defensive.…I am sure that neither the Russian people nor the Kremlin would view with anything but horror the possibility of another war.When we consider the terrible losses which Russia sustained in the recent conflict, no one can wonder at that. Over 20 million of her people were killed, most of them murdered. As was revealed at the Nuremberg trial, there was a single grave containing 100,000 dead. Three hundred thousand civilians were butchered in the area of Minsk. There were villages where all the population were put in barns and roasted alive. Territory holding a population of 80 million people was made a desert, and everything destroyed, from the art palaces down to the sewerage system. When we realise what sufferings Russia has endured, can we wonder that Russia now desires to protect herself from another attempt by a wide belt of neighbouring countries from which no hostile force will ever be able to launch another attack? I think that explains the iron curtain and what is going on behind it. To Russia the iron curtain is simply a safety curtain, such as we can see any night at a theatre in London. For us:o attempt to interfere in the Russian sphere by sending fussy and scolding Notes to Rumania, Bulgaria, or Poland is not only futile but actually harmful because it arouses in Russia feelings of fear, suspicion, and hatred which will render future co-operation impossible.
Another point is that the Russian Communist Party is a Marxist Party, the leaders of which believe in the Marxist philosophy and do not, as a result, trust any purely capitalist nation such as the United States of America. They believe that unless the U.S.A. ceases to be capitalist she will one day be forced by economic circumstances to attack the Soviet Union. The fact that the secret of the atomic bomb has been denied to Russia strengthens her in that belief. As for this country, the Russians believe that we are lining up with the U.S.A. in preparation for the coming conflict. They believe that, rightly or wrongly, and the Fulton speech, which was never repudiated by any Member of the British Government, is regarded as evidence by 2051 the Russians. Although we have a Socialist Government in this country— and a very fine one too—the Russians point to the fact that millions of people voted Conservative and that another Election will take place in four years' time. They know that the doctrine of the continuity of foreign policy has been proclaimed by His Majesty's Opposition— it was mentioned again this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford—and has apparently been accepted by the Government to some extent, as shown by their attitude towards Greece and Spain, or even by the Foreign Secretary's choice of a dancing partner in Paris. In view of all these —
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
Surely that was a very insolent reference to the Foreign Secretary's choice of a very distinguished ambassador's wife as a partner?
§ Mr. Cocks
I thought the noble Lord knew me well enough to know that I did not mean it in any insolent way. In view of these profound, and in some ways well-founded, beliefs there is only one thing to do, in my opinion. It may be said to be a second best choice, but then wise statesmanship often is. Whatever idealists and doctrinaires may say, I believe that there is only one way to avert the danger of war. When two people find it difficult to work together and get on each other's nerves, the sensible thing is to give them different jobs to do. Russia has a very big job in Eastern Europe and I think she should be allowed to do it without any irritating interference from the West. America has the Monroe doctrine and until we frankly recognised that doctrine our relations with her were never cordial. I remember when some 50 years ago action was contemplated against Venezuela there were threats of war against us by the United States, and we had to bring into commission a separate flying squadron as a result. To-day we fully recognise that doctrine and this country would not dream of interfering in the affairs of a South American State without having first obtained the approval of the U.S.A.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
I think the hon. Gentleman has forgotten that there was a complete differentiation of policy towards the Argentine between His 2052 Majesty's Government and the United States Government during the war.
§ Mr. Raikes (Liverpool, Wavertree)
The hon. Member has put forward a very interesting point. Will he tell the House where the dividing line should be drawn in Europe beyond which we must not interfere, whatever Russia does?
§ Mr. Cocks
I imagine that it would have to be drawn roughly where the iron curtain is now, but that would be a matter for negotiation. I would suggest to the House and to the Minister that this position will arise in due course in any case. Let it come, I suggest, as the outcome of a free and cordial offer from us. Let the Prime Minister go to Moscow and make that offer to M. Stalin. If we do that, meeting at the highest level, I believe that Russia's suspicions might be largely dissipated and that she would then agree to cooperate cordially with us and U.N.O. in the problems common to us all.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the American field, and the Russian one. Is he going to develop his argument to include a Western zone?
§ Mr. Cocks
I was in fact just coming to that. As I say, I believe that if we adopted this policy of an Eastern Monroe doctrine, with an Eastern organisation of that kind Russia could not logically object to our forming a similar regional arrangement in the West, based upon the traditions of the Roman-Hellenic Empire, the greatest civilisation in the world with common traditions of 2,500 years.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
Does this policy advocated by my hon. Friend mean that Poland would not be allowed a free election to decide her own form of government?
§ Mr. Cocks
The question of free elections or otherwise is not important because we cannot alter them. Are we prepared to go to war to enforce proportional representation or adult suffrage or an election every five years in some country in the East? That is perfectly ridiculous and cannot be done. Russia could not object to our forming a reasonable arrangement in the West based on the conditions I have mentioned.
§ Mr. J. McKay rose
§ Mr. Cocks
I have been quite willing to answer all the questions put to me, but I have already given way many times. The two regional arrangements need not clash in my view. East and West can live peaceably side by side in perfect amity, exchanging their goods, possibly very largely by means of barter, but devoting their main energies to the task of rebuilding and reconstructing their whole economic life, and the task of repairing and developing the Soviet social economic system, in Eastern Europe and over the vast spaces of Asia and the task of reconstructing and welding Western Europe together would provide work for the Statesmen of both regions for many years to come.
Under such an arrangement the problem of Western Germany might be merged with the common problem of Europe, and solved with it, or it might be solved by joint supervision by both regional authorities. There are certain points along this line of demarcation where rivalries now exist. I suggest that in such a scheme these points of conflict might be turned into points of cooperation, and many might be settled, if we had the proper atmosphere, by some system of joint control and joint supply boards or by international supervision under U.N.O. If in the course of time all-European arrangements could be developed into which this twin structure would fit, so much the better. We do know that provision has been made for such arrangements under the present Charter of the United Nations.
I put forward this plan quite diffidently and humbly for the consideration of the 2054 Government. I believe that if it were adopted it would help us to develop friendship and cooperation with Russia and between other nations, strengthen U.N.O., and eventually bring about the unity of the world, the only state in which the atomic bomb will be of no danger. It involves a bold, courageous and drastic change of policy. But if our policy is not changed it seems to me that only doom awaits us and there will be no watchman to salute the dawn.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Horabin (Cornwall, Northern)
My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) was advocating a counsel of despair when he suggested that at this moment the world should be divided up into spheres of influence. As he knows, I go a very long way with him in certain directions but I do not think the time has yet arrived for us to give up all hope of the Big Three reaching fundamental agreement leading to a proper peace settlement. The Leader of the Opposition said this afternoon that we should discard cant and humbug, and the Foreign Secretary said very much the same thing yesterday, when he said it was no use wrapping up our thoughts in diplomatic language. I want to speak bluntly but with a full sense of responsibility, in view of the great issues that are at stake and that will follow almost immediately on this Debate.
There was a great deal in what the Foreign Minister said about specific problems with which I could agree and I think, although I have a very great regard for Soviet Russia, that the Foreign Secretary dealt faithfully with Russia and, gave us a faithful account of the Soviet attitude during the Paris Conference. But I do not think he was quite so frank about the United States of America. He left me with the impression that he regarded the attitude of the United States as that of a kind of perfect gentle knight without any spot or blemish. If we are to get a satisfactory peace settlement leading to a long period of peace we have got to understand the motives not only of Russia, but of the United States, and we must deal as faithfully with one as with the other. In other words, what I am trying to say is that, if the peace is to be saved, it is vital that Britain should take up a stand independent of both the United States of America and Soviet 2055 Russia. I believe we are being too subservient to the United States. In fact, I think we have that same sense of inferiority to the United States that France had in regard to us before the outbreak of the war.
I will try to prove my case by giving a concrete instance. There is as much an iron curtain over what happens in the diplomatic field as there is between Soviet Russia and the Western democracies, and it is even more difficult for a back bencher than for the Leader of the Opposition to get at the facts about any concrete case. I want to take the case, to prove my point that we are too subservient to the United States, of the South Tyrol, which was recognised definitely by the Prime Minister, I think, and certainly by the Leader of the Opposition, as one of the great blemishes on the peace settlement of the last war. The Foreign Secretary dealt with this question of the South Tyrol yesterday, but he certainly slid over it. The question of the South Tyrol was also raised by hon. Members opposite in a very concrete way. They dealt not only with the ethnical side, but the economic side, and some of them produced facts which tended to prove that there was a case even on economic grounds for including the greater part of the South Tyrol within Austria. The Leader of the Opposition raised this question again this afternoon, and again the Prime Minister slid over it. He tied up the South Tyrol case with the Trieste case, and just referred to the fact that there were economic factors as well as ethnic factors. If I had spoken yesterday I would have asked the Foreign Secretary a question which has since been answered in the Press and by some of the things which the Leader of the Opposition said. We now know that the South Tyrol question was settled at the Conference of Foreign Ministers in the autumn of 1945 on the lines that the South Tyrol should remain with Italy, subject to minor rectifications of frontiers, and this was done almost without discussion at that meeting of Foreign Ministers. I believe that the whole thing was dealt with in a matter of about 30 seconds, but I do not want to tie myself down to the actual number of seconds. We know that there was no Austrian representative present. It is true there was a representative at the Paris Conference but he was, I believe, 2056 faced with the decision that only minor rectifications of the frontier were possible.
I want to deal with the things that inevitably flow from the decision, because it is a vitally important decision, as the Leader of the Opposition said, in regard to the future peace of the world. First, my point is that the big enemy countries like Italy, who were willing members and foundation members of the Axis, are going to be favoured at the expense of the small countries who were victims of Axis aggression. The second point of vital importance to us—and I say this with a full sense of responsibility—is that Austria, who was specifically promised her independence at Moscow—that was agreed between the two front benches today—will not be able to remain independent. I say that because of the effect that this question of frontiers has on the populations of Central Europe. The people of this country and of the United States of America do not realise the importance that is attached to these frontier questions by the peoples of Eastern and Central Europe. They attach even more importance to these frontier questions than to economic questions, and if the South Tyrol with its Austrian population had been returned to Austria, it would have given the Austrians that necessary spiritual reserve which is vital if they are to survive the tremendous difficulties with which, in any circumstances, they will be faced during the next four years. I go so far as to say that if this position is not put right, at the end of those four years, the Austrians will be driven to seek the possibility of rejoining Germany again, for that will be their only possibility of life. In other words, by this decision we have destroyed the possibility of a democratic Austria in the long run.
I would have liked to ask the Foreign Secretary a question on the Hitler-Mussolini Agreement over the Tyrol if he had been present. I disagreed profoundly with the Paris decision over Transylvania, but, nevertheless, I agree that the Big Three were entirely right to denounce the Vienna Award of Hitler by which he rectified the Hungarian frontiers of Czechoslovakia and Rumania in favour of Hungary. That was the right thing to do, but why has not the Hitler-Mussolini Agreement over the Tyrol been declared null and void in the same way? Surely, it should have been? Under that Hitler-Mussolini Agreement, if it is allowed to 2057 continue, presumably Italy will in six months' time or so be able to expel those Austrians from the South Tyrol who opted to remain with Germany?
I come back from that departure to this main issue: what is the reason for the decision to leave the South Tyrol with Italy? It comes back to the United States of America. In insisting that the South Tyrol should remain with Italy, Mr. Byrnes, who was the prime mover in this matter, was obviously subordinating the European peace settlement to the electoral need of the Democratic Party in the United States to obtain the Italian vote at the forthcoming election. Surely, the implication of our acquiescence in the South Tyrol decision, which is alien to all that we in the Liberal Party and hon. Members opposite in the Labour Party stand for, is quite clear. One aspect, at any rate, of British foreign policy is dictated not by what is best for Europe, but by the needs of the Democratic Party to secure the Italian vote, and in this respect British foreign policy is being made the sport of American pressure groups. Unfortunately, this gives M. Molotov colourable ground for his accusation that there is a British-American bloc dominated by the United States.
Major Leg ge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I do not quite follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. He said that this decision was reached in 30 seconds, and now he says that America and Great Britain are forming a combine against the Russian point of view.
§ Mr. Horabin
I was saying nothing of the kind. What I said was that the decision was obviously reached with Mr. Byrnes as the prime mover and was not disputed by our representatives, and that, unfortunately, this situation gives M. Molotov an opportunity of making the kind of statements he is making about an Anglo-American bloc. I am not saying there is an Anglo-American bloc for one single moment; what I am saying is that we are giving M. Molotov the opportunity of saying these things.
§ Mr. Horabin
If my hon. Friend will allow me, I shall be dealing in some detail and with some bluntness with that very point in a few moments, but I should like 2058 to follow my argument in what I conceive to be its logical form.
I had hoped that the forthcoming peace settlement would right the mistakes and injustices made during the peace settlement after the first world war, but I do not think that those injustices and difficulties can be put right unless we and France make a fight for the just solution of all cases of frontier rectification of the type of the South Tyrol, Transylvania and so on. In other words, in those cases of frontier rectification that are all important in central and Eastern Europe for keeping the possibilities of democratic development alive. I agree, as we all must agree, if we are realists in these matters, that the peace settlements are once again to be reached in terms of power politics, but questions like the South Tyrol and Transylvania are, surely, not matters of power politics today? In fact, the Under-Secretary said so the other day because, under conditions of modern warfare and with the advent of the atomic bomb, frontier rectifications of this kind do not affect the strategic situation in the slightest. What is needed is that France and Great Britain, or both together, should take a stand for what is right at the peace conferences. Instead of that, they have both remained silent over these issues and have not assumed that position which is their real responsibility—that is, being the leaders of the small nations of the world. If we had stood for rectification of the frontiers of the South Tyrol and Translyvania to include, at any rate, a substantial part of the Austrian and the Hungarian populations within the territories of their own countries, we should not have lost as much prestige as we have at the present, and which we have been steadily losing since the end of the war with Europe. Quite as important, we should have made some attempt to save the weak democratic forces that are fighting both in Austria and Hungary from that extinction which is now their inevitable consequence. They will be attacked both from the right and from the left, both by the Communists and the Fascists.
What will be the effect of these decisions in relation to the world organisation which everybody in this House wants to see function effectively? I want to ask some questions about that. Is the conference of the 21 Nations, when it comes along after the Big Three or Big Four have agreed, to be a shadow conference. 2059 or will Hungary and Austria be called to state their case? If they are called to state their case, will these problems of frontier rectification in Transylvania and the South Tyrol be reopened, or are they closed? Or shall we sacrifice this conference of the 21 Nations and the future of the United Nations organisation— which is actually what is at stake—to the electoral needs of Mr. Byrnes and the pressure groups in the United States at the present moment? I want to make this clear: I am all for understanding and friendship with the United States to exactly the same extent as I stand for understanding and friendship with Soviet Russia. I do not choose between the two, but what I am against is blind subservience to the vagaries induced in American foreign policy by the haphazard pressure groups on a weak administration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) always gives me the impression when he speaks—and I get exactly the same impression when I read Lord Halifax's speeches—that they are seeking to put us in exactly the same position in relation to the United States after this war as we were put in relation to Germany after the secret visit to Hitler and the Nazi leaders made by Lord Halifax. In other words, we are being put in a position of a junior and subservient partner. In my opinion that way lies disaster for us and for humanity as well.
I say this for a number of reasons, but first I want to knock over one Aunt Sally which really is not a relevant factor; that is, the loose talk that goes on of Anglo-Saxon kinship. What is the truth? While we have exactly the same language as the United States, we think differently, our way of life is different, and the fact is that although we have exactly the same language, as some people think, it is very misleading to use it as if it were an exact language. There are many common words in the two languages which have different connotations and which lead to all kinds of misunderstandings, as anyone who travels in the United States knows. The truth of the matter is that we in this country are much nearer to the French, Dutch and Belgians, than to the Americans.
§ Mr. Horabin
The hon. Member says " Rubbish."I am going to deal with our relations with Soviet Russia, then I will possibly get some cheers from hon. Members above the Gangway. The most important reason why we must stand independently of the United States, and treat them as an equal, with definite policies of our own, is the disastrous direction in which the United States are drifting. There are many reasons for this drift. The actions of the United States administration are reflected by the influence of powerful pressure groups upon the executive. The most powerful of these pressure groups today are hagridden by a fear of the uprising of the American masses which they believe they can avoid if they bring about full employment in their own country. But there is no attempt to bring about full employment by the only means by which it can be brought about, and that is by planning and by putting adequate purchasing power in the hands of the masses. That is why they are having strikes and anti-strike legislation at the moment.
§ Mr. Osborne
Will not the hon. Member admit that the United States has the highest standard of living in the whole world?—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]— Will not he also admit that American soldiers and sailors have a higher standard of living than any others?
§ Mr. Horabin
Certainly soldiers in the United States have the highest standard of living in the world. During the war they were able to absorb the whole of their production, and now they should put the people on the same standard of living, but that they refuse to do.
I now come to the effect of what is going on in the United States. As a result of all I have been talking about, the United States is moving down the road towards a Fascist dictatorship. That is not the observation of a prejudiced observer, which doubtless hon. Members above the Gangway think it is. It is not the observation of a Communist, or Crypto Communist, but of James Farley, who ran the Roosevelt political machine for a good many years. I quote from the magazine "Time " of 27th May, 1946:In Manhattan, James Farley, a political realist and a shrewd observer of trends, said: ' I have an uneasy feeling that the belief is spreading that people are not capable of governing themselves; that the problems today2061are so complex that the citizens at large must of necessity be detached from their own difficulties. The concept of the political elite is growing.'The second effect of this policy of the pressure groups in the United States is that they realise that to maintain their position inside their own country and dominate the masses, they have to export their unemployment abroad. Hon Members on the Government Front Bench, and hon. Members of the Opposition, particularly those in business, know as well as I do that at the present moment the United States is pursuing a policy of ruthless economic imperialism, and in the process of doing that it is destroying the possibility of democratic and economic development in Europe. Let us take the question of the Western bloc. The United States is as bitterly opposed as is Russia to the economic integration of Europe. We know all the games that go on in relation to Belgium, and so on. Try to export cars to Belgium and find what happens with General Motors, and that sort of thing. We recognise that that economic integration is vital, as the Leader of the Opposition says, if we are to keep our Western civilisation. What I am driving at is this. If Europe is to survive, we must be independent in our policy both of the United States and of Russia and deal with the United States as an equal in international action and international negotiations. In doing that we shall once more regain the friendship of the only people who have ever been our friends in the United States—the people of Liberal opinion in the United States, who are disgusted with us at the present time.
That brings me to our relations with Soviet Russia, which I believe will be the decisive fact in deciding whether the next Foreign Ministers' Conference will produce a settlement which will lead to orderly democratic development, or to muddle and chaos which will produce war not now, but 10, 15 or 20 years hence. If Russia and America were alone concerned in peacemaking a reasonable settlement would be achieved because each knows the other and is bitterly opposed to each other's ideologies and can, therefore, bargain and reach compromise between conflicting policies which are fully understood by the other. If only Moscow and ourselves were concerned, it would be different. But between Britain and Russia 2062 there is a mistrust mainly based on issues which are wholly irrelevant.
Mistrust is the only concrete thing in Anglo-Russian relations today. What is the cause of this mistrust? I think there are three causes. The Foreign Secretary dealt with one yesterday and he said that the ideologies are similar, but not identical. I do not intend to pursue that, but I think it was brilliantly done by the Foreign Secretary. The second cause of this mistrust is that the Russians believe that the Labour Government, under our constitutional system, may give way at some point to a Tory Government and they are not certain that bargains made with the Socialist Government will be carried out in the long run. Therefore, they are working to destroy the British position both in Europe and everywhere else. Thirdly, they regard Britain as being tied hand and foot to the United States, indeed, hatred in the Soviets is due to this belief. Of course, the real enemy in Russian eyes is the United States, and Soviet diplomats see a future Republican president fighting by every art of propaganda a war against Russia by America through her neighbours.
Whether they are right or wrong, that is one of the greatest factors causing this mistrust. But their most bitter hatred is reserved for Britain because they see Britain holding bases all over the world which will be of inestimable value to the United States in their attack on Russia and they believe that Britain will allow America to go into those bases overnight. That is one of the most fundamental reasons for Russian mistrust; that is why they will use every means, short of war, to get us out of those bases. And I say quite bluntly they are in a strong position to do so. The impact of the Soviet on the Asiatics during the war has brought the whole of Asia into a ferment and, in assessing what this means, we must not be misled by what has taken place in Europe since the peace came, because the Russian occupation of Europe brought an inferior Russian material civilisation into close contact with a superior Western civilisation.
It is quite different in Asia. There, a superior Soviet material civilisation is coming into contact with a very inferior Asiatic standard of living. There is another thing which counts; it was touched upon by the hon. Member for 2063 Devonport (Mr. Foot) yesterday. Those Asiatic races within the Soviet borders are far better treated, as citizens of the Soviet Union, than are members of the same races outside the confines of the Soviet Union. That is true from the Balkans to Vladivostock. That is the reason why we are virtually out of Persia at the present time, and that is a full and complete explanation of what has happened in Persia. The difficulties over our respective ideologies are fundamental, but the removal of mistrust, based on the fear of the stability of the Labour Government, and the passing from power of the Labour Government, is partly in Russian hands. What they should appreciate is that the muddle which they are creating in Europe, which will arise from the breakdown of the peace settlement, will give the Opposition an opportunity of fishing in muddy waters, and to that extent will invalidate the Labour Government, whereas a satisfactory peace settlement in Europe, leading to orderly, progressive, democratic development will strengthen the present hold of the Labour Party on the electorate of this country. In this direction Russia can make this contribution to allaying her ancient suspicions.
There is another matter from the Russian point of view. Understanding between Britain and Russia will also assist Britain in making a stand against what is bad in the policies of the United States of America. Time is short to achieve such an understanding. I think 15th June will prove to be one of the most critical days in the history of the peace settlement. As a result of it we shall either get orderly democratic development in Europe or muddle and the threat of war. In order that causes of preventable mistrust between Russia and this country should be removed, every possible step should be taken to that end by full and free discussion, without the United States being present. This is not a question of freezing the United States out but a desire to clear up this removable misunderstanding between the Soviet Union and ourselves. I join with the hon. Member for Broxtowe in appealing to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to go to Moscow before 15th June, and, if necessary, to demand the postponment, for a few weeks, of the Paris Conference.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
It gives me great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Horabin), not only because he is able to speak to us from a position which is not, on one side or the other, so sharply defined as that occupied by the Government Front Bench or the Opposition Front Bench, but also because I wish to follow the same lines as those which he followed in connection with our relations with the United States. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) this afternoon referred to the prospect, which we all face with great sinking of heart, of world division. We all feel that the deadlocks over particular difficulties and problems at Paris—Trieste, the Italian Colonies, Austria, the Balkan countries and others —are only the symptoms of the deeper, more fundamental disagreements which are keeping the Big Three Powers apart.
It is therefore necessary for us to examine some of the causes of this condition of international tension into which we have been brought. This is, of course, no new condition. It began very soon after the ending of hostilities, as might have been expected when the circumstances which kept our three Powers united— the common enemy—was removed. It appeared at the October conferences of the Foreign Ministers: it split wide open at the Security Council debates in January and February of this year. After those discussions, these public duels, were over, the verbal duels continued in the Press and radio of the world. Suspicions multiplied, charges and counter-charges were levied, and so, month by month, the tension increased. Gradually the international atmosphere became more rarified. While this progressive rarefication of the atmosphere was taking place a speech was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford. I am sorry he is not here in his place because of what I propose to say about him, but I notified him in advance that I would be making some reference to what he has had to say on certain occasions. [An HON. MEMBER: " He will stand it."] I am sure that his friends on the other side of the House will be able to give him the necessary support. In the course of his pilgrimages to his beloved land across the ocean, the right hon. Gentleman arrived, on 5th March, at Fulton, Missouri. U.S.A. There, in the midst of 2065 this rarefied international atmosphere, he threw his verbal atomic bomb. It was an action as irresponsible and mischievous as that of a schoolboy, who, wandering in search of adventure, might come across a hand grenade and toss it casually into somebody's back garden. That speech has done more harm to the cause of world peace than any speech or action of any politician since Hitler and Mussolini ceased to trouble this world.
The substance of the speech is, I think, incontrovertible. It was a proposal for a military alliance between this country and the United States, with the Soviet Union indicated as the potential enemy. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite are inclined to doubt that statement. I am quite ready, if anybody should make the suggestion that my summary of the speech is inaccurate, to substantiate it by quotation. If it is not controverted I will take it as accepted, that this speech did, in fact, propose an Anglo-American military alliance with the Soviet Union indicated as the potential enemy [Interruption]. Is the hon. Member disagreeing, because if so I am willing to give him the proofs if he desires them? No? Very well, that saves time, and I can carry on with that as accepted.
The tone and temper of the speech was, of course, similar to what we have heard this afternoon, a tone of virulent hostility towards everything for which the Soviet Union stands. There was a picture drawn of this Bolshevik octopus spreading its tentacles across Europe, and eventually the world. There was revived, both at Fulton and here this afternoon, the old picture of the Bolshevik bogy to terrify the people of this country. It is done, of course, with a deliberate intent to revive the shattered political fortunes of the Conservative Party and the right hon. Gentleman himself. He knows very well that the appeal to the fear of Communism and Bolshevism is a means of dividing the democratic forces, even in some cases of dividing Socialist parties, and of bringing gains to the Right Wing. We have seen that happen in France where the consequence of adopting an anti-Communist line as the main line of policy and propaganda, is that the Socialists lose and the Right Wing gain. It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman hopes that by conjuring up this bogy, by creating fear of the Left and an atmosphere of tension, war fever and hysteria, he can create a 2066 condition in which the nation might be prepared to call upon him once again to lead us to victory.
§ Mr. Osborne
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the bogy will be any different when it is raised at the Whitsuntide Conference of the Labour Party?
§ Mr. Warbey
I am afraid the hon. Member really has not been following very closely what has been happening lately, or he would have discovered that this bogy of the Communist Party of Britain has really become such a tiny evaporated thing that the vote which the Communist Party will get at the Whitsuntide Conference this year will be infinitely smaller than it has received on previous occasions.
§ Mr. Warbey
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) can look after himself. Really, we on this side of the House do not take it quite as seriously as that. I assure the hon. Member he can sleep safely in his bed.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) can still influence opinion in this country?
§ Mr. Warbey
I hope, of course, that he cannot; but I must say I have noticed certain regrettable evidence that in some quarters the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman, and his specific proposals for an Anglo-American bloc directed against the Soviet Union, have received, shall I say, a ready ear where one would not have expected them to have such a reception. It is clear that they have an effect in the United States of America. At first, they received a somewhat dusty answer. I am glad to say there were some American senators who were able to put very bluntly what they thought about the right hon. Gentleman's speech. Mr. Claude Pepper and two other Democratic Senators combined to issue a statement in which they said:Mr. Churchill's proposal would cut the throat of U.N.O. It would destroy the unity of the Big Three without which the war could not have been won and without which the peace cannot be saved. It is shocking to see Mr. Churchill, who rose to power on the repudiation of Mr. Chamberlain allying himself2067with the old Chamberlain Tories who strengthened the Nazis as a part of their anti-Soviet crusade.That was the reception in one quarter. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in stirring up some of these people whom he so regrettably finds slow to move and slow to develop hostile thoughts about their neighbours. In the Hearst combine, for example, we now find the words of the right hon. Gentleman are being re-echoed with enthusiam and the Bolshevik menace is being pictured with a degree of vituperation which even the right hon. Gentleman would find it difficult to exceed. I hope we shall look very closely two, three or four times at the kind of set-up into which the right hon. Gentleman is seeking to draw us. I hope we shall consider very deeply what is being done, when in effect it is suggested by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends that this country should be tied hand and foot to the United States and that the United Kingdom should become a 49th State of the American Union. [An HON. MEMBER: " Bretton Woods."] I am coming to the subject of Bretton Woods in a moment.
That policy, of course, is one to which the Conservative Party necessarily is driven. They recognise that the British Empire no longer can be held intact as a subject Empire held down by force, without the help and good grace of the United States, and the protection and help of the American Navy and Air Force. Therefore, they are very anxious that we should be handed over to them, in order to get their assistance in return. Let us consider what this really means. Let us look at the consequence of having to follow American financial, political and strategic policy. Their financial policy has been made painfully clear. It has been made much too clear in the Debates in connection with the loan to this country. The matter has been put as clearly and plainly as possible by Mr. Ralph Flanders, the chairman of the American Committee for Economic Research, who, in giving evidence to the Senate Banking Committee, said:The proposed loan to Britain represents the first skirmish in a long economic struggle with Russia.He stated specifically:This is a struggle between free world economy and Government control of trade.2068 That puts it very plainly indeed. The line of American financial policy, which means the line of American loan policy, is the policy of the ever-open door for American capitalist private enterprise. That is the basic aim, the dominant influence driving American policy at the present time. We have very good friends in the United States, particularly in the Labour movement and among the New Dealers, but it is the dominant tendency with which we are dealing. That tendency is to try to split open every Socialist planned economy. If it cannot split open the closed Socialist economies, then it is going to prevent other Socialist economies from being established. As is made clear in all the proposals put forward by the United States for the International Trade Conference it is fundamentally hostile to planned economies and to the State control of foreign trade. The tendency of American economic policy is to drive in wedges everywhere, and to find places into which American commercial travellers can go. This, after all, touches very closely some of the most important discussions that took place in Paris.
The Foreign Secretary referred to that great Central European complex—Trieste, Austria and the Danube basin—and said that, if only we could get all this out of the way, then only Germany would be left to be dealt with. He referred to the proposal put forward by Mr. Byrnes for the opening up of the Danube. I am sure my right hon. Friend was perfectly sincere when he said that all he was concerned with was to see shipping moving freely along that great waterway again. Certainly, it is all he is concerned with, but I regret to say that is not all that Mr. Byrnes is concerned with. Mr. Byrnes concern was something very different, something which he made clear when the question of the treaties with the Danubian countries was being discussed. What Mr. Byrnes asked for, if he was correctly reported in "The Times," was not simply the free movement of shipping along the Danube, but that all nationals—and he was speaking in particular on the Treaty with Rumania—should have free access to the trade, industry and raw materials of Rumania. In other words, he meant that any American private business man should be free to go in with his investments and get a hold upon the internal economy, the industries and trade and 2069 the raw materials of those countries, and to prevent those countries, even if they so desired, establishing a planned Socialist economy and control of their foreign trade.
That is the purpose of American policy. That is the meaning of the opening-up of the Danube, in the eyes of the Americans, and I hope that our Foreign Secretary will look at it again and see whether or not we are to go along with the United States in this attempt to tear apart Socialist economies. Then, American strategic and political policy is in line with this financial policy. It was stated very clearly again in the debates on the loan to Britain, when Mr. William Jackson, President of the United States Chamber of Commerce, said:If the Loan strengthens the British Government, it will provide a bulwark against the spread of Communism.Mr. Wolcott, a Republican, said to the House of Representatives Banking Committee:The primary issue is whether the Loan would strengthen Britain as a frontier outpost against Communism.There you have the meaning and consequence of American strategic policy, which begins with hemisphere defence, creating through the Act of Chapultepec its own security zone, with a treaty which will enable them to develop this still further, perhaps creating a closed strategic core in the Western hemisphere, an area from which all outside interference is to be excluded, according to one of the 12 basic point of American policy put forward by President Truman last October. Foreign interference is to be excluded from the Western hemisphere, and a Bill is now going before Congress providing for the standardisation of training and equipment of all the forces of the American continent, and the House should note that not only the Latin-American countries, but also our own Dominion of Canada is to be included in this building-up of what is, in effect, a military alliance for the whole American continent, something which must, indeed, cut at the very throat of U.N.O., because it is building up a closed sectional strategic system apart from the general security system for which U.N.O. provides
Then there is this expansion of bases all over the Pacific and Atlantic, with Korea on the one side and Iceland on the other. There is West Africa, too. Where 2070 is the limit to these expanding security zones, because, no doubt, it is security at which the United States is aiming and not expansion? But security or expansion, that depends on the way you look at it. If we look at it from the point of view of the United States, a base in Iceland represents security for the United States, but if we happen to be on the other side of the world, a base in Iceland looks very much like expansion. One nation's security is another nation's expansion, and if, in the modern world, security zones go on spreading, it may be inevitable that they will spread until this country is included in the American security zone and we become "a frontier outpost against Communism."
That is the kind of situation into which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, and his supporters on the other side, would place this country, and I would like to know very plainly whether or not that is the kind of policy which the Opposition support in this matter I hope we are going to have it stated very plainly from this side of the House that we are not going to allow ourselves to be inveigled and trapped into that kind of set-up, the consequences of which are plain to see. We lose our independence as a country, we have to appease the United States, we get no international economic planning, because we shall not get that from the financial policy of the United States, we get no world government or world organisation and no world cooperation, clearly, because the Soviet Union will never play along the lines of a policy of an Anglo-American bloc directed against herself
At the end of all this, we get the world divided into two blocs, politically, economically and militarily, and these two blocs, in the end, will mean war, in which this country will have no security, because, as "a frontier outpost," we shall get the first blows, and, in the wars of the future, the first blows are likely to be the last. Therefore, I hope we shall do what we can to put this situation right. I know that the Russians are incredibly uncooperative and secretive. I know that they are making it extremely difficult for us to be friends with them. There is a great deal of misrepresentation in the Russian Press and radio about our policy, especially in India, which the hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like very much 2071 either. There is a degree of misrepresentation about our policy in the Soviet Press and radio which is only excelled by the Tory yellow Press of this country and the Hearst combine of the United States. I hope they will realise that friendship is a two-way traffic, and that both can make a contribution. We can make a contribution, too, and we ought to try, in order to break the vicious circle.
First of all, I know that we shall—and I hope it will be done when the reply is made to this Debate—emphatically repudiate this suggestion of an Anglo-American bloc. Secondly, we should make it clear that we are not going along with this policy of assisting American business to prise open Socialist economies in Europe, but that, on the contrary, we are going actively to welcome and encourage the ex: tension of socialisation in Europe. I hope finally that we will get away from this business of bilateral, regional and sectional discussions about security, bases, canals, narrow seaways and the like, and that we will transfer all these discussions to the U.N.O. Security Council and discuss them there, along with the atomic bomb, on a world basis. My final word is this: There is no such thing as national security or regional security; there is only world security or world disaster.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Professor Savory (Queen's University of Belfast)
I regret to say that I cannot find much to agree with in the speech of the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey), but during this Debate I have found myself in very considerable agreement with many hon. Members on the other side. I see opposite the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Flight-Lieutenant Haire), one of my old pupils, who has done credit to the Queen's University of Belfast and to the lectures on history, which were impartial and, I am quite certain, absolutely objective, and who made a well-grounded plea on the question of Hungary that a great part of Transylvania, which is purely Magyar, should not be handed over to Rumania by mere power politics. But I also found much to agree with in the speech of the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. J. Paton) when he referred to the question of South Tyrol, which was also alluded to by the Leader of the Opposition and by the hon. Member for North Corn- 2072 wall (Mr. Horabin). Owing to the shortness of time and the necessity of allowing other speakers to intervene, I do not propose to repeat anything which those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have said on this question, but there are some points which they have not brought forward at all.
I should like to go back to the very origin of the question of South Tyrol. In January, 1915, Baron Sonnino, the Italian Foreign Secretary, was bargaining with Austria as to whether Italy should join with the Germanic Powers against France and Great Britain. But the offer that Austria made at that time was not accepted, and what the Italian Government tried to exact was something a good deal more than Austria could agree to. Baron Sonnino, therefore, finding that Austria was not willing to give him all he desired, then turned to the Allies, and I regret to say that a very unholy bargain was made in the Secret Treaty of London of 26th April, 1915, under which it was agreed to give Italy infinitely more than she had been prepared to accept from Austria, namely, to transfer to her the whole of South Tyrol. Of all the mistakes made by the Treaty of St. Germain, surely that was the worst. I have here a quotation from the life of President Wilson by his biographer, Mr. Ray Stannard Baker, in which the President said it was a grave mistake and that it was done through ignorance. Furthermore, Mr. Lloyd George, as he then was, frankly admitted this error when he said:To tear out of the Tyrol the birthplace of Andreas Hofer must result in endless trouble and resentment.It was only yesterday that I had the benefit of a conversation with the right hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George), who confirmed this this quotation, and strengthened it by saying how greatly his father, in the latter years of his life, regretted this unfortunate transfer of South Tyrol.
M. Clemenceau did everything in his power to persuade Italy not to insist on the cession of the whole of South Tyrol. This question must be studied historically. If we go back to what is called the Völkerwanderung of the people, which took place towards the end of the sixth century, we find that the Bavarians occupied the whole of the Tyrol, both North and South, but that the Trento was occupied by the Lombards. The Lombards 2073 became completely Romanised and adopted the Italian language, and that linguistic boundary has existed, without any alteration, from the sixth century down to the present day. It is nonsense to say that Italy required the strategic boundary of the Brenner. The Brenner is not a strategic boundary. I crossed over it by car and I hardly think one had to change gear. It is a connecting link, not a separation. The real strategic and, as well, linguistic frontier is that over the top of the Dolomites, that is to say, just beyond what has always been known as the Salurn Gorge, about 25 miles South of Bozen, which has been for all these hundreds of years the linguistic as well as the ethnical boundary. The Etsch Valley, which the Italians insist upon calling the Alto Adige, is the artery of the Tyrol; it is the national, cultural and economic link.
This country of the Tyrol surrounded the Castle of Tyrol, which is near Meran, and was under the protection of the Counts of Tyrol who ruled it with extraordinary liberality and summoned a Diet which was given freedom of discussion in every possible way. But this ancient family of the Counts of Tyrol died out in the year 1363, and, by a decision of the Diet approved by the whole of the Province of Tyrol, this country was ceded to the House of Hapsburg and, therefore, to Austria. So we have the undeniable fact that from the year 1363, right down to the Treaty of St. Germain in 1918, the province of North and South Tyrol, the whole undivided Tyrol, was, for nearly 600 years, an Austrian territory. The hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe who studied at Queen's University knows well that Walther von der Vogelweide, the great troubadour of the Middle Ages, was born in the Tyrol. His poems were one of the very origins, the fount, of the Tyrolese language. When, by this unfortunate Treaty of St. Germain, in September, 1919, this country of the South Tyrol was handed over, bag and baggage, to Italy, the Italians made the most solemn promise that they would respect the language and the cultural institutions of the Tyrolese.
I want to be perfectly fair and just and to say that, during the first two or three years, from 1919 to 1922, those promises were more or less faithfully observed. There were four Tyrolese deputies in Rome representing in the 2074 Italian Parliament this district of the South Tyrol. With the advent of Mussolini in 1922, there was a complete change—a wholesale system of Italianisation. A certain Senator Tolomei who was a fanatical Italianisator drew up a programme consisting of 31 points which were adopted by Mussolini. I will not enumerate them all, but here are a few. First of all, German cultural associations in South Tyrol were to be dissolved. Secondly, Italian was to be introduced as the official language; it was the only language to be taught in the schools. All German-speaking officials were to be dismissed and all German names and surnames were Italianised. I undertook the study of this problem by going through the country by car, visiting every town and village, and talking to the inhabitants in their native language. What did I see? In Bozen, for instance, I saw a workman tearing down from the top of a shop a signboard " Boot maker and cobbler "—" Schumacher "—and substituting for it the Italian " Calzolaio."Then I went into the cemeteries and saw painters changing the names on the tombstones. After all, a tombstone is a memorial of the dead, something sacred, and deliberately to Italianise those names by blocking out the German and giving them a sort of Italian termination was something so tyrannical that it is almost without precedent in history.
Then Italian immigration was encouraged in every way. There was to be compulsory purchase of land. The Italians even went so far as to destroy the statues which represented the old Tyrolese saga of the Dolomites—something going back to the Middle Ages, something so mystical and so traditional that the Italians behaved very badly in going out of their way to destroy those beautiful monuments. What did Mussolini say? He said, " South Tyrol is not a national minority, but an ethnographical relic."
We were told by the Foreign Secretary that there are economic connections. Why are there economic links between Italy and the South Tyrol? Because the Italians deliberately imported various industries, for instance, steel works and metal foundries, and the Montecatini chemical works were introduced into Bozen and Meran solely with the object of giving employment to the Italians who were invited to immigrate. In Bozen 2075 alone 25,000 Italians were brought into the town. But a tragic event happened in 1934—the murder of Dolfuss. This was the organised attempt, previous to the invasion of Austria by Hitler, to conquer the country through the Nazis. I remember listening in to the broadcast from Vienna, and hearing, what was absolutely premature, that the city had been conquered and that the Nazis had entered the country. That was broadcast and was afterwards denied, but I heard it with my own ears. Mussolini said at that time, " Hands off Austria," and he joined with us at Stresa in the Anglo-Franco-Italian Agreement of September, 1934.
All this, however, was changed by the Abyssinian venture of 1935, which threw Mussolini into the arms of Hitler. Mussolini's resentment at the sanctions and the fact that the 51 United Nations at Geneva had turned against him, made him denounce this agreement, and Hitler wrote to Mussolini on nth March, 1938, "I now fix a definite frontier towards Italy—the Brenner." All German speaking persons were to be transferred from South Tyrol to the Reich. Immense pressure was brought to bear upon these unfortunate people who were told, "If you do not opt to be transferred to the Reich you will be transferred to another part of Italy. You will not be allowed to stay here."I talked to a farmer in Brixen and he said, "They forced me to sell my farm and they gave me these bonds. When I went to Bozen to cash them they said, ' Oh, no; not here. These bonds can only be cashed in Abyssinia. You must emigrate to Abyssinia in order to cash the bonds which you have received in compensation for the farm which your ancestors occupied for hundreds of years.' "I would like the spokesman of the Foreign Office who said that there are economic links which make it necessary to allow Italy to hold the South Tyrol, to consider these figures. In 1939, 96 per cent, of persons working on agriculture were Tyrolese. But the Tyrolese are like the Swiss; they are largely engaged in the tourist industry, and 84 per cent, of the establishments in the catering trade were Tyrolese, who had been owners of the country for 1,300 years, and are still far superior in numbers to the Italians. But in spite of that, according to the Italian paper " Diritto del Popolo " of 2076 1st November, 1945, of the officials who had been introduced into the country, 93 per cent, were Italian—in a country which has always been Tyrolese. Let me repeat: The ethnographical, economic and strategic frontiers all coincide at the Salurn Gorge, 25 miles South of Bozen, which is the natural frontier. The Austrians are not claiming the Trentino. Before the Treaty of St. Germain, Austria extended down to Riva and to Lake Garda. Admittedly, the city of Trent is in an Italian speaking district, and the Austrians are not demanding that. They are simply claiming the ancient land of South Tyrol which they wish to see restored once more and linked up to North Tyrol.
I want to be as brief as possible as other hon. Gentlemen wish to speak and I, therefore, now come to this conclusion. I implore the right hon. Gentleman not to decide to perpetuate an iniquity which was carried out, unfortunately, through ignorance, as President Wilson fully admitted, by the Treaty of St. Germain. I ask him to give back South Tyrol to Austria, because by doing so he will right a wrong, free an oppressed people and thus create peace through justice. I cannot refrain from quoting in conclusion four lines from that beautiful ode by our great poet William Wordsworth, which he wrote at the time of the patriotic revolt of Andreas Hofer in 1809:The Land we from our fathers had in trustAnd to our children will transmit, or die:This is our maxim, this our piety;And God and Nature say that it is just.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Piratin (Mile End)
I cannot hope to follow the hon. Member for Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory) in the particular subject with which he dealt in so erudite a manner. May I, however, just express a thought? Two months ago I was spending a week end at Belfast, and there I spoke with a number of Belfast people who were concerned at the separation of Northern Ireland from Eire. Among the people to whom they referred were several Members of this House who at the moment are absent and the hon. Member for the Queen's University of Belfast. I was told, " He does not seem to be interested in the unity of Ireland." However, today he is very interested in the unity of Austria and he spoke with great erudi- 2077 dition on that subject. A few months ago he was concerned about the unity of Poland. It seems that we have an hon. Member in this House who is concerned about the unity of every other country except his own.
§ Professor Savory
I think the hon. Member misunderstood me. What I have always contended for is the unity of the United Kingdom. I absolutely deny that the United Kingdom consists of separate entities. The United Kingdom is a whole. The British Islands are one whole, and it is a united British Isles which I have fought to preserve for the last 50 years.
§ Mr. Piratin
I am very glad indeed to have that information. I assume, therefore, that the hon. Member is opposed to the Stormont Government at Belfast.
I want to speak on the main subject with which we are dealing, not incidental points. Yesterday we heard a long speech from the Foreign Secretary. He spoke with great seriousness and with restraint. In fact, he was rather meek and mild, compared with the phrase which has developed about him, of a man who stands up to people. He was not standing up to people very much yesterday afternoon. He ended on a note of despair, though his actual words attempted to belie his despair. In his speech yesterday afternoon the Foreign. Secretary covered a wide field, but I do not believe it is possible to say he really dealt with the foreign situation. He gave a gloomy summary of failures arising from the recent conference at Paris. How did his speech come about? Following that conference, Mr. Byrnes, the United States Foreign Secretary, gave his opinion about what happened at Paris. Later M. Molotov gave his opinion. Therefore, our Foreign Secretary sought, in opening this Debate yesterday, to give his opinion. Did he really do so?
There were three features to the speech which we heard. First, the Foreign Secretary attempted to show that only the Soviet Union was to blame for everything which is wrong in the world today. It was not us, nor the United States. Second, so far as we and the United States are concerned, there is the greatest of harmony; there is no difference between us whatever. From what was said yesterday one would never have imagined that until a few weeks back there was a five 2078 months long debate in the United States whether the United States should advance the loan to which we agreed a few months ago in this House; one would not have imagined that there was a difference between us in regard to the food situation, about which we have heard recently. Between ourselves and the United States there is the greatest of harmony. Third, as important as anything which he did say were those things which he did not say. There was a series of omissions of problems for which he could not lay the blame on the Soviet Union. He did not deal with Spain, maybe because he could not blame Moscow; he did not deal with Greece, maybe because he could not blame Moscow; he did not deal with our relations with the United States, which are in a very serious condition, because obviously he could not blame Moscow.
The Foreign Secretary said that the basic aim of His Majesty's Government in their foreign policy would be to make the United Nations organisation work effectively. That is a very good aim. However, I would suggest, with all due respect to his longer experience, that the United Nations organisation and its effective working is not an end in itself, but the means to an end. We have to know what the United Nations organisation is working for when we talk of making the United Nations effective for that purpose.
All hon. Members listened yesterday afternoon seriously and earnestly to everything that the Foreign Secretary had to say. The present foreign situation calls for a critical examination, as much by us of ourselves as by us of anyone else. It may call for a critical examination by other governments, but that is their concern. Charity begins at home; and we have a responsibility to be critical of what we are doing, instead of adopting an attitude of saintlike innocence. Not one word of reproach did this House hear yesterday from the Foreign Secretary. He was followed this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), to whose speech I will refer later. The whole world can be falling around the ears of the right hon. Member for Woodford, but the responsibility rests with the Soviet Union, Communism and the Communist Party. The Foreign Secretary said that there was a difference between the Western democracies with their culture and the Slav States with their backward culture. [An 2079 HON. MEMBER: " He did not say that."] He said something very similar. I claim that if there is any difference between us and the Soviet Union it is not between the Anglo-Saxon part of the world and the Slav part of the world, but rather between a Socialist foreign policy and an imperialist foreign policy. [An HON. MEMBER: " Which is which? "] I will come to that. If the hon. Member will wait two minutes he will be enlightened, and will know perfectly well which is which.
The Foreign Secretary said that the problem was to find a common approach. It is interesting to see how M. Molotov, the Foreign Secretary of the Soviet Union, estimates the position. It we have to find a common approach, surely it was the responsible duty of the Foreign Secretary yesterday to tell us what Mr. Molotov thought. However, he did not do that; he merely showed how we had all the ideas. Our ideas were, of course, highly ethical while the Soviet Union either had no ideas or unethical ideas. M. Molotov, in the statement which the Foreign Secretary claimed to refute yesterday, said this a few days ago:We encountered a desire to include in the treaties "—he was here referring to the peace treaties of a number of nations—numerous economic, financial and other clauses which might be utilised by the strong States to impose their will upon economically weak States …As grounds for such proposals they "—"They " being Britain and America—usually advanced arguments about the usefulness of the abolition of trade and other restrictions, about the granting of a free hand to foreign capital and so forth. On the other hand, the Soviet Delegation could not disregard the national interests of the former satellite States which have now taken the road of democratic development and economic revival;"—I now speak to hon. Members on this side of the House, because I am sure hon. Members on the other side could not understand what I am about to say. I ask hon. Members to listen with all seriousness—since the Soviet Union cannot support the efforts of any State to enslave other countries economically.There are hon. Members on these benches who have expressed themselves, officially and informally, against the imperialist 2080 policy followed by our Foreign Office. Expressions have been used in regard to the continuity of policy. We have sometimes doubted whether it is possible for the Foreign Secretary, with his great trade union background, to continue the policy of the former Coalition Government. In the opinion of M. Molotov it seems that that policy is being continued. Whether we like it or not, it is worthy of a little interest to know that that is what M. Molotov thinks. This adds a little to what was said by the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Horabin), who went a little too far in the field of conjecture in regard to the exact relations between the Soviet Union and ourselves. M. Molotov said quite definitely he thinks that in the negotiations Great Britain and the United States have been pursuing imperialist policies.
Yesterday afternoon the Foreign Secretary opened his speech by saying that we all had to be very responsible. The Leader of the Opposition, in order to show, of course, that he does not care two hoots what the Foreign Secretary thinks, acted, as the Prime Minister described, most irresponsibly. Of course, he is reaching the age when he is just enjoying himself, so we ought to let him do that. However, we have to be responsible. Why was not the Foreign Secretary responsible? Why did he attack the Soviet Government at a time when, within a fortnight, there will be a further meeting with the Foreign Secretary of that country? He did not express one single word of hope, except in general terms, about our relations with the Soviet Government.
I will give examples of some omissions and half-truths in the Foreign Secretary's speech. Reference has already been made from these benches to the Danube. The Foreign Secretary said that the Soviet Government refused to allow the United States and ourselves to come together to discuss the Danube question. But, according to M. Molotov, he said that what he wanted was that the Danubian States should take part in the discussion, not that he refused to agree to the United States or ourselves participating. That is a very different story. Let me take this point a little further. Does not the Foreign Secretary know, as all Members of this House know, that the United States have cornered the Danubian boats in the Upper Danube? Does he not know that? Has 2081 he protested about it? Does he not know that the reason for their having done so is because they will not allow them to be used for any trading which is what they call State trading? Does he not know that? If he does, why has he not mentioned it? Why make the picture all black on one side? The only indication he gave yesterday was that we have made all the compromises. What compromise have the United States made to Czechoslovakia, which has asked for those boats? None. On the contrary, it is the Soviet Union which has given a number of boats to Czechoslovakia, because the United States are holding back their boats on the Upper Danube.
I will take one other example, in which I speak with slight experience. The Foreign Secretary said that we have been endeavouring to reach trade agreements with Poland. As the House will know, I was in Poland in January with some other Members of this House, and that was not the conclusion I reached. On the contrary, when we returned we tried to elicit information as to progress in trade relations in Poland, and we were told that it was difficult to get together with Poland. Why was it difficult? One of the reasons was the currency exchange, which has still not been decided, so far as I know. But why should it be difficult to decide? It was not difficult to decide in the case of France In December last we adjusted the exchange from 200 to 480 francs; if we could do that with France, we could make some effort in that direction with Poland I suggest that all the responsibility does not lie upon Poland—we ourselves must take some of it. I hope no hon. Member will assume that I am viewing the matter through Russian glasses. The Prime Minister earlier on saw fit to make that accusation against a number of hon. Members of this House; apparently if Members see a thing from a point of view different from his own, we are seeing it with Russian glasses. I am telling the House now what I heard from responsible Ministers and other Polish leaders in January. The feeling in Poland was that Britain was opposed to their Government, which in the main was being led by the working class parties, and was favouring the Polish Peasant Party.
This leads me to my next point, the policy of the Government in the field of foreign affairs, towards 2082 working class parties and Governments abroad. I listened to some speeches yesterday and today, expressing concern on this point, and I must say plainly to those who have spoken before me that a little introspection is worth while on this question. If we are worried about what is happening, it is not only because of the fact that the right hon. Member for Woodford made a mischievous speech at Fulton this year and another equally mischievous speech this afternoon, but because there have been members of the Labour Party and of the Government who have been giving the lead for those speeches. I would name Professor Laski and Morgan Phillips among others, who have been abroad to the Continent aiming to keep the working class parties apart. The result was seen in France last Sunday. The hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) had my sympathy when he was challenged from the other side by the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne), who asked him if it was not a fact that at the Bournemouth Conference next weekend the Labour Party would be listening to some of its leaders making statements of a kind which the right hon. Member for Woodford has been accused of. It is perfectly true. Let us recognise where the blame is.
Yesterday, as I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, I was able to watch the response and reactions of the right hon. Member for Woodford. It was quite apparent to me that the right hon. Member for Woodford was a bit concerned. The Foreign Secretary was doing so well along his line that he thought he would have to go far further, and so we heard the irresponsible statement he made this afternoon. He had to go one better. Whereas the Foreign Secretary confined himself to blaming the Foreign Secretary, M. Molotov, the right hon. Member for Woodford put the blame on the Soviet Union, on Communism, on the Soviet Union Communist Party, and on Communist parties in all countries, including the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and myself. We are all responsible for all that is happening on the Danube, in Indonesia and other places.
It appears that our foreign policy— though maybe some hon. Members connected with it have the best intentions— 2083 depends not on what this House thinks, but upon a factor which is beginning to loom larger and larger in world affairs, and to which other hon. Members have referred today. It needs, however, to be included in my remarks also; I refer to the almighty dollar. It is the almighty dollar today which is deciding our foreign policy, just as it is deciding foreign policy in many countries we have always looked upon as secondary or backward nations. I say with some self-reproach that I am a bit worried about what we did last year when we decided on the loan. Not that I would not have voted again in similar circumstances for the loan, as I did then, but if I had known then the shame and ignominy through which we should have to go for half a year before the United States would decide to approve that loan, I should have given second thoughts to it.
Today hon. Members have spoken of the "Iron curtain." Last Friday in the food Debate the right hon. Member for Woodford, even at this stage, spoke of the "Iron curtain "In Europe. Last Sunday, in the " Observer,"The columnist " Peregrine " made nonsense of this idea of the "Iron curtain," and he is not a member of the Communist Party, so far as I know. I submit to the House that if there is a menace to the world today it is not coming from the East. If there is any menace, it might come from the West. I say this very seriously. If there is any iron curtain it is somewhere across the Atlantic Ocean, behind which is the secret of the atom bomb. I have not yet heard an hon. Member on either side of the House protest so vigorously about the iron curtain of finance or about our not having access to the atom bomb, as hon. Members have protested about the iron curtain between Eastern and Western Europe. If now there were a world war, the atom bomb, as the hon. Member for Luton and others have said, would be a very important factor. But we have not got it—unless someone knows something the House does not know. The Soviet Union has not claimed to have it. But the United States have it. Yet there is all this talk about the suspicion of the Soviet Union towards us and of our suspicion towards the Soviet Union. Are the United States free of suspicion? Are we free from suspicion towards them?
2084 I suggest that, in addition to the financial motive, the reason why we are linking ourselves to the United States chariot is that they have got the atom bomb, and that they are the great Power which they are today. We think we shall solve our problems by linking on to our great big Anglo-Saxon cousin. I believe that if there is any ganging up, then there is ganging up between our Government and that of the United States. It is the same policy which the Conservative and the Coalition Governments were maintaining that is now being maintained by our Foreign Secretary and his Department.
I say that there is still time to succeed in a progressive foreign policy. It is not by way of unilateral action. I am worried by what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, and by what the right hon. Member for Woodford said today. There was definitely a hint in what was said that if, at 15th June, their propositions are not accepted, unilateral action is contemplated, or action without the participation of the Soviet Union. In my opinion such a line up is a menace to peace. Secondly, it is not by kowtowing to the United States. A progressive foreign policy can be achieved by working with the working class and progressive Governments of other countries.
Before I conclude, let me remind the House that the right hon. Member for Woodford went one better today than the Foreign Secretary yesterday, because he had a precedent to follow. Undoubtedly, a bad speech leads to a worse speech; and, undoubtedly, a bad policy leads to a worse policy. I listened to some of his remarks flung against the Communist Party. No one listening to the right hon. Gentleman today would have recognised the man who spoke for the nation during the war. We heard wild statements from the man who is leading the party which has gone into bankruptcy. They have not got a policy, and they know it. Hon. Members who sit on committees know they have not a policy. Therefore, they are now playing the game which they know will take the Labour Party further down the decline towards splitting the working class movement. They hope it will end here as it ended in France—although it is not really, of course, the end in France: last Sunday's events are an indication of what can happen when the working classes split.
2085 I call to hon. Members, particularly on this side, to give heed to the tactics which are being used here, the irresponsible tactics which are being used to split the working class, because that might mean an advantage at the next Election to hon. Members opposite. The alternative to this present policy of the Government, which I have tried to expose, should be to line up with those countries in Europe and elsewhere which are planning for the welfare of the people, and not for profits. Our attitude towards the United States should be based on our strong confidence in ourselves. If there is to be a ganging up, let it be with the Soviet Union and the United States, leading U.N.O., but let us, above all, stand on our own feet.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Osborne (Louth)
Far be it from me to interfere in the quarrels between the Communists and Socialists now taking place, which will be settled at the conference to be held in a few days' time. What I regret in the speech of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) is the anti-American bias. That bias was expressed not only in his speech, but in the last half dozen speeches in this House. I think those speeches may do a great deal of harm. It is a terrible thing that hon. Members opposite, in order to prove that they are true Reds, must fall backwards and be anti-American. We in this House ought to stand firm as Englishmen for England.
§ Mr. Osborne
If the hon. Member will kindly listen to me, I said I think we ought to stand here as Englishmen looking at the world—[Interruption]—as Britishers, then, looking at the facts from our own country's point of view. I regret deeply that one side should be terribly pro-Russian and cease to be British, or that another should be pro-American and cease to be British. We should be British through and through, but if I were compelled to make a choice—which I do not want to be compelled to make—I should be pro-American.
The hon. Member for Mile End scoffed at the idea of an iron curtain in Europe and said there was one somewhere across the Atlantic. Yesterday we heard a wonderful speech from the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), who cannot be 2086 accused of being pro-Tory. He has just come back from Persia. If hon. Members want to know whether there is an iron curtain on the land or not, they should read his speech. The hon. Member for Mile End also poured scorn on the idea of ganging up with someone who is friendly to us.
In the last speech of the Foreign Secretary, in February, when the Soviet Ambassador was sitting here just above me, I remember he said—I think this is a fair paraphrase of his words—that the Soviet claimed to have friends in their street, and so why should not we have friends up our street? What is wrong with our ganging up with our friends in our street? If the Soviet have friends in their street, I see nothing wrong in others having friends in their street. I object to hon. Members on the opposite side saying the Soviet ought to have friends in their street, and then telling us we ought not to have friends in ours.
The hon. Member for Mile End poured scorn on my good friend the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). Where were the hon. Member and his colleague, where did they stand, in the dark days of 1940, when the right hon. Gentleman was the only person to lead us, and was the hope of the world?
§ Mr. Piratin
If the hon. Member wants an answer to that, and will give me 20 minutes, I will explain what I was doing.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) has a record in that period that cannot be equalled.
§ Mr. Osborne
I think that the House will agree that the speech of the Foreign Secretary was a sombre, serious speech, to which we all listened with great interest. I think the House has never heard so much sound sense talked by any Socialist Minister, which was listened to in such solemn silence by his own supporters. He said that the basic aim of the Government, in their foreign policy, will be to make the United Nations organisation work effectively. All Members will agree with this fine and noble aim, and they will do whatever they can to help bring it about. We of this generation have gone through two wars, and if there is one thing that this generation asks, it is that we shall not have to go through a third war. Perhaps I may be allowed to speak personally about this. 2087 because I have four small children. There is an old Hebrew saying which asks this question:Must we sacrifice the fruit of our body for the sin of our soul?In modern terms that means, " Are we continuously to produce children to be cannon fodder? " Cannot mankind somehow live together in peace? That is the question the ordinary people of this country are asking. They are not interested in party politics. They want peace, and anything which can produce peace will receive the overwhelming consent of the people of the country. The only hope for us is through a strong and virile United Nations organisation.
Modern war is utterly impossible, unless a nation has a great concentration of industrial power. The age of bows and arrows has gone. Today there are only three such concentrations, in Russia, the United States and in the Western bloc centred round Great Britain. We are sure that between the two great industrial concentrations in the English-speaking world, war will never be possible. We are sure that there never can be war between us and America, and that is a fact for which we should be profoundly grateful. It is the hope of the ordinary people of this country, who are not politically minded, to have the same assurance in regard to the English-speaking peoples and the Russians. Therefore, somehow or other we have to make the United Nations organisation work, and it will only work if there is a good deal of give and take from every member who takes part in it. Surely it is not a bad thing that two great nations who are going into that organisation should go there with their minds made up? Much has been said today about the evils of an Anglo-American bloc. What is wrong with our Foreign Secretary and Mr. Byrnes going into that conference with their minds made up, that never shall there be war between our two nations? I plead with the Government most earnestly not to allow that understanding between us and America to be broken for such considerations as loans, food or economics. I would remind hon. Members who have thrown quite a lot of unnecessary mud at the Americans of our position in 1915–16, when things looked so very desperate. What did we say then? We said, " Will they never come 2088 and help us? " May I remind them, too, of the dark days of 1940, when champagne glasses were being clinked in Berlin and Moscow, and we looked to the West and said, " Will they never come and help us? "
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
Was it not just at the time, in June, 1940, that the Russian campaign in the three Baltic States took place, which stopped the launching of the German hordes across the Channel?
§ Mr. Osborne
I am not such an authority on that question that I can answer " Yes," or "No." Perhaps the hon. Member knows more about it than I do. I do know, however, that Lend-Lease came to us from the West and not from the East. I had the job in Leicester of handling bundles for bombed out people from London, and these bundles came from the West and not from the East. It does not do this country any good for hon. Members on this side to throw stones at Moscow, or for hon. Members opposite to throw stones at Washington. There has been far too much mud thrown. Mr. Byrnes, in making a statement the other day on M. Molotov's comments on the Meeting, said that he discussed with Marshal Stalin in Moscow the proposed 25-year peace Treaty and guarantee, and that Marshal Stalin had said to him that there was a danger that the United States might again withdraw from European affairs and Germany might attack again. That is an understandable fear on the part of the Russians, and if I were a Russian, I should have that fear. The fear, however, is groundless, because we now have a completely different position from that of 1919. The League of Nations had been torpedoed in 1919 because the Americans were not prepared to participate, whereas today they are in the United Nations organisation more than any other country in the world, which is a most important factor. May I quote to the House the results of the latest Gallup poll on this question in America, so that it may be placed on record? In March, this year, this question was asked:Do you think it would be best for the future of this country if we took an active part in world affairs, or if we stood out of world affairs?This was put at a time when we were having all the difficulties, and there was everything to force the Americans back 2089 into isolationism. In answer to the question, 72 per cent, were in favour of their country participating. That is the most important fact in world affairs at the present time. The same question was asked in October, 1945, and 71 per cent. said " Yes."It was asked also in May, 1944, when 73 per cent, said " Yes."Therefore, we have solid evidence that the ordinary man and woman in America is alive to the fact that America must play her great part in preserving peace through the United Nations organisation. In order to meet the criticism that these figures may apply to the wrong section of the population, I would point out that the same question was asked of returning American soldiers, and that no less than 80 per cent, of them stated that the United States ought to play its part in the United Nations organisation. To meet one further possible criticism, the votes were dissected, and it is shown that they were equal as between Republicans and Democrats. Therefore, if the Democrats should be swept from power at the next election, the Republicans are pledged to this policy as much as their opponents.
That is a frightfully important factor. We ought not—and this is the plea which I want to make to the Under-Secretary of State—to throw mud at the Americans or scoff at what they have done or what we think they have done. We should send the best type of men we can get from every grade of society to represent this country in America. The Americans —much as hon. Members opposite may doubt this statement—like the people of this country, are Puritans at heart. We can appeal more to them through their hearts than we can through their heads.
§ Mr. Osborne
In the dark days of 1940, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, when he was held in higher esteem by certain sections of this House than he is today, made what appeared to be a very unwise choice of Ambassador to Washington. He sent Lord Halifax who, as many hon. Members opposite would have said, was the wrong man for the job—a high Tory, a man of Munich. But by the qualities of his own character he did great service to the cause of both countries. The Americans were represented here by a high-powered salesman in Mr. Joseph 2090 Kennedy. When the crisis came, they sent us the best type of Puritan they had in John Winant, and no one in this country can deny that he did a magnificent job for us when he was over here. I would say to the Government, through the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in their attempt to come to an arrangement with Russia, difficult and important as it is, " Please do not let us try to come to an arrangement with Russia at the expense of our relations with America."It is not necessary to sacrifice one to the other. In any case, I would not do it.
I would say this: Keep your clever men away from America, and send your best men. I beg of the Foreign Secretary, who, I think, is the best Socialist Minister we have got, to go and represent this country in America, and put our point of view to the Americans. If he cannot go, I suggest that a man of character like Sir Stafford Cripps, or indeed, the Prime Minister himself, would make an infinitely finer appeal to the Americans than Professor Laski or the Lord President of the Council, both of whom seem to have made a bad job of it. I am convinced that we are not going to get a better understanding with Russia merely by insulting America. I beg of hon. Members opposite to think that over, and, the next time they discuss America in this House, to keep a curb on their tongues.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
I do not propose to follow the arguments of the last two speakers. We have heard put, with great sincerity, both the Russophil and the Phil-American case. I can only say that I view the policy at present being pursued by both those great nations with almost equal alarm. I think that the polices of both, at the moment, are a great danger to the world.
The first point I want to deal with is that foreign policy is fundamentally a question of security, and when one has to consider it in those terms, one should distinguish between what one would like— the policies we would like—and the policies which are available to us. As Socialists, we, on this side of the House, can express very shortly the foreign policy which we would like. It is the foreign policy which was expressed centuries ago by Tom Paine—the policy of the 2091 " Parliament of Man." We believe profoundly that one day it must come, and that the folly of national sovereignties must be swept away. We cannot have that now. Britain, on her own, cannot establish the " Parliament of Man."If we cannot have that world Government, then we should like collective security. I believe that the situation in the world as it is at the moment makes collective security equally unrealistic. The conditions of collective security do not exist. The conditions of collective security are that the many are infinitely stronger than the one. That was the situation between the wars. With a little courageous leadership, the League of Nations could have worked, because the many in the League were always incomparably stronger, right up to the end, than any one, and if the many had stood together, they could always have coerced the one.
That is not the situation in the world today. All the rest of the world cannot coerce the Americans, and it cannot coerce the Russians, and, in that situation, I do not believe that a system of collective security can work. I believe that U.N.O. may do very useful jobs in its cultural committees and economic committees, but, for my own part, I say quite frankly that I would like to see the Security Council dissolved as soon as possible. We have a world which, in fact, is a world of power stresses, with competing power forces. That is the world as it is, as anyone who has been watching these Conferences knows. You do not stop these power stresses merely by labelling them " U.N.O.," any more than you can make petrol safer by labelling it " barley water." You make it very much more dangerous. I feel that the conception of U.N.O. as a security organisation has only the effect of concealing dangers, and concealing the conflict of power that really exists.
If the prospect of collective security is pretty remote, we have to rely for our security upon our policy. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary is compelled to power politics because there is no other policy available. He has to make an alignment of power upon which our security must depend. In that position we have again to look and see what policies are available to us. Our traditional policy, that which we have pursued for over 200 years, has been to spread 2092 out our meagre forces in an extended line almost around the world. It has been the case that at the start of every war we were unprepared, but finally we won the last battle. That has not been a mere coincidence. It has been cause and effect. We have won the last battle because we have occupied the peace by building up our economic strength. The measure of our unpreparedness has been the measure of our potential reserve, and, therefore, in the final phase of every great war our potential reserve has become conclusive.
That is not a policy which is available to us today, because it is a policy dependent upon the balance of power in Europe. Someone else had to be there —in latter years it has been France—to take the first shock. Unless there was that somebody else in Europe to take the first shock, the first battle would have been the last. That is the situation we are facing today. We have to concentrate our forces, because for the first time in 200 years we have to be prepared to take the first shock. The last person who has any right to complain about our drawing in our forces from India and Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean; is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), because he did it. In the crisis of 1940, we found in the right hon. Gentleman a most inspiring leader, and as a result of the victory gained by the Russians at Stalingrad and by our own forces in Egypt we fundamentally achieved that for which we went to war in 1939. We had prevented any single Power from obtaining military dominion on the continent of Europe and in the Middle East.
Then the right hon. Gentleman called upon us to redouble our efforts. He announced the policy of demanding unconditional surrender. In a further two years of struggle we have achieved that very thing to prevent which we not only went to war in 1939 but to prevent which we have fought to prevent for 200 years —the establishment of a single military Power dominant in Europe. That is the situation. It was M. Talleyrand who warned political leaders who were also commanders in chief not to allow their political objects to vary with their strategic successes. That was the very thing which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford did, and, therefore, he cannot complain that it is necessary now 2093 for this country to concentrate her forces, and that it is no longer possible for this country to set a world policy. It is necessary for her to adapt her policy to the world policies established by the Great Powers, Russia and America.
If we are to do this then I think that it is important that we should try to understand what this Russian policy is. Two things seem to be agreed, more or less, about Russia. On the one hand it is said her policy is not expansive, and that what she is worrying about is her security; and, on the other, it is said, " Of course, that is perfectly absurd, because no one would dream of attacking Russia."That seems to be treating Stalin as though he were a nervous spinster looking for burglars under the bed. I do not think that is the way Stalin's mind works. If we tried to look at this situation through Russian eyes, I think we would get a better idea of the motives behind Russian policy. When the Russians look at America they see the vast industrial military strength of the American nation. They see that strength being guided by two parties who are divided by no greater fundamental principle than the mutual desire to appoint the local crossing sweeper. They see those two parties are, at bottom, corrupt. They see that an economic crisis of the gravest character is facing the American people. They see that the Americans are bound by an archaic Constitution which prevents their Government taking any edequate steps to deal with the economic crisis. They see this situation, because they have been brought up in a Marxian school, with a materialistic view of history and they see an opportunity for an American demagogue, an American Colonel Peron who is going to say, " Away with these parties. Away with this Constitution. If they put you into this economic misery it is only by doing away with them that I can get you out of it." When even Mr. Jim Farley begins to anticipate that sort of thing is it to be wondered at that the Russians fear it? If that situation arises, then they assume that there is someone like Peron ready to establish himself as a revolutionary dictator in America—and the way out of the economic problem, always, has been a foreign war.
For reasons like that, they see that America has begun to make Japan, where 2094 they are in exclusive control, the favoured corner of Asia. The Chinese may starve, the Indians may starve, the Burmese may starve, but not the Japanese. Is it to be wondered at that the Russians say, "This is an instrument against us. That is why it is being maintained"? When they look to the other end of Europe is it to be wondered at that they say, " You shall not do the same with Germany "? It is no use for us in Britain to put forward new schemes to make Germany work. The whole Russian policy is that Germany shall not work. They desire chaos there, because they think that in chaos lies their security. They want in Germany the opposite to Japan. We have to face the realities, and not imagine little schemes of how to cooperate with the Russians to make Germany work, because we have opposite intentions. Further, in this most dangerous aspect of the situation the Russians remember what happened to Hitler when Hitler became involved in war in the East, leaving Britain as an American base on the back doorstep. We, too, remember what the Russians did when they thought that Finland might be an enemy base on their back door.
I believe that, at this time, the danger in which this country stands is greatly underrated. I do not think that we can afford to neglect the possibility of the Russians, purely for security reasons, trying to deal with the only danger spot in the West where they have not got a 5th column firmly planted. It is a situation which we have to face. We have to be adequately garrisoned here in Britain. I believe that that is the most important contribution which we are making to the peace of the world. I do not believe there would be any threat to world peace so great as a Britain inadequately garrisoned or with an insufficient concentration of forces here in this island. For that reason I believe it is folly for us to distribute our forces throughout the world. We can no longer afford that policy. I entirely agree with the view put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks). The Americans have established their Monroe Doctrine. It has given them a profound sense of security. The result is, as the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) said, that there is very little prospect of the Americans disturbing the peace of the world, at the moment, because of that security. If the Russians were allowed a Monroe 2095 Doctrine on their frontiers, I believe that that also might give them a sense of security and that they might settle down too on that basis.
What is the alternative? What is the use of our sticking our noses into Poland and saying, " Hold an election "? We cannot do anything about it. We cannot make them do it. We have no power to implement any demand in that direction. Surely, it is commonsense that, instead of merely stirring up futile trouble that cannot lead anywhere, we should recognise the state of things as it is, and say, "This is your affair and your Monroe Doctrine." Outside that area, economically speaking, the Western bloc may operate. This can never be a power bloc, which is a bloc opposed to another power bloc. The Soviet Power bloc has its fifth columns and Communist Parties planted in all the countries in the Western bloc, it is futile to imagine that the Western bloc can make any effective power contribution. One has only to remember 1940, and how completely successful the Communists in France were in preventing the French resisting what was more an ally of the Russians at that time. If it were the Russians themselves, the Western Countries would be incapable of fighting, since they must fight not only on the foreign front, but upon the home front. If we look to our own security, and do not interfere in the Russian or in the American areas, where there is no advantage to be gained by either of those two countries, then I think the Russians and Americans may both settle down in their areas. There is no real object for their aggression. At at later period when they have had a chance to settle down it may be possible to arrive at a more satisfactory world system.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
In the very short time that I have at my disposal I cannot hope to follow the points made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), to whom we have just listened. I would congratulate His Majesty's Government on the utility of this Debate. It started with a massive, sombre but sincere and truthful speech by the Foreign Secretary. Subsequent speeches have shown that there are, indeed, serious differences in this House. They show also that there 2096 are a good many points on which the vast majority of Members are agreed. The speech was sombre, because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the facts are sombre, in these serious and difficult times. I agree with the hon. Member for Northampton on how serious and critical the times are. I believe that one of the few contributions an ordinary politician can make is to endeavour to discover, and to tell, the truth. Perhaps I may quote a favourite passage from the 18th century philosopher. Bishop Butler. He said:Things and actions are what they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be; why then should we wish to be deceived?Russia has necessarily dominated this Debate. Let me give my view at once. I believe that the only chance of good relations between ourselves and Russia depends upon our quite frankly telling the truth as we see it and not holding back from any sense of fear that frankness may be dangerous. The Foreign Secretary gave a good, clear account of the reasons for the breakdown of the Paris Conference. He said he could not understand the attitude of the Russians. The first thing we ought to do is to ask the right question, which is not " What does Russia want,"To which we do not know the answer; but " What is Russia doing? '"' To that question we do know the answer. I suggest to the Government that, if they wish to know what Russia wants, it might be a good idea to adopt the principle of the common law that men are presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions.
I think that the hon. Member for Northampton said that in a part of the world what Russia wanted was chaos. That is probably true and we have to bear it in mind. If what is being caused in Europe is hunger and chaos, that may possibly be what is intended. I noted the frankness of the Foreign Secretary. I wish we had had equal frankness by the Lord President of the Council who said last Friday what I am afraid is untrue:We are at last at the beginning of a new phase, the phase of world wide mobilisation of all food resources to win the peace.… It is the first time when men have fought in all countries on one side."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st May, 1946; Vol. 423, c. 1515–6.]I wish that were true, but we all know that it is not.
2097 The chief organisations which are considering the famine have not the advantage of a Russian representative. I believe that the physical ravages of war, immense and tragic as they have been, are today not the greatest obstacle that stands in the way of recovery. Over a great part of the world the most necessary steps to restore transport, to build shelter and to produce food will not begin to be taken until men again have that incentive for their toil which comes from some predictability in their affairs and some certainty that they will be able to live their lives under the rule of law. In many countries today men's right to live, to worship, to labour and to eat, depends upon the arbitrary will of some tyranny, with its characteristic instrument of secret police.
Much has inevitably been said about the "Iron curtain."I would only say this about it, that everybody knows it is a fact, and the most important fact in the world today. For my purpose at the moment it is sufficient to say this about the "Iron curtain ": Nobody who can escape from the East to the West of it goes back voluntarily, and nobody on the West of it will go back East of it without compulsion. Is there any wonder that food is short when not merely, as the Foreign Secretary stated, are the Danube and the great waterways of Europe not being used, but immense armies are also being maintained beyond that "Iron curtain " and, according to broadcasts from Belgrade and elsewhere, inspired by Moscow, new armies are being raised beyond that " curtain."
Let me put a few points about Persia. I think—and I am sure Members in all parts of the House will see the force of this—that when Russia, in defiance of the Treaty of 1942, and in defiance of their most recent statements that they would withdraw their troops by 2nd March, showed contempt of international law and Treaty obligations by leaving their troops in that country, no man showed himself to be a friend of Russia, or of this country, or of humanity, if he denied the importance of that occurrence. On 5th March, three days later, we sent a Note to the Soviet Government asking our Allies for an explanation of their breach of the Treaty. To the best of my belief, that Note is still unanswered. U.N.O. has been frequently mentioned in this Debate. It has been pointed out that 2098 U.N.O. is useless, by the term of its own Charter, to stop aggression by a major Power, and it certainly has been proved, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), to be wholly impotent to affect the position in Persia.
Let me put this to the Government: Mention has been made of our Treaty with Soviet Russia, and I should like to read the second sentence in Article 5 of that Treaty, which, referring to the High Contracting Parties, says:They will take into account the interests of the United Nations in these objects, and they will act in accordance with the two principles of not seeking territorial ag grandisement for themselves and of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.Does anybody suggest that that is the way Russia has acted in the countries beyond the "iron curtain?" At this very moment recent Notes of protest to the Governments of these various satellite countries have been sent by the Foreign Secretary. People speak of dividing Europe into two parts. Regrettable and deplorable, but the division has taken place, and the problem we have now before us is whether Western Europe is to survive. To come now to the Conference which is to resume in Paris very shortly, what do honest and wise men desire to happen at an international conference? I suggest, that they want one of two things to happen. They want agreement, if agreement is honourably possible. If two nations put forward divergent views, then they desire agreement by the abandonment or modification of one or both of those views or, alternatively, if an honourable compromise is impossible, what they desire is disagreement honestly admitted. The worst of all possible results is not agreement or disagreement, but what has happened at too many international conferences in recent years.
When divergent views are put forward by two Powers, after a time one reads throughout the Press that the conference is now getting down to the business of finding a formula—finding a form of words to which each party attaches a different meaning, and thus, by subscribing to it, they pretend to agree, while in fact continuing their quarrel. For that there is nothing to be said. It is as foolish as it is dishonourable. Let me give an example of an agreement of that type. Any agreement between ourselves and Russia which uses the word " democracy " or 2099 the term " democratic elections "Is of that type, because each of us, to the knowledge of the other, attaches an opposite meaning to that phrase. It does not matter in the least which of us has a letter view of democracy. By " democratic elections " we mean that any man or any party can stand, and the electors choose which they want to elect. By " democratic elections "The Russians mean elections in which only the Communists are allowed to take part, or a list agreed with the Communists beforehand.
I say that the most fundamental issue before us today is the rule of law or despotic power. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has been attacked for what he said about Communism. But what are the facts? I know there are subtle people who think they can find some important distinction between Communism and Fascism. I confess I can find none. There may be some difference, but, compared with their similarities, the difference is trivial. Let me put this to hon. Members in all quarters of the House. If any hon. Member went back tonight to his home and at midnight there were a knock on the door and the most beloved member of his household were removed, never to be brought to trial and never to be heard of again, it would not make an atom of difference to him whether that person were removed by the secret police of the Communists or by the secret police of the Fascists. But the difference between a country where that can happen and a country where it cannot happen is of vital importance to the future of our civilisation.
I wish the Foreign Secretary Godspeed in his resumed discussions in Paris, and I hope the patience and the determination that he has shown will be at last rewarded; but if he cannot succeed by maintaining the principles which he regards as essential, then the House will forgive him if he comes back confessing his failure. What they will not forgive is if he abandons any of those values which are vital for the survival of our civilisation. I believe that the civilisation of Western Europe today, with all its glories based upon those three great sources—Rome, Greece and Christianity —is threatened as it has not been threatened since the dark ages. I believe that 2100 an asset of civilisation at the present moment is the honesty and determination of the Foreign Secretary. I believe he will return to Paris with the good will of men of good will in all quarters of the House.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
In the short time left to me, I want to bring forward a subject which no Member has mentioned, and yet which is the fundamental question of Europe. What are we going to do with Germany? Germany is necessary to Europe, Germany is one of the essential nations in Europe, and what we have to find is a way of living with Germany. According to the constitution of 1871, Bismarck drew up the States in such a way that the four kings of Germany—Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Saxony and Prussia—should still remain with all their rights and their states intact. The curse of Germany is Prussia. If we could uproot from Germany this Prussian spirit, take away the Prussian influence, and eradicate Prussian psychology, then we could have a Germany in Europe with whom we could live in harmony. The Bavarians are not bad people, the Saxons, the Rhinelanders and the Wurttemburgers are all good, sensible, useful people. It is the arrogant, militarily disciplined Prussian who has worked his influence on the whole of Germany and has made her a menace to the world, and, in the space of three quarters of a century, has wrought war three times on Europe.
If we could return Prussia to what Prussia was at the time of the Great Elector—the Province of Brandenburg— liberating from Prussia all the States that Prussia has annexed in the last 250 years, we would be doing a service not only to Europe but to Germany itself. Frederick the Great, Hardenberg and Bismarck were only the precursors of Hitler. They knew that once they got hold of Prussia they could dominate the whole of Germany; and Bismarck knew it too, because in forming the Constitution of 1871, he laid down that German Emperors must always be Kings of Prussia. In this way he secured the domination of the whole of Germany. What we have to do is to release from Prussia the Eastern States that Frederick the Great took away from Poland and Austria, release the Rhine-land into an independent State inside the German framework, build up the Ruhr 2101 as an independent territory, also inside the framework of Germany, give back to Hanover the independence which Bismarck seized in 1871, and return Schles-wig-Holstein as an independent State in Germany. This would produce a sane, healthy, federal Germany with whom we could all work once more in peace and harmony.
It is not a difficult matter because until 1914 no decent Bavarian family ever received a Prussian, and no truly Saxon family ever entertained Prussians. The Prussian was hated in Bavaria, in the Rhineland, and in Saxony. They did not mix freely, and if we can help these States to restore their own independence within the framework of Germany we shall be building up a new Europe that can look forward to a long period of peace. If we do not do it but allow Germany to fall into chaos and anarchy, we stand the risk of seeing one Power controlling the whole area from Vladivostock possibly to Calais. We have to build up Germany again. We can do it by putting Prussia back to what she was at the time of the Great Elector, the Province of Brandenburg, not taking the States outside the framework of Germany but maintaining them inside Germany as a federal union of German states.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Law (Kensington, South)
The Prime Minister this afternoon described this as a sombre Debate, and it has indeed been sombre. At the same time, I think, it has been characterised by firmness of mind as much as by anxiety and apprehension. Once again, I believe that the British House of Commons has done great good by showing that in times of great difficulty in the world there is what the Prime Minister described this afternoon as an essential underlying unity so far as foreign affairs are concerned. The last time that I had the privilege of intervening in a Debate on foreign affairs was rather more than 12 months ago in the Debate on the San Francisco Conference. How tremendous and how melancholy is the contrast between that day and this. I do not think I need go into it; we are all conscious of it. The hopes that we had then have by no means been fulfilled, and even a year ago I do not think we had the same rosy anticipation that we had 25 years ago. We knew that the task of reconstructing the shattered world 2102 would be arduous, very difficult and very long. Even then we were aware of the problem of the veto, for example. A great many of us realised that the veto constituted a real difficulty, but I do not think many of us suspected how, in fact, the veto was going to be used; or, it would be more honest to say, how, in fact, it was going to be abused.
Still there is this similarity between 12 months ago and now. There is the fact that it is apparent, from this Debate, that there is in the House of Commons a fundamental underlying unity on the tremendous and grave issues which face us today- Of course there have been discordant voices. There was for example the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley), who paid a fleeting visit to Greece —I imagine it was a fairly fleeting visit —and was able to satisfy himself that the Greek elections had been rigged, was able to discount the evidence of Sir Walter Citrine, for whose judgment one supposed he would have had some respect, and to discount altogether the evidence of the Allied Commission which supervised the election. I do not say any more about that speech except that it struck me as an indication of how extraordinarily gullible a fellow traveller can be. I imagine that the hon. Member for Thurrock was one of those members ot the Party opposite to whom the Prime Minister referred when he said that they were wearing not rose-coloured spectacles, but Russian spectacles. Then there was the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks). I do not think he was wearing Russian spectacles so much as wearing Russian earphones. Otherwise I cannot understand how he misrepresented so much the speech which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) made this afternoon. The hon. Member for Broxtowe stated that my right hon. Friend had said that he supported General Franco's régime in Spain. Of course he said nothing of the kind; he said, in fact exactly the opposite. I was particularly interested to hear the hon. Member for Broxtowe claim, at any rate, parity with my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford inasmuch as he said he had warned the House of the German peril as long ago as 1932. That was very interesting, but what would be even more interesting would be to know what the hon. Member for Broxtowe was doing to get the country armed to meet 2103 that peril during the intervening years. My recollection is that he was not doing a very great deal.
Then there was the speech of the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey). He made an eloquent, a violent and a passionate attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford. His speech did not surprise me, because it seemed to me that I had heard it all before; in fact, I am pretty sure that I had heard practically all of it on the Moscow radio. There was only one thing that the hon. Member for Luton did not say, only one epithet that he did not apply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford. He did not call my right hon. Friend a "Fascist beast." But everything else, the whole bag of tricks, was in the hon. Member's speech. I know it would be quite impossible to overcome the passions and the prejudices of the hon. Member for Luton, but I ask hon. Members who heard his speech to remember one or two things. Let them remember who went to the microphone on 22nd June, 1941, on the evening of the day when the Germans invaded Russia; let them remember what tremendous efforts my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford made to disarm the suspicion which haunted then, as it haunts today, the Russian mind; and let them remember, too, how far my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford went—in the opinion of some people, though not in my opinion, he went too far—let them remember how far he went in meeting the Russian claim for security.
We, on this side of the House, are not anti-Russian. The fact that we are critical of, and opposed vehemently to, policies which the Russian Government are pursuing in the world of to-day, does not mean that we are anti-Russian. For my own part I was associated with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in the negotiation of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance. I thought then that the rift which existed between Russia and the Western world was one of the prime causes of this last war, because it enabled Hitler to get away with things, as he would never have been able to do if that rift had not existed. I thought then that, unless we could bridge that gap between Russia and the Western world, there would be no solid hope of 2104 peace when the war was over. I thought so then, and I think so still.
I agree with what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, that we could get a permanent settlement only if Russia entered freely into a European settlement. But it is not possible to compel anybody to enter freely into anything. I do not think that this country can proceed indefinitely on the basis of disarming Russian suspicions, because those suspicions go very far, and they increase as they go. I was very much surprised by an argument used by the hon. Member for Broxtowe and, I think, the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Horabin) when they said that one of the grounds of suspicion which the Russians have against this country was that several millions of people had voted for the Conservative party at the last Election and that apparently the Russians are afraid that several millions more will vote for the Conservative party at the next election. I think that is one of the few instances in which Russian fears will be fulfilled
It is extraordinary to say that, and then to assume that, somehow or other, we are going to be able to remove Russian suspicions. On that hypothesis we shall only be able to remove Russian suspicions when we ourselves have adopted the Soviet system in this country, and I do not believe anything more than a tiny percentage of Members on either side of the House have any intention of doing that. I have come to the conclusion that Russian suspicion is not a pathological state of mind which can be cured by treatment. I am afraid that it is rather a deliberate instrument of policy. Once you have got rid of one suspicion, another suspicion springs up, fully armed, to take its place. I am sure we are not going to come to terms with the Russians on the basis of chasing them down the road, and trying to clear up one suspicion after another. I think, on the contrary, we shall do better to follow the road which the Foreign Secretary indicated yesterday and that our policy must be, so far as Russia is concerned, to be patient and to be understanding, to be frank and to be firm. It seems to me that our only hope of coming to terms with the Russians is to stick firmly to the principles for which we fought and for which we still stand, in the hope that our Russian friends will one day come to understand that they are going to get the 2105 security they want, by cooperating with their allies, and not by seeking perpetually to undermine them.
The hon. Member for Broxtowe, it seemed to me, enunciated the proposition that what the Russians really wanted was security, as though he had discovered a great new truth. Of course, we have all learned that what the Russians want is security, but what we have somehow to make them understand is that by the policy they have been pursuing they are net getting security but piling up insecurity, which, I am sure, it is their intention to avoid. The hon. Member for Broxtowe made a curious comparison. He said that the iron curtain which has descended over a great part of Europe is really much like the safety curtain in a theatre. But I would remind him that there is this difference; the safety curtain in a theatre only comes down for a minute during the whole performances but this iron curtain has so far never been lifted.
§ Mr. Law
I believe that if we follow the policy that was outlined by the Foreign Secretary yesterday, if we are firm and frank and understanding we shall eventually be able to come to terms with our Russian Allies, terms that will give us, all of us, security. But, in the meantime, it seems to me to be essential that we should make such arrangements for ourselves as we can. As the Foreign Secretary said, we cannot allow the war to go on indefinitely. We must make our own arrangements.
But before I come to that I would like to take up one point which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford this afternoon. It may seem a small point by comparison with the vast issues we have been considering during the past two days, but I believe it to be an important point for all that. I believe that the decision to forbid the Polish troops who fought by our side throughout the war to take part in the Victory Parade is mean and contemptible. I believe that it reflects very badly upon the Government, and that it will reflect very badly upon the people of this country. A great many people have said that they do not think we ought to have a Victory Parade. I do not agree with them. I think we ought to pay our tribute to the brave men who have saved us. But I think that this decision of the Government means that for the great 2106 mass of the people of this country a bitter draught of vinegar is being mixed with the wine-cup which is being prepared for Saturday. I believe that it is all quite-unnecessary, and I cannot conceive that that decision will influence M. Molotov, except possibly unfavourably. It is a great mistake.
I have said that we must, in the meantime, make our own arrangements, in the belief that in the end our Russian friends will come to believe that they are good arrangements. For my own part, I am an unrepentant believer in the United Nations. Unless we can make the United Nations a really effective organisation, I can see no hope for us or for the world. Is there anything to be done with the United Nations now? Or is everything lost? I do not believe that everything is lost. There is, after all, a tremendous area in the world, even now, of good will and cooperation. There is the British Commonwealth and Empire; there is the United States of America; and I must say that I cannot see what good purpose has been served by some hon. Members, who have sought today to distract attention from the difficulties we are having with one Ally, by trying to create difficulties with another
If the coming Conference of Foreign Ministers fails—I hope sincerely that it will not fail though I must confess that I have no very solid grounds for that hope—I believe there is still a very great deal that can be done. A number of my hon. Friends in the course of this Debate have suggested that we ought to make closer arrangements with the free peoples of Europe. Among the free peoples of Europe I hope we shall soon be able to include the Italian people. It has been suggested we ought to make closer arrangements with the free peoples of Western Europe. I agree with that suggestion. I agree also with the Prime Minister that any arrangements we make for what is called a Western bloc ought not to be,, and need not be exclusive. If we work towards a Western bloc we are not dividing Europe into blocs. Two blocs already exist. My own belief is that it is the final and absolute condition of unity in Europe that the bloc of free peoples should be able to express their purpose as clearly as the bloc of peoples who are not free. I do not agree that the creation of a Western bloc would 2107 weaken the United Nations. On the contrary, in my judgment it is only through the association of peoples who do believe in the purposes of U.N.O., that we shall ever be able to make that organisation effective and that the United Nations will ever be quickened into life. Again, of course, it is a condition that these regional groups, which are, of course, provided for by the Charter, should not be exclusive.
Then there is the whole field which is covered by the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations. I do not know whether wars are created by economic factors or to what extent economic factors contribute to war, but I do know, and I think the whole House must know, that political and economic difficulties react upon and exacerbate each other. I am sure one of the things we can do whenever opportunity offers, is to go ahead and try to get the economic unity which it is the purpose of the Social and Economic Council to promote.
I would like to say a few words about Germany, that Germany which the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) described just now as the cardinal problem. I was a little surprised to hear him say that Germany was a subject which had not been mentioned in the Debate. In fact, it has been mentioned quite a lot. More than one speaker has agreed with the hon. Member, that Germany is the cardinal problem. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford that Germany at the present time is not a threat to peace. It is not Germany that is the threat to peace—it is chaos. That seems to me to be a self-evident fact. I am not convinced, however, that Germany necessarily is " out " for good. I believe that the recuperative powers of the German people are enormous, and it seems to me, therefore, that the German problem presents itself to us in a kind of double garb.
On the one hand, there is the necessity, on which I am sure we are all agreed, of securing that German militarism does not revive and that Germany militarists do not pervert the produce of industry to warlike ends. On the other, there is the fact that, if we seek German disarmament by destroying German industry, we create, not only a festering sore and a permanent sore in Europe, but we create a beggar, and we impose, as we are 2108 imposing now, a burden upon the sorely-tried people of this country which they are very ill fitted to bear. Therefore, I was very glad to hear the Foreign Secretary yesterday give some indication of the ideas which he had in his mind about the Ruhr, and it seems to me that that is one of the solutions of the German problem—to put the Ruhr under some kind of outside control; to see that the heart of Germany is not removed, but at the same time, to ensure that the heart of Germany is controlled by something other than a German will.
There are two other matters to which I would like to refer. The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Horabin), in a speech which otherwise I thought purely mischievous, said one thing with which I agree. He said that the Prime Minister had slid over the problem of the Southern Tyrol. I must say that I agree with that, and I do not think that any argument which either the Foreign Secretary yesterday or the Prime Minister today adduced, can have convinced the House that the handing over of the Tyrol to Italy was in the best interests of a permanent peace settlement.
§ Mr. Law
There have been references to economic arguments, but nobody has specified what they are. For my own part, I am much more inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Paton), speaking yesterday, who said that the whole economy of the Southern Tyrol was far more closely integrated with Austria than with Italy. Then there is the question of Venezia Giulia. The Foreign Secretary was obliged to compromise on the French line. I do not believe that the French line would prove to be a satisfactory settlement of this problem. For one thing, in a settlement of that kind, I do not believe that the free port of Trieste would ever really exist at all. Not only would railway access to the port of Trieste be in the hands of another country—Yugoslavia—but the Yugoslavs would be in a position to cut off the port by sea, by maintaining a naval base at Pola, and I find it very difficult to believe that a solution of that kind will prove either satisfactory or permanent.
This has been a sombre Debate, but I think I agree with the Prime Minister, 2109 who said we should not judge the present situation too pessimistically. He reminded us that the Russians were not at the last Peace Conference. I do not know whether that was something to encourage us or depress us, but the right hon. Gentleman did use one expression which was not, I think, correct. The Prime Minister said that the Russians had been excluded from the last Peace Conference. Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary said, more truly, that they were not there. It is a fact that the Russians were not excluded from the last Peace Conference; every kind and colour of Russian was invited to come to the Island of Prinkipo in the hope of their being able to compose their differences and send a delegation to the Conference. It was the Russians who refused the invitation; it was not the case that the invitation was not made.
We ought not to be unduly depressed. This war has been a terrible experience. The physical destruction of the war was terrible enough, but we ought not to forget, also, the tremendous moral deterioration which went on during the years of war. We cannot repair physical destruction overnight, and we cannot restore the moral currency overnight. But I think, if we go ahead and seek, above all things, to restore the moral currency which is now so debased, and if we seek to look at things honestly, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) invited us to do a few moments ago, that, in the end, we shall be able to resolve our difficulties. In any case, I am sure that there is nothing else for this country to do at this time except to abide by the things in which it believes.
§ 9.17 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. McNeil)
As almost every one has agreed, this has been an exceedingly worthwhile Debate. Before going any further, I would like to associate myself with the congratulations that have been handed out to the hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Wing-Commander Shackleton) on making, among so many distinctive speeches, an extremely good maiden speech.
It has been said that this has been a sombre Debate, but I am not sure that that is quite the right description. It has been a Debate of second thoughts. In the height of war, every nation, includ- 2110 ing our own, makes concessions and undertakes obligations difficult to fulfil in the days of peace. War, however arduous, is simple; its objective is to destroy the enemy. Towards that end, in loyalty to allies, in generosity to hoped-for allies, in rage against enemies, in haste and in sentiment towards those who have fallen, settlements are made which are not too carefully thought out. Then, in peace, when prestige, long-term security and trade begin to point their complex and conflicting conclusions, difficulties about the settling of the bill begin to appear. The honeymoon of war, curiously, is over. Bargains made in urgency and concessions made in the flush of triumph, alike, seem markedly less attractive. Before I deal in detail with the points raised yesterday and today, let me say that it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to keep our word and to discharge these promissory notes, not only because that is the honourable thing to do, but because the nation which once departs from this practice, finds bargains harder to make. Defaulting is a luxury which neither a great nation nor a great party can afford, and this Government represents both a great people and, if I may say so with proper humility, a, great party.
Let me deal with some of the points, many of which are important. My answers, I regret, will not be as coherent and connected as I would like them to be, but I propose to try to catch up with the major points. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked about the ships which we had loaned to Russia. At the Teheran Conference, the Russians asked that some of the Italian ships should be supplied to them for operational purposes. His Majesty's Government agreed that 14 naval vessels and about 40,000 tons of Italian merchant shipping should be earmarked for this purpose, but for various reasons it was decided to leave the Italian warships in the Mediterranean, and in their place to lend the Russians other ships of British and American origin. Under this arrangement, the Russians were supplied with one battleship, one light cruiser, eight destroyers and four submarines, one of the light cruisers being American. The present position, as the House knows, is that the Soviet claim to a share in the Italian Navy is still under discussion in Paris. The Russian Government have said that they 2111 will hand back our vessels when the Italian vessels are delivered. As I understand it, our Admiralty are quite willing to wait upon the settlement of this bargain. I should, perhaps, have added that, unfortunately, one of the submarines was sunk in passage on the way to be handed over.
One other subject arising from Paris about which various Members, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law), have questioned the Government, is the subject of the South Tyrol. I think the South Tyrol is almost covered by the general introduction which I gave to my remarks. Let me, however, add this. It was a British deputy who, on the instructions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, first insisted that if the Austrian Government should wish to put forward a claim less extensive than a claim to the whole province, they should at least be heard. The Austrian Government did then put in a revised claim, which we consider amounted to a minor frontier rectification for which the agreement provided. In any case, it will be for the Foreign Ministers when they next meet to try to reach agreement on this point.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will not mind me interrupting him, but this point has been raised by so many speakers. Do I understand that the Austrians themselves have only put in a claim for a minor frontier rectification?
I think there is a distinction here between what the Austrian Government want, and what is permitted under the agreement. The agreement only provided for minor frontier rectification, and that is all that can be studied by the deputies at this time and all that subsequently could be approved by the Ministers when they meet again in Paris.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
Further to that point, is it not a fact that the hon. Gentleman said at the beginning of his speech that the British Government were going to stand by their promises? Is not it also a fact that at an earlier stage we did promise there were to be no transfers of territory without consultation? Has that been done in any way at all?
I think the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) had better reconsider the careful introduction which I gave to what I have to say on this occasion. There are a number of conflicting promises. This one was made at London, and from the overriding promise we cannot escape, nor do we seek to escape. What we must do is, as far as possible, to reconcile justice with that previous decision.
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
I listened to the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Paton) for 20 minutes on this subject. We have not had a single answer, except that it was an economic and not an ethnic consideration. Are we committed by the previous Government on the question of the South Tyrol? Can we have a definite answer? If we are, we know where we stand.
Yes, we are committed not only by the undertakings of the previous Government, but by the September conference in London.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
The one given in London.
As my right hon. Friend says, I was referring to the conference of Foreign Ministers in London last September, and the undertaking that the boundaries were to be pre-Anschluss. That is all we have agreed to.
I cannot accept that interpretation. Let me say quite frankly, not seeking to put the blame on anyone else, that the latest decision is the one by which we are bound, namely, the decision taken at the Council of Foreign Ministers in London last September. One other point about which I was asked, and which I would like to get out of the way now, is what is happening about refugees. I am very glad to be, able to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron 2113 Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) that after eight weeks we have reached finality, of a kind, in the report. The report is going to the Social and Economic Council, presently in session, and then, subject to their amendment, it goes to the Assembly. I was asked particularly, what was the position of His Majesty's Government in relation to the type of agency. I know the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) has a very great interest in this subject. We have taken the line that the agency should be integrally related to the United Nations. The United States have taken the line that it should be a specialised agency. We are now willing to compromise upon that conclusion, provided the budget of the specialised agency is submitted to a resolution of the Assembly.
§ Earl Winterton
I would like to ask a question of some importance on this matter, which will I think be treated sympathetically. Will it be possible to retain the services of the very competent international staff which worked in the original inter-governmental committee, in view of their great and specialised knowledge of this matter?
In my opinion, and in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, any organisation set up to deal with this subject would have to be staffed by people with specialised knowledge of this subject. There are, however, political complications, which the Noble Lord will see if he studies the report on refugees. I now wish to say a few words about Greece. I join with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington in the strictures which he directed towards my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley). I do not think the hon. Member is in his place, and I dislike saying sharp things while he is not here. However, the hon. Gentleman spoke for 20 minutes and made the most sweeping charges about conditions in Greece. He said that wherever he went he found that the working class people were being beaten up, that their trade union premises were being set on fire, that there were signs of incipient Fascism, and that he found examples of murder, assault, intimidation and illegal arrest, all perpetrated against the Left by the Right. He added that he had personally witnessed some atrocities.
2114 This is plainly a grave charge which no responsible Member of this House would make lightly. I greatly regret that the hon. Gentleman did not offer one specific piece of evidence in his 20-minutes speech on this point. Happily, one of his colleagues, the hon. Member for Dart-ford (Mr. Dodds), was not quite so reticent. He published a letter in a great newspaper on 5th May and—if I may say so without offence— he outdid his colleague in the vigour of his prose. He said among other things:'I have seen instances of brutality and terror which I did not believe could happen in any civilised country during a period of peace, and I give as a classical example that of Sokhos, where terror and brutality are rampant, justice is a complete farce, where the local gendarmes have introduced a state of affairs which can only be compared with the law of the jungle and savages, which could be found in the dark Middle Ages.I should have been a very poor servant of this House if I had not caused immediate inquiries to be made about the darkness of Sokhos. I did have immediate inquiries made. It is true that there has been disturbance in this village; it is true that a man called Mase was shot there almost six months ago—he was shot by a gendarme, I am told, while attempting to escape. I am also having investigations made into allegations that the local magistrate was subsequently prevented from fulfilling his full duties. However, the hon. Gentleman on his return to Athens made protestations about the subsequent intimidation of some of his girl supporters who had presented him with a nosegay or bouquet on his arrival at Sokhos. The actual allegation was that the girls had been severely beaten up by members of a Right Wing organisation. Again, I had inquiries made, because you cannot afford to let that kind of thing pass, and I am glad to be able to tell the House that what actually happened was that after the deputation had left the village a quarrel arose between some girls and some boys, and I understand that it became a political argument. One of the boys slapped a girl on the face. The boy's father had been shot in the civil war and he felt strongly about it. The girl bore no marks, she had made no complaint and had called in no doctor. I think that that hardly justifies the description about the jungle or the darkness of the Middle Ages.
To be fair to him, the hon. Gentleman said that wherever they went they saw 2115 examples of the Right beating up the Left. So far as there is disorder—and there is marked, grave and disturbing disorder in Greece—that phrase is probably true, but the significance of the phrase rests in the words " wherever we went."There were other publications in the Greek Press besides those issued by the hon. Member for Dartford. The village council from which he came wrote to all the local Press, complaining that the deputation had not met the village authorities, and had refused to meet a deputation of widows of E.L.A.S. victims. Afterwards they held a public meeting to protest against the partial attitude and one-sided investigation of the situation by the British delegation. I want to make it clear that the visit and the publication undoubtedly would do good. For example, their complaints against the conditions of Greek prisons, I am certain, are fairly well founded, and improvement should be made there. But I am concerned that whenever Members of the House go abroad as a deputation they should proceed cautiously, responsibly and impartially. I insist that if this delegation, this party of, Members, had that purpose, their activity would have been a bit wider. They would have discovered that there was disorder in all parts, or almost all parts, of the country, and that it was directed against both the Right and the Left.
In the conclusion of the month before the elections, I had an analysis made. I found that there were 46 murders committed, as far as we could apportion blame, by Right wing personnel, and 46 by those of the Left, while 16 were by unknown people. There were 25 woundings by Left wing people and 21 by Right wing people, and four by people unknown. There were two kidnappings by the Left and six by the Right wing. Over all, the situation had sharply deteriorated from the month before, I presume, mainly owing to the approach of the elections. I think, too, that, for a variety of reasons, it probably is true that the gendarmerie tend to proceed more savagely against the Left than against the Right. The main reason, I fear, is that conditions in Greece remind me very forcibly of the conditions we once knew in Ireland. When the hon. Member for Broxtowe referred to the mistake which the Left wing forces had made in December, I thought he was 2116 going to say something with which I heartily agree, something I deeply regret—the policy of taking hostages, that marks, and will still mark, many parts of Greece, so that when people tend to interfere against Left wing personnel they proceed more actively than they do against the Right wing personnel, because of the great mistake of the E.A.M. forces at that time.
The burden of the complaint made by the hon. Gentleman was that this disorder, if not caused by British forces, would at any rate, disappear if the British forces were withdrawn. He quoted conversations with M. Sophoulis and M. Sophianopoulos on this subject. I must say that at no time when those gentlemen were in office did they commit themselves to that opinion. I say further, that no Greek Government of the Right or of the Left Centre, while in Office, has asked that British forces should be withdrawn. Indeed, it is the other way round—that we have had to keep telling Greek Governments that they must make their own plans for policing and patrolling, because we wanted our fellows out. Further, I do not think it can be argued that we have tolerated any discrimination against the Right. From the time on the early morning on which M. Sophoulis was sworn in when I saw him, my right hon. Friend and I repeatedly told him and M. Sophianopoulos " Purge the gendarmerie on the Right and if you meet any obstruction let us know, and we will give what help we can."
We instructed our ambassador as late as 2nd March to convey that to Mr. Sophoulis, because public speeches had been made about alleged obstructions. I do not blame Mr. Sophoulis for his comparative impotence, because you cannot wipe out dramatically and suddenly the feelings and the sufferings of a civil war, but I will not allow any Member of this House, without offering evidence, which has not been offered as yet, to assert that British forces in that country are being used to uphold Right Wing offences.
I find it hard to believe that anyone who is concerned about the ordinary man and woman in Greece, who is concerned for their safety or their comparative safety, and about their food and hopes for work, can commit themselves to the irresponsible arguments which we heard offered here yesterday. Perhaps some of my Left Wing friends will say that my 2117 thinking does not always completely follow through, but if I am asked who is the greater friend of Greece, the hon. Member for Thurrock or the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who scoured the Middle East to obtain two cranes for me to get food ashore in the ruined harbour of Piraeus, or my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, who is trying to get salvage material out to that harbour, if I am asked whether it is the Cooperative Member of Dartford or the two Members of the Cooperative who laboured without pay in Greece to get food through and distributed, I am on the side of the boys without glamour, who are doing the job in our country's economic mission in Greece at the present time.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington asked very pointedly a question about Polish Forces appearing in the Victory Parade, as also did the right hon Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It is not true that we have not invited any members of those fighting Poles to take part in the Parade. Let me be quite honest. We have not invited the Navy and the Army, but we did invite some of the Poles who flew in the Battle of Britain, to march past in the R.A.F. contingent. The action was not taken to please M. Molotov. The action was taken because we have to bring about some kind of balance between these governmental forces, both of whom fought on the same side as ourselves during the war. We have to invite someone on behalf of the Warsaw Government, and I regret to say that the Warsaw Government has not yet provided the forces which they promised to take part in the parade.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
If the Warsaw Government are not able to provide a contingent, would the Under-Secretary give General Anders an opportunity to provide a contingent?
I must restrain myself from being trapped into making a debating point. I will say what I have already said, that we have asked for forces representative of both Governments. I must add that the R.A.F. Poles have not yet agreed to take part in the procession I hope that they will. They are gallant fellows. We are most anxious, and the Secretary of State for Air is most anxious, that they 2118 should take their place in the parade. Our compromise can be shot at from both sides, but it was a compromise which I hope both the Governments and the fighting men will recognise as being the best we could make in the circumstances.
I want to say a word about the Poles. My right hon. Friend hopes that the election in that country will take place in the autumn. I hope that the Polish Provisional Government, as formed in accordance with the Moscow Agreement last June, when we recognised it, will continue until then. I fear that it is a regrettable fact that in some areas, the Poles are misusing their position to hamper, and even prevent, the activities of two of the Polish parties. That is a most unfortunate thing for us and for them. Poland must quickly have a representative Government, if she is to play her part in the reconstruction of Europe. My right hon. Friend has always taken the line, which I think is above argument, that Poland, as a food-producing country, must quickly come back into the economy of Europe, if she is to discharge her obligations towards that Continent, and if she is to regain her European status.
Concerning Germany, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington laid down two axioms which we must accept. First, that Germany must never again be permitted to direct a military threat, and, coincidentally, that she must not become a beggar nation. An hon. Member pointed out, quite correctly, that our immediate difficulties in the British zone are not the result of Potsdam; and industry is running far below the permitted level. That is the result of the R.A.F. more than of Potsdam. The basis on which we have agreed to direct our policy in regard to. Germany is Potsdam, and it is, therefore, right that its provisions should be carefully examined in the light of subsequent developments. The present Government cannot be held exclusively responsible, but they arc responsible for subjecting it to review, in the light of new developments, and, more particularly, if part of it is being carried out and other parts are being ignored.
I do not want to make too blunt a reply to the question put to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron 2119 Walden. We are aware of the action which the Americans have taken, but I am not in a position to say any more, than that we are studying the position, because we are anxious to break the deadlock. But Potsdam did provide that, if certain changes took place, the position should be reviewed while the changes were taking place. If Germany is not to be treated as an economic whole, that was one of the changes contemplated in the Potsdam agreement, and no one must conclude that we are running away from the agreement, if we are forced to draw attention to that clause. However, His Majesty's Government are anxious to maintain the agreement to which we are partners, and to make it work.
It might seem that in those discussions Germany has been the main subject. Of course, it has not. The main subject which has agitated this House is the one that has agitated the whole country for the last seven months, and that is: Can we secure agreement with our Russian Allies? I cannot give an answer to that, because bargains, like quarrels, need two people to make them. But I can give an answer which at any rate would enable our Soviet Allies to make up their minds whether Europe is going to be in one or two. May I say I was greatly disappointed at the counsel of despair given by the hon. Member for Broxtowe and two other Members about shutting down Europe in two. I was also greatly disappointed at my hon. Friend who made such a foolish argument as to compare it with the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine worked in the 19th century because of the British Fleet, and, secondly, the partners in the Monroe Doctrine acquiesced in its clauses. Nothing was forced upon them. To say the least of it it is a counsel of despair to say that because there is an Eastern Europe system, we should look at it and organise a Western system.
My right hon. Friend has already indicated that he will try to secure agreement with our Soviet Allies, but he will not do it by appeasement. One appeasement in any generation is one too many. He will not do anything which on the other hand can be translated as trying to shut Russia out of the scene. The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin)—who, I should say, apologised to me because he 2120 could not remain here tonight—made a most vehement speech. I think his only complaint was that we did not declare war on the United States.
Let me judge of that. He made some other arguments which were hardly acceptable. For example, he was very disturbed about our attitude on the Danube. He accused America of cornering some ships and he gave an interpretation of M. Molotov's speech which I would be happy to think was the correct one. However, let me say this: His Majesty's Government and the United States have on several occasions made approaches to the Soviet Government with a view to the re-establishment of an international regime on the Danube. The proposals have been rejected, and the Soviet Government have not made any counter proposals, despite the hon. Member for Mile End, except to say that the Danube is mainly the concern of the riparian States. Any difficulty there is, I am certain I can pledge His Majesty's Government, as far as it is within their power, to see quickly and immediately removed, so that the Danube can be opened to trade. No one offered evidence that we had any Imperialistic designs against Russia. Assertions were made but no evidence was offered.
No one, I say, offered any evidence of any Imperialistic design on our part. Are we being asked to believe that the Soviet fears an attack from us? No Government in this country which suggested that would live overnight. My right hon. Friend neither harbours nor cherishes any designs against the Soviets. My right hon. Friend has repeatedly said that he sympathises with the intentions of the Soviets to maintain their place in the world as a world Power which they established by their behaviour during the war. The Soviet credit, which is disappearing in this country, is not 2121 disappearing because of anything said by this Government, or even by the right hon. Member for Woodford, Twelve months ago, people opened their papers and turned on their radios, thinking warmly and appreciatively of their Allies and their friends, the Soviets. Now, the dearest friends of the Soviets who are not on the party line, realise that the best they can do is to keep on hoping that the Soviets are going to explain themselves.
The Soviets must repair their position by accepting these two sentences, which I offer: We have no designs against them. We will support them in any reasonable claim to establish themselves as a world Power. We cannot do that by sacrificing things which are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, to which Russia herself is a party. We cannot do it by throwing away men and women, by dumping tolerance overboard and by forgetting those things which are decencies and dignities not only to Great Britain but to all Western Europe. It is a curious and disturbing thing that when we have, for the first time, a Government in power in this country which I choose to think—using the words most cautiously—is progressive in its international outlook, for the first time, also, in our modern history, we are without any cash and with very little credit. If this Government had the resources which Governments had in the 19th century, what development would not be possible in Europe and in Africa?
If Russia is with us, great developments still can take place throughout the whole world, because the United States will be in that line-up too. We want to work with them; but if we do not have them, we will work alone. We may be without the cash. We may be much less than the Power we were even six years ago. The right hon. Member for Kensington finished on a note we must never forget. Moral currency must be reestablished. If we have not the power to coerce and to dominate which we had once, and which we did not always use most wisely, then I insist that this country, and above all, this Social Democratic Government, have the ability to lead morally. We shall continue to exert it with such resources as we have in each corner of the world to which we can reach, believing that Europe, at any rate, looks for moral leadership from 2122 Social Democracy. Europe, tied to, and nurtured in, this idea of consent, knows no other workable political system than Social Democracy. All that this Government seek now, in immediate international affairs is to be good Europeans —and that is something for which we need never apologise.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.