§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
On a point of Order. May I respectfully ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) is in Order? Since it was put on the Order Paper there have been public statements by many of those who have their names to that Amendment, indicating that they do not intend to divide the House on the issue. I should like to ask, for my own guidance, whether it is proper to call an Amendment when it has been stated beforehand that some of those in whose names it has been put down have no intention of dividing the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
How am I to know what way a Debate goes, and whether or not a Division is going to be challenged? I choose an Amendment not necessarily 526 because the House is going to be divided upon it, but because I think it deals with an important matter. It remains to be seen at the end of the Debate, whether or not a Division is challenged. I can not rule out an Amendment because someone says they do not propose to challenge a Division on it. Someone else might challenge a Division. Before we come to the Debate I want to make an appeal to hon. Members. I know a great many Members want to speak on this important matter. I would, therefore, ask hon. Members to make their speeches as short as possible.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:and express the urgent hope that His Majesty's Government will so review and recast its conduct of International Affairs as to afford the utmost encouragement to, and collaboration with, all Nations and Groups striving to secure full Socialist planning and control of the world's resources and thus provide a democratic and constructive Socialist alternative to an otherwise inevitable conflict between American Capitalism and Soviet Communism in which all hope of World Government would be destroyed.In view of the great public interest which has been aroused by the tabling of this Amendment, I should like to start by stating to the House, as briefly as I can, the motives which impelled us to put this Amendment on the Paper. I think there is no one who has failed to notice one remarkable contrast between the Government's domestic and foreign policies. In domestic affairs, the Government have pushed through with vigour and determination the policy to which they were pledged. They have done) it a great deal faster than many people on the opposite side of the House like, and without being afraid of being called doctrinaire, ideological, totalitarian or even Communist by hon. Members opposite, The Government have done this job with the full, enthusiastic support of hon. Members on this side of the House, and the full, enthusiastic opposition of Members on the other side of the House.
In foreign affairs the position is, obviously, different. No Government, of course, could lay down before entering office a full blueprint of the way they intended to go, but there was one central point in everything which we, as ordinary candidates, and which the Government spokesmen themselves, said. They affirmed that if a Tory Government were 527 elected that Government, in their view —and I entirely agree with it—would drift into close association with the United States of America, and would, thereby, render inevitable a division of the world into two ideological blocs which would be a danger to civilisation. They claimed —and I entirely agree with them—that only a Labour Government could stop that drift into two world blocs, and only a Labour Government could mediate fairly between Russia and America—that only a Labour Government would want genuine friendship with America, and genuine friendship with Russia. That was the center-piece of foreign policy, on which the Labour Government fought the Election. Hon. Members opposite may disagree with it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I am very glad that we are having disagreement at last. The further we have drifted away from that central piece of policy, die more enthusiastic has been the support of the Tory Party for the Government's foreign policy, until at last we get the impression, on this central' issue, that not only is there a complete and exclusive Anglo-American tie-up, but a tie-up between the two front benches.
We are told now that one must be a crypto-Communist, if one criticises this foreign policy, indeed, a Member of this House, according to a Sunday newspaper, described us as "Communistic lickspittles." I think as a Socialist he has managed to copy Communist abuse fairly well. Do we get very much further by calling each other names on this sort of issue? Was it not quite clear at the T.U.C. Conference in the debate on foreign affairs that it was not crypto-Communists only who were dismayed and distressed on this issue, but that this controversy was a burning problem throughout the Labour movement, that there were certain circles throughout the Labour movement who viewed with alarm this departure from the central thesis on which we fought the Election? Then at the Conference came the announcement on conscription which confirmed the delay which was known to exist in demobilisation. Consequently, hundreds and thousands of people outside the Labour movement began to see that foreign policy matters and began to see the relation between conscription and delayed demobilisation, and what was going on at conferences all over the world. Foreign 528 policy became a matter of life and death for the children of ordinary people all over the country.
The reason why we tabled this Amendment was because we felt the time had come to discuss this thing, not secretly, but where it should be discussed, frankly and openly, on the Floor of this Chamber. We want to focus attention on foreign policy and not to spread it to the issue of conscription. I should like to tell the House perfectly frankly that if the Government's foreign policy is wrong, I think we should need conscription all the more, and I am not prepared to deny this country arms because its foreign policy is wrong. That is why I plead that it is essential that the issue of foreign policy should be differentiated from conscription, so that we should be able to discuss this matter in one Debate, and 'the conscription issue, which is a technical issue, in another.
In order to express myself briefly, I want to concentrate on one aspect of this subject—the relationship of this country with Russia and America. We all know that when the war ended the real test began. There had been a great deal of publicity and propaganda during the war about the love and amity between the countries, but under that propaganda, as we who worked at headquarters know, the amount of actual detailed cooperation between East and West was very small indeed. Compare the amazing achievements of Anglo-American cooperation during the war, with the pitiable achievements of Anglo-American cooperation with Russia during the war, and we all realise that during those four years, while we were allied in war, virtually nothing was achieved to break down the suspicion which divides East from West. Directly the easy wartime propaganda of love for the Red Army, love for the American Army and love for the British Army was removed in Russia, America and in this country, there emerged those two ideologies which, to my mind, have be-devilled international relations in the last 18 months.
Everyone knows that we here, with the possible exception of two Members, dislike the Communist ideology. Why do we dislike it? Because Communist ideology destroys democracy, because the Communist enters democracy in order to get domination for his party, because he 529 uses and exploits the freedom of democracy to achieve domination. If he does not like a Government, it becomes to him a Fascist Government, whether it is democratically elected or not. We in the Labour movement know what the Communists did for the Labour Party. In 1918, they destroyed the German revolution, which, if it had succeeded, might have saved the world a lot of suffering since. In 1933, it was largely responsible for the divisions in the Labour movement. I remember the time in Berlin when we had Communists and Nazis engaged in a joint strike together, because it was a strike against the Social Democratic civil administration. Once again, it has started to bedevil democracy.
I also want to speak on a second ideology, which a lot of people do not recognise, and that is the ideology known as anti-Communist. That is equally a dangerous ideology to democracy and Socialism. It is the old trick of saying that one is attacking Communism and then attacking everything else to the Left of free enterprise. It is the ideology of anti-Communism which I watched ten days ago in the American elections, in which the pinkest Liberal, the palest person in a trade union, was condemned as a Communist and therefore voted against. Anti-Communism is as destructive of true democracy and of Socialism as is Communism, and one of the jobs of a Labour Government—and I believe that I speak here in complete agreement with everyone on the Government Front Bench—is to fight the battle not only against the Communist ideology, but against the anti-Communist ideology which, while pretending to defend democracy, just as the Communist pretends to defend democracy, demolishes it and destroys it in the name of free enterprise, and destroys the trade unions, in order to enthrone reaction and Fascism.
We have a double battle as a Labour movement at home and abroad, and it is on the subject of that double battle that we have tabled this Amendment and asked for the discussion this afternoon. There is only one way to fight Communism and anti-Communism, and that is to provide people with something better than either free enterprise or a Communist regime. The Socialist knows quite well that it is not possible to suppress either by force. Force is the medium through which Communism breeds. Hon. Members opposite 530 were in favour of intervention in Russia in 1919, and that consolidated the Bolshevik regime if anything did. It cannot be countered by force, but it is possible to put something better in its place, and I have always believed that the job of the British Government, and particularly of a British Socialist Government, was to show the world that it was not faced with the bleak and blank alternative of American free enterprise or Russian Communism, but that there was a better way of living, and one which all the peoples of the world would rather have, a better way of living, I believe, which could be squeezed out by the struggle of those two great Powers. That is what we believe, and we fought the Election on saying that it was essential that a British Government should remain free and independent to propagate the cause of the independent, Socialist, democratic, constructive solution which everybody really wants, and is afraid he will not get, because he may be compelled to join an ideological American bloc, or an ideological Russian bloc.
I do not believe that there is any dispute that we fought the election on this, or, on this side of the House, that that is the aim of our foreign policy. I believe also that what divides this side of the House from the other is that the aim of our foreign policy is to carry out in foreign affairs, what we are doing in domestic affairs, and to offer to the rest of the world that astonishing constructive experiment which we are carrying out at home. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] One begins to observe the difference of opinion on foreign policy. There is nothing but enthusiasm for this declaration of a principle which the Government share with me. That was the policy of the Labour Government. What has actually happened? In the course of the last 18 months the drift into two ideological blocs—and they are now regional blocs also—has gone on steadily. One small country after another has either had to make up its mind to ink up, very unwillingly, or, alternatively, is still being struggled over, being undecided to which group it shall belong. A great war is going on in China. It is a polite, Chinese war, but we all know that it is a war, on the model of the Spanish war, between two groups fighting for the soul of a China which does not want to be either on the American model, or on the Russian model, but on its own Chinese 531 model. That would be something which they really want to have for themselves, but it is not happening.
In the second place, not only is the world thus divided but the rest of the world outside this country believes that we have taken sides in the struggle. It is no good just looking in England for this point of view. Go to Paris or to any other capital in the world, and it will be found that there is no doubt there whatsoever that in the course of the last 18 months Great Britain has lined up on the American side in the struggle. I am not concerned for the moment to discuss whether that impression is correct or not, but merely to record the fact that it is the impression which exists. That is the reason for the widespread dispute with the Labour Governments of the people in Greece, Spain, France, and other countries all over the world, who danced in the streets when the Labour Government came into power—
§ Mr. Crossman
They do not today and that, in my opinion, is because the Labour Government have given way to the views of the Opposition. An even more disconcerting fact is that this gradual drift into the American camp has occurred without any clear Government statement. There has been only one really clear statement about British policy in regard to America and Russia, and that was in the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition at Fulton. That was a clear and downright assertion of a certain policy. I can understand it; it is a constructive alternative policy, stating that there should be an Anglo-American alliance. The Leader of the Opposition is consistent. He also voted for Bretton Woods and the American Loan because he realised that there could not be an Anglo-American alliance — [HON. MEMBERS: "He abstained."]—he at least understood that an Anglo-American alliance, as advocated from the other side of the House, was not consistent with Imperial Preference, and an American Republican Administration. Hon. Members on the Opposition benches will also have to make up their minds that it is completely unrealistic to talk of an Anglo-American alliance unless they accept the economic basis of that alliance which the American Republican majority in Congress will demand.
532 What is the Government's attitude to the Anglo-American situation? All we know up to now is that the Government have refused to disavow the Fulton speech, but we do not know what that means. I believe the people of this country have the right to know whether or not there is an Anglo-American alliance, whether or not there should be one, and where the Government stand in this matter. At the present moment no one knows the exact relations of this country and America. We can only guess, on the basis of the somewhat inaccurate observations which we are able to make, but we do the best we can. I suppose that one of the ways, in which one can judge relations with America is by observing how we act in the matter of rebukes. Russia and Russian controlled countries have received, in my view, wholly justified rebukes, and there have not been similar rebukes for similar acts to the Government of the United States of America. Of course, some people who believe in United States private enterprise think that no such act could be committed by a Government like that of the United States, but let me give two examples. The Russians attempted in Eastern Europe to integrate the States there into their economic system, and to subject them to the economic thraldom of Russia. Very properly, we protested and fought against that. A few days ago, a treaty between China and the United States was signed. I have never seen a treaty which more brutally asserts the right of economic interference. Not one word has been said about that.
A few weeks ago the Russians started negotiating to get control of the Dardanelles. Once again we rightly pointed out that what they were doing there would endanger the independence of Turkey. A very right and proper check was put to Russian expansion there. What happens in the United States? That country brutally asserts that it is going to hold all the bases it won from the Japanese, U.N.O. or no U.N.O., and that if the U.N.O. Trusteeship Agreement is to be acceptable to the present Administration, it must include the right of secretly arming the bases, and the right of forbidding aeroplanes to fly over them. We have not heard one word from this country suggesting that we feel that that statement undermines the whole basis of the Mandates Commission—as it does. 533 We can only draw the conclusion there, that we are more closely affiliated at the moment to the United States of America, than we are to the U.S.S.R.
I turn to another question, the relationship between the Armed Forces of the two countries. I was assured in America that the Combined Anglo-American Chiefs of Staff Committee still exists. I was told on relatively good authority that the most secret intelligence is still pooled between the two countries. Germany, Italy and Japan have disappeared. About whom is that most secret intelligence being collected? If it is being pooled, is it not committing us, de facto, to an alliance?
I come to the third point. I read in the American Press—there was only about an inch in the British papers—that it has been agreed to standardise arms and equipment between the British and American Armies. Again, I would like to know if that is true. If it is true, the standardisation in peacetime of arms and equipment of the two countries is a far more powerful alliance than any scrap of paper. American commentators have been quick to point out that it is a remarkable convenience for America. It has been suggested by one commentator—and I would like to know the Government's reaction to this—that Great Britain will have to maintain a conscript Army, an Army too great to be supplied from her own economic resources, and that if she puts into her factories all the manpower necessary to maintain arms and equipment for that great Army, she will go economically bankrupt. Therefore, it is suggested that American factories might provide the arms for the British Army. In that case, we shall have the pleasant and interesting situation, in which Britain provides the soldiers, and America the guns.
If all that is true—and I am anxious to find out whether it is or not—we have an alliance with Russia on paper, and we are fully and exclusively committed to an alliance with the Americans in practice. I cannot help remembering my reading of what happened in the years before 1914, and of the staff conversations between France and Britain. I remember that certain members of the Government were not apprised of those staff conversations. That was in the days before democracy had really come. Surely we should demand of the Government that before they commit us to a series of ad hoc 534 decisions of that sort, we should be informed of the situation.
So the first purpose we had, in framing the Amendment, was to put to the Government three quite specific questions:
The answers to those three questions will enable the House, the country and the whole world to appreciate the extent to which Great Britain is committed to an alliance with the U.S.A. I only add that we should like the House to imagine the feelings of the Americans if it were disclosed to them, that staff conversations were proceeding between the British and the Russian staffs.
- (1) Will the Government disavow the proposals for an Anglo-American Alliance, outlined in the Fulton speech?
- (2) Have the Government agreed to standardisation of arms and equipment between America and this country? If so, will part of the British equipment be supplied from America?
- (3) Are staff conversations now proceeding between Britain and America?
Now let me turn from those questions of fact, and try quite briefly to elucidate what our relations are with those great blocs. I would like to make one point straight away, which is that the main responsibility for the drift into two ideological blocs is not that of this country. It is that of the Americans and the Russians. I think the time has come for some very plain speaking on this subject with regard to both those great Allies. Remember that General Eisenhower himself used to say that diplomacy was no use between Britains and Americans, and that the best thing was to say what you really thought. The time has come when some things which are thought on this subject should be said.
The death of President Roosevelt—as we see on looking back—was one of the great disasters of the world. It brought with it the disintegration of all the progressive forces in America. The Democrats turned from being a great liberal party under his leadership, to being a collection of vested interests. It was thrown out of office because it was only that. After it was thrown out, in that upsurge following the war, an upsurge closely similar to that which occurred in this country in 1918, a Republican majority was established, pledged absolutely to free enterprise. That majority is firmly convinced that only free enterprise will work at home 535 and abroad. There are no powerful, progressive forces left at the moment in America, as an effective check on the Administration.
At the moment, foreign affairs go more and more, in my view, into the hands of very powerful, ambitious men in the Army arid Navy Departments. We cannot pretend to know what goes on inside the American Cabinet unless Cabinet Ministers tell us. I do not think that Mr. Wallace is a very great witness as regards Great Britain, but I think he was an excellent witness as regards America. Mr. Wallace gave us a very clear warning of the imperialist tendencies of certain groups close to the Administration. We have seen evidence of it in the demonstrations at Bikini, which were not concerned with science as much as with a display of force; and in the demonstrations of the American fleet thousands of miles from their own bases, in the Mediterranean. Again, I would like the House to imagine what would happen if any other fleet had done the same thing near America. We have seen it, when the Yugoslav crisis was blown up and magnified in America almost into a state of war. We have seen it in the blunt statement about the Pacific bases.
We have to admit the fact that we are faced in America with very dangerous tendencies. We have to admit that those tendencies exist. We must do all in our power to check and to control them. America must work out her own fate. She has to go her own way. We Socialists know what the result will be. We know that in a period of time there must be a great slump and a second New Deal, and that gradually America will work her way round to where the rest of the world is going. In this great intervening period, it will be unwise to have too great an expectation of American economic cooperation abroad, and it will be dangerous if we base any policy on the supposition that we shall get it. We have to try to get it. We have to try to work with the Americans and understand them, and not be impatient with tendencies with which we disagree. It would be illusory to believe that there is an economic basis there for Anglo-American alliance.
Now let me turn to the other side of the picture. The other main cause of the 536 present drift into two blocs—in my view the second main cause—was the diplomatic and propaganda offensive launched 'by the Russians against the British Empire and the British Commonwealth. There has never been a more disastrous mistake. It was calculated by the Russians upon the basis that Great Britain If was weak and that America was powerful and hated the British Empire, and that J there might be a chance of disrupting the British Empire, and so securing Russian frontiers and Russian safety for ever. Exactly the reverse happened to what the Russians hoped. The net result was that America swung into line and began her countersqueeze. We have this process of squeeze and countersqueeze going on between these two great blocs.In the course of this squeeze and countersqueeze, so far as we can see from the outside, His Majesty's Government, under almost irresistible pressure—I do not deny the difficulties of the Government but I have to admit the facts—succumbed to that pressure to the extent of lining up very closely with the U.S.A. In my view, that was a tragic mistake.
I want to state briefly the reasons why I hold that view. There are four. The first is that, if we line up with the Americans and consolidate this bloc, we shall have a perpetual armistice and no peace. There will be a perpetual state of tension between two worlds in which vast armies have to be maintained by both sides—a state of tension like that which existed during the '30's when we were trying to organise collective security against Hitler. The real issue we have to decide is whether it is right and proper to assume that methods of collective security, methods of caging the beast, which were wholly justifiable in dealing with Germany—because Nazi Germany was bound to make war; war was inevitable and the only thing to do was to prepare for war —should be adopted in respect of a country which only 18 months ago was our Ally in war. If that is the assumption, then the Anglo-American bloc and alliance is common sense. If we are to assume the worst, and to assume that, we are then forced into that position. I do not believe that this party or this Government can or ever will make that assumption.
The second reason is that the lining up of the Anglo-American bloc has destroyed the parties of the Centre and the Centre 537 Left in Europe. We have watched the slow decline of the Socialist Party in France, and we have watched the weakness of the Socialist parties throughout Europe. It has sometimes been owing to internal weakness, but one major element which has caused the weakness of the democratic Socialist parties in Europe has been the sense that the world is splitting into two blocs—American free enterprise or Communism—and that the choice is between joining the anti-Communist bloc or the Communist bloc. In the process of that squeeze, democracy—the thing we all accept—is squeezed out. Our best friends are disillusioned and feel that the only thing is to join either the Communist Party or the Catholics on the Right. That is the second reason why this ideological blocis injurious to this country.
The third reason is the weight of military commitments. It is already clear that even under the present arrangement we are being saddled with military commitments, including conscription, far too heavy to bear. I ask the House to remember the parallel of France after the last war. The French attempted to maintain great armies and to build the Maginot Line. In the end that did not profit France, ourselves or America. We should recognise that no policy which demands military commitments and equipment which we cannot afford, is tolerable or safe to this country or to democracy.
What is the real and basic problem? Underlying everything is the fear of aggression. Every great Power fears aggression—the Russians, ourselves and the Americans. I believe that every great Power today is more concerned to prepare against aggression than to make peace. Who is going to do the attacking? The only Power which has the economic and physical potential is America. We know that democracy prevents a preventive war. That is one of the great things about democracy—it prevents one committing that cardinal sin Is Russia to commit the aggression—without the atomic bomb or the economic potential, weak and devastated by war? It is out of the question. We know that we are not going to do it either. Why then is there this fear of war? I suggest, as one proposal to the Government, that we should make the assumption now that there is not going to be a war for some time at least, desist from staff conversations outside the Commonwealth and not 538 subordinate policy to strategy, and put everything we have into the Socialist policy of building up Socialism and democracy wherever we can.
Let us face the difference between the two policies. There is the Fulton policy which regards Russia like Nazi Germany, and is seeking allies to join in and suppress her when she tries to expand. The alternative is to cooperate fully with Russia and America, refuse all exclusive commitments on either side, and remain really independent, even at economic cost to ourselves, and through that independence to exert that moral influence which alone can save the world. The great block and the obstacle to that policy seems to me and to the other supporters of this Amendment to be the impression in the world that there is an Anglo-American bloc. I beg the Prime Minister to disown the Fulton speech once and for all. We shall then have the support of all the countries in Europe which are waiting for that declaration. France cannot move towards this country, while this country is associated directly with America in an exclusive military understanding—
§ Mr. Crossman
It has been said that in putting this Amendment forward we are forcing a Division which would weaken the Government. The Government know that that is untrue. We shall not force a Division today. [Laughter] Hon. Members on the other side who laugh might recall their own tradition in the '3o's. If a Division is called and the Conservatives support the Government, it will confirm the fear that the Labour Government, despite their pledge, are acting in accordance with the Fulton speech. That is not the wish of those on this side of the House. Our aim is different. We realise the difficulties with which the Government are faced, especially the economic problem which limits freedom of action. We believe that a Socialist Britain which puts into effect an independent British policy and refuses to join any ideological bloc is the only power which can break the present deadlock and save this country and the world. We know freedom cannot survive in a world of either American free enterprise or Russian Communism. We cannot, like either of those two Powers, seek to dominate. We can seek to lead if we are bold and independent, and if we put into 539 practice abroad the principles of our domestic policy, we and we alone can prevent the third world war. That is the spirit in which I move this Amendment.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Reeves (Greenwich)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I ask the House to believe that I would rather be doing anything than seconding this Amendment to the Address today. Only a sense of the great crisis of our times impels me to do so. Because of that I crave the indulgence of the House for keeping very close to my text. Every word that we say today must be weighed with scrupulous care. Nothing we say must contribute to a worsening of international relations Indeed, unless this Debate is a contribution to an improvement in those relations, it were better it had not been initiated. I placed my name to this Amendment with a deep appreciation of its implications, and all those who are associated with the Amendment are profoundly disturbed, worried and saddened by the turn of events in foreign relations in so short a time after the end of the war. The future of mankind is in the melting pot Mankind, as it were, stands at the cross-roads of war and peace, and our actions during the next few months will determine the fate of millions. We have already had two devastating world wars. The first was terrible enough in all conscience, but the second has been more terrible, in death, destruction and in almost unexampled cruelty. Vast areas of Europe, and of the world for that matter, are today in ruins, and starvation is stalking Europe on our very doorstep. We feel ourselves completely impotent to cope with it.
Our present Government, as' has already been said, have promoted a magnificent programme of social betterment in this country, a programme with which hon Members on the other side are themselves associated. They cannot deny that all the social insurance plans and all plans for social benefit have had their support. This policy must succeed, because we owe it to our heroic people, but in my view this programme depends upon permanent peace—in fact, man's whole future depends upon a lasting peace, and unless peace is preserved, annihilation stares mankind in the face. Who is challenging the peace of the world at the present 540 moment? Before the war, it was the Axis Powers, but today we have a widening gulf appearing, and antagonism sharpening, between an all—pervading America and a reborn Russia growing conscious of her power every day, both mighty beyond compare. He who brings these forces together in amity, will render mankind a supreme service. We in this country are in a peculiar position, and can help very considerably to do that. There are forces in America striving in this direction. Only recently, Henry Wallace wrote to the President in very definite terms, and among many other things he said that we should make an effort to counteract the irrational fear of Russia which is being systematically built up in the American people by certain individuals and publications. The slogan that Communism and capitalism, regimentation and democracy, cannot continue to exist in the same world is, from a historical point of view, pure propaganda. He went on to say that the United States of America should not have discriminated against the U.S.S.R. in the matter of a loan. But hon. Members know the terms of that very long letter which was sent to the President. It all bore out the argument that there was no need for this great cleavage in world affairs.
The unfortunate part of it all is that Russia feels—she cannot help but feel— that Great Britain is "ganging up" with America against her. And, if I may say so, Russia in the past has had cause to mistrust the West, ever since 1017. She cannot forget the war of intervention. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) played no inconspicuous part in that fiasco. There are some who believe that he is playing the same role today. The hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) asked, and I re-echo his words, that we should have a clear and precise repudiation of the mischievous ideas implicit in the Fulton speech. Again, Russia remembers the cordon sanitaire and the years of misrepresentation and vilification. Now she sees America and this country with combined staff arrangements and a closely coordinated intelligence system. If we were in Russia's shoes, we should have reacted in exactly the same way as she has reacted, and I ask my colleague who is to reply why we have joined America in this way. Why is the diplomacy of 541 our two countries running along parallel lines, and against whom is this virtual alliance aimed? Are we happy to see America extending her outposts all over the world, right up to the very doorstep of the Soviet Union? We want our minds to be at rest, and we sincerely hope that, as a result of this Debate, that object may be achieved. If it is thought that our security lies in that direction, I ask that we should think a thousand times before it is too late. Of course, I expect to be told that Russia refuses to play ball, and that she is awkward. I know, but there are very many good reasons for it, and if we ask Russia to understand us, we have to learn to understand Russia, and we must strive with all our might and main to do so.
The hon. Member for East Coventry referred to the question of the Dardanelles. Russia is interested in the Dardanelles; from Russia's point of view those Straits are as important to her as the Straits of Dover and the Panama Canal are to us and America. We have to look at it from her point of view and if we do this we shall probably understand things a little better. We must make ourselves aware of Russia's history. She, like us, yearns for security. Vast areas in Russia have been devastated and the work of rebuilding needs a long period of peace. Russia wants peace more than any other country on the globe. We have a treaty of friendship with Russia for 20 years; may I ask the Prime Minister to declare without hesitation that so far as Russia is concerned, this country is not prepared to go to war against her in any circumstances? All we ask is that we should return to the well-defined party policy on foreign affairs. Just before this Debate started, when I was preparing these few notes, I turned up a copy of "Let us Face the Future." I knew that we were expressing party policy, and I have been reinforced in that view as a result of reading these passages:No domestic policy, however wisely framed…can succeed in a world still threatened by war. Economic strife and political and military insecurity are enemies of peace.That appeared in "Let us Face the Future," but let me quote a more pregnant phrase:And let it not be forgotten that in the years leading up to the war the Tories were so scared of Russia that they missed the chance 542 of establishing a partnership which might well have prevented the war.What stands in the way of such a partnership today? Cannot we renew our efforts to cement our relations? Again, the kernel of the international policy of the party was expressed in these words:The British Labour movement comes to the tasks of international organisation with one great asset: it has a common bond with the working peoples of all countries, who have achieved a new dignity and influence through their long struggles against the Nazi tyranny.Yes, this is where we stand, and we reecho that famous phrase:It is only the Left that can understand the Left.These forces everywhere are the forces we should be encouraging. They are our natural allies. Today they do not feel so encouraged. That is why we who have associated ourselves with this Amendment—
§ Mr. Reeves
I have already referred to an alliance which is in existence, and if my hon. Friend will be patient and allow me to develop my argument, he will see that I am not arguing for exclusive alliances at all.
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
Is not the hon. Member's difficulty that facing the future is not always the same thing as facing the facts?
§ Mr. Reeves
I have no difficulties on this score. That is why we feel that our foreign policy should be reviewed and recast, because we believe we have a great role to play in international politics. This great social democracy of ours envisages a world of free men, socially secure and capable of commanding their destiny. We believe this sublime hope can provide us with the moral leadership of the world. It will do more than that; it will help to ensure security from war by means other than armed forces. In this respect, we must all admit we are now exceedingly weak. Our assets are far too attenuated.
543 We know only too well that industrially it is almost tragic, that we have to promote schemes of conscription while America, on the other hand, can spend £800 million on a navy in one year, and Russia can raise an army of many millions.
I am certain that our security does not lie in that direction. This country needs a positive peace policy. We have to extend the scope of our unique Commonwealth of free peoples by joining with those who share our way of life, and joining with those who share our ideals. Only then can we make effective contributions to the United Nations organisation. But we can do more than that; we can become the persistent, and consistent, advocate of peace throughout the world. We can be the actual peace force in the United Nations organisation. Instead of seeking military alliances, let us find security by making the United Nations organisation the instrument of our policy. In this, we have much to offer. We are a great Commonwealth, built up over many years. We possess strategic areas of tremendous importance. Let us offer to throw them into the common pool, for, by so doing, we shall gain far more security than otherwise. If we can obtain security in this way, it will be far better than all the Gibraltars in the world.
I can now see a certain hand moving which means that I have reached the end of my allotted time and there are many of my hon. Friends who wish to speak. May I, therefore, end by quoting the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), who said that nations must be prepared to surrender a measure of their sovereignty in the interests of world peace organisation. If we believe that, we must translate such ideas into reality by acts of sacrifice and faith in the common man. The Foreign Secretary has said that he would like to see a world organisation elected by the peoples of the world. I am profoundly convinced that this is the line of advance. I am certain that this country of ours, with its limited resources, will never gain security, either by alliances, or by its own armed might, but by its moral leadership of the world, by gathering together all those elements, those magnificent elements, people all over the world, men and women of good will who will support a policy of this kind and will, I am convinced, support us if we go along in this direction.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
My right hon. Friends and I on these Benches have no wish to intervene at length in this domestic battle, this internecine struggle within the Labour Party We are,, if I may allude to rather than quote from Lucretius, in the happy position of "watching from the safety of the land the great struggles of another, when the winds blow and the waters rage. "But for all that, I should like to explain our attitude on this issue. We consider the timing of this Debate quite deplorable. We gather that it is the culmination of much argument—Bournemouth, the Labour Party Conference, Brighton, the Trades Union Congress, the Committee Rooms in and about the Palace of Westminster, and the Parliamentary Labour Party—and now the dirty linen has been brought down to be washed publicly. It is here for our inspection, and, quite frankly, we do not like the look of it, and I do not suppose the Prime Minister does, either. We feel that these domestic quarrels should be composed, if they can be composed, elsewhere. But, if they cannot be composed elsewhere, and have to come down here, then we feel that there should be a real showdown, a decision taken, and a Division, so that everybody may know in this country and overseas just exactly where His Majesty's Government stand, and just how much support they have. It seems to us that that is the only fair way of treating the Foreign Secretary. I should like to ask therefore if this is only shadow boxing, because, if it is, then in the light of the world situation, this is a most inopportune time for it.
We have heard a very interesting speech by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). The voice of the mover was the voice of Winchester and New College, but I cannot believe that the verbiage of this Amendment originated in either of those two very precise educational institutions. The voice is the voice of a university tutor, but the words are those of a Politbureau. We would like to know how many votes and how many voices there are supporting him. According to the various editions of the Order Paper in the last few days a total of 58 names has appeared. But if one compares the past of the signatories, as given by their own descriptions of themselves in "Dod's Parliamentary Companion," one 545 will find that there are only two who describe themselves as ex-manual workers, only two as belonging to the core, so long respected in this House, of the old Labour Party. This is a mutiny of the intellectuals. Here are the dentists, the doctors, the solicitors, the accountants, the professors, the dons, the Socialist capitalists and the company directors. What is more, they appear to be mostly the intellectual new boys. In opening the doors so wide to the doctrinaire Socialists, I wonder if the Labour Party has not taken to its bosom a viper which will ultimately destroy it.
Besides this intellectual mutiny, there are two points to which I feel I should call attention. One is this: Two names have disappeared from the latest edition of the Order Paper, including one of the original "big six," in whose name it was put down. I hope that the Members concerned will today give us an explanation, because on Saturday I read in the "Yorkshire Post" the following—and if I give the names it is because they are in the newspaper:One name…has been added to the list…and two have been withdrawn. Captain Mark Hewitson and Mr. W. Perrins have withdrawn in accordance—
§ Captain Crookshank
May I finish the sentence, because I think I am opening the door through which the hon. and gallant Gentleman may perhaps wish to pass. The "Yorkshire Post" says this—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
We cannot have two hon. Members on their feet and speaking at the same time.
§ Captain Crookshank
The "Yorkshire Post" says:Captain Mark Hewitson and Mr. W. Perrins have withdrawn in accordance with the wishes of the Municipal and General Workers' Union. Captain Hewitson is national industrial officer of the Union and Mr. Perrins is an official of the Union.I think it is of importance that it should be placed on record whether this is a true statement of the facts or not.
§ Captain Hewitson
I rose to try to enable the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to avoid making a faux pas. He was courteous enough, before the Debate, to send a note to my hon. Friend the Member for the Yardley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Perrins). The name of my hon. Friend the Member for the Yardley Division is still on the Order Paper; it has not been withdrawn. I can assure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that there has been no pressure from anywhere, there has been no hint from anywhere, for any name to be with drawn from the Order Paper. I give that honest assurance.
§ Captain Crookshank
I am sure that the House will be most profoundly grateful to hear that. As this statement appeared in the public Press, I did think that the hon. Members would be glad to have the opportunity, in the most public manner, of repudiating it.
§ Mr. Perrins (Birmingham, Yardley)
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman permit me to say that the report in the Press, so far as it concerns myself, is totally inaccurate? My name has not been withdrawn from the Order Paper.
§ Captain Crookshank
The "Yorkshire Post" of Saturday. I am very glad to find that it was an inaccurate statement. I thought it was a most serious reflection upon the conduct of any hon. Member of this House.
That settles that point; it does not, however, settle the other interesting point. There appears to have been, among these names, those of no fewer than five Parliamentary Private Secretaries. That is certainly an innovation in our affairs, and it is even stranger, when one considers the position of the Minister of Health, because in the party there appear to be both his wife and his Parliamentary Private Secretary.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Lady cannot speak unless she is called upon. If she wishes to raise a point of Order, I am willing to listen to it.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
On a point of Order. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has been enjoying himself and entertaining the House in his characteristically gossiping fashion, but he has not once addressed himself to the Amendment. Is it not time that he did so?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is not a point of Order. May I make the suggestion that we shall be able to have many more speeches, if we have fewer interruptions?
§ Captain Crookshank
The only point I was making was, I thought, a perfectly legitimate point. It was that the Minister of Health—
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Further to that point of Order. Would it have been accepted in this House as a condemnation of a former Prime Minister, the present Earl Baldwin, if the fact had been brought up that his son was associated with the Socialist movement?
§ Captain Crookshank
The only point I was making was that five Parliamentary Private Secretaries, who are normally in very close contact with Ministers, have joined this revolution. I suppose that the hon. Lady is within bowing acquaintance of the Minister of Health.
§ Captain Crookshank
I was only wondering what was the position of the Minister himself, whether he was a little wobbly on this issue.
The Prime Minister will, of course, have to deal with this Amendment himself and traverse both its nonsense and its non sequiturs. After all, it is his job, because it is against his Government that the Amendment is directed. It is a most serious step for any section of a party to put down against the Government an Amendment to the Address, and it is the 548 Government's foreign policy which this doctrinaire Amendment assails. I only wish to say this on behalf of my hon. Friends here. We, ourselves, utterly oppose this Amendment, and the idea which appears to be behind it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Certainly, and I will explain why very briefly, as I know many hon. Members wish to speak. We are utterly opposed, I say, to the idea which appears to be behind the Amendment, that is, that British foreign policy should not be based on clear British interests, but on ideological aspirations. Broadly speaking, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech in this House on Tuesday last:The Foreign Secretary has done his best: And we on this side have given him whatever support was in our power—"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Tuesday, 12th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 18.]We have naturally criticised certain points; indeed, we have done so even during this Debate We deplore the Government's policy in Germany, and its incompetent handling by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. We deplore the Egyptian negotiations as they have been carried on by Lord Stansgate. We deplore the vacillations about Palestine. But even so, even in spite of specific criticisms on specific points, broadly speaking, and taking the foreign policy of the Government as a whole, we have supported it and we do support it. The Foreign Secretary is working hard in a far from easy job, and if there is to be a Division on this issue tonight—and we hope in the public interest that there will be—we shall Vote with the Government, even though we are His Majesty's Opposition. Indeed, if I may use a paradox, we shall do it on this occasion just because we are His Majesty's Opposition, and as such are in a position of some responsibility. We feel that the Foreign Secretary in New York is having a difficult time, and should have the support of this House, until such time as he is—if he ever is—repudiated by this House. He should have support without having to look over his shoulder to reckon up what support he is getting. Therefore, we shall vote with the Government because, from the right hon. Gentleman's conduct, at least up to now, we know that in vital British interests he has been, and is today, the spokesman for Britain as a whole.
549 What is the Foreign Secretary trying to do? So far as I can see, he is trying to build up the power and the authority of the United Nations organisation. He is trying to settle the treaties on lines of fairness and democratic practice. He is trying to establish peace on the basis of truth, freedom and justice. These are all things in which we, just as the Government, believe, and that is the policy which he is carrying out. What is more, those are the things in which we believed together in the Coalition Government. The present Prime Minister and his predecessor, the present Foreign Secretary and his predecessor, all worked together to that end. Indeed, the Prime Minister went to San Francisco with my right hon. Friend to lay these foundations together. Seeing that that is what we understand the Foreign Secretary is trying to do, we also think we are right in saying that the Foreign Secretary today is not trying merely to obtain ideological results. So long as he continues in this way, we, as his fellow countrymen, will give him our support in these negotiations. We for our part will be no parties to stabs in the back from his so-called friends, however intellectual they may be.There is a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak.The least said today the better. Let this House by its vote today show to the world that this Amendment merely represents the ill-timed chatter of a few dissident and disgruntled Socialists. Let us see just how many will go into the Lobby in support of it. Let the House show to the Foreign Secretary that he has the good wishes of the great masses of this people, irrespective of party, in the laborious work on which he is now engaged, and to which, in the closing words of the Gracious Speech itself, we pray that Almighty God may give His blessing.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Nally (Bilston)
The speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) is a pretty accurate indication of the facts. We know that the party opposite is doomed and damned. It can also, as his speech proved, be pretty dirty on occasions. Let me begin by referring to the case put by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). He said it was indicative of something wrong in the foreign policy of the 550 Government, when pronouncements by the Foreign Secretary invariably drew cheers from the other side and precious little enthusiasm from these benches. It has happened from time to time that the Foreign Secretary has come to this House to make pronouncements. Very often they have been tidings of tension and difficulty, mostly between ourselves and the Americans, on the one hand, and the Russians, on the other. Quite clearly, in these circumstances hon. Members on this side do not cheer, and hon. Members opposite do cheer. But the explanation is simple. Anything that makes the position of our Government more difficult, anything that makes the task of any Labour Minister on the Front Bench more arduous, will be cheered by the Tories.
I want my hon. Friends who are supporting the Amendment to realise that a party reduced to the state of the party opposite is bound to adopt a certain technique in dealing with this party and this Government with their overwhelming majority. So it will be tonight, when a reply is delivered to this Debate from our Front Bench. The general instruction will have gone round the smokerooms and tearooms to Tory Members that they must cheer their heads off in order to embarrass us. I am surprised to find that so many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House who have signed the Amendment should fall for this preparatory school nonsense, put Over by the party opposite.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point will, he explain why if the Conservative Party, for the discomfiture of our party, always support our foreign policy, they do not adopt the same tactics in other respects and also support our home policy, so as to destroy us utterly?
§ Mr. Nally
Because in the case of the Foreign Secretary, it is always easier to argue on foreign policy generalisations than it is on home front details. The hon. Member's interjection allows me to continue conveniently to the next part of my speech. Those who have moved this Amendment, whose sincerity I accept without question, have attached to them various other people. They must accept a measure of responsibility for those people who are so attached to them. If my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) signs an Amendment—he has not done so in this case—it indicates 551 that he supports the mover of it. therefore, I think we are quite entitled to go through the list of names attached to this Amendment to weigh its broad merits.
Let us take, for example, the issue of Palestine. This is an important part of the world now being used as a cockpit for a struggle between the three great Powers. When we are talking of Tory cheers let the House remember this. It would be possible for my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) to go to New York. We could pack Madison Square Gardens with all the wealthy Jewish financiers and businessmen that we could find in that great city. If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne addressed them on the subject of Palestine, as he has addressed this House from time to time with great sincerity, showing great knowledge and skill, that huge assembly of American Jewish bankers and businessmen would cheer him to the echo. But that does not prove that his views are either right or wrong.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Will my hon. Friend allow me to assure him that while I have n6 knowledge whatever of what the New York bankers might do, I am quite sure that the displaced persons of Belsen would certainly cheer.
§ Mr. Nally
It is equally true that, if the Foreign Secretary found time to wander up and down this country addressing meetings, the greatest cheers would come from working class people and not from Tories. The hon. Member has signed this Amendment, but so has my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). The Amendment lays it down that we must begin applying a Socialist policy to this and that part of the world. Quite clearly, my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne signed the Amendment believing that Socialism ought to be applied everywhere, including Palestine. So has the hon. Member for Ipswich. I am therefore entitled to ask why did not the hon. Members for Nelson and Colne and for Ipswich, both of whom have signed this Amendment, get together to discuss what is the Socialist policy in relation to Palestine, because they have returned directly contradictory answers? Before mentioning, as I intend to do, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) 552 may I say this? Many years ago, I remember a party of obscure young Socialists, of whom I was one, who went to Geneva. We received at the hands of my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, and his wife, such kindness as I shall never forget, and that is one of the proudest recollections of my young days in the Labour movement. The hon. Member for Gateshead denounced any proposals that would lead to a bloc between ourselves and certain smaller countries, such as Holland, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
In point of fact, since before the war, I have been advocating a bloc of the Western democracies. I have merely said, and I repeat it now, that it cannot be formed except under a world arrangement with the Soviet Union and based on the Anglo-Soviet and Franco-Soviet alliances.
§ Mr. Nally
That reinforces my point, because this morning another of the signatories to this Amendment has a letter in the "Manchester Guardian," which says that such a bloc can and should be formed without reference to the Soviet. I suggest that this shows that the differences among those who support the Amendment would seem to be as great as the differences which divide them from the Front Bench.
I must mention the misconception which has arisen regarding where our party stands in relation to the Front Bench. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment knows a good many things about foreign affairs. I have listened to him with respect, knowing that he has a wider knowledge than I have. But, when it comes to the working people, I venture to suggest to him that, so far as the working men in the average pub and the average club, of our land are concerned, I am in a position to tell him the facts of life. [Laughter.] I suggest that some of the hon. Members on this side of the House who are now rather foolishly jeering would do well and would learn more if they spent rather more time in working class pubs, than in attending gatherings of Bloomsbury Bolsheviks. Now, regarding the average working class man and woman, it happens to be true unfortunately, that the average man in the average pub and the average woman in the average queue believe that the whole root of the present trouble lies 553 almost completely in the tact, as they put it, that Soviet Russia does not play the game. I consider that to be an oversimplification, but it does happen to be the case that they think so. It is not fair or accurate to attack this party's Front Bench, and the Foreign Secretary, on the ground that it and he no longer have the confidence of a large and ever-growing mass of working men and women in this country.
§ Mr. Piratin (Mile End)
Does the hon. Member remember the Trades Union Congress votes against the Government? In view of the fact that the hon. Gentleman is a journalist himself, is he not aware of the fact that wide masses of the people, who may have those views about the international situation, are not uninfluenced by writers like himself?
§ Mr. Nally
One of the papers for which I have worked and by which they are influenced is "Reynolds News," which I thought was in favour of this Amendment. Let me continue. The overwhelming mass of the working men and women of this country are, rightly or wrongly, behind the Foreign Secretary and the Government. But it ought to be more clearly understood how an agitation of apparent strength can be worked up against the foreign policy of the Government. Soviet Russia has this difference in relation to America. The Soviet Union is the only country in the world which has people of other nationalities in other countries, who are prepared, without any hope of reward, to die for it. And not only to die for it, but to lie and to cheat and to twist until they do die, if it suits the official line.
In this country, I have many friends in the Communist Party [Laughter] I repeat, among Communists in this country, I have many friends, and I was going to add before the interruption, the fervent hope that they will remain my friends after I have delivered this speech, although there seems to be some doubt about it. What happens? They, the Communists, conceive it to be their only duty, whatever office they happen to hold in the wider working class movement, quite honestly, genuinely and sincerely, to fake and to twist in order to secure a given result. Where Social Democrats are often weak, in relation to Communists, is that we still have a lot of what sometimes 554 appear to be out-date ideas about personal relations. If a Social Democrat pledges his word of honour on a political matter, there is some hope that he will endeavour, in some degree, to keep it. But the Communist, who is not, if I may put it so, in honour bound under his own special code of honour, will lie and cheat and twist if a result can be secured: hat will benefit his party. When we are talking about class votes at the Trades Union Congress, let us bear in mind that while, I have no doubt, there are trade union leaders who have used the card vote unfairly on occasions, they are nowhere near being as efficient in organising that sort of thing as are the Communist Party.
Let me conclude. I believe that the Government should be criticised about many aspects of their foreign policy. I think, for example, that some unfair criticisms have been directed at the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about Germany. Nevertheless I am convinced that, in Germany, all is far from being well. I am also convinced that responsibility for the tragic situation there lies not with the Chancellor of the Duchy at all, but in the Foreign Office and the War Office. I believe, too, that, in regard to Greece and Spain, certain things ought to be said. Certainly, the direction we have pursued has sometimes been wrong. We have been fundamentally right for a long time, often enough, and then have proceeded to soil that Tightness of our policy by our stupidity in actually operating that policy But all these things should be discussed, and the proper place for us Socialists to discuss and argue them is, I submit, in the party itself. Instead of that procedure, this is what has happened. My hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry, who has moved this Amendment with his usual clarity and courage, surely cannot deny that, as far as the outside world is concerned, this Amendment is being interpreted to mean that at a time when the Foreign Secretary is carrying on negotiations in America our party is splitting wide open on foreign policy. Yet as I have already demonstrated, if all the Members who support the Amendment were got together in one hall and kept there for three, four, five or six days and asked to apply the Amendment to each part of the world, in all aspects of foreign policy, the result would be a Tower of Babel.
555 In other countries the impression is given of a hard core of growing resistance to the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government. That is a travesty of the truth. I can only regret that by their action in putting this Amendment down, and moving it this afternoon, some hon. Members on this side of the House have weakened the position of our Government in some respects, although the mischief is by no means so great as is generally supposed. Members supporting the Amendment have given a false impression to countries abroad of what is actually happening in this country. Above all, they have made the gesture of the Amendment more important than the actual things with which the Amendment is supposed to deal. We shall now be forced not so much to discuss the merits of the matters raised, as to analyse the effect of this Debate on public opinion abroad. It is to be regretted that we are discussing this Amendment at all. I believe our colleagues should have withdrawn it, and I believe they ought to have discussed it more fully in the party before even putting it down. I believe that the Foreign Secretary and those associated with him in the Government are prepared to discuss these matters. I believe they are prepared to listen to the critics and are even prepared as they ought to be to take advice from some of them. In these circumstances, it does seem to me that the whole conception of the Amendment is mistaken. I hope, however, in view of the fact that it has been moved, that it will be taken to the Division Lobby to clear at least a little of the dangerous fog it has engendered.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
Speaking in support of this Amendment, I first want to raise an issue that affects us in all parts of this House. The Prime Minister is not present, but I know that what we say will be conveyed to him. I hope that I shall never again be put in the embarrassing position of having a most serious matter brought before me as a Member of the House of Commons, and then told that I must not discuss it seriously because the Foreign Secretary is out of the country. I would ask hon. Members of this House to note carefully what is happening to the responsibilities of Members. We have apparently to make our decisions in 556 groups, in party groups, in family groups and in business groups. That is a complete departure from both the traditions and the responsibilities of the job that this House has to do.
I rise to express some most profound fears and doubts to which, I hope, the Prime Minister will reply. I am not raising them with one Minister, but with the Cabinet. It is quite possible in this House of Commons to forget that the issues of foreign policy represent the collective wisdom of the Cabinet, and that the supreme person in that Cabinet is the Prime Minister. If the Foreign Secretary is in New York, the Prime Minister is in London. If the Foreign Secretary, with the massive responsibilities he carries, cannot be blamed for not being in this House and America at the same time, will our Government either not bring such matters before this House at times when they consider they should not be discussed or withdraw this extremely superficial, demagogic argument that we must behave ourselves like a Reichstag because the Foreign Secretary is doing duty abroad.
We raise this matter simply because in the King's Speech issues of foreign policy are mentioned which affect a number of our men, and the industrial resources which have to be used for defence. That includes not only agriculture, mining and every domestic issue, but the whole peace and progress of our domestic life as well as the issues of foreign security. I would not lightly have intervened in this Debate. Some of us do not speak often and some of us have tried, for a long time, privately, to have certain matters righted. Our country under a Socialist Government is being badly maligned in many parts of the world. It is being sneered at for having run away from many of its Socialist convictions.
I want to put a number of definite questions to the Prime Minister and I hope he can give me the answers. I begin with what is perhaps the sorest point in this moment in a sore world. What is happening inside the British zone in Germany? There are cynical jokes running in Germany today. One of them concerns a man seen going into a turnip field. He is asked, "What are you doing? He replies," I am carrying out de-Nazification I am weeding out the little ones. "Another bitter one is based on the" Horst Wessel "song," Those who 557 starved before, still starve. The others are with us in spirit. "There is a great deal wrong with the way de-Nazification is being carried out in Germany. There is a great deal wrong with a situation in which people do not know where they stand in that country. But the broad picture that the ordinary German knows, and lives with, and suffers from, is that those who prospered under Hitler, the hard-faced business men of Germany, who did well during the war, can cushion themselves from hunger, can cushion themselves from the cold, can cushion themselves from the worst punishments, and the poor people, whether they were Nazi or passive, or anti-Nazi, have no such cushion. Of course, one reason why there is the greatest cynicism in the British zone in Germany is because that is where there was the greatest expectation There is stark hunger in many parts, but if you can go into the black market you can buy a pound of butter for 200 marks. If you are a worker in Germany, with only your labour to sell, you are lucky if you earn from five to ten marks per day. This House can work that out for itself.
I want to ask the Prime Minister why the Government have not, long ago, seen to it that banking accounts inside the British zone in Germany are frozen. Why should the banking accounts of the rich who have prospered under Hitler be among the few things sacred in the British zone in Germany today? How can we resist growing cynicism when things like that occur? The accounts were frozen very brutally in the Russian zone but it was done. I do not ask that it should be done in a brutal form in our zone. But I ask why these accounts were not frozen. I further ask why something is not done to stop the black market. The third question I want to put to the Prime Minister is, Why have we not carried out a capital levy? The experts tell me that this is not a practical proposition in the British zone alone. I ask the Prime Minister, Has the proposal for a capital levy been brought before the quadripartite Commission by the British representatives? My information is that it has not even been raised there I would be very grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would give a straight Yes "or "No" in answer to that question. Our American friends have put forward suggestions including even that of a capital levy, but I am afraid 558 the American suggestion for Europe, as for America, would mean the immediate lifting of all controls, and a capital levy proposal is something which would, come in five or six years' time. But in hungry Germany, where the people believe that we are a vigorous anti-Fascist nation of strong principles, but with gentleness and fair play, why can we not do those things for which I am asking?
No one on these benches was more grateful or pleased than I was on the last occasion the 'Foreign Secretary spoke in this House, when he said that he wished German industries to be nationalised. If I had had the opportunity. I should have thanked him and congratulated him, although I do not see why we should be very thankful that our leaders discover things a long time after some of us humble back benchers. However, at long last that suggestion has been made; but do hon. Members know how that suggestion has been received in our zone? Do they know the complete cynicism with which it has been received? So far as the day to day life in Germany goes, all that is happening is that the ownership is vested in the British. The old managers are still there. Can we not do something to convince the German people that this was not just a harmless gesture, but that we mean it? I do not think we on the back benches should be called upon to make constructive suggestions. I think it should be enough for us to express our fears and doubts, and to receive answers. I have discussed this matter with Germans who share our point of view and our love of Socialism and democracy, and many of them, including those in the trade union movement, say, "If we had a little less support in words, and more action, it would save us from complete demoralisation."
I suggest that we should nominate certain German trustees who could hold those industries for the German people against the time when there will be a free election in Germany. I do not put forward that suggestion as the last word in wisdom, but I am trying, from this, my country, to make clear to the German people that there is something different here, that we have a Socialist policy, that on the quadripartite level, or on the bi-zonal level, they can rely on the voice of the British people to be raised on the side of Socialism. I am glad to see that there is a wonderful camaraderje among 559 the British and American officials in Germany, but they are completely overworked in trying to find out what their respective Governments are trying to do. I have found that the only people in Germany who are comfortable at the moment are those who are behaving like jungle beasts, and helping themselves irrespective of repercussions either on this country or any other country.
After a war, with all the hunger and bitterness it involved, it is essential for the future peace of the world and the security of nations that there should grow up a Europe bearing our Socialist ideas. Why has Dr. Agartz, one of the best men that Germany has produced, resigned? A great deal of criticism has been directed at the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I think part of that criticism is the product of muddled thinking. The job of the Chancellor is administrative. He is not a member of the Cabinet. Vital decisions affecting Germany, which are influencing the mood of France, Czechoslovakia, Eastern and Western Europe and, in fact, the whole world are not made by his Department. They are decided by the Foreign Office. We have a Foreign Secretary in New York who, perhaps, is not aware of some of the matters which I am now raising. That is no criticism of him, and it is not said in any spirit of disrespect. It is not possible for any man to have an intimate knowledge of what is going on all over the world. It is not possible even for any woman.
I do suggest to our Prime Minister, however, that the whole problem of Germany is so serious that there ought to be a 'Minister in the Cabinet in London to deal with it. I do not think very much would be achieved by having a Minister in Germany. I have been told of the wonderful work that has been done by leading British administrators, but two things are lacking. One is a clear directive. This is not the first week or month of a majority Government in Great Britain, and the more I know of what is going on inside Germany today, the more ashamed and apologetic I feel. It is intolerable. I could give the House names and addresses of families who have had husbands and brothers shot, exiled or put into concentration camps because they were anti-Fascists, and who are starving and homeless now, and I could give a list longer than the list of the total membership of 560 this House of leading business men, some of whom were too arrogant to belong to the Nazi party—because Hitler did not go to the right school and did not have the right accent—who are still in a position of authority in Germany. I am not suggesting that they should all be removed, but we have to make Germany a going concern, and I am concerned that they should work for their living and should receive food and shelter and everything else according to what they contribute to the rebuilding of German economy.
I am not going to refer to Greece, Spain and the many other countries where we would like to see our Government pursuing a more positive policy. But I would like to put one more question to the Prime Minister before leaving the subject of Germany. I wonder if he knows that there was only one factory in the British zone which produced a tin container for food, and that that factory, which is in an area near a little town of 25,000 people, has been dismantled and nobody knows why. It has never been an armaments works and never will be. I do not want to keep the House too long but, in all humility—because this is a time when the only thing one can do if one does not know the answers, is to ask those who, presumably, ought to be able to give the answers—I want to say that, collectively, the leaders of Russia, America and this country have nothing to be proud of. We ought to have learned more from the war of 1914–18 than we did. The economics of our administration in Germany are the economics of Bedlam. The ethics do not bear examination.
Therefore, I support this Amendment because I know that in America there are free men and women who are as worried by the American administration—indeed, very much more worried—than some of us in Britain are, on aspects of our Government's foreign policy. Shall we be respected by Americans, or shall we be greater friends with them, if they think that in the British House of Commons Members cannot stand up in their individual capacity and say truly what they believe? Americans are listening to this Debate. They are not always as big fools as some people seem to imagine. There are able American journalists reporting this Debate. They know that those of us who are Communists, or democratic Socialists, speak not out of malice but out of an urgent desire for the good name and 561 security of our country. How are we to keep this country secure? Are we to keep it secure by withdrawing from industry a larger number of men than we can equip, or are we going to keep the country secure, because it has the love and respect of the people in every country in the world, who turn away from totalitarianism and desire sensible economic planning, and who look to Great Britain? There are Americans who look to a Socialist Britain for leadership. There are Americans who know all the dangers which face us. We want commercial arrangements with America; we want to be good friends with her, and we also want to be good friends with Soviet Russia. But I repudiate in my own name, and I repudiate in my country's name, that we should be a second or a third-rate Power. We talk too much about what America is doing, and too much about what Russia is doing.
We understand the many burdens which the Prime Minister has to bear; and he knows perfectly well that he has our confidence and respect. In the last year the Cabinet may have been too overwhelmed to attend to many major matters. We have to think of the food of this country, of its clothing, its future industry, and its relations with the rest of the world. We must have an armed force which is a respectable contribution to the United Nations organisation. But we have to take the right kind of risks. This is a dangerous world. We cannot avoid risks but can make correct Socialist decisions. Mr. Chamberlain thought he was playing for safety, and he got us into war. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, in his time, thought he was playing for safety and got us into the Opposition benches. I hope our present Ministers, with their brilliant records, with the vast burdens they carry, will remember that their courage must be Socialist courage; they must have faith. I believe there are countries in which there are men and women waiting for the leadership, that only this country can give. I hope that tonight the Prime Minister will give us a definite and specific answer to some of these points that I and other hon. Members have raised and will raise.
§ 5.33 P.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
I listened to the speech of the 562 hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) with a great deal of interest. I must say that I admired the way he presented his case while disagreeing with every word of it. It was cogently argued, and he was obviously at home in developing the Social Democratic theme. I thought his speech would be followed by others of his hon. Friends who would expatiate on separate aspects of the ideology. But what do we find? The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) has just voiced her special grievances on Germany. The seconder of the Amendment, the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Reeves)—so far as I could hear what he had to say—talked about American economics. The hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) disclosed that both the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) were included in the Amendment. Why are they included? Because the group which put down this Amendment is full of dissident people, who disagree fundamentally with the Government on a multitude of different problems. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne is included in the Amendment because he disagrees with the Government in disliking the Arabs. The hon. Member for Ipswich is included in the Amendment because he disagrees with the Government in disliking the Jews. For a number of different reasons, all of them at variance, the hon. Lady and the hon. Gentlemen opposite are included in this Amendment. I am glad the great language of Shakespeare and Milton was not chosen to describe this Amendment. As my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) said, it is written in the modern, journalistic language of a Politbureau, appropriate to the collection of ideas and people it contains.
For a very few moments I would like to take up the theme of the speech made by the hon. Member for East Coventry. He was, I believe, during the war at the head of our German radio information services. If he was not at the head of it, at any rate he broadcast a very great deal. His was one of the hands that beat the V-sign on the muffled drum. He drew strength from the resistance movements throughout Europe; he added his own eloquence, and he made the night air ring with lofty appeals to a high Social Democratic aim and purpose. He 563 is a good European, and his voice must be very welcome over there today. The idea of his Amendment, and the effect of his speech, will act, I should say, like balm on the bodies of many troubled, wandering, homeless persons from the Rhine to the Ural Mountains. The speech will bring encouragement, as he intended, to the declining Socialist bodies throughout Europe. All this I admit and, in all humility, pay tribute to.
But the hon. Gentleman is also the Member for East Coventry. The exports of his city reach the most distant corners of the world. The livelihood of his constituents depends, and will increasingly depend, upon intimate trading ties with country after country, whose systems and forms of government range from social democracy to extreme authoritarianism This Amendment makes us an appendage to Europe. But we are not an appendage in anything except geography. We have ties of association, of a different and much stronger kind, with the great Dominions, the Colonial Empire, the United States of America and with the Spanish speaking Republics and autocracies. We are not a piece of the Continent, bound to emulate a Social Democratic ideology, whether virile or emaciated.
I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to believe that the fostering of international trade—yes, and the very maintenance of peace itself—does not depend upon the recasting of British foreign policy into a new ideological mould. On the contrary, neither peace nor the maintenance of our prosperity can be assured if we undertake a transformation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite often maintain that the foreign policy of this country for 1oo years past was an Imperialist foreign policy. Yet under it we became the greatest trading nation of the world. What we did brought untold blessings to mankind. Hon. Members object because our foreign policy in the war was a Tory foreign policy. Certainly, it was conducted by two notable Tories. Yet we won the war —or so it seemed in July, 1945.
I do ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to reverse the famous dictum of Clausewitz, and see whether peace is not foreign policy carried on by means other than war. Are they prepared so lightly to cast away men, methods and systems which have brought such great benefits to this 564 country, which have made us and our Allies victorious and free in two world wars, and brought about a whole century of economic expansion? Do not they see that if their object today was achieved, a fatal weakness would ensue to this country, a weakness so grave that we might not be able to defend our liberties again in time of war, and more important to the timing of the moment, not be able to prosecute in peace the liberal and liberating aims for which we fought the war?
Hon. Members have already referred to the fact that in New York the Foreign Secretary has been embarrassed by this demonstration—and we can hardly call it more than a demonstration. Does anybody deny that the Foreign Secretary is in New York today in order to achieve peace and to promote conciliation between the United States and Russia? What does embarrassment mean to him, except that he senses his power to do these things is reduced by what is happening here today? Hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that some ideological gain will accrue to this country by their action today. But the only result so far that I can observe —and newspaper after newspaper has reported it—is a direct loss of negotiating power for a leader of their own party. Of course, that is what the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) would like. He has scored a minor triumph which will be duly registered at the source and seat of such power as he commands.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Would the noble Lord give way? The source of the power I command is the unanimous vote of confidence from my party in Gateshead.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Well, let that be. At any rate, to the hon. Member, social democracy is only a halfway house to something else. But I do believe that the hon. Member for East Coventry is a brand that can be plucked from the burning. I hope very much he will consult his constituents. They will tell him it is time for him to start beating the V-drum in the places where they are trying to sell their cars. Let him take a Lanchester or a Daimler to Cape Town or Buenos Aires, and the people there, the salesmen on the spot, will tell him what British foreign policy really is and ought to be. I hope an overwhelming vote will be given tonight against this sloppy and weak- 565 kneed Amendment, and that that vote will show to the Foreign Secretary in New York that the course he is pursuing today is not only honourable but right minded.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I am in some way greatly affected by the amount of attention some of my hon. Friends give to the fact that Tories, for one reason or another, will cheer some of the things that are said from our Front Bench. We all share this distaste for receiving cheers from that side. I thought that the speech that the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has just made proved something that I very strongly feel—that when the right things are cheered from that side it is almost always for the wrong reasons or from the wrong motives. I find myself now in agreement with the noble Lord about the way we should behave tonight if this Amendment is taken to a Division. We shall go in cheerfully together. But I am conscious that, while I shall be going in for the right reasons, he will be going in for the wrong ones. I ask my hon. Friends not to be so affected by the fact that Tories cheer some of the things we say. If we go much farther along this line we shall be elevating the Opposition to the place of Government. We shall be doing things they would like and not doing things we would like, and bring them into Government over here. It is a wrong attitude to take. If our policy is wrong, let us decide so, and do something about it; but do not let us start by asking whether they think it is right or wrong, and then continue by doing exactly the opposite to what they say they think.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), for whom I have a great affection and respect, as she knows, began by trying to deal with the point that was made earlier today about not discussing this in the absence of the Foreign Secretary, and, I believe, she really missed the whole point. It is not a question of whether her points about Germany should be put in the absence of the Foreign Secretary; it is not a question about whether the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister should answer them. The point, surely, on which I strongly take issue with her and her Friends, is whether the putting down of what is, in effect— let us face it—a Vote of Censure on the policy pursued by the Foreign Secretary while he is in New York, and while he is 566 in the middle of negotiations based on that policy, is right or wrong. That is the fundamental issue. We cannot get away from it. I believe that it is entirely wrong that this Amendment should be put on the Order Paper today.
I have recently, and for only the first time in my life, spent a short while in the United States of America, and I became very conscious of something of which I was not conscious before—the enormous and frightening influence the reporters and radio people, to whom my hon. Friend referred, have in that country. It is one of the most dreadful and frightening things to see the way the things Walter Winchell and others say are lapped up by tens of millions of people in America. These newspaper and radio journalists are not representing this as a series of questions to be put to the Prime Minister about Germany. What they are representing it to be is a complete split in this party on these main issues. The hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) concentrated upon the situation in America. He, and some of the other hon. Members who are associated with the Amendment, have reversed amongst themselves the whole business of what they have been concentrating upon.
Let us not get into the position of elevating an anti-American bogy to take the place of the anti-Russian bogy. So far as we are concerned, if the United Nations organisation is to work, then, quite clearly, the United States of America are one of the components, and one of the important component parts. I thought I detected in what my hon. Friend said this afternoon, that we were doing a lot of attacking and criticising of America, and using some very harsh words about America, instead of, or in addition to, using hard words about Russia. The hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) referred to this. There is no agreement on motives or intentions among those who are supporting this Amendment. He mentioned some. Let us take the speeches of the mover and seconder. There was, in fact, no basis of agreement whatever between those two speeches. They were not even thinking in the same terms. One was saying we ought to be talking bluntly—both parties—to the Soviet Union, and the other gave a lengthy and rather weak explanation of what the Anglo-Soviet Union was doing. The hon. Member for East 567 Coventry gave us some comment on the history of the French Socialist Party and on the reason for its decline. I have not been in France recently, although I was there for a short time last year, and my sources of information, are not anything compared with his; but I should have thought that he was completely wrong about that. The main reason for the decline of the French Socialist Party is, surely, its divided leadership and the fact that its leaders no longer command the same kind of respect as the leaders of our party do here. That had much more to do with the French Socialist Party's results at the elections than what our Government was supposed to have done about Socialist foreign policy.
It is altogether childish in facing these heavy problems of an Anglo-United States alliance, and so on, to talk about our having a distinctive Socialist foreign policy, as though we could apply that policy in an absolutely perfect world; as though we never had to face a situation in which, when we have said what we want to do, someone else gets in the way. so that we cannot do it. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend agrees with me in that. So often it is assumed that we are not getting what we ought to be getting in the world because we are not pursuing a Socialist foreign policy. I believe we are not getting it because the other people who are indispensable to us at this stage are not willing to see it happen. It is they, in fact, who are going to give the word. Very often in all these things we are in the realm of assumption, because we cannot practise it no matter how much we believe in it. We cannot practise completely open diplomacy in the sense that we can tell everybody the reason for everything that we do, and because leaders can never speak as freely and frankly, without fear of the consequences, as can back benchers. For these reasons, when something happens we often have to make assumptions as to why it has happened. This does not apply to the hon. Member for East Coventry, but it does apply to the vast majority of people backing this Amendment. I shall be a very happy man when I find one of them assuming for a change that the reason is not failure on our part but failure on the part of others. Hitherto there has been very little evidence of any willingness to assume that others might fail.
568 Let us take the Amendment as it is, not on the limited plane on which my hon. Friend presented it, nor on the not quite so limited plane as that on which the mover presented it. Let us take it for what it says. It is an assertion that we have not been following a Socialist foreign policy in the last 15 months. I should have thought that we have been quite clearly presenting to the world a distinctive policy and offering a fair choice between the evils—if we so regard them— of Soviet Communism on the one side and American capitalism on the other. We can all set down principles by which we try to judge this and it would be a great mistake always to test our foreign policy by results, for the reasons I have just stated. It is much better to establish principles on which we think the policy ought to be based and test it by them. If we state that the corner stone of a Socialist foreign policy at the moment must be an intention to make the United Nations organisation work, as I think it obviously must be, I think that everything the Foreign Secretary has done would pass that test. If we say, secondly, that the test of a Socialist foreign policy is support for democracy, then I would have said that everything that we have done passes that particular test. [An HON. MEMBER: "Greece?"] Did I hear Greece mentioned? That is a first-rate example of our decision to stand by the forces of democracy.
§ Mr. Solley (Thurrock)
May I ask the hon. Gentleman two questions to test that statement? Is he suggesting that we have supported democracy in Greece when we compelled the holding of elections without any working class party participating, and does he say we supported democracy by introducing the civil and criminal Mussolini code in Trieste?
§ Mr. Brown
I deliberately opened a door through which I wanted somebody to pass when I referred to Greece. Of course it is complete nonsense, and untrue, to say that we compelled them to hold elections. What we did was to use such influence and power as we had to ensure to Greece the freest opportunity to hold elections they have ever yet had—and, after all, democracy does not only mean getting out of an election the kind of Government you personally approve of; it also means giving the opportunity to 569 get a Government that the people themselves want, and did in fact get; I think we get past that test.
I would put up as the third test the claims of subject peoples for self-determination. Just now I saw my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies sitting there. I would have thought that this Government had done more to secure the right of self-determination for Colonial and subject peoples than has ever been done before. The fourth test I would suggest is one of friendship among the Big Three. I should have thought that, bearing in mind that we have to work in a situation in which many difficulties and obstructions are put in our way, it would be fatal to assume, as some of my hon. Friends seem to assume, that every geographical and other interest of Great Britain alters with the colour of the Government we get. Accepting that, it would be fantastic to assert that this Government's foreign policy failed the test of trying to get friendship among the Big Three. The reason for our not doing better is simply that one of the Big Three so far has not found it possible to agree that this is a permanent change of attitude on the part of this country and that they ought to fit in with us.
I wish I could go on, because I have never before addressed this House on foreign affairs and there is so much I feel I want to say. I want to say this quite firmly. I am in British political life first and foremost as a trade unionist and as a representative of organised workers in the trade union movement. My claim to say this may be challenged, but I will say it firmly and stand by it: I believe that, if I know one thing at all, I know the outlook of the organised worker, and I am firmly convinced that the organised worker is as wholeheartedly behind the Foreign Secretary and as wholeheartedly behind the foreign policy of this Government as he is behind their domestic policy. If I had had time I would have advanced' a criticism or two of my own, but they will have to wait. I hope that the Amendment goes to a Division, because I think the position of our delegation in New York in the present circumstances is a hopelessly unpleasant one. I would like to see the Amendment rejected. I am sure that it would be rejected overwhelmingly by this party, and it will certainly be rejected by a combination of the party 570 and the Opposition. The Foreign Secretary will thus be backed up by the workers who put the party where it is now.
§ 5.57 P.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I hope the hon. Member on this side, whose vague and extremely effective speech was preceded by an equally effective article in the "Daily Herald this morning, which all of us read with great pleasure, will not mind if now: hat it is getting so late I do not attempt to travel in detail over his speech or his article. I would like to say to him that, interesting as his speech and article were, I would myself have been much more interested to hear those criticisms that he has of the Labour Government's foreign policy, which he found time for neither in the article which he wrote this morning nor in the speech which he has just made. After his wholehearted defence of everything that has been controverted by those of us who still feel uneasy and dissatisfied, I am wondering what points in Government foreign policy remain to be criticised which none of us who signed the Amendment have yet thought of.
I would like to say, first, something with regard to a point made by both him and by hon. Members on the opposite side, and by other Members below the Gangway on this side. I want to make it perfectly clear now that we do not propose to divide the House upon this Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not;"] If hon. Members will wait a moment I propose to tell them why not, but let me first say that we do not propose to do it and, if any Division is challenged from any other part of the House, those of us who have put our names down to this Amendment will not vote for it; we will not go into the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. Silverman
Nor indeed do we propose to be incited, provoked, bullied or sneered into a Division into which we have no wish to go. Perhaps I may explain to those who are new to the House and need the explanation, and to those who have been long enough here to know the position without any explanation from me, why we propose to take that course. A Division on an Amendment to the Address must inevitably be taken by 571 the Government—by any Government— as a Vote of Censure, and a Division which succeeded on an Amendment to the Address would inevitably involve the fate of the Government. No Amendment to the Address, carried to a Division, could possibly be interpreted in any way except as a vote of no confidence in the Government.
We believe that this Government is the best Government that this country has ever had. We believe that it is a very much better Government than any Government which could replace it. So far from wanting to defeat it, we want it to continue, and to go on not merely for this term, but for another term. We hope and believe that it has every chance to endure for a generation, and we would not do anything whatever to lead anyone to believe that, because of our anxiety and distress about some aspects of its policy, especially in the realm of international affairs, we are not convinced that, not merely does a Socialist democratic Government in this country represent the only hope of saving civilisation here, but that the triumph of these ideals everywhere in the world represents the only way of saving civilisation anywhere.
If it were possible for the Prime Minister to say—I am afraid that he cannot say it—that he would like a Division upon this Amendment on its own merits, and if it were possible for him to say, "We do not treat it as a Vote of Censure; the fate of the Government will not be involved; you may divide the House on this single question of whether these words ought to be added to the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech, without any of the usual Parliamentary consequences of doing such a thing, "then, indeed, we should be glad to go to a Division, but I am afraid that in those circumstances the Prime Minister might be astonished at the result.
Why, then, have we put it down? We have put it down because these anxieties about the trend of foreign policy are widespread in the party, in the country, in Europe, and in the world. An hon. Member—I am sorry to see that he has now left the Chamber—said that we ought not to allow our opinions on these matters to be guided only by the fact that the Foreign Secretary's speeches 572 are cheered by the Tory Party. We do not. That, indeed, would be to give them a role to play in this House that is beyond anything which they have so far done to deserve. He misses the point. Our complaint is that the Government's conduct of foreign affairs during these 15 or 16 months has been merely a continuance of Tory foreign policy, and that the enthusiastic support which the Foreign Secretary gets, in the absence of any repudiation from the Government Front Bench, is confirmation that that is so. I am sure that no one on the Government Front Bench believes that there ought to be no difference between a Socialist foreign policy and a Tory foreign policy. The Prime Minister once wrote a book. He called it "The Labour Party in Perspective." I want to refer him to certain passages in that book, if he wants to know why so many of us regard it as a significant and depressing thing that not merely in this House, but in the country and the world, there is no differentiation between the policy pursued by the Government in foreign affairs and the policy the Tory Opposition want them to pursue.
What is the complaint? The mover gave expression to what, I think, would be accepted on this side of the House unanimously as a Socialist foreign policy. It is common ground that if world peace is to be preserved, it can be preserved only through the medium of world government, and if an attempt or an approach to world government is to succeed, it can only be by maintaining the alliance which brought us successfully through the war years between the United States, the U.S.S.R. and this country. Such an alliance seems much further off today than it seemed 15 months ago. Whose fault is that? If it is said that this is solely the fault of Russia, then are we not entitled to ask why that is so? This is the same Russia with whom we made a 20-year alliance during the war. This is the same Russia who fought with us through the war. What has happened in the 15 or 16 months since the General Election to produce that detrioration, that growth of suspicion, that growth of hostility and that impossibility of cooperation which has caused the uneasiness we all feel?
My hon. Friend asked some questions. He said that our policy had been in fact 573 what it is not in intention and what it is not according to declarations made from time to time by the Foreign Secretary and by the Government—that it is in fact an alliance with the United States. He asked three questions, and I hope that the Prime Minister made a note of them and is going to give us an answer. Suppose he were able to give a clear and specific negative reply to each of them, he would have gone, let me assure him, a very long way indeed towards removing many of the anxieties which we have. Can we have a clear and specific denial to each of these points? If the Prime Minister, in the speech he is about to make, gave a clear and specific denial of that kind, then that alone would have justified the action which we took in putting down this Amendment, because it would relieve the anxiety not merely of ourselves, but the anxiety felt in a great many parts of the world. If, on the other hand, he is not able to give the denial of that kind, if the answer to one or more were in the affirmative, I would say that all the more has our action been justified in bringing into the light of day a policy for which the Government have no mandate, a policy which would be regarded in most parts of the world as calamitous, disastrous, and one which would lead inevitably straight to catastrophe.
§ Mr. Silverman
I cannot understand the relevance of that interruption, but that is nothing new of the interruptions which are made by the hon. and learned Member. Is it, for instance, a fact that there is complete, or anything like complete, or substantial, military agreement between the two general staffs? If we had a military agreement of that kind it would necessarily involve a political agreement. It might well be the explanation of a fact which many of us find it extremely difficult to understand. Why is it that during the past 15 months there has never yet been an occasion on which the Great Powers have differed among themselves on matters of major policy in which this country has not taken the side of the United States of America, and the two have taken a joint stand against the view taken by the U.S.S.R.? Is it because the U.S.S.R. have always been wrong? Some people say, "Yes." If 574 that is the view which is taken it ceases to be possible to talk about a 20-year alliance, or any alliance at all, with the U.S.S.R., and all hope of maintaining the Tripartite Agreement between the three Great Powers, on which the maintenance of peace depends, will have disappeared.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
It is not true in any way. We were complaining that the Americans were joining with the Russians against us all the time up to Moscow. It was only after the Russian assault at Moscow—
§ Mr. Silverman
I cannot give way any longer. This Debate has a time limit. We have to finish at seven o'clock. The Prime Minister is entitled to his share of the time, and so am I. I say it is a fact that there has never been an occasion on which there has been a major difference of opinion between those three Great Powers in which Great Britain and the United States have not been on one side and the U.S.S.R. on the other. The hon. Member may shake his head as much as he likes, but the facts are there. If there are any occasions on which there has been a difference between Great Britain and the United States perhaps the Prime Minister will tell me, but so far as I know there are none. It may well be that there have been differences. There may well have been differences and criticisms with the United States which have been conducted in private and secret. I should have no objection to that if criticisms of Russia were conducted in the same spirit. But I think it is wrong always to make your criticisms in public against one of the two sides and make such criticisms as you have, if you have any, of the other in secret. I hope we shall never have to choose between an alliance with one, or an alliance with: he other. The future of the world will indeed be lost if such a division between two blocs was created.
It is not possible wholly to isolate the politics of this matter from its economics. One remembers well how, in the period between 1929–31, free enterprise in Wall Street brought down the whole economic 575 fabric of the civilised world. That economic crash was the immediate cause of so increasing unemployment in Germany as to convert Hitler's party, then on the decline, for the first time into a major party, the largest party in Germany. I have no doubt that the fact that there existed millions of Germans with dependants upon them, with nothing whatever to lose, had the greatest possible influence on the course of politics in Germany. I think it by no means far fetched, or fantastic, to say that had there been, in 1929–30–31, proper national and international control of the world's resources, and proper planning of those resources, not merely would Hitler never have come to power, but the war would never have occurred.
I am equally confident—and I say it with regret—that if there were another such crash, the effects of that crash would drag the whole world with them into despair. I have no hope whatever, and no one has any hope, that world peace and world Government can succeed unless it includes international control of the world's resources. What chance is there, at the moment, of economic planning it you link not merely our politics, but our economics, with America at this time? We have, as we said in a document which we presented to the Prime Minister, the utmost respect for the extent to which political liberty has been established in capitalist America, but we have intense admiration and affection for the Socialist achievements of Russia in the years leading up to and during the war, without which we could not successfully have come through the war to victory as we did. It may well be that in many parts of the world—it is certainly true of Russia, and may be true of many other parts—the road to political liberty lies through and beyond the road to Socialism and economic planning. Is it worth our while to throw the whole possibility of world government into jeopardy, in order to secure what we are pleased to call free elections in Poland, Rumania or Bulgaria? There are countries which are not yet ready for this.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
Is the hon. Gentleman in favour of free elections in Poland?
§ Mr. Silverman
We had free elections in Greece, or so we are assured. But is there any Member in this House who would get up and say that the result of those free elections in Greece had been to establish democracy in Greece?
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
The value of freedom of election is implicit in its own merits, and does not depend on the result of the elections.
§ Mr. Silverman
I say that free elections are only valuable as the method and footway to democracy. If they do not lead to democracy, they really have no right; there is no divine right of the party system, any more than there is a divine right of kings. Supposing you had free elections in Poland, and supposing that the result of those free elections in Poland was to bring into power a Government which had been at variance with Russia, not merely on ideological and economic grounds but also on other grounds, does anyone really think that the cause of peace would be served thereby or the state of the world would be more stable? [An HON. MEMBER: "There would still be free elections."] If hon. Members think that free elections for their own sake, and on their own, are so vital, then why could we not have them in Spain? Why do we go on lending moral support to our recognition of that Government if, in fact, we ought not to recognise any Government unless it is the result of free elections? Why do we go on recognising Franco Spain? The Spanish Government which we are recognising today is merely a Fascist Government, fastened on the necks of the Spanish people by Mussolini and Hitler and armed intervention. What right then have we to insist on Governments being elected in a particular way in the States bordering on Russia? Has anyone suggested that we should break our alliance with Russia because they do not have free elections? The truth of the matter is that each nation must work out its way to political liberty in its own fashion. We have no right to demand a standard at one end of the world for our own convenience, and refuse to exact it at the other end of the world.
I am being led away, and I propose to conclude by appealing to my right hon. Friend to do anything he can to reassure 577 the vast mass of the people of this country that our foreign policy will be directed towards taking the initiative and taking the lead, and that we shall not continue allow it to be merely a reprint of something done in America, on the one side, or Russia, on the other; I hope we are going to do something to restore hope to all those people all over the world who derived the greatest possible hope from our victory in the General Election last July. It may well be that there have been difficulties, for which this Government are not responsible. No one would have expected an overnight change of policy, but there are millions of humble folk in the factories, the mines and the workshops of this and other countries who are haunted by the ghosts of their fallen, who are haunted by fears for the future for their families and their children, who are looking to this country for a constructive lead, and who seek the only kind of hopeful lead in that kind of combination of political liberty with social planning which we are pursuing so successfully at home. Let us do something to restore to them that feeling of new hope which we gave them 12 months ago, and which we have failed to give them since. Let them see that we are not afraid to find for ourselves what is the right course, and are not afraid to take it.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I have listened with interest to the speeches made by my hon. Friends the mover and seconder of the Amendment, and I have read speeches made in the course of the last few weeks by some of those who have supported it. I have heard some of the other speeches delivered today. I think that this Amendment is misconceived, is mistimed, and is based on a misconception of fact. If I had known that all that was required was an answer to three questions, we might have been spared this Debate, because all my hon. Friends had to do was to come to me and ask me those questions.
I do not agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in his estimate of what the people of this country and in other democratic countries are feeling about this Government. I think that he is projecting his own feelings too far. My hon. Friends have put down an Amendment in which they condemn 578 the policy of this Government as being not that which a Socialist Government would pursue. The underlying suggestion is that the Government have not encouraged collaboration with all nations and groups striving to secure Socialist planning. They seek to support this thesis by calling attention to particular instances in which they consider that the policy of the Government is wrong. In particular, some of them seem to condemn collaboration with the United States of America—or suggest that we should not collaborate too much—and suggest that instead, following a distinctive policy, this Government are being subservient to the United States of America That is entirely untrue, as I shall show in the course of my speech.
It seems also to some that we are showing insufficient readiness to collaborate with Soviet Russia. That is also untrue. There seems to be some third kind of thought in this Amendment hat we should form a blocor group of Socialist Democratic countries standing up as a counterpoise to Soviet Communism, on the one hand, and American capitalism, on the other hand. Let me state emphatically that the Government do not believe in the forming of groups and opposes groups—East, West or centre. We stand for the United Nations. There are two other feelings which find expression in this Amendment. One is that it is disconcerting to find that British foreign policy secures support among members of other parties, and therfore it must be wrong; and that there is a difference in the approach of His Majesty's Government to home and to foreign affairs. It is suggested that at home we pursue a Socialist policy, while abroad we do not. I will deal with some of the particular complaints, and answer some of the particular questions that have occurred in this Debate, though a good many, I think, have been answered before.
In my view—quite apart from a tendency to take a one—sided view of the facts where everything that goes wrong, or a great deal that goes wrong, is attributed to Britain—every gnat is magnified into troops of camels that are swallowed. The fundamental misconception here is of the nature and problem of international relations. In home affairs, a Government commanding a majority can, as a rule— 579 if they are all right with another place—carry out their programme subject only to the limitations of the conditions obtaining at any given time. But in foreign affairs, however perfect our policy, it can be carried out only in conjunction with other nations. We can formulate a most admirable policy, the policy which we think the world should follow, but we cannot get the world to follow it just by formulating it, because other nations have their views. We have to work with them, and sooner or later, with whatever particular policy we go into foreign affairs, we find that we are up against this question: "Shall I compromise on this point, or shall I refuse cooperation and break?" That is the question that every statesman has to face.
Take, for instance, our talks at Potsdam. Nothing would have been easier than to have said to the Americans or to the Russians, "I disagree with your proposals." Let me say, speaking from personal knowledge, that I have known large questions on which, as a matter of fact, the United States of America and Soviet Russia disagreed with us—quite large questions. Hon. Members are entirely mistaken in thinking that there is always a "ganging up": it is not true. It is quite easy to say, "I disagree with your proposals; I refuse to accept them." What happens then? There is a breakdown, and one goes home glowing with virtue, but leaving the world in chaos.
Take San Francisco. A great many representatives disliked the veto; we did not like it ourselves. The question facing us was not, "What is the ideally best constitution for the United Nations organisation", but, "Will you have a United Nations organisation with this disadvantage, will you have no United Nations organisation, or will you have a United Nations organisation without Soviet Russia?" Suppose we had come back from San Francisco and said, "We have all the nations in, but we are sorry to say we have not got Soviet Russia." What complaints I should have had from my hon. Friends below the Gangway that we were "ganging up" the whole world upon them. As a matter of fact we compromised and had the veto. Then, of course, we are condemned for having the veto. If this is so in major questions, it also arises in many matters of not such 580 outstanding importance. Compromise is the inevitable basis of any international relationship.
In these matters it is not just a question of obtaining agreement between the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the U.S.S.R.—important as they are. There are other nations to be considered. We may get agreement between a Big Three or a Big Four, but there are very many other nations we have to consider. I was rather struck by a certain lack of appreciation of the fact that there are more than three or four nations. The other outstanding fallacy underlying this Amendment is that of over—simplification of the problem—the idea that there is a cut-and-dried distinction between the nations so that we should collaborate closely with some because they are ideologically allied to us, and not with others. The fact is that there is a very wide range among the nations. Some, notably Australia and New Zealand, approximate closely to this Government both in their economic and their political conceptions. Others are nearest our political conceptions but further away in economy, and vice versa. In matters of economic planning we agree with Soviet Russia. In certain specific points of world economic planning, we find the United States in agreement with us, but, generally speaking, they hold a capitalist philosophy which we do not accept. When it comes to a matter of what we consider to be democracy—a matter of freedom of thought and of the individual—we agree with the Americans and disagree with the Russians. Is it not inevitable, therefore, that there should be clashes of opinion, and that in order that the affairs of this world should continue to march forward there should be compromise? We are, perhaps, more accustomed to compromise than some of those with whom we have to deal, but compromise is the basis of a peaceful civilisation. Conditions may oblige us to compromise and to yield to the views of other nations, even when we consider our own policy to be much the sounder.
There, again, we are faced with the question, "If you do not come to an agreement, what then?" Let me add that in these clashes more often than not it is not some matter of the interests of the United Kingdom, or even of the British Commonwealth and Empire, which is at stake, but the just rights of a small nation, 581 or even the very principles of democracy and freedom which we practise here, and which we wish others to have the opportunity of enjoying. There, then, is the way in which I think we must approach this question of our foreign policy and of how we are going to apply our principles. In all these matters it must be remembered that we are not acting as the representatives of an ideological abstraction but as representatives of the people of this country. Some of my hon. Friends are disturbed because the foreign policy of this Government is supported on various points by hon. Members opposite. How could it be otherwise? It was the previous Government, of which I and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) were Members, that made the alliance with Soviet Russia. It was with the right hon. Gentleman and other Members of all parties that we went to San Francisco and founded U.N.O. Our policy is based on support for the United Nations organisation.
It was, perhaps, the most remarkable thing in the remarkable speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion that he managed to get through a speech on foreign affairs, giving the Socialist point of view, without once mentioning the United Nations organisation. But, in fact, the principles on which this movement has always acted in foreign affairs—and I have been some time in this movement—have been that we work for a world organization, and not just for ourselves, or for one big Power or one small Power. We believe in international organisation in the interests of peace, and we work for international organisation for prosperity for the whole of the peoples of the world. That was accepted, I think, by the whole country when they accepted U.N.O. That is in the preamble of U.N.O., and since that is the basis of our policy, how can we prevent our being supported?
There are other points of policy that arise from the geographical position of this country and the British Commonwealth, and geography, of course, is not altered by a General Election. It is the same with other countries. In France, whatever the colour of its Government, there is always anxiety about the Eastern frontier. In Russia it is the same thing. She considers her frontiers, the Black Sea, the Dardanelles, the Far East and the Balkan Provinces. Not very much will be found to distinguish the policy of pre-revolution 582 Russia and that of post-revolution Russia. I am not saying whether they are right or wrong, but I am saying that these things are dictated by the geographical position in which a nation finds itself.
I rather got the impression from the speeches of my hon. Friends that they have got a theory and they stretch out for facts to support it. I do not think that they accept those facts which do not square in with the theory. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne quite honestly put forward the point that he thought it was always the United States and the United Kingdom against Russia. I tell him that it is not so but it is just a mistake of fact. I notice from a speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) that he had found it reported in a newspaper that the Foreign Secretary had had a talk with Mr. Byrnes. My hon. Friend jumped to the conclusion that we were "ganging up" with the United States. There are plenty of occasions when the Foreign Secretary and M. Molotoy talk together, or sometimes Mr. Byrnes talks to M. Mclotov. This is really the ordinary practice, and it is not an exclusive conference in private between members of the Big Three, because any of the members of the Big Three might have a talk with M. Spaak or any other statesman. That is the way all essential business is done.
What are the topics discussed? I have very slight experience, but believe me, it is not a clash between these two against another at all. Sometimes one statesman has a suggestion to make to another as to how they can best meet the wishes of a third. That third party may be one of the Big Three or any member of the United Nations, but it is not just "ganging up" whenever any Ministers are seen together. That shows the kind of suspicion which gets into the minds of people who adopt that thesis. The talks may be with a Social Democrat or with a statesman of other views, for in an international conference there must necessarily be talk with people of different views. It is said that we are often found voting against Soviet Russia and her near neighbours, and it is assumed that we are "ganging up" with the United States against Russia. But in these matters it will not be found that we have been "ganging up" with one country. An important matter is discussed on its merits, and not 583 infrequently we may be found, when the vote is taken, in the company of other democratic countries as well, both inside and outside the Commonwealth. Our Social Democratic friends overseas, I imagine, are just as good judges of our Socialist policy. I think if our critics examined the question carefully, they would find that when we have voted against Soviet Russia, although we may have been wrong on one or two occasions, we were generally in the right.
What we endeavour to do in these matters is to try to reach a just and fair solution. We put our case and it is voted on. Sometimes it is approved, sometimes it is voted down, but we go on trying to get the best results we can. After all these are democratic assemblies. We are working by the methods of democracy. We cannot get all our views approved. I notice there has been a great deal of complaint about our collaboration with the United States of America in economic matters. Large parts of the world are in great distress, including the whole of Europe. Who are the people who can help and who are helping Europe; the people who have the wherewithal to help us as we try to set the world and especially Europe on its feet? It is the United States, and is it not natural, therefore, that we should collaborate with the United States? Europe has been overrun, and indeed almost every supply has been stopped. Large areas of Russia have been made waste and that prevents her helping. Help comes from the country that can give it, and yet this help is called American imperialism. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, for whom I have a great respect, should have allowed himself to be associated with that.
§ Mr. Warbey
The statement that I made in respect of Anglo-American coordination was that it was a common practice for the British and American delegates to coordinate their points of view prior to a general discussion between the Big Three. Can the Prime Minister definitely say that that is not the case?
§ The Prime Minister
Sometimes it is coordinated with one lot and sometimes with another and coordination of views before going into conference is very, very frequent, though the partners vary. I was 584 dealing with another point made by my hon. Friend. Large parts of Europe have been succoured and kept alive by U.N.R.R.A. The United States contributed 72 per cent. of those funds and this country contributed £155 million. A very large amount of that has been spent in Eastern Europe. I have no doubt the people of Eastern Europe are grateful, but it is a fact that their representatives in Paris showed very little gratitude in applauding the accusations made that these funds were used for political purposes.
Let me give another example that was put today. The United States of America has concluded a commercial treaty with China. That was regarded as a terrible example of American penetration. I had not seen the treaty so I sent for it. I have looked through it. It is an ordinary commercial treaty, such as we make with other States, such as America makes with other States and such as Russia makes with other States. Why on earth should this be singled out as an example of American imperialism, except to support a preconceived thesis?
§ Mr. Crossman
It was singled out in order to show that the attitude of America and China was not dissimilar from the attitude of Russia and Eastern Europe.
§ The Prime Minister
I think if the hon. Member looks up his speech, he will find that he said it was a gross example of penetration.
§ The Prime Minister
It is not a gross example of penetration to have a mutually convenient commercial treaty. Russia has treaties as well, treaties of all kinds, and they vary. I should also like to answer the other questions that were put by my hon. Friend. We are not pursuing an exclusive Anglo-American alliance. We were asked why we did not deny the Fulton speech of the Leader of the Opposition. Let me tell my right hon. Friend again that it is not the business of the Government to get up and make answers about speeches made by individuals, however prominent. It would keep us very busy. I should have to go through the right hon. Gentleman's speech with a hair-comb, because as a rule, in his speeches, I find something with which I agree and something with which I dis- 585 agree. If the hon. Member suggests that it has not been dealt with he is entirely wrong. The Foreign Secretary has pointed out that we have no responsibility whatever. I wish some people abroad would realise that speeches made by the Opposition are, quite properly, made on their own responsibility, and have nothing to do with the Government. Secondly, we have over and over again denied that we were trying to form an exclusive American alliance. If the hon. Gentleman does want it in black and white, I can say that if he considers the theme of the Fulton speech was the establishment of an exclusive Anglo-American alliance, then we do not agree with that point, and I really think he ought to have found that out a little time ago.
The next point to be considered is our collaboration with the American General Staffs. Surely people realise mat we are still in occupation, jointly with America, of parts of Europe? Is it so very strange that we should continue to collaborate with their General Staffs? Is not everybody aware that during the war we integrated our armaments to a very large extent; and is not it clear that if there is to be any standardisation, it is a matter that can be discussed? It is an extremely difficult thing to do, and it could only be done and implemented under the security arrangements which we are endeavouring to make under the United Nations organisation. The United Nations organisation looks, in its set-up, to this kind of collaboration in regions. Then I am asked: "Why have not you had a similar arrangement with the U.S.S.R.?" We should have been glad to have it; we have been trying hard to get one. In February last we appointed our representatives to try to get the Military Staff Committee of the Security Council going, and again and again we have invited our friends of the U.S.S.R. to come in. Unfortunately, they are still considering the matter, and they have not been able to come. But that is not our fault. We are trying to work it under the United Nations organisation. Why should it be thought that we are wrong if, in the interim, we have to make various arrangements, as we have had to, all over the world?
Let me deal with another word that has now been dragged in. It is said that conscription has something to do with 586 this problem. It really has nothing to do with this problem. No one is foolish enough to suppose that this country can measure up in armaments against either Soviet Russia or the United States of America. Our provision is for our ordinary defence; and, as contemplated by the United Nations organisation, for making our contribution to the United Nations organisation. Let me say that from such talks as I have had with our friends among foreign statesmen I do not think they would be awfully pleased if we said, "Yes, we will come into the United Nations organisation, but we are not going to put our armed forces into the pool." We have to make our contribution, and we are prepared to make our contribution. The idea of the conscription issue being based on that is entirely false—as, I may say, is the suggestion that in considering what forces we will have for defence we do not regard our own economic resources. We have to do that. As I stated only the other day, in considering the number of forces one has to consider the economic power at one's back. There again, a preconceived notion, leads the hon. Member astray.
I have said that our policy has been based on a policy which, I am glad to say, has been adopted by many people who do not hold our points of view; that is, the need for world economic planning for prosperity. I can remember the time —30 years ago and more—when I used to speak at the street corners, and that idea was laughed at. It has been one sign of the march of Socialist thought that in America, and in other countries, there is the realisation that if the world is to be spared the economic disasters which often lead to war, there must be economic planning. We have supported the various organisations designed to promote international collaboration in dealing with these problems. That is sound Socialist policy. We have always said it is, no good just dealing with the question of war when it arises. We must try to deal with the underlying causes of war, which can be done precisely by positive, constructive world planning. Surely my hon. Friend will agree we have taken the lead in that?
I regret to say that while our Russian friends come into some, they have not yet come into all of them. I would like to see them taking part in the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Trade Organisation Preparatory Commit- 587 tee, the International Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organisation. They have been warmly invited to come to all of these but have not thought fit to come, which is entirely a matter for themselves. Are we thereby precluded from joining with other nations in trying to build up these things which we need socially? It is the same with regard to the Emergency Economic Committee for Europe, with the coal organisation and the European Central Inland Transport Organisation. I claim that in cooperating in these social economic organisations we are carrying out Socialist policy. Yet we never get a pat on the back for that. Why do not people call attention to lack of cooperation by others?
We have encouraged, too, the Social Democrats in Austria, Germany and Italy, but we have not done it exclusively, because we do believe in democracy, and we do believe that people should choose for themselves, even if they do not choose our way. It is conceivable that a number of people might get together, even a whole nation, and might suggest that they do not agree with our kind of Government, that they could not work it, and that they wanted something different; they might vote 100 per cent. that for a whole year they should be under the rule of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne. That would not be the working of democracy, but it would be the results of the working of democracy. That would be what the people wanted, and they would get it. Therefore, in Austria, Germany and Italy we have the position that all the anti-Nazi parties have the right to organise and express themselves freely. Nothing could be more disastrous for cooperation in the world than that for every nation, every great Power should select its own particular party as its protégé. It would very soon cease to be regarded as an expression of the will of a certain part of the German people, or of the Italian people. It would be regarded as an instrument of the occupying Power—and we know parties that are so regarded today, and we know what influence they have.
We are facing immense difficulties in the world, only 15 months after the end of a great war. No one who has studied history would expect the course of events to be easy, or that any Foreign Secretary of any country will have an easy 588 time. The attacks I have seen made on the Foreign Secretary are made often by people whose services to the cause of labour and Socialism are as dust in the balance compared with his. He has the full confidence of His Majesty's Government, and, I believe, of the great majority of the people of this country in all parties. I know this is shared by Democratic Socialists in many countries of the world. You know, Mr. Speaker, one meets foreign people, and one is perhaps a little apt to draw too wide conclusions from meeting a few people. I am quite sure my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) was quite right in his view when he reported what people in America were thinking. But America is a very large place, and one can only see a few people. Now I could equally report to the House what people in America told me they were thinking about this Government; but I certainly would not like to make any sweeping declarations as to what the whole of the United States was thinking about this Government. Let me say again, with regard to foreign Ministers and our Social Democratic friends abroad, that I meet a good many of them and that they do not express the kind of views held by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. On the contrary they often tell me how much support they have derived from the fact that we are facing up to things here and from what we are doing.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is responsible not for his own policy but for the policy of this Government, which is based upon the principle that we have proclaimed. In international conferences he has shown great skill and wonderful patience. He has been subject to grossly unfair attacks on his policy and to violent indictments and misrepresentations in this country. He has shown admirable restraint. I would not say anything today to make his task more difficult. I am in very close touch with him. I know how hard he is striving to get both our great Allies to work together. He has never been one for ganging up one way or the other but he has sought throughout to try to get results instead of merely the satisfaction of dialectical triumph. Nothing could have been easier than for him to put in a devastating counter-attack against some of the little men who are put up to vilify this country. He has a larger vision and a wider aim. I 589 have not the slightest doubt that if the policy put forward by my right hon. Friend on behalf of this Government had proved acceptable, and if it had been put into effect, the world would be a much safer and happier place than at the present time.
There has been an allusion to the position in Germany. If we had that for which we have been pressing all through, that Germany should be treated as an economic whole, we should have a far better position now. We have been pressing for that. Perhaps we kept hoping and pressing too long, before we agreed to go in with the American zone and the French zone. We have been criticised for waiting too long, but we still hope to get Germany treated as an economic whole. We are seeking to work with all our Allies; but I would say that if the policy of this Government as expounded by the Foreign Secretary had been put into effect, my hon. Friends who are now censuring us would have been giving us their congratulations. We have been doing our best. No doubt we have made mistakes, but I would assure everyone in this House that we are devoted to the principle of getting peace among all nations. You cannot do that by trying to divide nations up into sheep and goats and having relations with one and not with the other. You must bring them all in, on the democratic principle that all those peoples have the right to decide their own lives.
After all, it was Britain who took the lead in the Social and Economic Council. Britain gave the lead in submitting the Trustee Agreement. Britain showed the way in the announcement on India. Britain and France withdrew their troops from Syria and Lebanon. Why should we always be criticised? My right hon. Friend has the right to know where he stands. I hope that after this Debate my hon. Friends, who have ventilated their views—I am sure sincerely held but views which I think do not correspond with the facts and which are based upon profound misapprehension of the inevitable conditions under which foreign affairs are conducted—will withdraw their Amendment. It has been based upon a misunderstanding. Therefore the proposal that we should change our policy is wrong because we are today pursuing in the international sphere the policy of this party, which is based on international co- 590 operation for peace, social justice and freedom for all nations.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, in my experience, is putting forward faithfully the policy of the Government. No Foreign Secretary, has, in all his public utterances, shown greater understanding of the interconnection of international, political considerations. The position of the ordinary man, woman and child is always in his mind. He puts forward the views of our party, which are both Socialist and democratic. He represents the characteristic British method of approach. He is not the slave of abstract theory. He is a practical man of affairs seeking to get things done. He is always fertile in suggesting ways of reconciling conflicting opinions. He seeks to serve the cause of the people every where. I hope that this Amendment will not be pressed, but if it does go to a Division, I hope the House will show in no uncertain way that my right hon. Friend has the support of the House of Commons.
§ Miss Jennie Lee
Before the Prime Minister finishes, and as he has asked us to withdraw the Amendment, may I call his attention to a question concerned with Germany in which some of us are deeply interested? I would ask him this specific question: "Why do we not freeze the accounts of rich Germans in our zone?" What international commitment prevents us? Have we, I would ask my right lion. Friend—
§ The Prime Minister
I really cannot make a long statement on that matter at' the moment. I can tell my hon. Friend that all these matters are under very full consideration at this present time. I really cannot announce anything before we get agreement.
§ Mr. Crossman
I feel that all those Members—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] —will feel that the speech which we have just heard was—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question put "That those words be there added."592
§ The House divided: Ayes, 0; Noes, 353593
|Division No. 6.||AYES||[7.5 p.m|
|NIL||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Mr. McGovern and Mr. Stephen|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Davidson, Viscountess||Hobson, C. R|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Holman, P.|
|Allighan, Garry||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Deer, G.||House, G.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Howard, Hon. A|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||De la Bère, R||Hoy, J.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Diamond, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Dodds-Parker, A D||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Donovan, T.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Drayson, G B.||Hurd, A|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Drewe, C.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Baldwin, A. E||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hynd, J. D. (Attercliffe)|
|Baifour, A||Dumpleton, C. W.||Irving, W. J.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J||Durbin, E. F. M||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Barton, C.||Duthie, W S||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Battley, J. R||Dye, S.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Beamish, Maj T. V H||Eccles, D. M.||Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Belcher, J. W||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Keenan, W.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Kenyon, C|
|Benson, G.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Key, C. W.|
|Berry, H.||Erroll, F. J.||King, E. M|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale)||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Kinley, J.|
|Binns, J||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Kirby, B. V|
|Birch, Nigel||Ewart, R.||Lang, G.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Farthing, W. J.||Lavers, S.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Blyton, W. R||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Legge-Bourke, Maj E A H|
|Bottom, A. C.||Follick, M.||Leonard, W.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Forman, J, C.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bower, N.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Gaitskell, H. T. N-||Lipson, D. L.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Logan, D. G.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Lucas, Major Sir J|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col- W.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lyne, A W.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gibbins, J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Gibson, C. W||McAdam, W.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gilzean, A.||McAllister, G.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A G||Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle el Wight)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gooch, E G.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Burden, T. W.||Gordon-Walker, P. C||McKay, J. (Wallsand)|
|Burke, W. A.||Graham-Little, Sir E.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney. S.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Maclay, Hon. J. S|
|Byers, Frank||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)|
|Carson, E.||Grey, C. F.||McLeavy, F.|
|Challen, C.||Gridley, Sir A.||MacLeod, Capt. J.|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Grierson, E.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Champion, A J||Griffiths, D. (Rothor Valley)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Chafer, D.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Grimston, R. V.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Clitherow, Dr. R||Gunter, Capt. R. J||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Guy, W. H.||Manningham-Buller, R. E|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Marlowe, A. A. H|
|Coldrick, W||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Marples, A. E.|
|Collick, P.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Marquand, H. A.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marsden, Capt. A.|
|Colman, Mitt G. M.||Hardy, E. A.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Harris, H. Wilton||Martin, J. H.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Harrison, J.||Maude, J. C.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Mayhew, C. P|
|Crawley, A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Medlicott, F.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Haworth, J.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Crockshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Mitchison, Maj. G. R|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Daggar, G.||Henderson, John (Catheart)||Monslow, W.|
|Daines, P.||Hicks G||Montague, F.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Teeling, William|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Rhodes, H.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Morley, R.||Richards, R.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Robens, A.||Thorneyoroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thornton-Kermsley, C. N.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Thurtle, E.|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Rogers, G. H. R.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Ross, Sir R.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Moyle, A.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A||Touche, G. C.|
|Murray, J. O.||Sanderson, Sir F.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Nally, W.||Sargood, R.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Viant, S. P.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Nicholls, H. R (Stratford)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Walkdon, E.|
|Nicholson, G.||Shurmer, P.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Noble, Comdr. A H. P||Simmons, C. J||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady.||Skeffington, A. M.||Watkins, T. E.|
|O'Brien, T.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Skinnard, F. W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.||West, D. G.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Paget, R. T.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Snow, Capt. J. W.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilkinson, Rt. Hon. Ellen|
|Peart, Capt. T. F.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Pickthorn, K.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Pitman, I. J.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Stamford, W||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Poole O. B. S (Oswestry).||Steele, T.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Popplewell, E.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Willis, E.|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Strachey, J.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Strauss H G. (English Universities)||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Woods, G. S.|
|Raikes, H. V.||Stubbs, A E.||York, C.|
|Ramsay, Maj. S||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Randall, H. E.||Symonds, A. L.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Ranger, J.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Mr. Pearson and|
|Rees-Williams, D. R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Mr. Joseph Henderson|
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
On a point of Order. I definitely noticed that three hon. Members shouted "Aye". Should not the third Member who shouted "Aye" have his vote recorded?
§ Mr. Speaker
If by any chance it were brought to my notice before the Tellers came to the Table, that an hon. Member had called "Aye" and voted "No", if attention were drawn to it, and he admitted that, then of course I should have to direct his vote to be recorded as an "Aye", because the voice governs the vote. To shout "Aye" and not to vote does not matter in the least.
§ Mr. O'Brien (Nottingham, West)
Is it in Order for certain hon. Members to move an Amendment to the Address and, when the Amendment is put to a Division, for none of them to have the courage to vote for it?
§ Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite (Holderness)
As there was a certain con- 594 gestion in the Lobby during the Division, will it be possible to await publication of the Division Lists tomorrow before calling your attention, Sir, to the hon. Member who shouted "Aye", in order to see whether his vote is recorded or not?
§ Mr. McGovern
I think there were only two who called "Aye" in the House, and they did so because they were democrats and wanted to prove it.