§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
Three matters have been raised which I desire to deal with to-day. The first is the question of the German Generals. I wish to inform the House regarding the four German Field-Marshals—Von Brauchitsch, Von Rundstedt, Von Manstein and Colonel-General Strauss—now awaiting trial in Germany. In delivering the judgment of the Court in October, 1946, Lord Justice Lawrence, as he then was, President of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, stated that there was clear and convincing evidence that many of the German General Staff were not only guilty of planning and waging an aggressive war, but also of "committing war crimes and crimes against humanity." He added: "where the facts warranted it, these men should be brought to trial, so that those among them who are guilty of these crimes should not escape punishment." The four German officers I have named had been taken into British custody as prisoners of war in the Summer of 1945, but at the time of the Nuremberg judgment, no evidence as to their complicity in war crimes was in the possession of the British authorities.
Following the Nuremberg judgment, the United States authorities set up an executive for the purpose of bringing to trial certain groups of war criminals, and during the investigations and screening activities of this body, a great many captured documents were examined, at Nuremberg, Washington and elsewhere. Among these was a large body of documents indicating the responsibility of the four officers for various grave crimes, and in August, 1947, the chief of the executive forwarded a memorandum summarising the evidence which they had obtained against these officers, and, at the same time, calling attention to the passage in the Nuremberg judgment to which I have already referred. In October, 1947, after consideration of this memorandum, it was decided to ask the United States authorities to include these four officers in the trials which they were then preparing of certain other members 895 of the General Staff at Nuremberg. At the end of November, 1947, a reply was received from the United States authorities in Germany, that they were unable to comply with this request as they had completed the indictment, and to have included the four officers at that stage would have delayed the opening of the cases which had been prepared.
A meeting of Ministers was, therefore, held in December, 1947. My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor advised that the memorandum of evidence prepared by the United States authorities disclosed a prima facie case against each of the four officers. Whereupon, it was decided that steps should be taken to obtain the evidence itself and to proceed to bring them to trial. A great deal of further investigation and preliminary work had to be undertaken, and, in the meantime, a doubt arose as to whether the officers were fit for trial, in view of their age and medical condition. A series of medical boards, therefore, examined the officers, and it was finally reported by the Director-General of the Army Medical Services, in consultation with the Medical Officers to the Home Office, in April, 1948, that three of the officers were fit to take their trial, but, at that time, the fourth was not.
His Majesty's Government accordingly decided that the necessary steps should be taken to obtain the actual evidence on which the United States memorandum had been based, together with any other evidence which might be available, and that if the evidence warranted it, the four officers should be brought to trial before a British Military Tribunal in Germany, subject to the fitness of any of their number to stand his trial being dealt with at the time in accordance with the principles which would apply under our ordinary criminal procedure in this country.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
The right hon. Gentleman has been extremely good in giving us the exact date of each subject, and I am sure the House is extremely grateful to him. On the last subject he omitted the date. If he has not that date, well and good; but if by any chance he has it I should be grateful if the House could have it now.
§ Mr. Bevin
I have not got that exact date with me. I will send and get it.
896 At the end of July, therefore, the four officers were returned to Germany, where they are now kept in military custody. I am informed that there are no restrictions on them beyond those necessary for their safe custody, and that they are in fact housed in a hospital. They have been demilitarised in the same way as any other prisoners of war who have been returned to Germany, in order to comply with the quadripartite agreement on the disbandment of the Wehrmacht. The same practice was adopted with military officers amongst the major war criminals tried before the International Military Tribunal, and with all members of the German Armed Forces who in the course of the last three years have been tried as war criminals by either British or United States courts.
The United States authorities themselves had registered cases against three of the officers with the United Nations' War Crimes Commission early in 1947. The Polish authorities had registered cases against three of them in December, 1944, and in December, 1947, they requested His Majesty's Government to hand over two of them for trial by a Polish court. This request was declined as the question of their trial by a British military tribunal was then under consideration. The Russian authorities in Germany asked the British Commander-in-Chief and Military Governor to hand over two of them in March, 1948; but this request was declined as they were not in the custody of the British Commander-in-Chief and Military Governor at that time.
It should be added, however, that His Majesty's Government were under an obligation to hand over alleged war criminals, against whom a clear prima facie case existed, to the Governments of the countries in which their crimes had been committed, unless it was intended to try them before a British tribunal. The decision of His Majesty's Government was taken purely on the merits of the case after being advised that there was a prima facie case against them; and—this is very important—since some of their subordinates had already been tried and convicted of offences which might be proved to have resulted from their orders, His Majesty's Government felt it essential in the interests of justice that further steps should be taken to bring them to trial if the evidence warranted it.
897 As I have previously explained, the actual evidence is still being collated and examined, and for this reason the charges against the four officers have not yet been finally formulated. The officers have, however, each been given a notice outlining the general nature of the charges, and they have been informed that they will receive notice of the charges, as finally formulated, in due time to enable them to prepare their defence. They have all four acknowledged receipt of this notice. The case of these four officers will be the last to be brought before a British military tribunal in Germany. A number of other cases are still being tried but none has been started since 31st August. It has also been decided that the military Governor will only sanction any further applications for extradition in the case of a person against whom a clear prima facie case is made out of murder as defined in the German penal code, but not otherwise. That is the statement I have to make on the German generals.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
May I ask my right hon. Friend a question to which I was promised an answer yesterday? It is this: Is it or is it not true that at one stage the War Office doctors pronounced all the generals concerned as unfit to stand their trial?
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
Is there any reason why these men should not be given bail while they are awaiting their trial? They have now been incarcerated for three years; surely it is time that they were given bail while awaiting trial?
§ Mr. Bevin
I must say, I do not understand this protest. I regret the delay 898 in bringing them to trial. That I acknowledge. I think it should have been done earlier. But it is a very awkward thing to put a Minister in the position of sanctioning the trials of people who carried out somebody else's orders and not sanctioning the trials of the people who gave the orders. That is the situation which I, as Minister responsible for Germany, could not bring myself to adopt.
The second statement I have to make, before I get on to Germany, is in relation to Palestine. The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) in his speech last week raised the question of Palestine. At that time we were not in a position to give him an answer because we were aware that the Mediator, under the directions of the Security Council, was considering the whole matter. Since that time a very tragic event has taken place—the assassination of Count Bernadotte. I should like to begin by paying a warm personal tribute, which I am sure is shared by the whole House, to the great humanitarian services which he rendered in his life to the Red Cross and elsewhere. His lifetime of disinterested service to humanity was an example to all those working in the cause of peace.
The assassination of Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot—a French officer who had rendered distinguished service in the French Army and in the Resistance Movement—has shocked the world, and it is felt particularly by the people of this country who have themselves suffered from similar crimes. Those responsible have placed themselves on trial before the world. The object of those who committed this crime was, no doubt, to prevent Count Bernadotte's task of mediation being brought to a successful completion, and the best way for us to commemorate his death is to complete his work on the basis of the proposals which he put forward just before his death. The outline of the proposals will be known to hon. Members from the summaries which have appeared in the Press, but I am arranging for a copy of the whole report and proposals to be available in the Library.
At this point I would recall the fact that it was mainly on the initiative of the United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations that the appointment of a mediator was approved, with the terms of reference which have resulted in the 899 work which Count Bernadotte has done to supervise the truce, and now to put forward these proposals. Anyone who makes proposals about Palestine always arouses criticism and disappointment, and has always done so in the past. We do not expect that either side will welcome these proposals in toto; but the world cannot wait for ever for the parties to agree; it is now time, in the view of His Majesty's Government, for a final solution to be found by the United Nations.
His Majesty's Government have carefully studied these proposals, and they believe that the conclusions must be considered as a single integrated plan, and that it would be best for all concerned that this plan should be put into operation in its entirety. The recommendations of Count Bernadotte, therefore, have the whole-hearted and unqualified support of His Majesty's Government. The House will have seen from the Press that a similar view has already been expressed by Mr. Marshall on behalf of the United States Government. This problem cannot be solved by polemics. It is our hope that the United Nations will lose no time in throwing the full weight of their authority behind these proposals, but there are two particular points to which I should like to call attention.
Count Bernadotte refers in his report to the apprehension of the Arabs about future Jewish expansion, and concludes that every reasonable assurance must be offered them, not only by the Jews but by the United Nations. I have always felt that the Arab case has been insufficiently appreciated, and I entirely agree that the United Nations should give special guarantees. In one other matter I would insist on the unity of Count Bernadotte's conclusions even more emphatically than he did himself. He recommended that the Arab areas of Palestine, or the greater part of them, should be incorporated in Trans-Jordan, but he suggested that the final decision might be left to the Arab States. In the past, when His Majesty's Government have considered this problem they have always been faced with the difficulty that the Arab parts of Palestine by themselves, which are an unfertile area, would not form a viable state.
900 We therefore believe that the United Nations should avoid the risk of creating a State which could not support itself and should therefore endorse the Mediator's arguments in this matter. Count Bernadotte's recommendations about the treatment of Arab refugees deserve the most urgent study and action by the United Nations. The situation of these refugees is a great human tragedy. The measures which Count Bernadotte initiated before his death, and which his organisation are carrying on, provide only for their immediate needs. There is the vital long-term problem which requires the concerted efforts of all the nations to solve.
Finally, I would urge all those concerned in the Middle East to study Count Bernadotte's proposals calmly and seriously and to lay aside all the influence of extremist propaganda. Though I cannot anticipate that either party will spontaneously express their acceptance of the plan, I would urge them, with all the strength at my command, to acquiesce in it and do nothing to upset it or prevent its implementation. We for our part are determined to do everything we can to see these recommendations brought to fruition. In the past, we have been slanderously accused of encouraging the use of force to settle the Palestine problem. Ideclare categorically that we have never done anything of the kind and that we never will do so. We are resolutely opposed to any attempt to prolong the present instability or to secure any other settlement by force or threat of force. The influence of His Majesty's Government is placed squarely behind the Mediator's recommendations.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
May I ask if His Majesty's Government's acceptance of Count Bernadotte's recommendations involves recognition of Israel, and, if so, will the right hon. Gentleman give an unqualified assurance that before any such recognition is contemplated, he will insist on the release of the two British subjects at present held in Palestine and complete indemnification of them?
§ Mr. Bevin
The statement I have made does not involve recognition. It does involve the policy which the United Kingdom delegation must follow or be instructed to follow at the United Nations.
901 We shall see what emerges from that, and in the next stage we shall have to consider subsequent developments.
I have now to turn to Germany. There are several matters which Members have been good enough to indicate to me they desire to be mentioned in this statement. There is the problem of reparations, the problem of Western Germany, the Moscow negotiations and the air lift. They have been the main problems which I have been requested to refer to in this statement, and I propose to try to give the House as much information as I can. I have from time to time dealt with the problem of Germany in this House, and I think Members are very well acquainted with the steps that have been taken to develop that country after the terrible war we passed through. But it may be wise to give just a slight background to the present situation.
Let me simply recall that not long after the beginning of the Six Power talks in London, which were initiated owing to the impossibility of agreeing with Russia or of getting Russia to agree on the future of Germany, the Soviet authorities in Germany began to impose an increasing number of restrictions on the movement both of goods and personnel to and from Berlin. In spite of all this interference and of many other petty annoyances, we proceeded to carry out the decision of the London Conference. One of the steps which had been necessary for a long time was currency reform. A good deal of disappointment had been caused in this House because we did not carry it out earlier.
We had been trying to obtain Four-Power agreement on the conditions governing its introduction in all zones. We failed, and we decided to reform the currency in our own zones. When we did this we had no intention of interfering in any way with the Soviet currency in Berlin, and we are still prepared to have the Soviet mark as the sole currency in Berlin provided that it is dealt with under quadripartite authority. If we dealt with it in any other way it would mean that we should be subject to pressure just as serious as the blockade, and our administration could be paralysed. There, too, it proved impossible to obtain Soviet agreement to a uniform currency in Berlin under this condition.
902 We were thus faced with a difficulty, and we accordingly proceeded with the introduction of our own separate currency in the Western sectors of Berlin. In my statements to the House on 30th June and on 29th July I made clear the claims of the three Governments regarding their juridical rights as occupying Powers in Berlin. The initial justification advanced by the Russians for this interference and for the imposition of restrictions was based on technical grounds. It was only later that the Soviet Union came more into the open and asserted that they had been compelled to take this action by our introduction of currency reform.
On 24th June the Soviet authorities, still speciously arguing that technical difficulties were the cause, announced the imposition of further restrictions which effectively completed the blockade of Berlin. What is the assumption behind this act? What did the Soviet have in, their minds? There had been a careful' calculation of food stocks and an estimate made of our ability to feed Berlin under this blockade. It was clearly assumed by them that in a few weeks we should be in such difficulties that we should have to abandon Berlin, that starvation could he imposed so quickly, and disorder in the city fomented so easily, that our position would not be tenable. The Western Powers, after consultation, determined to do everything in their power to prevent these terrible intentions from ever being fulfilled.
The problem of surmounting the blockade has been formidable, and has been a very gallant and worthy piece of organisation. The Western sectors of Berlin have a population of 24 million souls, and we had to devise means of supplying them, exclusively by air, with food, fuel, raw materials and the other necessities of life. I am convinced that there were very few people—I doubt if there were many people in this House—who thought it would be possible to mount an air lift on a scale large enough to meet these commitments. What the British and the United States Air Forces have achieved, in ordinary conditions of peace, can be compared with some of the higher exploits of the war, and we have every reason to be proud of them.
What was the effect of all this? It showed conclusively that the people of 903 Berlin did not want to fall into dependence upon Soviet Russia, since they knew that this was the first step to subjection. They responded to the efforts we were making with a sense of relief. Life is hard and difficult for them, but I am bound to say that they have stood it very well. Moreover, their reaction has dismayed and upset the calculations of those who thought we would be out of Berlin in a few weeks and who, in defiance of their international agreements, attempted to dislodge the Western Allies from the rightful position which they held under the agreement for the surrender of Germany.
May I tell the House what has been accomplished by this air lift and the prospects for the future? During the last three months the United States authorities and ourselves have delivered over 200,000 tons of essential freight to the people of Berlin. The American share is 60 per cent. of this, and ours is about 40 per cent. British aircraft have flown 20,000 sorties, and over 6 million miles. Stocks of most of the essential commodities in the Western sectors, including coal, are, I am glad to say, greater in many cases than they were in June, when the blockade was introduced. Looking to the future, the three Foreign Ministers have met in Paris. The United States Foreign Minister and myself in particular, whose Governments are in the main finding the aircraft for this purpose, have examined the air lift capacity for the coming winter.
While I cannot go into great detail— and I am sure the House would not ask me to go into detailed figures; it is not in the public interest to do so at this moment—I can say that if this senseless blockade continues, if there is no let-up, and the worst comes to the worst, we are confident, after careful examination of all the factors, and basing our calculations on the most pessimistic estimate of the weather—that by a combination of the two Air Forces, augmented, I am happy to say, by a tremendous effort on the part of the United States, we shall be able to see the winter through, although there will be some discomfort for the Berlin people. As I have said, for the first three months the British contribution has been 40 per cent. From now on 'the United States share will increase. 904 They are bringing in great C. 54s which, instead of carrying 2½ tons, carry 10 tons per lift. The number of these aircraft will be increased.
I know the House is waiting for a report from me on the whole course of the talks with Generalissimo Stalin and Mr. Molotov in Moscow, and I crave the indulgence of the House because I have to disappoint it. The stage has not been reached in which it has been made possible to make a release. We are engaged in close consultation. We have examined statements and counter-statements, and we are still working on this matter and shall be continuing our consultation in Paris during the coming week. I am, therefore, unable to go into detail at this stage. The presence of the three Foreign Ministers in Paris has enabled us to undertake a careful personal examination both of the details of the conversations and, what is more, to consider the blockade. We have called our advisers back to go into all its implications, to study the whole strategy, and anything we may have to do to counter the blockade or to counter other measures which may be taken to weaken our position in Berlin.
Our position at this moment is as it was when I addressed the House on 29th July—that is to say, we regard the lifting of the blockade as an essential condition on which any settlement must be based. We have stated our willingness to have the Soviet currency in Berlin provided it is subject to quadripartite authority and, in addition, we have asked for, and insisted on, Four-Power control over trade between Berlin and the Western zones.
I have noticed in the Press and elsewhere that there have been rumours of disagreement between the three Western Powers, but I can assure the House that not only are we in absolute agreement as to the policy of the air lift, and about defending ourselves in Berlin, but also on the policy we shall jointly pursue if that fails. I am not, by that, saying that we are committed to war and all the other things that might ensue—we have not reached that stage yet but we have made provision to save Berlin from the worst effects, indeed, to minimise the effects, of the actions of those who thought out this dastardly scheme to put pressure on their Western Allies who stood in with them during the war. It is a poor reward so soon afterwards.
905 I mentioned that I have been asked to deal with other subjects in addition to the air lift and the Moscow negotiations, and I now want to present to the House the brighter side of the picture, namely, the progress we are making in Western Germany. We have introduced currency reform. Hon. Members are aware of the prolonged efforts we made to reach agreement on the introduction of the reform on a Four-Power basis, and of the failure that followed. The issue of this new currency in the Western zone has met with remarkable success. Before its introduction money and wages had no longer any real value. Wages provided no incentive to work and prices were too high to give any encouragement to produce or sell. A large part of all available goods including food was sold in the black market.
All this has been changed. Money has a real value; consumer goods have come into the shops; manufacturers are producing and selling as much as they can; and the workers know that their pay packets can buy more of the things they need. I am glad to see that absenteeism has gone down and that the black market is nearly crippled. Coal production is nearer the level of 300,000 tons a day and a remarkable increase has occurred in steel production. It has risen from 377,000 tons a month prior to currency reform up to 510,000 tons in the month of August. This corresponds to a yearly rate of six million tons which is the desired figure in the 1948-49 European Recovery Programme. We are confident that we shall see a steady further increase in the coming months. If things go on as they are going now I think we shall see a rate of 10.7 million tons much earlier than we had anticipated.
The supply of food from the farms is much better and the food situation is much improved. The confidence of the people is being shown by the gradual increase in bank deposits and a revival of life insurance. This great financial operation has created difficulties for some sections of the community. That I acknowledge. It has not worked out with equal effect on all alike. Now that we see the problem our experts are taking steps to supplement it in a way that will equalise the burden on all sections of the community, and the necessary legislation is being prepared. Psychologically it has 906 had a marked effect not only in Germany but over a much wider area than Germany. Those Members of the House and others who have visited Germany recently have told me of the immense change they have seen over the last year. Apathy has given way to a revival of hope, and I believe the German people are turning with new hope and fresh heart to the reconstruction of their country.
The next point in connection with Western Germany is the transfer of government to the German people. It is a very difficult thing to administer a foreign country. It is bad enough trying to administer one's own. It takes an enormous lot of debate and energy in this House to make a success of it. In any case, having to deal with a devastated country like Germany and to bring it back into healthy life, has, I can assure the House, been no mean task. We are, therefore, following the policy of transferring to the German people as fast as we can a large measure of responsibility. We believe that this is essential if democracy and responsible government are to develop on right lines.
I must again call attention to the results of the Six-Power Conference. This laid down certain basic principles to be observed in the framing of a democratic constitution. These provide for a governmental structure of a federal type which is best suited to the eventual re-establishment of German unity, and which will protect the rights of the participating States, provide adequate central authority and contain guarantees of individual rights and freedom. The Minister-Presidents of the States in their respective zones were authorised to convene a Constituent Assembly to draft such a constitution, and were informed that if the constitution did not conflict with the general principles laid down by the Military Governors, the latter could authorise its submission for ratification by each Land by means of a referendum. After careful study the German representatives accepted with some modifications the conditions presented to them.
On this basis a Provisional Constitution, to be called a Basic Law, is being fully and freely discussed by the Parliamentary Council in Bonn. I am hoping that their work will be completed without delay, and a provisional West German Government may be established 907 early in the new year. While we are anxious to encourage this healthy political development in Western Germany we are still hoping that sooner or later a united German Government will be established, and nothing we are doing now or may do in the future will prejudice that.
In addition we have been engaged with our American and French friends in working out an occupation statute. The purpose of this statute is to define the relationship between the occupying Powers and the future governing body of Western Germany. The effect of it will be to give the German authorities maximum powers in all fields of government compatible with security and the basic requirements of the occupying Powers. The rapid and encouraging progress which is being made in Western Germany reflects not only the harmony between the three Allies, but also a growing sense of responsibility and leadership in the leading German political parties. The German leaders who are participating in this development are determined to safeguard the new constitution from any possibility of a return to a totalitarian conception of government, and after the most careful inquiries we are satisfied that they are supported in this by the German people.
The next point is the relationship of Germany to the European Recovery Plan. We were determined that Western Germany should play a part in regard to the Marshall Plan. As I have already explained to the House, Western Germany is part of the plan and will participate in the organisation for European economic reconstruction. The whole future of German economy is, therefore, being examined by us in relation to Europe as a whole.
One last question about which hon. Members are concerned in connection with Germany is that of reparations. Questions have been continually asked about it, and I desire to make our position as clear as I can, for it has caused very great concern. There are three principles connected with the question of reparations that must be borne in mind. The first is the industrial disarmament of Germany on the grounds of security; (2) the reparation to the Allies whose capital equipment and productive capacity had been damaged by Nazi 908 aggression; and (3) the retention in Germany of sufficient plant to enable her to maintain a reasonable standard of life and to contribute appropriately to the rehabilitation of Europe. We have not departed from those principles, which were laid down in the days of the Coalition Government when we first examined this problem. We were never drawn into any punitive ideas like our friends on the Continent. This matter was dealt with by the Armistice and Post-War Committee when we were considering Germany's surrender, and while there were a good many punitive ideas we never adopted that attitude and neither have we since. The three principles which I have just mentioned were adopted in 1945 and they still remain the aims we hope to achieve.
For nearly three years we advocated a higher level of industry for Germany than any of our other Allies thought desirable. In 1947 we were unable to get agreement on the treatment of Germany as an economic whole. We worked out a revised level of industry plan for the British and the American zones of Germany. The House has had that plan placed before it. In a word, it was 10.7 million tons of steel production, which was a yardstick for other forms of production in Germany. The previous agreement was 5.6 million tons. At one period, an even lower figure than that was suggested by some of our Allies.
When this 10.7 million tons was arrived at, we naturally had to work out what plants were surplus. It was on that basis that we laid our plans for the removal of surplus capital equipment, for the benefit of countries devastated by the war and who were entitled to receive reparations. It was not as much as these countries deserved to receive, having regard to the losses they had suffered, but it was as much as it was prudent for them to expect, given the importance of a healthy German economy to the future of Germany. What we have left in Germany we regard as essential to achieve that purpose.
Now, new problems have arisen. In the name of the European Recovery Programme, plans made for reparations over a year ago are now being called into question. As the bulk of this reparation has to come from the British zone it is very embarrassing for us, because there is 909 relatively very little of this work to be done in either the American or the French zones.
I know it is argued that to pull down plant in Germany and at the same time to build up production so as to make Europe more self-supporting seems contradictory, but there is no real inconsistency in it. Take the economic side first. In spite of all these problems, Germany's industrial capacity today is in excess of Germany's peace-time needs. She cannot regain even normal peace-time production levels for some time, owing to lack of manpower and disorganisation. I would remind the House that there are large sections of industry not affected by the reparations programme, which are lying idle or are working at half strength. I would stress that. It is assumed, because we see a building pulled down that we are just destroying Germany's capacity, but a number of other works are operating at only half strength, or are not working at all, which could be used elsewhere.
The removal of plant surplus to Germany's peace-time requirements will not affect the peace-time production of those things which Germany and Europe so badly need. We have to take into account the enormous intensification of production which went on under the Hitler regime. On the contrary, it may help to concentrate production and make for efficiency. There are plants now standing idle which Germany will never be able to put to effective use. If removed for reparations to other countries they can be utilised in a short time. We consider that, in the interests of Western Europe, such plants should be put to that use, to replace those which were destroyed in the war. From the point of view of Germany itself, there is no doubt that the sooner the reparations question is finally settled and the plants due for removal are taken away, the sooner will German industry get into its new and proper stride. That is why we deplore that this conflict has been going on for so long.
I must point out that there may be a few plants here and there which, because of certain shortages which have come to light in the last 12 months, might be more useful left in Germany. In these special cases we have always agreed to re-examine the problem in the light of the needs of the European Co- 910 operation Act, but we do not regard the complete overhaul of the reparations level as essential. We have indicated our willingness to the United States Government to look at it, but we have always to keep in mind, as hon. Members saw the other day when the protest came from the I.A.R.A. countries—the other countries entitled to receive reparations —that their recovery was being delayed.
Therefore, in conclusion, I hope that, notwithstanding the gravity of the Berlin situation, this House will keep the whole question of Germany and Central Europe in their minds and in their thinking. I am sure and we have seen indications of it in the Press this morning—that there will be quite a number of manoeuvres to upset the Western Allies in Germany and in Western Europe. We are going to have a terrific lot of propaganda, but we are firmly resolved to go on with our policy. I trust we shall have the wholehearted support of the House and the nation in doing it, because I am convinced that it is essential for peace and for our security for many years to come.
In dealing with the people who are contesting against us now, we cannot buy peace. It reminds me of 1940, after Dunkirk. I think hon. Members will remember it. The Prime Minister at that time was discussing the position that we were in, and he said: Whatever you give, wherever you go to meet the demands of the Nazis, you cannot settle them. He was right. In the present case, to try going any further than we have done in making concessions of territory or anything else does not satisfy the demands. There is the conflict. We have to make our own position firm and secure. Berlin stands out as a symbol of resistance, a sort of salient. So far as I am concerned, I felt when that blockade was put on that a great choice had to be made. We made it. It was either to stand firm there or turn south and go to another Munich. That was the issue with which we were faced.
I believe that East and West have to live together. I am ready to live together. I am ready to say: "You live in peace in the territory you have got."
§ Mr. Bevin
Well, "Live in peace in the area you have got," if you like. I am not talking about any particular frontiers or anywhere else. I did not mean to draw any precise line. Certainly not. What I say is, "Let us settle that, if you like," but to settle a line, only to find that the next morning you wake up to demands, revolutions, stirrings of your people and upsetting of your institutions, and everything else to promote an expansion at a very cheap price without war, is a situation which, whoever occupies these benches, could not, I am certain, accept in the name of Great Britain.
It is common ground that we want to fight nobody. We have made probably the greatest sacrifice of any nation in the world for our recovery. I know that parties opposite may claim that they would do it better this way or that, but I think all are bound to acknowledge that the British people—the ordinary common man with all the disturbances of war, with all the devastation caused by the war, with all the lack of housing and lack of amenities and very often insufficient food—have made a gallant effort to rebuild their independence and re-establish themselves. Indeed, in proportion to their wealth and in proportion to what they had to give, they have given equally with, if not greater than, any other nation in the world in the last three years. A nation like that deserves to survive. It shall survive whatever happens.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
We are all glad to see the right hon. Gentleman returned from Paris especially for this Debate on a day on which he asked that it should be held. But we realise the great discomfort that must have been entailed in his coming back and then having to return immediately. I might also say before I make some rather definite remarks about the situation in Germany, that I think the whole House was behind the right hon. Gentleman in his peroration. If that represents the policy of His Majesty's Government, I think he can go back to Paris and tell them there that we shall back him to put that sort of policy through.
I want to deal for a moment with Palestine before I say some specific things on behalf of the Opposition about 912 Germany. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has already expressed his horror at the murder of the Mediator and our sympathy has been expressed by him. Why this was allowed to happen after the warnings that had been given we cannot understand, and we trust that the perpetrators of this crime will be found and speedily punished. The right hon. Gentleman says not only he but also the American Secretary of State has decided to support the general lines of the Mediator's report. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I myself have only had the opportunity to read summaries of this report in the Press, and I should like to make a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman—perhaps the Under-Secretary when he replies would give us the answer —that this report should be published as a White Paper so that hon. Members might read it. We are meanwhile obliged for the fact that a copy will be in the Library.
In regard to the report as a whole, we clearly have preliminary reactions, and if I may speak for myself I would say that the report would appear to provide a basis for a settlement. It appears to be a realist document, the details of which we should now like to study. We note that there are some changes in the boundaries proposed, particularly in regard to the Nejeb which is to go to the Arabs, and we note that Galilee is to go to the Jews. We are in some doubt whether the proposals about Arab refugees returning to the Jewish State will work out in practice, and we consider that this aspect of the report will require further study by ourselves, together with the various other recommendations which it contains.
But I should like to say that from what I have seen of the report, the Mediator is right in asking for an immediate United Nations Commission to proceed to Palestine and he is right to use the words that the Security Council must stand firm according to their resolution of 15th July that military action is not employed by either party in the dispute. If this the case the United Nations must now, after this tragedy of the death of the Mediator, show a little more strength, a little more purpose and a little more drive in solving this matter. I therefore trust that the right hon. Gentleman, who 913 has given us an indication of his views at the earliest possible moment, will return to Paris and that his return will result in the United Nations addressing to this question more energy and determination than they have hitherto.
Now I return to the central theme of Germany. I say at once that we understand that the right hon. Gentleman cannot announce final decisions upon the recent talks before further discussions have taken place with his colleagues with whom he is discussing these matters. Nevertheless, I must emphasise the growing disquiet which exists in the country about the possible outcome of these talks. This is largely due to the lack of information which prevails. The public is asked to follow the results of these talks according to the smile on the face of one or other of the negotiators as they emerge from the chamber where they have been talking, and according to all sorts of gossip which is being put about. There is no wonder, therefore, that even during the right hon. Gentleman's absence in Paris there have been rumours which he was obliged to deny in his speech today. I should like to say at once that we are very glad to hear from him that there is no difference of opinion between himself and the other Foreign Secretaries with whom he has been discussing these matters. We note that with pleasure and thank him for giving us that information.
The Opposition are right to register the growing doubts which exist about the situation. On 30th July the Foreign Secretary hoped for a progressive solution of the difficulties which had arisen. Now towards the end of September we find, in the words of Jeremiah:The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved.Meanwhile the long-drawn-out talks are to continue. The Foreign Secretary also said on 29th July that His Majesty's Government could not be expected to negotiate under duress, that is to say, under the conditions which have been created by the Soviet Government. What distresses us is that a large part of these negotiations has in fact been carried on under what we must call duress. Certainly it appears that the Russian plans immediately we introduced our currency reform into the Berlin Sector showed every sign of careful preparation beforehand.
914 What we want to get clear as a result of this Debate—restricted as I must be, as the right hon. Gentleman was, in discussing the actual talks themselves—is not so much whether a technical agreement could be reached on currency, access to Berlin, trading questions or anything else; but the question as to whether the Russians intend to honour any agreement made. We are at the present moment in the most grave and uneasy situation—it would be difficult to imagine one more difficult—and the key to the difficulties seems to me to be found in the campaign which the Russians have run, parallel to the talks which have been taking place in the Kremlin or elsewhere, deliberately designed to incite chaos and mob rule in Berlin itself. No doubt I can talk more frankly than the right hon. Gentleman was able to talk today in regard to Soviet tactics. [An HON. MEMBER: "And incite more."] Perhaps the hon. Member will listen to the whole of my speech and then he will be able to form a general impression of our attitude on this side.
It appears to us that General Sokolovsky's conduct fits into the picture completely. It is hard to find grounds for any belief that the Moscow authorities are seriously disposed to contemplate the Allies in Berlin as equals and as of right. It is most important for us in this House today to stress the fact of the right we have to be in Berlin under treaty. One cannot understand, if my diagnosis is not correct, why the City Assembly's meetings have been broken up, the City Assembly unfortunately being in the Soviet sector; why arrests have taken place of members of the official German police after the grant of Russian safe conduct; why Draconian sentences have been imposed on youths, undefended in court, involved in rioting at the Brandenburg Gate; and why there has been disrespect not only towards the German but also towards Allied officials. All this seems evidence of the Russian aim to undermine and destroy what remains of the elected German administration, as well as the prestige of the Western Powers. We have also seen Press reports, which the Under-Secretary might be able to confirm or otherwise, that the Soviet is increasing its grip on the whole of the Eastern zone, and is introducing measures to arm its police and to organise the Communist youth on commando lines.
915 Such is the background against which it was evidently expected that it would be possible to reach some accommodation, but I should not be presenting a fair picture if I did not take up the right hon. Gentleman's own words and say that we have derived one immense asset from the recent conduct of affairs in Germany as a whole. I refer to the reaction of the German people themselves. Both in the Western sectors of Berlin and in Western Germany as a whole, the reaction of the people has been far-reaching. For some time now my right hon. Friends and myself and hon. Members on this side have pressed for a more active policy in Western Germany. We have had several debates, and at last we are seeing the result of some of our pressure in the improved policy and improved results to which the right hon. Gentleman referred today.
But what I want to say to the House is that the very fact that there is so strong a reaction on the part of the German people in favour of a Western German form of Government as against the unity of Germany, for example, and the fact that there is such a strong reaction against Communism and all that it means, imposes on us a great new obligation. Because, if anything were to go wrong in Germany or in Berlin in particular, it is quite obvious that there would be violent reprisals against those who have so strongly been taking the view that they have.
One important aspect of this revulsion of feeling is the greater readiness of German political leaders to co-operate in proposals for a West German Government. All hesitations do not appear to have vanished, according to the information that we can obtain, but we welcome the successful opening of the Constituent Assembly at Bonn on the prescribed date and the attendance of the Berlin representatives. Another stimulus is the currency reform. Although it would appear to us from General Clay's monthly report for July that certain heavy industries such as coalmining are still suffering from the general shortage of money, nevertheless the introduction of the currency reform has been on the whole a great improvement.
The Western Powers must never allow themselves to be held back or prejudiced 916 in any way in regard to the policy in Western Germany which is now being pursued. I only want to mention a rumour I have seen, published by the London correspondent of "Le Monde" on 3rd September, that it is the idea that the success in Western Germany shall conceal and cloak a "slow retreat" of the British and Allied Forces from Berlin—I only want to mention that rumour to say that I trust the Government will repudiate it as indignantly as we do.
The Foreign Secretary devoted a short part of his speech to the question of reparations or dismantling, or whatever else we like to call it. I have no intention of taking on the rôle of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) in this matter because I feel that this is his perquisite, and no doubt he desires shortly to address the House. It is an extremely complicated question. The proposal to curtail dismantling occurs definitely in the European Recovery Act, and we have the advantage of the views of Mr. Hoffman on this matter. There would appear to be a slight discrepancy between the views there expressed and the views expressed here today by the Foreign Secretary. On the other hand, Mr. Rueff, the head of the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency, recently protested that the Agency had not had the amounts due, and requested deliveries to the Allies to be hastened.
I, therefore, think that the clearest expression of opinion we can give from this side today is to say that some finality must be brought into this question. I do not think it is so uncomplicated as to say that we can take a simple line, 7 but I do say that some finality should be brought into the question and that it should not drag on indefinitely. The Minister of State said on 30th June in this House:… there can be no suggestion that we have discriminated against German production in favour of British trade.He went on to say:… it should be known that it has already been agreed and is being acted upon that no destruction of property shall take place unless it is specifically of military construction; anything else which is useful to the economy of Germany is in the meantime being left"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th June, 1948; Vol. 452, c. 2340.]That, I think, can only be explained if we take it that the latter words referred 917 to the destruction of property part of the reparations problem and not to the problem as a whole. But the words to which I wish to draw the attention of the House are these:
… there can be no suggestion that we have discriminated against German production in favour of British trade.I should like the Under-Secretary to give us a further answer to certain questions which have been put in this House by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) with reference to unemployment in the German clock-making industry as a result of discrimination in favour of French, or was it British, interests? If the Under-Secretary would give us an undertaking that such things are not likely to occur in the future, if he will also give us an undertaking that this question of reparations and dismantling is to be brought to a speedy conclusion, then I think we can feel happier on this matter.
Before I discuss what next steps we can take I want to say one word about the German generals. The redeeming feature of the statement of the Foreign Secretary on the German Generals was that he has himself acknowledged and owned up about the delay which has taken place, and he has with great frankness stated the dates upon which the various events occurred. We are astonished at the delay which has taken place which we think to have been quite unnecessary. The earliest date he mentioned was a Polish date of 1944, but there are dates in 1947 which ill chime in with any idea that this matter has been conducted with despatch or decency. I do not doubt that further observations will be made on this matter in the course of this Debate.
I now want to devote the remaining portion of my remarks—which, in the circumstances of the Foreign Secretary's speech cannot be as extended as they might otherwise have been—to a discussion of the next steps we may take. I think it is necessary for us to have in our minds some appreciation of Russian motives. My right hon. Friends and I, and hon. Members on this side of the House, do not wish to see British policy conducted and inspired by the view that war is immediately inevitable. That is why I gave the immediate reaction I did on behalf of my friends to the concluding words of the right hon. Gentleman 918 himself. However, we are equally determined so to comport ourselves that in the event of Russian policy leading to a clash we are ready. It is an almost impossible game, as hon. Members opposite know better than I do, to attempt to give any indication of what one thinks Russian policy may be.
Certain wise people consider that it is the Soviet desire to seal off their frontiers, to consolidate their immense glacis of satellite States which, since the death of Lenin and contrary to his advice, they have considered necessary to obtain their security—to consolidate all that they have gained and to conduct a policy of Imperial defence. The trouble to our minds, however, is that this game is indistinguishable from virtually unlimited Imperialist aggression. What is clear at any rate, whatever be the motives of the Russians, is that we must develop and show our strength.
I do not believe that the Russians, either in this particular incarnation or in previous periods in their history, have taken the same view of conferences or negotiations which we are apt to take. They very often regard these comings together as occasions for propaganda. They see in them an opportunity to push Russian views and demands as far as possible. They tend to work out their plans in advance and have less spirit of accommodation or compromise than we are accustomed to in running our affairs.
These are fundamental differences which I believe occur and are not necessarily criticisms of any particular method. But of one thing I am convinced; results are only achieved according to the strength or weakness shown by those taking part in the discussions. What impression have the Russians obtained of what I might describe as the Allies at the present time? They have seen an apparent determination of Britain to draw in her horns under her present leadership. In this connection I ask the Government how far the present situation in Berlin justifies attempts to conclude further bargains with the Soviet which bring benefits to the Soviet Union—I refer in particular to the purchase by Russia of potential war materials, such as rubber from Malaya.
I think it is quite necessary to speak frankly on this occasion on such matters. The Soviet not only doubt the strength 919 of Britain, to which I shall refer later, but doubt whether firm action will be taken by the Americans before the result of the Presidential Election is known. They see too clearly the weakness of the French political situation and I think they see that we are building up our Western strength too slowly. Therefore, it seems, if one has to sum up one's views about the next steps to be taken, that our vital need is to show our strength and show it in such a way that it is realised by the other side. In my original remarks I had prepared some suggestions on the submission of our dispute to the United Nations —
§ Mr. Harold Davies
Would the right hon. Gentleman make that a little more explicit, that we must show our strength? I should like him to explain and make that a little more explicit.
§ Mr. Butler
That was the object of the concluding parts of my oration, which I will endeavour to address to the House. I was saying that the first step is the mobilisation of world opinion. There have been rumours in the Press that if this dispute is not settled this way or that, it might be submitted to the United Nations. Under the circumstances I will not go into that in detail, but will only say that one benefit which I think we can derive from such procedure would be the further mobilisation of world opinion. I must leave that matter, because we all hope that if accommodation is to be found it will be found.
The second step we must take is in defence and that is to be dealt with in the Defence Debate tomorrow, which I shall leave to my right hon. Friends and others to develop. The third step is as the right hon. Gentleman said to continue with the air lift. I calculate from figures I have been able to get that some 98,000 tons, or shall we say 100,000 tons, of coal and food particuarly, are wanted in Berlin per month. This figure is divided roughly into 66,000 tons of coal and 32,000 tons of food, provided that the potatoes and other heavy material are dehydrated and taken in in that way. I understand we have been able to take in 26,000 tons a week. If my arithmetic is correct, we have a very substantial balance over and above what is needed at the present time, but we have the winter before us. We also learn that another airfield is being con- 920 structed in the French sector to make up for Templehof and Gatow which are being used almost overtime.
We can say that the Foreign Secretary's appreciation is reasonably correct and that it will be possible, but with discomfort to the German people, which we must not underestimate, to keep the air lift going over the winter months. But there is one aspect to which I have not been able to find an answer; that is the carrying of raw materials to German industry in the capital. I do not believe it will be possible. by the air lift to carry sufficient raw materials to keep all industry going in the capital itself. This is a matter upon which only the experts can give us a final opinion, but clearly the maximum effort must be put into the air lift with increased aircraft of large size and scale. This must be undertaken until the time when as of right we proceed down the autobahn, as undoubtedly we have the right to do.
The third step which I think we should take in developing our strength is a further development of the West. As the "Observer" said last Sunday:What seems to be lacking is not good intentions but the feeling of urgency.As long ago as June, 1946, this matter was raised by us in debate and I personally asked for more definite steps to be taken in developing Western Union and our strength in the West. The Foreign Secretary on 22nd January of this year outlined the needs for developing this matter in the following ways; he mentioned that our relations with France and Benelux must' be brought closer. Western Union must be seen in its wider scope, including the Colonies of the European Powers. Economic and defence arrangements must be come to.
Since then advances have been made. We have the Brussels Treaty and our relations with France have been brought closer, while the matter to which the right hon. Gentleman attaches great importance, the arrangements of O.E.E.C., that is, the allocation of direct and indirect aid from American sources, have been agreed. I think any tribute which ought to be made to the British members who are taking part in such negotiations ought to be made from this Box at the present time. But this does not mean that we have progressed nearly fast 921 enough in the face of the menace in front of us. For example, we have still things to settle under O.E.E.C. There is the mechanism of the intra-European payments scheme which I think has not yet been brought into being. Nor have the principles of commercial policy which shall prevail while the payments scheme is functioning been worked out. What we further want to do, apart from the machinery to administer American aid, is to bring European economy into a more integrated whole and to provide a political and military shelter to balance the economic shelter provided by Marshall Aid.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I think we are in danger in using these phrases. The right hon. Gentleman has just used one when he spoke of "a more integrated whole." Could he, from his side of the House, give a little more detail of what that means?
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) is in the same position as the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) was a little time ago. In each case I was about to proceed to answer the question in my next paragraph. It shows the beautiful logic with which I have arranged my remarks. I used this general phrase for the purpose of explaining it as shortly as possible in the next few minutes. Following the payments scheme, we want to see a currency agreement for Europe as a whole, and this is the first instance I give. As a second step we want to make arrangements to co-ordinate bilateral trade agreements, which are bound to be made in Europe, short of obtaining the customs union which, after the experiments of 1931, I think likely to be difficult to achieve in a short space of time. Thirdly, we want a scheme to ensure the non-wasteful use of capital resources and, fourthly, co-operation over plans for food production so that food is grown in the right areas and right amounts for the population of Europe.
Those are, put quite shortly, the four heads to which I think it would help us if the Foreign Secretary or the Under-Secretary would refer later in the Debate. They should indicate whether progress can be made on these particular paths. 922 No doubt some economic council will be necessary which will have a more special duty than E.C.E. under the United Nations organisation. Its function would be to carry through these particular tasks. But in line with this economic development of the West we want to see much closer political and military understandings. I am not so simple as to say that if we are to get the nations of the West together they must be either in the magic numbers of 16 or six, a dilemma placed before us very conveniently and fairly in a recent leading article in the "New Statesman." I do not believe it is quite so simple as that. I do not think that we should necessarily adhere to the Brussels Pact, though that provides for the adherence of other nations to the Pact.
I believe that what we want is something wider by way of agreement between the nations of the West, something which will bring in for example, Italy, the "new Italy" referred to in the January Debate by the right hon. Gentleman; something which will interest Portugal and the Atlantic interests of that country, which have been so historically important for many years. Further, we want a policy which will tie together all those nations which are ready to enter into particular commitments which are vital at the present time if we are to have the strength of our convictions. Whoever makes this pact will need to widen it in such a way that it not only embraces the interests of all the nations bordering the Atlantic but also has regard to the strategic importance of the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean itself.
Therefore, if we are to mobilise our strength in the way I have defined, we may find a definite power in the West which the Russians will understand, which will tie the European nations together while there is still time and which will fortify us. Mr. St. Laurent in Canada, asked us to get together in a pact of this sort, in which the Canadians and the Americans would themselves be interested. That is a development of British foreign policy which I am sure will help us most at the present time.
I have tried to give an indication of positive lines of future action. All this means a forward and active diplomacy, the acquisition of more strength which we shall see, I hope, in the discussions in the Defence Debate tomorrow, and the 923 deployment of that strength so that it is clearly realised by the world as a whole. Whether or not the future of Western civilisation is at stake, the future of Europe is certainly at stake. I do not wish Europe to be regarded from now as that sort of Balkan area of the world in which there are always troubles and of which the great statesmen of the great Powers are more afraid than anything else, which was the position in the Balkans for so long during the last century.
We want to fight, if necessary, to prevent Europe from falling under any new Communist Charlemagne. Yet the only alternative for free Europe at the present time is to save itself by its exertions and link up its exertions with its powerful friend and economic saviour, the United States of America. It is because we think that Britain can give a more dynamic and powerful lead that we urge the Foreign Secretary forward, now that, in the words I quoted earlier,The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Crawley (Buckingham)
Before turning to the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech I would like to make an observation on the German generals. I rose when the Foreign Secretary was making his statement, because, in reply to my hon. Friend below the Gangway, he said that he would like to have notice of the question of whether these generals had been examined by War Office doctors. I put that Question on the Order Paper yesterday and I had assumed that it would have been passed on to the Foreign Secretary. He gave an answer which I would like to have time to study, but I wish to say as one who was himself a prisoner in Germany for four years and I am, therefore, able to compare German methods of dealing with courts martial and trials with the method which has been disclosed in these particular cases.
I am not one of those who have any very sentimental feelings towards the Germans. I know that they kept many prisoners for many years without trial, but in nearly every case, certainly in every case of which I know, there was at least a prima facie excuse for that in 924 that these prisoners had been caught in civilian clothes and did not come under the official category of prisoner of war which is covered by the Geneva Convention. I was interpreter in a large camp and have reason to know of a good many such cases. But where official prisoners of war came before the Germans for court martial or in ordinary process as prisoners of war, the Germans carried out their trials with a good deal of despatch. If, through the Protecting Power, a protest was made, a delay of three, four or five months was considered a scandalous delay and action was taken.
The delay, whatever the causes of it, which the Foreign Secretary has so frankly admitted has taken place in this case, has made this trial repugnant to all of us, whatever our feelings about the Germans, and however true it is, and it is true, as the Foreign Secretary stated, that these men have responsibilities of a criminal kind. Nevertheless, after such a long delay, in view of the fact that they are old and broken men and have already spent more than three years as prisoners of war in peace time, I feel that this trial should be abandoned.
I throw out the suggestion made to me by a German who is quite unsentimental towards the Nazis, and who is now in a responsible position, that a statement of the charges against these men, and perhaps the findings of a committee which might sit without trying them in person, should be made for the benefit of the German people, and these old men should be allowed to go free. I hope that even at this stage it will be possible to follow that course. I think it will have a better effect on German opinion and world opinion than will a continuation of this trial.
To come to the main theme of the Debate, two or three days ago when it was clear that the talks in Moscow were breaking down, "The Times" remarked that the alternative before the Government was now plainly either a further approach to Moscow or reference of the matter to the United Nations. The Foreign Secretary, for very understandable reasons, has not been able to tell us what course of action is, in fact, to be taken but I wish to say that I hope that no further approach will be made at this point to Moscow. I know that some of my hon. Friends on this side of the 925 House take the view that even at this stage, after the experience we have had for the last three years, what I have heard described as a really disinterested approach might once again be made. One must really ask oneself, "What do they mean in this case by being disinterested?"
After all, we have very real interests in the world at this time. Our fundamental interest is to try, difficult as it is, to recreate conditions, particularly in Europe, in which democracy may once again begin to grow. The only conceivable way of doing that is to get international treaties enforced, and where there are disputes about the interpretation of those treaties, to press one's point of view as firmly as possible, and where compromise is not reached to refer it to whatever courts of arbitration exist, in this case the United Nations. Ultimately, even if arbitration fails to be accepted, one must make up one's mind how to maintain one's point of view as firmly as anyone else is going to maintain theirs.
I cannot see that at this stage we have any evidence to show that the Russians are capable of understanding even the fact that there is another point of view. That seems to me to be the most baffling feature of this whole situation and in view of that, and in view of the fact that where they do not—and they never do—see another point of view they are incapable of compromise, and in each case exert all pressure by threats of force or the use of force that they find available to them, I cannot see that any approach by direct negotiation can serve any useful purpose. On the other hand, I do hope that the matter will be referred to the United Nations, either first through the Security Council or directly to the Assembly.
There are those who say that the legality of the cause of Russia is as strong as ours and if it is referred to the United Nations we may not come out of it very well. I would point out that the United Nations is not a court of law. One may argue the legality of a case which is in dispute as long as one likes, but the United Nations is an assembly of people who are there to judge not merely legality, but the motives and methods which nations are employing. If we were afraid to submit our case to the United Nations we should lose the whole of the moral superiority, the moral authority of our position. On the other hand, there 926 are grave risks in doing that which we have to face. As I see it the chief risk is that the peoples of Western Europe, seeing yet another delay and another series of negotiations will begin to lose faith in the power of the Western democracies to hold their own in Europe. Therefore, at the same time as referring the matter to the United Nations it does seem to me very important that we should do all we can, as quickly as we can, to further the cohesion of Western Europe.
It is there that I should like to examine the case of the Opposition. The Government are being criticised both by Americans, by people on the Continent and by the Opposition for what is described as tardiness in progressing with the cause of Western Union. In answer to that I would like to ask some questions. The first question which I would ask, in no personal sense at all, but as a matter of great historical importance is why the Leader of the Opposition is not here at this vital moment? After all, he it is who was the torch-bearer, and indeed the self-appointed architect of this great plan for Western Europe. He has been described by his colleagues perfectly sincerely—and he has a great claim to the title—as the first European. There can surely be no moment at which new enthusiasm and new drive for the cause of Western Union is so vitally important as now, and we would expect at this time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) either to be thundering to the peoples of Europe to try and stimulate enthusiasm for and bring understanding of the cause of Western Union, or to be sitting in his place in this House and denouncing the Government for that tardiness of which he has alleged by letter that he considers they are guilty.
I can think of no cause in which, in his life, the right hon. Gentleman has really believed which he would be content at such a crucial moment to leave merely to a letter. After all, his great forte is his personality and power of speech and I can only assume from this that in fact his belief in the idea has for some reason weakened. That seems to me to be further borne out by the speech of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and by the speech today of the right hon. Member for 927 Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), because both of them have in the case of Western Union urged the Government in very general terms to proceed with Western Union but neither has made detailed suggestions. What in fact do they say? The other day the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington asked what progress was being made and said in a very few words that he regretted that a meeting had not been held to discuss the possibility of assembly. What did he go on to say? Did he mention any of the difficulties that are being met or suggest remedies? He did not. After all, this is not a Party matter, as he himself says, and therefore hon. Members opposite cannot fall back on the theory that it is not their duty to put forward constructive policies and suggestions. Not even the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden today, when he claimed he was being constructive, mentioned any of the real difficulties which the committees which are tackling this problem are meeting. Neither he nor his colleague ever put forward suggestions as to how these difficulties can really be met.
What in fact are the real difficulties which are being met in Western Europe? Of the very many let me take two. One of the things, if Western Europe is to thrive and to gain strength is the better use, as the right hon. Gentleman said, of our resources and particularly of our heavy industries. One of the needs which the Economic Commission for Europe under the United Nations pointed out is to increase the steel capacity. If steel capacity is to be increased not merely this year as the Foreign Secretary mentioned, but for the next few years, to the level which will enable Europe to revive at the quickest possible rate, then it is absolutely vital that both the German capacity should be increased beyond the figure of 10 million tons and that the British capacity should be increased above what it is now. In addition those two major steel industries should be jointly planned to a great measure, so that there is no overlapping of production.
That will inevitably involve very awkward adaptations in the British industrial structure, not merely within the steel industry itself. If we are to expand the steel industry which would involve the use of extra manpower we would have to 928 draw that extra manpower from some other industries and perhaps retard the expansion of some other industries. Perhaps the industry which might suffer in this respect—and I am throwing out a difficulty without necessarily committing myself to a solution of it—is agriculture. If one looks at Europe as a whole and takes the agriculture position of Europe as a whole, it is very arguable, given the difficulty of moving and housing labour as between one country and another, that feedingstuffs that may be imported from the Western Hemisphere should to a greater extent be sent to Ireland or to France, where it is possible to get great increases in meat and other forms of food production, than that they should be sent here. Or again if European agriculture is to be treated as a whole, the tomato industry of France and Italy should be greatly expanded as compared with the tomato industry here, for which even now we are planning a special marketing scheme in order to expand it.
Those are the practical sort of difficulties which the committees really studying the possibility of co-ordinating European economy are meeting, and they obviously involve very difficult decisions in this country, both for employers who will have possibly to change the work which their factories are doing, and for agriculturists who may have to alter the type of things they are producing. But even more for trade unionists, who may have to ask their members to undertake different kinds of work. We have to make up our minds how far we are prepared to accept that sort of thing and how we are to explain it to the people and how far we are prepared to go in co-ordinating industry in Europe in that way.
In the past it has, I think, been true that the Opposition have been genuine about the defensive aspect of Western Europe but when I heard the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington the other day give his idea of what they now really want, I begin even to question how thorough they are even in that. What did he say? He said that what we all wanted was that the forces of the world should no longer be divided between two main Powers. He wanted this country and the Commonwealth with the nations of Western Europe to be able to assert their views independently either of the 929 United States or of Russia. In other words, he was putting forward m a different guise the old idea of a third force. I wonder if he really meant what he said? I cannot believe that anybody opposite really believes that in the next generation, when obviously the struggle in the world will be for the survival of democracy, we are ever going to be in opposition in a military sense to the United States of America. Nor can I really believe that the right hon. Gentleman, when he said that, thought that it would be possible ever to persuade Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, for instance, to adopt a defensive military attitude independently of the United States of America.
Indeed, it is obvious that if Western Europe and Western civilisation is to survive, in the event of a clash, it is only with the armed support of America. To talk at this moment, when we are thinking of the next 10 years, of any policy which envisages independence of America in that way, which would mean vast sacrifices by all countries in Western Europe who are already exhausted, is surely nonsense. I, therefore, cannot understand what the Opposition intend in regard to Western Europe. Obviously, there are very great difficulties in building up a defensive system in Western Europe. There are the difficulties presented by the large Communist parties in certain countries and the difficulties of the principle of neutrality which other countries hold. We have heard nothing about those difficulties from the Opposition. We have had no suggestion about how we should tackle them and about how far we can have joint plans when there is danger of them being betrayed to the enemy. There have been no suggestions, even when we have joint plans, about how far we must be prepared to send arms and vital munitions and weapons of war across the seas to the continent to other countries who will have to meet an enemy first. Those difficulties are very great. It would be interesting to know the view of the Opposition on points of that kind.
The first message I should like to go out from this House in regard to Western Union, therefore, is that although there is no unanimity on the point of exactly how we can further it, any suggestion that it is the Labour Party which is backward in the matter of Western Union is 930 absolutely the reverse of the truth. The fact is that the Conservative Party is in a difficulty. Their leader launched the idea, some of his followers took it up, but the great majority of them have never associated themselves closely with it at all. The reason is perfectly obvious. Western Union must involve an immediate threat to certain vested interests. All those who in their minds represent vested interests first are bound to be extremely cautious about it or antagonistic to it. It is my belief that the closer we get to the realities of Western Union the greater the opposition to it will be from the party opposite. That should be understood both by the Americans and by those on the continent.
I have two criticisms which I should like to make of the Government in regard to their policy of Western Union—
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
I think perhaps the hon. Gentleman is confused about the attitude of some of us towards Imperial Preference. Is he styling that as vested interest, or does he mean something else? Would he say exactly what he means?
§ Mr. Crawley
Yes, I will say what I mean. It is exactly this. For instance, in the example which I gave, if we are to plan our steel industry jointly with other interests in Germany, we should find many people in the steel industry who, because this will affect their own concerns, will oppose such a wider planning and co-ordination of the industry as between this country and Germany. They may be perfectly genuine. As regards the Imperial attitude, that is another matter. It is rather the attitude of those who feel that Western Union is simply a matter of entangling themselves with a lot of foreigners whom they do not trust, and so on. It is completely blind to the fact that if Western Europe dissolves in chaos and becomes Communist then the independent future of this country is finished. I have never accepted that there is any real conflict of interest between the British Common-wealth and Western Union. Western Europe is vital to the future of the British Commonwealth though I do not think that the hon. Gentleman necessarily agrees with me.
I return to the two criticisms which I should like to make. Although I think that what the Government have done 931 has been entirely on the right lines, they have not given sufficient publicity to the difficulties which they have met and, as a result, they have had a very bad Press throughout the world. The fact is that these negotiations in connection with the allocation of Marshall Aid and the better co-ordination of European economy have been going on amongst Committees of experts about whose talks we have no knowledge at all. Unless we get much fuller information in the future, there can be no really in formed discussion on the next steps to be taken in the matter of Western Union.
My second criticism concerns the contribution we have made and the use we are making of it. As the Foreign Secretary has said, and as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said the other day, this country has made by far the largest practical contribution towards the revival of Europe since the war. I do not think that it is always realised that in addition to what we contributed through U.N.R.R.A. and in addition to the present contributions which we are giving to Europe under the Marshall Plan, we have given to France alone about £150 million free of interest in the last three years. That is in addition to what we are now giving and in addition to the share which France will get of the sterling balances which we are making available. That amount of money is free of interest and I do not think that anybody really imagines that we shall see a great deal of it back in a short time.
In other words, these are unrequited exports. When, the other day, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden talked about unrequited exports, he did so in disparaging terms, comparing them to unrequited love and saying that they were very unrewarding. If in fact we had not done that or if we did not continue to do it, what alternative would the Opposition propose as a positive contribution towards the revival of Europe? Are they prepared to say that the United States should do that for the rest of the world and should offer credits free of interest or make grants to Western Europe, but that we, as one of the creditor nations of Europe, should not do the same thing? It is fundamental to the recovery of Europe, to the question of common currency and balance of pay- 932 ment agreements that, we should make large unrequited exports for the moment. What I question is whether we have used the influence that that has given us to a large enough extent.
Let us for the moment concentrate on France which has the greatest difficulty of all. Obviously, the difficulty with France is that she is still living in a pre-war world. She is a very fertile country and she likes to produce wine, scents and other luxury goods. She likes to export them and in normal times, we like to drink them and use them. The fact is that today the world has changed. Instead of scents and wine the world wants meat, eggs, vegetables. But the French have not begun to change their economy in order to produce what is wanted in the world. We could do with a lot of timber which the French possess, but they have not yet got around to employing labour on cutting timber and exporting it.
I should like to ask whether we ought not to use our influence much more powerfully with the French and to enlarge the organisation which is considering Marshall Aid into an organisation which at the start would have to be advisory but in which we could publicly express our views of the share any other country must play in the European Union. These matters should be publicly debated and, of course, we should have to hear suggestions from other people. The fact is that France as a separate country is rapidly dissolving into chaos. There may be a dictatorship there in a very short time and that would only make Western Union all the more difficult. If we are to sit by and watch what is happening and go on subsidising France without taking any steps, not to impose, but to suggest a policy which will help her to recover, to suggest austerity, which the Opposition do not like, and methods of taxation which would make her Budget stable—unless we are prepared to do that, I do not see how we are to get any effective co-operation on the economic side in Europe at all. I therefore beg the Foreign Secretary to consider the O.E.E.C. Organisation not merely as a means of planning the next four years of Marshall Aid, but as a means of beginning the consultative machinery which shall be the instrument for the economic co-ordination of Western Europe.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
Today is another instance of what we who have been long in this House have so often experienced. An anticipated crisis never comes off. One rather expected that this would be one of the great Parliamentary days. Undoubtedly, ever since the end of June and the action taken by Russia in Berlin disturbed this country and, indeed, the rest of the free world, there has been a growing anxiety in this country, and, again, in every part of the world; and we have had very great difficulty in maintaining silence and not asking for more precise information about what has been taking place. When we met last week, we were told that further information could not be given to us, and that it would be very much better if we did not debate these matters then, but that, today, very full and frank information would be given. Again, we have quite obviously been requested to leave this matter to another occasion.
I do not complain about that. I would rather congratulate all of us on having at least postponed the crisis. I wish there were fewer crises in the world, or rather that there were no crises at all. May I say in passing how glad we are to see how well the Foreign Secretary is standing up to the tremendous strain which there must be upon him? Many of us have had at least a small break since the end of July, but he has had practically none at all, and the fact that he has had to travel back from Paris studying that speech, is a tribute not only to his constitution but to his mental strength.
May I turn to the matters which were the subject of his speech, and first of all, to the question of the German Generals? I agree entirely with what has just been said by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley). Delayed justice can never be justice, and these people have now been kept on the rack without any charge being made against them all these years. They are now old and broken men, but, even if they were not, it is not right to keep men imprisoned for all that period without any charge being brought against them. However badly they may have behaved, and however atrocious their crimes may have been, it is never right to meet injustice with another injustice. It has never done 934 any good to anybody, not even to the one who commits the last injustice, and I hope the Government will reconsider their position in this matter and quickly release these people.
There is one other aspect of this matter which I still fail to understand from what the Foreign Secretary has said. The right hon. Gentleman stated that this matter had been looked into by the Lord Chancellor, who had come to the conclusion that there was a prima facie case against them. The Foreign Secretary went on to tell us that the charge against them had not yet been formulated, but that we should have to wait a little longer while this matter was inquired into, and that then a charge would be formulated. That is a sort of legal method that I have never yet known. What always happens is that the charge is formulated, and inquiry is then made whether there is any prima facie case to support such a charge, but the whole process of legal experience has been reversed by the Government. The Lord Chancellor looks at the facts and says that there is a prima facie case, though he does not know on what grounds and does not know what kind of a charge to bring against these men. It is upon that basis that the Government have proceeded to act and have suggested that these people should be taken to Germany, where charges should be brought against them. I hope there will be a quick reconsideration of this matter.
The next topic to which I want to turn is that of Palestine. I asked last week that something should be said on behalf of the Government to express their anxiety that an end should be made of this problem, which has not arisen during this generation, but has been a problem that has troubled every nation of the world for 2,000 years. I asked that the statement should express anxiety that there should be an end of the bloodshed and that efforts should be made to arrive at a proper understanding. I did not go any further at that moment, but what I did expect might have been given to us was at least a recognition that there is a Government in Israel, since other countries, and great countries, have recognised that there is now a State of Irael. There can be no going back on that now, after the United States, after Russia and after General Smuts, not to mention the others, have said that they think that the time 935 has come to try to settle this matter by allowing these people to have their Home and their State and that they recognised Israel as a State with a responsible Government.
I dare say one thing further. Not only have they a Government, but they have a Government which has undertaken a very great and difficult responsibility, a Government which has done its best to stop the actions of its wild men. It was a very courageous thing which they did, in order to maintain the truce— when they were very short of arms and were fighting against the Arabs, who had a great quantity of arms which, in the main, we have supplied. A ship was bringing them further arms, which was not allowed under the terms of the truce, and they fired on it. It was a very courageous thing to do, but they were anxious to show that they were a responsible Government trying to do their best to carry out their responsibilities.
It was a horrible thing that happened last week. A crime against humanity itself was committed in Palestine in the shooting down of that great man who had done such great services to humanity not only in Palestine, but when he did his best at the end of hostilities with Germany, when that country was collapsing. There is not one of us who does not deeply regret his death, and who does not most sincerely and warmly sympathise with his relatives. I hope the Government will take a much more prominent part than hitherto in trying to bring about this settlement.
Let it be remembered that we were the first to try to assist the Jews. We were the first of all countries to offer them a home and freedom and treat them as ordinary men like ourselves, and, from their ranks, there once came our own Prime Minister himself, who led the party above the Gangway. We were the first to suggest a home for them in Palestine; we went to the League of Nations and took the Mandate, and with very great trouble, carried through that Mandate until now. It is not right that we should now wash our hands of the whole thing and say that it is not for us, but for somebody else. Let us still take the lead in trying to bring about a settlement for which the world has been waiting for so many generations.
936 I will now turn to Germany. Very rightly, the Foreign Secretary boasts of the improvement in, the standard of living in Western Germany, the rising hope among the German people, the increased production, and the wonderful effect it is having. The best propaganda against Communism is the fact that there is a depreciation in the standard of life in Eastern Germany and an appreciation in Western Germany. That being so, let us not continue a system of reparations and the demolishing of factories which could assist the German people still further in improving their standard of life and enable them to take their part, once again, in feeding and helping Europe.
The right hon. Gentleman based himself upon what had been promised in the Reparations Agreement. Nobody knows better than he that all the conditions which underlay the agreement in 1945 have been torn to ribbons. The same circumstances do not apply. What was in the minds of everybody in 1945 was how to prevent Germany ever taking part again in an aggressive action against anybody. That was the dominating thought then; the dominating thought in all minds today is how we can prevent the aggression of Stalinism across Europe. One of the right hon. Gentleman's proud boasts has been how much he has helped to increase the standard of life and to improve production on the Western side. Do not let him destroy that by continuing this niggling, silly demolition of necessary factories. He himself spoke about the psychological effect of destroying even one factory.
On the main question, we all agree that we must take up a stand. I have hated war, and always shall. God knows, I have every right to hate and loathe it, but those of us who hate war, hate slavery even more. The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) spoke about the troubles in the world, and said that we might be divided. Hitherto, mighty struggles have been, very largely, for material power. Great Empires have been created, and men have fought and died in order to increase the power of those Empires, and their material wealth or prestige. There is a much mightier fight going on today; it is the fight for men's souls the world over. There is this steady attrition in the free nations of the 937 world, and the bringing of them under the domination of an accursed doctrine. We must try and alter that; we must say quite definitely that there is a position from which we cannot retreat.
This situation reminds one very much of what we went through in 1933 and 1939, when we were hoping all the time that we could stave off a war. But those hopes faded one by one. First there was the Rhine, then Austria and, later, Czechoslovakia. The extraordinary thing at that time was that, within the boundaries of Germany, murders were taking place, thousands were dying, yet scarcely a protest was made. Before 1939, millions of Jews were done to death in Germany in a horrible way, but it was not until Hitler stepped over the boundary into Poland that the war started.
I always think that there has been a deterioration in our attitude towards these matters in the last half century. If one looks back at what used to happen at the end of the 19th century when atrocities were committed upon little people, one finds that the voice of England was raised in indignation. There was the time when an old man in retirement, hearing of atrocities committed on a small people, came out of his retirement to denounce the aggressor and to rouse not only Britain, but also the world. Voices like that are no longer heard; it is time they were. An hon. Member behind me says that the war went on. I agree. We all thought that the war ended in 1945, but a new war began in 1945, and is continuing.
Do the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues of the other three countries, especially of the United States and France, make it perfectly clear what is the policy of the three nations? Do they make it perfectly clear what we stand for, how much we have already given, and that we will not go back an inch from that position so that there can be no misunderstanding; or is there such loose talk that it still gives an opportunity for one of them to go on? There can be no doubt that those in the Kremlin know precisely what their policy is, and how far they intend to go. They are determined to pursue that policy until the whole of Europe is completely under their domination.
We must not go further into this today, but I must say that while I commend 938 the Foreign Secretary for his patience and his courage, I want him to be much more clear and definite in his statements to Stalin and his advisers in the Kremlin, and to make it perfectly plain that we, the free peoples of the world, have given away as much as we intend to give away, and that there is no going back.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
I have addressed this House on many occasions, but I hardly remember a more solemn one than this. I will deal first of all with the problem of war criminals. I speak a little sentimentally about that matter because these war criminals were kept in captivity near my new home. What I cannot understand is the hypocrisy of it all—to talk about war criminals as if war itself was not a crime. The greatest crime of all is war; and I hope that the day will come when the civilian population of the world will call to the bar of judgment the military leaders of all nations who have been causing and fighting wars.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
Some politicians, but certainly not the hon. Gentleman. I thought there was one weakness in the Foreign Secretary's statement about these four generals. I understood him to say that the United States of America did not wish to include these men in their list of war criminals; so why do we do so? Then we had a statement from the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) which rather frightened me. He talked of making a stand, and said that the time had come to say that we were ready. Ready for what—for war?
I know that the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) feels deeply on this subject of peace and war; and he and I are at one on the rights of man. Let me point out to him, however, that we presumed to fight the last war to free the human soul, and at the end of it all the human soul was more firmly imprisoned in Europe than ever. While I feel as he does about the rights of man, I am positive that if another war breaks out in Europe to try to prevent the spread of Communism, that Communist conception will grow and thrive on the garbage that is left after the conflict. Therefore, instead of preventing the 939 spread of Communism by fighting against it we shall be creating the very conditions upon which it will flourish. If hon. Members forget everything else I say, I want them to take note of this, that after being here for a long time and having travelled a little over this world, I am thoroughly of the opinion that the worst peace that was ever made is preferable to the most glorious and triumphant war ever fought. I have no doubt about that, because the common people suffer most as a result of war every time.
I hesitated to take part in this Debate, because frankly I feel almost humiliated. The present situation is very nearly beyond the wit of the wisest man. I have, however, regarded the House of Commons as the one place in the world where men should say what they think, whether it is popular or otherwise, and I propose doing that now. The position seems to me to be something like this. Having seen much of this sick old world, let me say that I have seen no better country than this. The curse of mankind is intolerance. There is no intolerance as such in this House of Commons, otherwise it would not suffer me. More than that, if I spoke as I speak here, under Mussolini, Hitler or Stalin, I would be shot, and I do not want to be shot. So I prefer the House of Commons to totalitarian institutions.
We have learned one thing in this country that neither the United States of America nor Russia have learned. The great clash in the world at the moment is between the American conception of private enterprise and the absolute Communism of the Russians. [HON. MEMBERS: "No.") Surely, I can say what I think.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I hope my hon. Friend may agree with me more as I proceed. That is how I see it. This is a clash of ideologies into which we are being drawn, and it is all wrong. We are told today that we are on the brink of a clash and that we must be ready. That means, I presume, that if the Russians do not make amends we must force our way through the Berlin blockade. Those who argue thus do not think there is any 940 other means of settling the problem at all.
I may utter very foolish philosophy. I am a man of peace and I, like the Foreign Secretary, pay tribute to the late Count Bernadotte. The path of the peacemaker has become more dangerous than ever; and it is a little more difficult to preach peace in my country than it used to be. It is certainly more difficult in my country to plead the rights of the individual against the inroads of the tyrant and the State. There never was a greater pacifist than Gandhi since Christ; he was assassinated, as was Count Bernadotte. I am not, of course, important enough to be attacked in that way. If, however, any should scorn my views and treat me with contempt because I preach thus, I am willing to suffer it all in the belief that the common people, at any rate, will be better off by avoiding another war.
I return once more to the problem of the difference between the American and the Russian conceptions. Hon. Members may deny that the real clash is between these two ideologies of capitalism on the one side and Communism on the other, but I happen to know a little about it. On that issue let me put the case. In this country, strange as it may seem to Russia and America, we work both Socialism and private enterprise side by side, and let my Communist friends take note that we do that without shooting or imprisoning each other in the process. Consequently, I should have thought that our policy in conjunction with the British Commonwealth of Nations ought to be designed to erecting a bridge between these two great Powers which apparently are at each other's throat ideologically.
I am astonished at the Tory Party's attitude in this Debate. It is only a short time ago that they denounced the Germans as the vilest reptiles creeping the face of the earth. Now the Germans are a decent lot of fellows. Who are the reptiles now? The Russians, of course. It seems to me that some people delight in finding an enemy at the gate.
§ Mr. Baxter
I think many of us feel a great deal of sympathy with many of the hon. Gentleman's remarks, but when he says that we are now denouncing the Russians as we once denounced the Ger- 941 mans. I must point out that I believe in the Conservative Party there is no hatred of the Russian people at all. We have a regard for their bravery and for what they endured, and every desire that they should lead happy lives. It is the administration which we hate, not the men themselves but what they do. I ask the hon. Gentleman to be fair and not to be extreme in what he says.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I wish all other hon. Members of the Tory Party would express the same views. Whatever the Members of the Tory Party say, it is obvious to me that the clash I have mentioned is about to come. If there is no such anticipation, how comes it that my country has adopted military conscription in peace-time? How comes it that we talk so glibly of a great expansion of Civil Defence? I have actually received a letter from the Secretary of State for War asking me to go on the platform on a recruiting campaign. I should not be surprised if I got my calling up papers before long.
Hon. Members talk so readily about war, but let them note this. In the first world war there were 12,000 conscientious objectors in this country. In the second world war there were 60,000 of them. How many will there be if there is war with Russia? I am satisfied that the vast majority of the people of this country would not respond readily to a war against anybody just now. You can have a war, if you like, every quarter of a century, because a new generation has been born in the meantime, but the last war is much too near to have another one just now.
§ Mr. Blackburn
My hon. Friend knows I have agreed with him on many issues before today and in some respects, like the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), I sympathise with him now, but is he aware of this fact—that the real danger of war is not that it will be started by America or Britain, but that it will be started by Russia, and that the danger of war from Russia is increased if the Russians believe that the people of this country are either pacifists or crypto-Communists?
§ Mr. Davies
I always thought nations had passed the stage of declaring war officially on each other; they simply slide into war nowadays. That is exactly what might happen in Berlin. I do not 942 know if all the combatants declared war officially on the last occasion; they just went to war. It may be true that the Russians will do something foolish or, indeed, that the Americans may do so, or and forgive me for saying this—that some of our British lads may do something foolish, too, to start a conflict.
Let me come back to my main point. I do not wish to say anything to offend the great American people; they are about the most generous and kind folk I have ever met anywhere, but that does not prevent me from being a little offended by the fact that they have troops and aircraft on the soil of my country just now. I should not like Russian aircraft or Russian troops on my soil either. The arrangements that have already been made are ominous to me—recruiting, slowing down demobilisation, postponing demobilisation for three months, and before the three months are over for another three months, and then another three months, and then probably an Act of Parliament to extend military conscription from one year to two years and maybe three, and so it goes on like a rake's progress.
I have the feeling that the human mind in this country is very nearly paralysed by events, accepting everything as if we could control nothing whatsoever. Let me say, therefore, that although I do not know enough how to approach the Russians, or how to deal with them, I am sure of one thing—that a war will not conquer Communism or any other "ism" for that matter. Let me say a word to some of the Russian leaders, some of whom I have met personally: I am a little astonished at the way they have behaved at international conferences. Let no one believe I have the slightest friendship towards totalitarianism of any kind. I think it is the foulest form of government that has been conceived since the days of the Pharaohs. I have no faith even in a few members of the working class themselves—and I am one of them —dictating to the rest of their comrades. A dictator is the same whether he is a capitalist, a landlord, a banker, a coalminer or an engineer all tyrants are of a type.
What I cannot understand about the Russian leaders is this: Lenin and Trotsky achieved power, because the Czar and his minions sent the Russian people to the slaughter until they were 943 fed up with the Czar and his wars; and what the Russian people could do with the Czar, who was then the tyrant, there is no reason to believe they cannot do the same with their new tyrants.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
Civilisation is surely not static. Russian Communism is not static either. For instance, some members of my Party tell me sometimes that Socialism is the last word in politics. In my short lifetime I have seen many "isms" arise and many "isms" die, too, and I think the "ism" we are talking about today will also pass away in due course.
I cannot suggest how we can extricate ourselves out of this position. It is indeed a serious situation because, boiling it down to the actual facts, it is a question of whether a time will arrive when America and Great Britain will decide to force their way through that corridor into Berlin. The day that is done another war will begin. I will not prophesy too much about a third world war, but it is obvious that the weapons which would be used in the next war would shock the human imagination. I doubt if civilisation in this country could survive. When the Foreign Secretary says that the British race must survive, I would suggest that if we go to war there is less chance of our survival than there is if peace prevails.
These arguments may not avail much. I detest war; I want peace. I cannot tell how to get peace. I do not know. All I know is this: if one man in one country, a dozen men in many countries, preach the gospel of peace as some of us are trying to do here, mankind may begin to listen, as they did when once upon a time a young Jewish gentleman, two thousand years ago, died on Calvary who could, if He had wished, have joined the Roman Legions and become a Field-Marshal in the Roman army. He preferred to die for a set of noble peaceful principles, with the result that churches, chapels and monasteries have been built to His memory all over the world. If He had become a Field-Marshal in the Roman legions not a stone would have been placed upon another to commemorate His life in this world.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I will do or say nothing which would induce the use of force between one man and another for any purpose whatsoever. It has been implied here on many occasions that the British are the people to save such and such a race. Let me answer that. The mere fact that the British people imagine they are the saviours of mankind suggests a little conceit and bombast on our part.
§ Mr. Davies
I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) will not mind my saying that I do not think we are strong enough to do it militarily. These are my sentiments; I hold them dearly; I will preach them to the end of my days, believing they are right. I finish as I began by saying once again that the worst peace that was ever made between nations was better than the most glorious war that was ever fought.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
I sometimes wonder whether the speeches of the Foreign Secretary are not deliberately intended to stifle and damp discussion by their dismal catalogues of dingy detail. Certainly the speech he made today has had that effect; and I think the House should be grateful to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), whether one agrees with him or not, for the vigorous push which he has given to the Debate, back towards the main issue with which we should be concerned today.
I would ask hon. Members to try for a moment to recapture the atmosphere that prevailed in this House and in the country two months ago before we adjourned for the Summer Recess. There was the feeling of tension which inevitably accompanies a crisis; and there was also the feeling akin to relief which springs from the knowledge that a situation which has become quite intolerable is approaching an end. The Leader of the Liberal Party said that he does not like a crisis. To my mind, any crisis, however grave, is preferable to the terrifying drift in which we are involved at the present moment.
Before we adjourned it seemed that our relations with the Soviet Union had 945 indeed reached such a crisis. It seemed as though either the Russians would agree to grant us our rights—I repeat, rights; because that is what they are: our rights in Berlin—or else that we should assert those rights, by force if necessary. I should like to point this out, that if we are put in a position in which we can assert them only by force, then the aggression does not originate with us but from the Russians who are obstructing us; we are not obstructing them, they are obstructing us. When we adjourned it seemed as though one thing was certain, to judge by the repeated declarations of the Foreign Secretary, and that was that we would not negotiate under duress. He said it again and again in this House, and it was accepted by the country and by, I think, hon. Members on this side— on both sides—of the House. In that knowledge we went away, at a time when there might have been a case for keeping Parliament together.
What has happened since then? The special representative of the right hon. Gentleman has been in Moscow, and there he has been negotiating. At first there was a pretence that he was not really negotiating, and that what he was doing was trying to find a basis for negotiations at a later stage. But very soon that pretence was dropped. The talks began to be referred to as negotiations. Then what, I believe, is known as the "newspaper reading public" could read in their newspapers with feelings of relief that the envoys, as they are called, had been given tea and cakes by Marshal Stalin. Then everybody cheered up. The next day one was told that Marshal Stalin had gone for his holiday or M. Molotov had not come back from his. To anybody who knows anything about the Russians, this was clearly a deliberate turn of the screw for our benefit. Then a few days ago we were all very much relieved to learn that Mr. Roberts had been seen to leave the Kremlin with a broad smile on his face. That was headlined in the papers, and everybody cheered up again.
Now all that would not matter very much in ordinary circumstances. But what are the circumstances in which these discussions have been taking place? A lot has been said about the air lift. It is claimed that it is a very remarkable achievement. Of course, technically it is a very remarkable achievement. Politic- 946 ally, however, I cannot agree that it is very much of an achievement to get oneself manouevred into the position where one has to use millions of gallons of petrol and millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money to achieve a fraction of the result which one could achieve by using the ordinary means of transport, road, rail and canal which one has every right to use.
§ Mr. Blackburn
While agreeing with everything the hon. Gentleman says, I should like him to admit that the responsibility for this rests upon the shoulders of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, because of the Yalta decision.
§ Mr. Maclean
I cannot agree with what the hon. Gentleman says. He is taking the whole situation back a very long way.
§ Mr. Maclean
Today. I am disagreeing now. However, I cannot go into all that now, though I will come to the point the hon. Gentleman has made a little later in my speech. To continue, I think that he will agree that the air lift, out of which the Foreign Secretary has tried to make a certain amount of capital, can hardly be regarded as a political achievement. It may be a technical achievement, but not a political one. In addition to that, there have been in Berlin a constant series of attacks on allied officers and officials, who are constantly put in an outrageous position. In fact every attempt is being made by the Russians to render our situation in Berlin impossible. Nor is Berlin the only place where the pressure is being applied. It is being applied at this moment throughout the world. One has only to point to the situation in South-East Asia where, on orders from Moscow, the Communists are making as much trouble for the Western Powers as they possibly can. And that is not the only place.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
Has the hon. Gentleman any information, or is he suggesting anyone has yet produced any information, of the orders to which he is referring?
§ Mr. Maclean
The hon. Gentleman should really know more about these matters and how those orders are transmitted.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
On a point of Order. The Communist Member—I forget his constituency—is constantly addressing remarks to you, Sir, and has just said he knows more than you do. I ask if he is in Order in making remarks of that kind.
§ Mr. Speaker
Certainly the hon. Member is quite right when he says, "I know more than you." Members are apt to forget when they fling these things across the Table that they are addressing me. No one must say "you" unless he means me.
§ Mr. Piratin
I certainly withdraw that remark if the House wants to construe it as a reference to you, Mr. Speaker, but I think that the hon. Member for Lancaster knew quite well that this was a little controversy between ourselves. Having expressed my apology, I think that it ill becomes the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) to object to hon. Members making remarks on these questions.
§ Mr. Speaker
It is no good the hon. Member pursuing the matter by making other personal allegations.
§ Mr. Maclean
I am quite ready to accept the hon. Gentleman's statement that he knows more about these matters than I do. I would only say that I do happen to know quite a lot about them myself.
However that may be, one thing is quite certain, and that is that what the Government have been doing with the French and American Governments for the last two months can only be called one thing, and that is negotiating under duress. What is more, we still do not know how much longer this process is going on. We have been given no indication of what the Government will regard as the limit beyond which they are not prepared to go any further. What it amounts to is that the negotiations will go on so long as it suits Generalissimo Stalin to allow them to go on. He may 948 choose to let them drag on for months; he may even agree to what the Foreign Secretary has called—I think rather smugly—negotiations on the very highest level. Or on the other hand, he may suddenly lose patience and pack the envoys back from where they came, leaving the situation as it was two months ago. Or, rather, not as it was two months ago but very much more serious indeed, because during the past two months we have given the impression that we are not prepared to stand up for our rights. We have given the impression that we are not prepared to assert our rights. That in any circumstances, would have been deplorable, but in the present circumstances it is nothing short of catastrophic. For Berlin has been made a test case. There can be no doubt about that. The Russians are deliberately making it a test case in their relations with the West.
In 1945, the Foreign Secretary said that under a Labour Government in this country, "Left would speak to Left with comradeship and confidence." That was a very unwise assumption on which to base a Foreign policy. The other day, the right hon. Gentleman said that he had known all about Marxism and Leninism and their results for years, and in spite of that he took that line in 1945.
§ Mr. Blackburn
This is a point of great importance. It is a historic fact, and can be checked on the Blackpool records, that when the Foreign Secretary said that "Left cleaves to Left," he was not talking about Russia but about France.
§ Mr. Maclean
So far as I know, he said, "Left will speak to Left" and that he was talking about Russia. It is very difficult to say exactly what the right hon. Gentleman does mean sometimes, but one thing is certain, and that is, that what he must have had in mind was a policy based on ideological considerations—
§ Mr. Maclean
Well, if he did not mean that, I do not know what he did mean. In any case, that is by no means the only statement of the kind which has proceeded from the present occupants of the Front Bench opposite. They made at that time any number of statements, saying that when they came to power, they would get on with the Russians.
949 My answer to the point which the hon. Gentleman raised about Yalta just now, is that hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite felt at that time perfectly pleased with the situation, and perfectly confident that they could make an even better job of our relations with the Soviet Union than had been made by the Coalition Government. I say, as a very humble back bencher, that that was an extraordinarily good job, because never have our relations with the Soviet Union been so good as when we had a Conservative Prime Minister and a Conservative Foreign Secretary. Whatever the Foreign Secretary may have said in 1945—it seems perfectly clear what he meant— was that, if the Labour Party came into power the fact that they were a non-bourgeois party, was going to help them in their relations with the Kremlin. They should really have known that the Kremlin does not reciprocate the admiration of the British Labour Party. The comradeship and confidence are all on one side. That does no discredit to hon. Gentlemen opposite; it is simply a fact.
What the Russians understand—I speak with a certain amount of experience, having lived there for two years, which is more than a great many hon. Gentlemen opposite have done—is power politics. They will come to terms, and come to terms extremely quickly, if they can only be convinced that it is in their interests to do so, and if they can be convinced that it would be calamitous for them not to do so. That was very neatly and very effectively demonstrated by Hitler in the years 1939, 1940 and 1941. They came to terms with Hitler because they were afraid of Hitler. They respect strength and, conversely, any sign of weakness is taken by them as an encouragement to go ahead with their plan for world domination.
Part of the trouble in the world at the present time is that all over the world we are giving abundant signs of weakness and indecision, particularly in the East. In the Near East we have given up a number of strategic bases of the first importance without replacing them. In Palestine another country about which the Foreign Secretary made a certain number of statements which he shows no signs of carrying out—we performed the altogether remarkable feat of alienating both the Jews and the Arabs, of turn- 950 ing both sides against us, thereby converting Palestine into a most fertile field for hostile propaganda. We shall see the result of that in due course.
In India, Burma and South-East Asia we are abandoning enormous areas of land and vast numbers of population to total chaos, but total chaos which will not remain total chaos for very long because something else will take its place. Indeed, something else is already taking its place. In China, for example, where, without our stirring a finger to stop it, the whole country is rapidly falling under Communist domination. I would ask hon. Members to consider for a moment what will happen when China—sprawling as it does right across Asia—is under complete Soviet domination, while at the time time India, Burma and the rest are in a state of conflagration. The result of our policy of drift and withdrawal is simply to create a vacuum which the Russians will, without any doubt whatever, hasten to fill.
What is the alternative? The Foreign Secretary said, in another context, that he did not like drawing lines. Well, he has come to a point where he must draw a line. We and the other Western Powers must draw the line now without any further delay, not only in Europe but in Asia. We must draw that line, and we must keep it drawn; we must let the Russians know in the clearest terms that we will not allow them to overstep it. Will this mean war? Here I should just like to join issue for a moment with the hon. Member for Westhoughton who seemed to assume that taking a firm stand inevitably meant running into war. I shall try to show that in the present case it would mean exactly the opposite. The irritating thing about professional pacifists is that they always assume they are the only people who do not like war. There are a lot of people who do not like war, and generally the people who have had the most experience of it dislike it most.
To my mind, a firm stand on our part is very unlikely to lead to war. It will lead to war only if Marshal Stalin has already decided on war. If he has already decided on war a policy of appeasement on our part will certainly not stop him, any more than it stopped Hitler in 1938 and 1939. If he has decided on war, he will have war, and a weak policy on our 951 part can have one effect, and one effect only, namely to encourage him still further in his desires. But on the face of it it seems to me very unlikely that Marshal Stalin does want war, for unless he is extremely badly informed by the sycophants round him—and that, of course, is the danger with all dictators, that their advisers are too frightened to tell their bosses the truth—he must know that in the long run the Soviet Union could not hope to hold its own against the overwhelming technical superiority of the Western Powers. Possible initial successes on the part of the Red Army sprawling over Western Europe would be of very little use to a Soviet Fatherland whose main centres of industry and population had been already laid waste by atomic bombardment. Marshal Stalin must realise that there could be only one outcome of such a war, and that would be the destruction of his country and, what is perhaps more important to him still, the overthrow of his own régime.
Now, it seems to me inconceivable that so notoriously cautious and intelligent a man—the hon. Member for Mile End smiles. if he does not agree that Marshal Stalin is cautious, I would invite him to read the documents recently published by the State Department describing the course of Soviet-Nazi relations between 1939 and 1941; if that does not.convince the hon. Member that that great man is an extremely cautious character, then I do not think anything will. Marshal Stalin being so notoriously cautious, it seems fantastic to suppose that believing as he does, rightly or wrongly, that time is on his side he would willingly take such an appalling risk. If, on the other hand, we continue by our supine attitude to encourage him in the idea that there is no danger of our obstructing his designs, then only one thing can happen, and that is that he will continue to pursue those designs quite ruthlessly, and quite regardless of any one else's interests. If he does that, then war will be inevitable.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Lester Hutchinson (Manchester, Rusholme)
I shall follow the exhortation of my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) and say what I think, although I am pretty sure that my views will not be universally 952 popular in this House. The only compensation I can offer is that I shall not detain the House very long.
I followed with great interest the speech of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Maclean). I do not agree with him that the Russians are making Berlin a test case, because I believe that the problem of Berlin cannot be isolated from the general world tension which is now disturbing our relations. If the crisis had not taken place in Berlin it would have taken place somewhere else, and what we have to resolve, if possible, is not these separate problems but the complete problem as a whole in bringing about a better feeling, more good will, and more co-operation generally in world relations.
I detected in the speech of the hon. Member the new line which the Opposition seems to be taking towards the Foreign Secretary. These criticisms of the Foreign Secretary from the Opposition are most ungenerous, because in reality they are criticising their own policy. We on this side are in the embarrassing position of being blamed for the results of a foreign policy which the Opposition have forced upon our guileless Foreign Secretary. Therefore, the Tory attitude needs very careful examination. Their line seems to be, after all the adulation, that the policy is good but the execution is bad, and that therefore they will keep the policy but my right hon. Friend should make way for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). We have to examine the matter more objectively. The question is whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford would achieve any more success than my right hon. Friend. In my view the answer to that question is "No," because success is not determined by personalities but by policy. It is my conviction that our present policy is ill- founded and misguided.
We complain about the Russians being awkward and difficult and for being non-co-operative in negotiations, but can we really blame them if we examine the position objectively? What have we done in the last three years to break down the old barriers of suspicion and distrust that were erected in the years before the 953 war? We have made a fundamental mistake in tying ourselves up economically and militarily to the United States. The statement made recently by the British Ambassador in Washington that we were the partisans in the cold war against Russia was endorsed in this House, and if we are declared to be partisans in the cold war against Russia it logically follows that when the cold war becomes a shooting war we become the ally of the United States. That is not the best way to bring about co-operation with Russia.
We also have the political and economic effects of what I should like to refer to as the "Hoffman dole," which effectively excludes us from full participation in the rich markets of Eastern Europe, and particularly Russia. It creates political barriers against full trade relations with Russia which are essential to Europe and ourselves, and it ties us completely to the competitive economy of the United States. The United Nations Economic Committee recently stressed the importance of full resumption of trade between Eastern and Western Europe. They went further and said that there could be no possible recovery for Europe unless such trade was restored. And yet what are we doing to restore trade? We cannot restore trade unless there is a certain amount of political give and take and co-operation, and certainly trade can be built up only with conciliation and understanding.
We have signed the Treaty of Brussels and have formed a firm alliance with the Benelux countries and France. The object of this alliance is to build up sufficient strength in Western Europe to withstand the initial shock of the Red Army in case of war until America is ready. That is quite clear from all political comments upon the Treaty of Brussels. I must say that it does not give me much comfort to know that in a war against the Red Army we can rely on the full support of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. We have allowed America to establish permanent air bases in this country exactly as if we were Nicaragua or Costa Rica, and it affronts the national susceptibilities of our people to see foreign soldiers in our provincial towns walking around, if not with the air of conquerors, then with the air of protectors; which is equally offensive—there is a good deal of feeling 954 in my constituency on that matter. But more important than that, the very fact of allowing America to maintain air garrisons in this country commits us almost irrevocably to becoming a satellite ally of America in case of war with Russia.
In these circumstances I would ask whether it is very remarkable that Russia should be suspicious and un-co-operative. I agree with a lot of the sentiment expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton, because we hear a lot of war talk from Members in this House and elsewhere and I am quite certain that the people of this country will not willingly support an aggressive war against the Soviet Union on behalf of American big business. Those who talk about standing up to Russia or taking armed convoys through Soviet territory, which means war, cannot have the faintest idea what such a war would mean to the people of this country. Irrespective of the horrors of atomic bombing, we have to remember that we are bankrupt as a result of the last war and that we are not in a position economically, socially or geographically to fight anything but a defensive war.
In my view we should make our position indisputably clear, that we shall be the partisans and satellites of no one, and that the only occasion when we shall fight will be in self-defence. If we make that clear I think that our relations with Russia would improve almost overnight. The position has been falsely represented as a conflict between social democracy and the Communists, but that is not the correct situation at all. This bogy of Communism or Bolshevism has been raised before. We have seen how Hitler and Goebbels raised the bogy of Bolshevism to get financial and political support from this country in order to build up their war machine to attack us. We have also seen how our friends in Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic fell into the same trap, and that example should be particularly in our minds at the present time.
In this very dangerous world in which we live, we have to adapt our policies to the existing conditions and not to conditions which no longer exist. The weakness in my right hon. Friend's policy is that it is based too much on traditionalism. We are defending imperial interests which no longer exist. It is also wrong politically, in so far as he is con- 955 ducting foreign policy on ideological grounds rather than on the fundamental economic and political interests of the people of the country. We must shake these Nineteenth Century shackles off, approach these problems afresh, break down the barriers of mistrust and suspicion. If we do not have a radical reorientation of policy there will be war and if war comes we can say in famous words:The bright day is done, and we are for the dark.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
The hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Hutchinson) said we must break down the barriers of suspicion and mistrust between this country and the Soviet Union and, in doing so, suggested that the barriers which had been erected by mistakes on the part of this country in pre-war years still existed. If anything should have swept away once and for all, in the eyes of the Russians, such barriers it was the exertions of the Mercantile Marine, the Royal Navy and the Air Force to bring succour to them when they and we were attacked by a common enemy. Why we and Russia are not seeing eye to eye at present, and are in a position of distrust and disequilibrium, is this: that when we sign a treaty we honour it, and when the Russians sign a treaty they keep it so long as it suits them.
The Foreign Secretary referred to the German generals, and Members have expressed regret that it should still be thought necessary and desirable to bring them to trial. I share those views. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) put forward most admirable legal reasons why they should not be brought to trial, but I believe there are also other reasons. There was a time when these men could and should have been brought to trial—when we were the conquering and occupying Power in Germany. Those days are past, and we are now co-operating with the Germans in rebuilding their civilisation. It is for that reason that we ought to re-examine our position in relation to reparations. There may have been, and probably was, a time when it would have been a good thing for Germany and the 956 rest of the world as well if certain factories had been torn up and transplanted to other parts of the globe. But those days, too, are past.
The psychological effect of shutting down an industry or factory in Germany at present will do far more to worsen our relations with the German people than anything else. It is all very well to say that there is capacity for the unemployed in other factories, but we know in our own country the difficulty which the Coal Board has in persuading miners to move from one mine to another a little further away. How much more difficult is it to persuade German workers to move from one factory to another at the behest of an occupying Power, and see the machines on which they were formerly employed being given away to another nation?
The Foreign Secretary had much to tell us about Germany that was heartening. He told us of the changed economic life of Germany which had followed currency reform. I hoped he would have been able to tell us that in view of the improved health of the German economy it would soon be possible to establish some form of exchange value, to reestablish the exchange of the two currencies between the German deutschmark and English sterling so that export and import trade can be conducted on a more realistic basis than at present.
I do not want to add much to what has been said about the air lift, except that it must be a matter of the profoundest satisfaction and pride to all of us that in this gigantic task of keeping alive 2½ million people, condemned to starvation by another Power, we and the Americans have co-operated so happily, and our share has been 40 per cent. The fact that this country which, in the war, did not concentrate on transport planes, but on fighter planes, can carry 40 per cent. of the load with its present population and task of rebuilding its shattered industries, leaving 60 per cent. for America, with its greater resources, should be a matter of pride for each one of us.
But while we are proud of our share do not let us think that we are doing a clever thing. It is a very extravagant thing on every count. Accidents are bound to occur, some caused by misfortune and mischance and some by interference in other ways, and it is 957 extravagant in the number of men used to load and unload, service and fly the planes. It is still more extravagant in planes themselves. As these planes make their journeys so their useful working life becomes shorter. It is still more crazy that a huge quantity of high octane fuel like petrol should be used to transport a low quality fuel like coal. However, we have committed ourselves to this task and we must carry it through. On the other hand, I believe the time has now come when, in addition to flying goods into Berlin, we should start to fly people out, to reach an equilibrium so that the air lift can be maintained indefinitely if need be.
I believe that we and America have to face the fact that war has already started between this country and Russia. Just as, in the last war, gas was not used so, in this war, if it comes, we must hope and pray that bombs and artillery will not be used. It may be that the new form of war will be fought out in the economic, political and diplomatic fields. One hope we have of coming successfully through these testing times is that we shall staunchly and unitedly play our part—and in this I echo the words with which the Foreign Secretary concluded his speech.
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) suggested that in the world in which we find ourselves today the choice was between Russian Communism and American capitalism. If I thought that was so, I should have little interest in the matter, but I do not think it is so at all. I believe that the choice is between those who recognise the essential value of the human soul, the doctrines, thoughts and ideals of mankind enshrined in the Magna Charta, in the Declaration of Independence and in all those great thoughts which have inspired Western civilisation. For my part I wish the Foreign Secretary well. Mistakes have been made, and I am sure he would admit that he has made mistakes, but his one cardinal virtue throughout his diplomatic approach has been that he has kept in step, side by side, with the Americans all the time. There is safety, there is security and there is honour for the British people.
§ 7.9. p.m.
§ Mr. Piratin (Mile End)
Before coming to my main point may I refer to some- 958 thing which has just been said by the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher)? He said that the one thing upon which he could congratulate the Foreign Secretary was his cardinal virtue of keeping in step with the United States. He said he did not regard the choice in the world as being between American capitalism and Soviet Communism and that there was an identity of policy between this country and that of the United States. Not a word did he mention about the United Nations. The hon. Member said the Foreign Secretary had synchronised his policy with that of the United States and that, unfortunately, is the pity of it all, for that is the reason why we are in our present position, and why we had to listen to the Foreign Secretary's speech, such as it was, today. Everyone who heard it will agree that it was a most miserable effort in almost every sense. The right hon. Gentleman was physically sick, and there was no vestige of hope.
One thing that the right hon. Gentleman said, which I noted verbatim and on which I propose to say a word or two, was this, "I am not saying we are committed to war; we have not reached that stage yet." I believe I have got him verbatim though, of course, I did not do it in shorthand. I think the operative word in that phrase is "yet" for we are preparing for war. His statement was made with all seriousness. There was no irony about it, and therefore I must accept it seriously. He held out no hope at all of avoiding the war, which he said we had not started to wage yet. On the contrary, when it came to the possibility of negotiating with the Soviet Union he said in quite definite terms, "We cannot negotiate with them."
Therefore, the House must come to the conclusion that we are making rapid strides towards war. Since Parliament resumed we have also been told of practical steps that are being taken in that direction—the extension of the Army by the holding up of demobilisation, the doubling of the production of fighter planes, and now there are to be prepared many naval vessels which only in the last Session we were told were beyond repair and useless. Whether this is to frighten a potential enemy or whether this is what was successfully done in 1938 by the then Prime Minister—to bluff the nation, the Foreign Secretary or the 959 Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he replies can best answer.
This is the stage we have now reached on the road to war. Why? The Foreign Secretary puts the complete blame on to the Soviet Union. He said this afternoon that the Soviet Union makes demands which we cannot meet and which we have no desire to meet. The Minister of Education appears to be taking notes and no doubt he will convey them to the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and I hope he will make a note of this question—I challenge the Under-Secretary, when he replies to the Debate, to say what are the demands which the Soviet Union is making? There has not been one Member who has spoken today, including the Foreign Secretary, who has stated specifically what the demands are.
§ Mr. Piratin
The Soviet Union have made no demands about Berlin. What specific demands have been made? I ask the House to note carefully in the reply to be made by the Under-Secretary tonight if it is stated whether the Soviet Union made demands or otherwise, and whether they have made suggestions or proposals on which it was not possible to negotiate. The Foreign Secretary is under the impression that he is still a trade union official, bullying the workers who are out on an unofficial strike by telling them they must return to work before he is prepared to negotiate.
These statements about demands have no foundation in fact. They are propaganda put out in the first place by the Foreign Office and gladly received and publicised by the capitalist Press and unfortunately by the Labour Party Press. The last point about the Labour Party Press was amply brought out a day or two before we rose in July for the Summer Recess by the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) who came to this Chamber with several copies of the "Daily Herald" and read from them war headlines which had no foundation in fact.
§ Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)
I hope the hon. Member is not as simple-minded as he would lead the House to believe. I can give him one specific instance of what the Soviet Union is demanding, 960 namely, the restoration to the whole of Berlin of the Soviet mark while refusing completely quadripartite control.
§ Mr. Piratin
I will come to that point in due course. [Laughter.] I will do so only to save time now and to give other Members a chance.
Wherever the Communist Party happens to be active the Foreign Secretary and others in this House on both sides describe it as Russian aggression. Wherever the workers organise and stand up for their rights, wherever they rise against aggression or bad conditions, it is the Communists who are behind it. In many cases I am proud to say it is the Communists, but hon. Members of this House will remember the scene—at least I hope they will remember it because it impressed itself on my mind—a few months ago when the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, reporting on the riots in the Gold Coast, said they were Communist led. However, the Gold Coast Commissioner in his report says nothing of the kind whatsoever. One would have expected—though one has not seen him lately because maybe he is away in connection with his duties—that the Under-Secretary would have come down to the House to make an apology. But no, that impression was to be put over not to the House alone but to the public and it was to stay there. These things are without foundation. It is these things which are creating the present position.
The Foreign Secretary sees himself stabbed in the back from every corner of the earth. Last week he made a statement to the House and hon. Members will remember an interjection by my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). The right hon. Gentleman said—It is part and parcel of a clash between two philosophies.He did not define those philosophies, but my hon. Friend interjected to say—It is between Socialism and Capitalism."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th September, 1948; Vol. 456; c. 91.]I heard quite a number of Members on this side of the House say—"Hear, hear." The Foreign Secretary did not define the two philosophies which lie had in mind, but those philosophies mentioned by my hon. Friend are the two philosophies.
961 What is the philosophy we are carrying out in Malaya? This afternoon a question was put to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was asked by an hon. Member on this side how he explained the burning of the huts in Malaya and whether he would refute a story published in the "Observer" this week. If the people in those huts were guilty, they should have been arrested but obviously they were not guilty. They were taken out of the huts and the huts were then burned down. The Secretary of State for the Colonies described this as a preventive measure. What kind of philosophy was that? There was nothing "on" these people. They were not suspected, because if they were suspected they would have been arrested under the laws operating in Malaya today. What philosophy is this that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, supported of course, by the Foreign Secretary, is establishing?
This afternoon one of the points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was his reason for sending the four German generals for trial. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party—I regret that he is not here at the moment nor is any member of his party—spoke on this matter, arguing that one injustice will not be eradicated by another. What strictures came from the Liberal Party benches or for that matter from any other benches in this House with regard to the matter mentioned by the hon. Member for Luton—the burning down of huts in Malaya for preventive purposes? He does not regard that as injustice, but as part of our philosophy. He saw injustice in handing over four German Generals against whom there are allegations of most heinous crimes. I cite that instance to show that the stab in the back—the expression which the Foreign Secretary likes to use so much—is not one-sided.
The Foreign Secretary spent most of his time today on the question of Germany. We recognise that it is here that the conflict is sharpest. He proposes to continue his present policy. He has no prospect of being able to solve his problems but he is determined to continue his bankrupt and hopeless policy. What is the background of this matter? 962 There is a rift between the West and the East. We must seriously and objectively, if it is possible to be objective in this matter, answer the question; "How did the rift occur?" The clash in regard to currency first appeared—
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
Events started in Berlin when road communication was cut off. There is a widely held but fallacious belief that they arose out of currency reform, but the heat was first turned on in April.
§ Mr. Piratin
The latest events which gave rise to the air lift and so on arose after currency reform was established, in June I think it was.
§ Mr. Piratin
My conception of the latest events is that they developed in June. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is a bit like Rip Van Winkle. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary will be able to recall—at one time last year there was a certain degree of agreement between himself and M. Molotov on the question of currency and then it was that Mr. Marshall stepped in and said, "We cannot accept the particular proposals which seem to find favour in the eyes of the representatives of Britain and the Soviet Union." As Mr. Marshall could not accept them, the Foreign Secretary changed his mind. Subsequently the Soviet Union made further proposals on currency. I asked a question in June of the Foreign Secretary, which he did not answer correctly because he gave one of those answers about Communist terror and Bolsheviks, and the usual thing which makes no sense.
I asked him whether he was going to consider the last set of proposals made by the Soviet Government on the question of a common currency for the whole of Germany. He had no answer. The Soviet Government was still endeavouring to find a common currency for the whole of Germany. In June or July the new currency was introduced. Does the House know that the notes which were distributed in the Western Zones of Germany for the new currency were printed in November last year?
§ Mr. Stokes
Is the hon. Member also aware that the U.S.S.R. had a similar currency printed at the same time?
§ Mr. Piratin
If the U.S.S.R. had a similar currency printed at the same time it is very strange that the notes were not distributed and that the Soviet Government had to use an ad hoc currency.
§ Mr. Piratin
Is the hon. Member satisfied? Does the House know that those notes were printed last November which, as the House will recall, was before the last Four-Ministers Conference? The Conference began towards the end of November in London and ended in December. Therefore the foreign currency which was then discussed by the four Ministers, had already been printed in the United States for distribution in the Western zones of Germany. Of course, the four Ministers came together, and our Foreign Minister and Mr. Marshall came together, around the table with cards up—always cards up—to discuss the matter seriously and soberly—but the currency had already been printed in America. Does the House know that? If not, it is not cognisant of facts which were published in America many months ago.
The second point with which I want to deal is the London Conference. This is where the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) had a point of difference with me as to when the latest crisis developed. The London Conference—
§ Mr. Piratin
I have done so. Please let me get on. At the London Conference, among the matters discussed were a military alliance, an economic and cultural alliance, and the future of the Western zones of Germany. Agreement was reached among six nations, of which one, Luxembourg, was certainly a very minor nation, with regard to the future of the biggest part of Germany—all that irrespective of the Soviet Union. Of course, the Foreign Secretary said: "We did our best last November and December," but quite irrespective of the interests of other countries very much concerned in the matter, such as the two neighbours of Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Those two countries were not called in at all. Was not that a breach of the Potsdam Agreement? Was it not a breach of everything that 964 was right? Why were not those other countries referred to, with respect to the future of Germany?
Can the Foreign Secretary have the temerity to claim that the blame for the present position is completely on the shoulders of the Soviet Union? Are we without blame? Even hon. Members opposite did not utter one cheer this afternoon when the right hon. Gentleman sat down. We have heard that even the Foreign Secretary has weaknesses. Whether we agree to call them weaknesses or faults, let us discuss them. We are prepared to discuss someone else's weaknesses without any regard to a text, to which many hon. Members in this House give lip service and which is taken from a Book which they hold dear, about not casting stones. We cast lots of stones at others. A little self-criticism might be very useful if we are really out for the peace of the world.
It was after these events, I submit to the hon. Member for Farnham, whether it was in April or in June, that our relationships became so strained, as we heard in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon.
§ Mr. Nicholson
The hon. Member has been very courteous and I very much appreciate it. At an earlier stage of his speech he said that the situation did not boil up until June. I interrupted and said that it started in April. Am I to understand now that the hon. Member is saying that it really started in March? We should very much like to know were we stand.
§ Mr. Piratin
I have been giving two examples of differences between East and West upon currency and on Western Union. One took place in June and the other in March. Some action was taken in April. That was revoked, as the hon. Member will recall. The most serious action really took place from June onwards. If the Foreign Secretary was sincere he would ask himself whether he is without faults and he would put before the House a clear statement which we could discuss sincerely and rationally. He would ask what is happening to our people today in this country because of his policy.
The newspapers this morning published the announcement that the capital investment programme would be cut and that 965 the home market would suffer. All this is because of our foreign policy. Deprivations for the common people because our wealth has to be squandered upon a foreign policy which is a complete failure. Is there an hon. Gentleman opposite or on this side who will now justify the £120 million which we spent in two years maintaining the troops in Palestine? Certainly hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot, for it was the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition who two years ago said, "Call them out of Palestine." It is true that he said, "Put them on the Canal Zone." Who on this side will justify it in the state we have now reached? As the Foreign Secretary said today, it is out of our hands and the United Nations Assembly must decide the matter. Yet we spent £120 million on that policy and many millions in Greece and elsewhere on a foreign policy which is having a terrible effect on our own people, apart from its future effect on our happiness and peace.
What is to happen if war occurs? The hon. Member for Holland with Boston said that we are at war. He qualified it and said that he meant not the war of guns but the war of diplomatic arguments, politics and so on. He could have put the paraphrase quite rightly if he had quoted Nietsche. Nietsche said:War is a derivation of politics for it is a continuation of politics.[An HON. MEMBER: "Clausewitz."] Clausewitz, I beg pardon. If the Foreign Secretary were concerned about this he would ask himself what is to happen if there is a war. The House will remember the Foreign Secretary's last words. In the most maudlin of words, almost in tears, he ended his peroration by saying that this country will survive. It looked as if he was hardly able to survive when he said it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] It is not cheap. I am not offensive. If the Foreign Secretary were here I would repeat it. It is because I feel so much about it. I had to sit and listen to it. If other hon. Members felt the same, they would know what we are saying. The Foreign Secretary spoke about surviving. Why did he seem to be doubtful? There was nothing of the spirit of courage of survival in his words; there was despondency because he knew he had no hope of survival unless his policy was to be continued.
966 The air exercises a fortnight ago showed what chance this country has in a coming war. As the newspaper correspondents said, those exercises were based on the last war and not modelled on the next war. What chances have we got? A few months ago there was a Debate on the Air Estimates, and speaker after speaker spoke of what we should do with our Air Force and of how we should base our Air Force on Canada and North Africa and other places many hundreds of miles away. I asked one question at the end of that Debate: If that is where we are going to put our Air Force and armaments stores, where are we going to put the 50 million people, for we cannot take them to Winnipeg or North Africa? No one answered, for there is no answer. There is no seriousness and no sincerity in the Foreign Secretary or anyone else who will not face up to that question and who talks of war so glibly.
In 1945 in the Labour Party programme the keynote of Labour's foreign policy was co-operation with the Soviet Union and the United States. Let any Labour hon. Member deny that. That foreign policy has never been carried out, but it is not too late. The keynote is still friendship with Russia—
§ Mr. Piratin
And the United State In answer to that interjection, which I welcome, I would say that unfortunately we have not got friendship with the United States. If the hon. Member thinks we have friendship with the United States he is labouring under a delusion. We are taking orders from the United States, not as equals but as under-dogs.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas
The only reason why we have not friendship with the Soviet Union is not on the British side.
§ Mr. Piratin
If there is a reason why there is no friendship with the Soviet Union, let us make absolutely sure that we are without blame. The Labour Party programme in 1945 said that before the war, the Tories were so afraid of the Soviet Union that they failed to reach an alliance which might well have prevented the war. The Tories are constant in their attitude towards the Soviet Union. That was their policy before the 967 war and now that the war has ended, they have reverted to the same policy. The Foreign Secretary and those on these benches who support him have now lined up with the Tories. The Foreign Secretary has not gone far enough even to meet the wishes of the Tories. We can watch where the road is leading. If the silence on these benches this afternoon when the Foreign Secretary concluded his speech, symptomised, as I believe it did, anxiety in view of his statement, I would say that now is the time for hon. Members on these benches to speak vigorously, to demand co-operation with the Soviet Union, to talk peace and to work for peace.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I have listened to a number of the speeches which have been made, including that of the Communist hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) and one or two of the fellow-travellers in this House, and the line which they pursue is one which any intelligent man in politics can understand. All the pressure is to be applied in each capitalist country or wherever Labour or democratic Governments are operating, to compel surrender to Russia so that Russia may control the whole of Europe and thereby be enabled to control the world at large.
A question put to the Communist leader is exercising the minds of people in Australia at this moment. When he was dealing with the drive towards war of this country and the Labour Government he was asked: If war comes, on whose side will you be? He promptly said, "I would be on the side of Russia against Great Britain." In consequence of that, resolutions have been pouring in from every organisation in Queensland demanding that the Communist Party be outlawed as a traitorous organisation. Before there is any danger of war we know that the line is to back Russia against their own country and government. In the speeches of the hon. Member for Mile End, the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and the hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Hutchinson) one can see the line. Every fault, every crime, every act of injustice is the responsibility of this country and this Government.
968 Yet it is noteworthy that there is never one word expressing antagonism or condemnation of anything Russia has done. It is so patent that nobody requires to say to any intelligent person in this country that their aim is to Bolshevise the world with the greatest tyranny that mankind has known throughout history. And when we see the hon. Member for Mile End—I say this in no insulting manner—whose parents or grandparents probably had to flee from the tyranny of either Soviet Russia or Poland to this country, having sympathy with the same tyranny on a greater scale that is being exercised upon human beings in the Eastern parts of the world, the very thought of it appals me.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
Does the hon. Member mean Malaya, when he speaks of the Eastern parts of the world?
§ Mr. McGovern
The hon. Member knows more about the Eastern parts than I do. I know those who have lived in the Eastern parts of the world and have not been shepherded around on a Cook's tour, who have known suffering and persecution in those Eastern parts of the world. We have it from the mouths of all these Communists that they stand against this country. The most laughable thing is that the hon. Member for Mile End said that there was an expression of opinion at the General Election that the Labour Government were anxious to cooperate with the Soviet Union. Surely the history of the Labour Government is that they have demonstrated, even to a seven-year-old standard of intelligence, that they have gone too far in trying to co-operate? One does not co-operate, one does not negotiate, unless the other party is prepared to show some sign of reasonable compromise in dealing with any difficult situation that arises. The hon. Member says, with all the pontifical outlook of the ordinary Communist leader, "The Soviet Union is not aggressive. Great Britain and America are the aggressors."
§ Mr. McGovern
It always amazes me to hear the Communists decrying America and other countries, and decrying the troops in this country. If they were Soviet troops, the hon. Member for Mile End and the hon. Member for Finsbury would be down fraternising with 969 them, dining with the officers, and being taken around the camp to see the great display of force that would be used against America in the event of war.
§ Mr. McGovern
These internationalists, who cannot even allow any citizen in the Soviet Union or the Eastern parts of their Empire, to come out and associate with workers in any part of the world, in case they would realise that the workers of this country do not live in the hell that has been propagated by the leaders of the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Piratin
Would the hon. Member recall that a few weeks ago, when I had an intense desire to go to the United States, they would not allow me to go there?
§ Mr. McGovern
I commend the United States for their wisdom. Why should they allow declared traitors—
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it permissible for any hon. Member to speak of any other hon. Member however indirectly, as the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) did of my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) as a "declared traitor"? Ought he not to be asked to withdraw such a statement?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I did not myself hear the expression. It is certainly unparliamentary and, if it was used, it should be withdrawn.
§ Mr. McGovern
Might I finish my sentence, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—declared traitors to the cause of democracy. Therefore, if these people are prepared to use power to seize the democrats by the throat and to instal minority governments in any part of the world, the Government of the United States would be incapable of running America, if they allowed such individuals to perambulate throughout their country. I would say to my hon. Friends that if war comes, they and their fellow-travellers may not be able to go far in this country if we have wise leadership and intelligent direction. In these circumstances the hon. Member says that there is no aggression or aggressive designs on the part of Russia. I would say this to them: that if you allow the burglar who comes to your house to take all your 970 goods and chattels, there will be no fight. Russia has pursued a policy throughout the whole of the Continent—in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, in Estonia, in Latvia; in Roumania, in Bulgaria, even to the pouring of munitions and irregulars over the frontiers into Greece to create rapine and murder in that State.
§ Mr. McGovern
Oh, yes, I could prove it. I could give the hon. Member also the report of a man in America who speaks in defence of the Russian people, formerly a general in the Russian Red Army. He says that in the event of a war, our propaganda must differentiate between the Russian people and the Kremlin crook gang, because the Russian people are a great, noble, kindly people. There are two million members of a secret police, nine million men and women in labour and concentration camps throughout the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
Would the hon. Member tell me since when the number of 24 million, which he gave when he last mentioned it, has been reduced to nine million in these concentration camps?
§ Mr. McGovern
—because I read it only today in the paper I hold in my hand. Strange to say. I got it from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). The figures are given in this paper, and the writer speaks highly of the Russian people. He says that we should not repeat the mistakes we made in the German war by not separating the German people from the Nazi leaders, and that we carried on the war too long when we opened the floodgates of Russia into Europe. He points out that the policy of unconditional surrender was the cause of all the troubles today, because we did not fight with both the military and diplomatic arm at the same time to get rid of the top Nazis at the earliest possible moment and restore peace and sanity to the world.
The people of this country have to realise, and the sooner the better, that when the Labour Government offered to co-operate at the end of the war, they 971 genuinely believed that Russia would respond. If Russia had responded, I would have been delighted, although I did not believe they would because I knew their line was always to take the Social Democrats as greater enemies even than the Tories. The result was that they could not co-operate. Agreements were made at Yalta and Potsdam which I condemned and the Foreign Secretary took over the policy, it is true, not only agreed to by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), but agreed to by Stalin himself, on behalf of the Soviet Union, and the obligations were never carried out, and every agreement was broken.
Today we find ourselves in the position that if we give way in Berlin, that is not the end, but only a first step. I said in the case of the Polish trouble that Poland was a case where a stand should have been made, much as there was antagonism in the Socialist movement to the old ruling class of Poland, with which I agreed. But they failed to realise that once they began to retreat before the Stalinist dictatorship, it was only a matter of time before we would be compelled to retreat further and further, until we lost the whole struggle and democracy went West.
I have spent many unhappy hours thinking out the problem of what is to happen if war should come, because if war comes, it will not be any fault of the Labour Government in this country. It will come because of brutal aggression of the Soviet totalitarian Kremlin gang, who are divorced from the world and who know nothing about the feelings of men and women throughout the world, but who sit there in a cold-blooded, calculating manner, determined to run the world their way. I have a great respect for the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). He has made a speech today full of sentiment and a hatred of war with which everyone could agree, but what did he say? The question is whether the air lift can go on during the coming months and the coming winter and if it fails, can the Stalinists begin to threaten to deprive the people of Germany of food and sustenance?
§ Mr. McGovern
It is always good propaganda to try to make people believe that one is doing things from a humanitarian point of view, but they were not so quick about sending grain to the French people, or sending to this country until they could get an agreement for something in return. This internationalism of the Soviet Union, when women jump out of windows rather than go back and when Russian wives cannot join their husbands—this great international camp, this Socialist El Dorado is such that men who have independent and Socialist minds are appalled and shocked by the cold-blooded brutality of the people who have seized power. If they had even got the length of saying, "The Labour Government are not all we want, but if the Labour Government are willing to co-operate with us, we will do everything we can to give them timber and grain and get articles in exchange to build up the economy in our country, and in their country," there would be no conscription in this country today and no additional three months or six months service for men in the Forces. Our taxation would be reduced and articles in the shops would be flooding the markets instead of the markets being denuded.
Russia is guilty of an appalling crime on humanity and these men, these cold-blooded brutal men, these original Nazi leaders—because they were the first in the field and taught Hitler and Himmler all the tricks they knew—come along today and ask, "Why do not the Government give way?" I happen to have a son working on the air lift in Berlin and he tells me that nearly all the serving men deplore the additional three months' service, but admit it is not the fault of this country. They are beginning to talk, as are too many people in the street, in tea rooms and in trains. They are all beginning to say, "I am afraid the writing is on the wall, we have to deal with Stalin as we dealt with Hitler," and that is the beginning of the process of war.
I have every sympathy with the Foreign Secretary in his position. He has had a succession of failures, but the Archangel Gabriel could not have succeeded. He has done his best and poured out all his physical and mental energy and capacity on this problem. No man could 973 have returned successfully and in a genial, comradely, mood when those feelings were not reciprocated. If war comes, there will be a large number of people in the Socialist movement who will be compelled, remorselessly, by events, to take a different line from that which they took in the last war, because in that war we could see power politics being played between two great capitalist Powers for markets and domination, but here it is a struggle for the soul of man, for the right of men to be able to express themselves and to say what they think and to write and complain in any field.
God knows that I, in common with most hon. Members in this House, would be very unhappy if war came, but there are only two policies which can be pursued today. There is either the policy of the hon. Member for Westhoughton and my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire, as complete out-and-out pacifists who would say to Stalin, "You can have Berlin, or you can have Belgium, you can have Holland, you can have France, you can have every part of the world; we do not intend to do anything to stop it." Or there comes a time when man has to say that the things which are at stake in this struggle are too great for human beings to surrender and that life itself would not be worth living under the totalitarian and brutal system of thuggery which Russia has been struggling to fasten upon the free peoples of the world.
§ Mr. McGovern
I do not think that at this stage men in the Forces or armaments or planes are going to lead to war, but I agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Maclean), who said that in this case, strength may mean peace. Stalin, I believe, is in no position to conduct war and certainly has not the secret of the atomic bomb. He is bluffing and blackmailing the same as any Communist does in political organisations and if this country stands up faithful, strong and true, on behalf of democracy, the moral and spiritual forces of this country need have no fear. The Stalinists will be discredited and back down before the rage and determination of the human race.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I hope that the striking speech to which we have just listened will be widely read and reported overseas. The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) told us a few moments ago that we should be unwise at this stage to talk in terms of war because if war came we would lose it. I should not be surprised to learn that he and some of his friends were talking in very similar phrases in 1939, and the fact that the hon. Member was able to express his views freely in this Chamber, without let or hindrance, was due to our insistence at that time that there are, as the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) has said, certain things that are worth fighting for.
I think that all of us understood the reason why the Foreign Secretary necessarily had to make a very restricted speech. At the same time, I must say frankly that I consider it to be a serious matter that this House should adjourn on Friday for a month without being given from the Foreign Secretary at this great period of crisis any further information than he was able to give us today. The course of events which he described will not cause any surprise to anyone who has followed Anglo-Soviet relations even inter, mittently during the last two or three years. Rudyard Kipling wrote:East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.These words seem to have a somewhat prophetic ring in connection with relations between the West and the Soviet Union in all but the physical sense. It is perfectly true that West and East meet at the conference table hut the gap between the mentality of the delegates on the one side and the mentality of the delegates on the other is very wide.
To the Western mind a conference is a meeting between the representatives of various countries, each prepared probably to make certain concessions in order to reach agreement and, having reached that agreement, to abide by its terms. To the Soviet mind a conference is a convenient opportunity of stating minimum demands and a concession is merely regarded as a withdrawal of demands often wholly irrelevant and unjustified which should never have been put forward in the first place. If I were to steal the watch of my right hon. 975 Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) and he were to demand, as he no doubt would, its immediate return, the actual act of putting it back into his pocket would, in Soviet terminology, be a concession on my part for which I should be entitled to demand in return a quid pro quo.
It is, therefore, clear that the normal methods of diplomatic discussion which are perfectly proper and adequate between one civilised State and another, are not always applicable or appropriate when dealing with the Soviet Union. The Western Powers will never conclude a satisfactory agreement with the Soviet Union unless and until their delegates hold as many cards at the table as the Soviet delegates. I hope that the Under-Secretary, who I think is to reply, will tell us something 'about the three-Power note which, according to the evening papers, is about to be dispatched or has already been dispatched to Moscow. The news came through on the tape machine and was in the final editions of the evening papers as the Foreign Secretary was speaking. It seems a curious omission on his part, if the note has in fact already been dispatched or even if it had been in draft only and was being sent tonight, that he should have made no reference to it in the course of his speech.
I also hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to deny another very strong current rumour, namely, that the three envoys are going to the Crimea to find Marshal Stalin in his seaside resort and to make a further personal contact with him. I can conceive nothing less edifying or more fruitless than a procession of envoys to the Crimea journeying from one watering place to another to try to find Marshal Stalin, only to be told that he has left a few hours before their arrival.
I wish for a moment to refer to the time-table of events in the relations between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union, as it is important. I do not want to dwell for more than a moment on the period of the summer of 1945 when we were being told in all good faith by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that only a Socialist Government could really achieve friendly relations with the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
There was apparently thought to be some mutual bond of understanding between Socialist Britain and Soviet Russia, a sort of hands across the sea. I have often thought that some of the eloquent speeches made on the subject by right hon. Gentlemen opposite at the time of the General Election and afterwards must have been inspired by the well-known verse in the 42nd Psalm:Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.I was however surprised at the time that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer should have joined that particular bandwagon since he had been Ambassador in Moscow and should have known better. It was fairly clear by the middle of 1946 that that particular illusion bore no relation whatever to reality.
From 1946 onwards the situation rapidly deteriorated. The Allied Control Commissions in the Balkan countries were experiencing great difficulties with their Soviet colleagues. The misuse of the veto at the United Nations was completely hamstringing any effective action by that body. The Russians themselves were refusing to work the Potsdam Agreement. There was long-range intervention in Greece. The iron curtain enveloped country after country in its folds, culminating with Czechoslovakia. By the middle of 1947, if not earlier, the Soviet Union had declared open warfare on the Western world, with particular reference to the Marshall Plan, by all known means except shells and bullets.
Nor were the Kremlin's activities confined to Europe. They were extended, by a carefully co-ordinated plan, to the Far East, as we have heard from the lips of the Foreign Secretary himself. So the writing on the wall was clear for all to see. I find it very disquieting that hitherto His Majesty's Government do not seem really to have anticipated events. No precautionary measures have been taken until now, apart from removing from Govern- 977 ment Departments a few civil servants who were known to have affiliations with the Communist Party and who had access to certain confidential documents.
I believe that the only chance we have of avoiding a third world conflict is to make it perfectly clear to the Soviet Union, not merely by word but by action that there will be no further compromise. Let us for a moment put ourselves in the place of those who sit in the Kremlin. I believe that they are largely insulated against world opinion. It is quite likely that they are misinformed as to the general strength of public opinion both here and in America, as some hon. Gentlemen have already said.
We remember the example of Ribbentrop who, when he was Ambassador here, consistently misinformed Hitler as to the real state of opinion. The ambassadors of dictators often tend to tell them not what the facts are but what they would like to hear. Always bearing in mind the probability, that those in the Kremlin are in fact insulated against world opinion, let us remember that the eyes of the Kremlin have seen this country during the last three years pull out of Palestine, India and Burma. I do not wish to comment on the wisdom or otherwise of those particular moves. I am merely stating facts
§ Mr. Shurmer
And have seen us demobilise men at the request of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill).
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
They have seen us reduce the period of service from 18 months to 12 months. We let them have jet engines last year. We are still exporting oils and fats from Malaya to the Soviet Union. I do not know whether we are exporting rubber as well. But all these moves spell one word and one thing only to the Soviet mind, and that word is weakness. Add to this a Presidential Election in America, and the grave political difficulties which the French are experiencing, and I think that the danger is that Marshal Stalin and his advisers may be tempted to play their cards very high. I believe that no more useful message could go out from this House during this Debate than that we were absolutely convinced that Marshal Stalin shall gain nothing further by bluff. That is why I believe that in many 978 respects the Debate tomorrow will be infinitely more important than anything that has been said today.
It is not only that we must convince the Soviet Union that we mean business; we must convince our friends also. I think the time has come when we should look around the world and see who are our friends and who are not and take action accordingly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) referred to the Iberian Peninsula. I should have thought that now was the time to adopt a more realistic and commonsense attitude towards the Spanish Government. The charge against Franco is that he was a pro-Nazi—
§ Mr. Bramall(Bexley)rose—
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Just let me finish my sentence. The charge against Franco is that he was pro-Nazi—
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
He cannot be more pro-Nazi than the Germans themselves, and we have been engaged very properly during the last three years in building up Western Germany.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I cannot see on what grounds of ideology His Majesty's Government are ostracising Franco Spain while we are in full diplomatic relationship with the Soviet Union and all the iron curtain countries.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
Is the hon. Member saying that the majority of the German people in Western Germany are still Nazis and that is why we want them as friends?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I am not saying anything of the sort. Most of the Germans in Western Germany thanks to our assistance, welcomed the opportunity of getting rid of the Nazis and coming back to a democratic way of life. But I must say that by attacking and ostracising General Franco, we are merely enhancing his popularity to an unnecessary extent among the Spanish people.
I hope that from now on, the Government will be seized with a sense of 979 urgency because events are moving very fast indeed. We in the Opposition have consistently given the Foreign Secretary a good deal of support. That support, both in value and volume, has often been a great deal more weighty than the amount of support he has received from certain hon. Members behind him. We shall continue to support the Government in whatever urgent measures they may take to repair our depleted defences, to continue to stand firm and take the initiative in Western Europe. It may well be that the Minister of Health has not changed his views since making the extraordinary statement at Scarborough on 18th May of this year when he said, to what I am sure was an enthusiastic audience, that he did not believe there was anything dignified in a Socialist appealing to a non-Socialist for help. That is not the view of the Foreign Secretary in the words of his own speech today, because he knows better than any man how essential it is that in these times of stress and strain we should present a united front to the outside world.
I cannot help feeling that it is a little unfortunate in this period of crisis, that we should be discussing these grave events as it were by accident, because this Parliament was not recalled to discuss these matters but to deal with the Parliament Bill. We are only able to have this Debate today and the Defence Debate tomorrow because the Government intend to nationalise steel. But in creating a united front, one thing is certain, that Tories, Liberals and Socialists all have their part to play.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
As I anticipated, the Foreign Secretary was unable today to give us information about what has been taking place at these numerous conferences in Moscow and Berlin. The result is, of course, that we have to discuss the German problem, which is part of the world problem, without full knowledge of the facts. But one thing he said was in accordance with what I have imagined. He said that the Politbureau—I do not talk about the Russian people because they are only political serfs and do not count politically; it is the Politbureau that rules Russia—seemed to expect that once they put on this 980 blockade, we should be compelled to leave Berlin within two weeks. I always anticipated that was so, because these men, although they are well versed in the art of revolution are the most incompetent rulers in the world.
They did not expect this remarkable air lift, and they are perhaps still unable to realise that if they go on with their folly and if they expect to terrorise us and America and the democracies generally so that we shall be afraid to stay in Berlin, they are making another great mistake. They have been playing with fire ever since 1945, as the Foreign Secretary said on one occasion in this House; and if they go on, they will burn their fingers as Hitler and Mussolini and others like them did before them. If they think we are afraid to stay in Berlin, it is because they do not understand human nature. They think with a wretched materialistic philosophy which is about a century or two out of date. They do not realise that people have moral minds or souls or call it what we will; or that the people in the world, even the people in the satellite States, will not put up with Communist tyranny for ever.
It appears that we intend to stay in Berlin and I hope that we shall. If we do not, it will be Munich all over again. Everyone who has studied the situation realises that. It will be Munich over again, a temporary cessation in which the Communist imperialism will have gained an enormous victory in prestige and an enormous victory in strategy. What would happen to the Western States if we were to quit Berlin? European countries would say "The Democracies are useless, America and Britain have fallen down, let us turn to Communism." There would be an immense Communist victory in Italy and in France. It would be disastrous for us to quit Berlin, and however difficult it may be to stay there, I am certain that America, Britain, France, others and the Dominions and Colonies will remain in Berlin.
That is only fighting a defensive war. Some of our Communist hon. Members said we should never fight an aggressive war. Aggression is all on the side of Communist imperialism, and if we resist it by holding our own in Berlin, that is an act of defensive war. Furthermore, none of us wants war. The pacifists speak 981 as if they were the only people who hate war. We all hate war and those who have taken part in a war are the people who hate it most, because they know what it means. But we are dealing with these Communist imperialists who have no moral scruples, no moral self-respect and no inhibitions of any sort. They rely on fraud and, in the end, force. The only thing they understand is force.
If we stay in Berlin and organise the democracies as we are doing—I think much more than perhaps people know—and if we confront Communism with force then I do not think, as some hon. Members have said, that the Politbureau would go to war. So by resistance, by organised military force, we shall probably prevent a war.
§ Mr. Reid
It is not Tory doctrine, it is Labour doctrine and it is not pacifist doctrine. I suggest that communist imperialists have some delusions about the state of opinion in this country and especially the state of opinion in the Labour movement. The Labour movement was never pacifist and it is not pacifist today. The number of pacifists in the Party is negligible. Further, if they think that the Labour Party is not prepared to stand up against the aggression of Communist imperialism, they are making a sad mistake. I speak from knowledge of the state of opinion in the Party—
§ Mr. Reid
My hon. Friend talks about war. I have suggested that the only way to prevent a war is to stand up to Communist imperialism in Berlin and elsewhere. That may or may not prevent a war. It is the only possible means of preventing a war, and if it does lead to a war, I suggest to my hon. Friend that it is better to fight on our feet than to be shot on our knees. It is necessary, therefore, to go on with the organisation from a military and economic point of view, and every other point of view, of the free nations of the world.
§ Mr. Reid
Hon. Members opposite have claimed that they are supporting the foreign policy of this Government, yet today I heard a lot of pinpricks against the policy of the Foreign Secretary. It was said, for instance, that we are negotiating under duress. What are we negotiating about? We are negotiating about the fact that the Politbureau want to get us out of Berlin. Is it suggested that the moment the Politbureau put on this blockade we should have immediately started bombing? We are negotiating about that. As far as I can understand, the Russian Government say that if we will allow them to arrange for Soviet currency in the whole of Berlin, then they will open the corridor. That is what we are negotiating about. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest that the moment the corridors were blocked we should have started bombing? As I understand the matter, we have refused under duress to discuss all sorts of world affairs. We have tied the Soviet Government to Berlin and nothing else. That is not negotiating under duress.
I think it was the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Maclean) who talked about our signs of weakness and indecision in withdrawing from India and Burma. I put this question to hon. Members opposite. How many divisions would we have now in Burma and India if we had adopted the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill)? Is it not possible that even our Government realised that the danger was nearer home? Is it not a fact that if we had tried to govern Burma and India against the will of the people there, by which I mean the politically-minded people—the people who count—we should have found great difficulty? What folly it would have been to have tried. It would have meant that we would have had to rule by force. If we had to reduce Burma and India again to order, after years of probable war what should we do? Should we hand them over as we handed over South Africa after years of war? We had the wisdom and virtue to withdraw from India and Burma when they no longer wanted us to rule—
§ Mr. Reid
If the Karens and the Burmese come to grips, that is their 983 affair. It is an internal affair in Burma Does the hon. Gentleman say that we should have joined the Karens and fought the Burmese? He raised the question of the Karens. I will sit down and let him say what objection he has to the Karens, and then I will try to answer him.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I have seen reports in the Burmese Press that the Conservative Party has been joining in the troubles in Burma on one side or another. I should like to take this opportunity to say that I have no knowledge whatever of any such insinuation. I am very glad to take this opportunity of saying that.
§ Mr. Reid
I understand. One of the wisest things the Labour Government did since they came into power was to withdraw from an impossible position in Burma and India. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend opposite is a friend of the Karens. Does he think that I, for one, and others who know these countries, did not realise that there might be trouble between these tribes in Burma and trouble in India? I can assure him that I was well aware of what would happen. I predicted it. Our job was not to make things worse by having a breakdown in India with bloodshed and terror in which our boys would be losing their blood for no purpose. I do not want to go back on the past, but what was done in the case of Nazi aggression? Appeasement. Has the Foreign Secretary appeased Communist imperialism? We first came to grips over Greece. Who was responsible for preventing Greece from becoming a satellite State of Russia? Is anybody more responsible than the Foreign Secretary who kept our troops there until America came in? Some hon. Members opposite have had experience of the Foreign Office and they know that if Greece had fallen Turkey was bound to fall. Would Italy have survived?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
In point of fact, the time when Greece was saved was the 984 winter of 1944 when British troops were involved in defending Athens. At that time, it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) who was the Prime Minister. I fully agree that the then Minister of Labour, the present Foreign Secretary, supported him, but there were howls of criticism from those who at that time sat on this side of the House.
§ Mr. Reid
The hon. Member is talking about the war period, and he is perfectly right. It was the gallantry of our troops which then saved Greece. I am referring to the Foreign Secretary. He was not the Foreign Secretary at that time. I am referring to his action as Foreign Secretary after the war when the Communists made an attempt to scoop Greece.
§ Mr. Reid
The war was not over in 1944. I am talking about the time when my right hon. Friend became Foreign Secretary in 1945. I am talking about his actions as Foreign Secretary. I say that he saved Greece and the Near East for democracy, or it is hoped that they will have been saved for democracy in the long run. The Communist imperialists are not in power there up to date. [Interruption.] This has nothing to do with capitalism. The Communists have a delusion that everything has to do with capitalism. The struggle is between Communism and democracy, between Communism and liberty, between Communism and civilisation, and the Labour Party is on the side of liberty, democracy and civilisation, as the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) will find out.
§ Mr. Reid
The hon. Member continues to make these remarks. The Communists are just like a gramophone record. They give off their propaganda and nobody pays the slightest attention.
When the Foreign Secretary went to America to attend the United Nations Conference, I begged him in this House to end it or mend it. I have never thought that democacy and Communism could sit down at the same table with success. Now we have reached the final 985 stage when the matter is before the United Nations in Paris. I can assure the Government that the people of this country and, I think, the people of the world, are sick of these conferences. They want the matter to be brought to an end. I do not know what steps are being taken, or whether we are asking for a final answer from the Politbureau, but I hope there will be an end to these conferences so that we shall know where we stand in the future.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
I admire very greatly the robust speech of the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), and I would go so far as to say that he was reflecting the opinion and mood of the great bulk of Labour people in this country.
I listened to the Foreign Secretary with great interest, and I found his references to the air lift in Berlin encouraging, but I must confess that I did not find anything else very encouraging about his speech, or anything which was very clear. It is all very well to say how splendid the air lift is, and how much better is has turned out to be than anybody had a right to expect, but how long is it to go on? Is it to go on indefinitely? Suppose we get through the Winter, what happens in the Spring? So long as that air lift is conducted at our expense, Russia may legitimately claim that she has scored a great point in that we are negotiating under duress. I do not think that situation reflects very great credit upon us. I will not say what alternative steps should have been taken; but I do say that it is nothing to boast about. It is an infernal expense, and a considerable humiliation; and we had better face up to it.
I was always opposed to the decisions taken in 1944, 1945 And 1946 which finally left us in an untenable position in Berlin, if the Russians chose to cut up rough. I have always felt that, as a result of the war, the line of demarcation between East and West was pushed much too far to the West. There is a pretty sharp difference between the Elbe, where the Russians are now; and the Curzon line, where they ought to be. In my view, we should never have lost Poland and Czechoslovakia; but that is no more reason for further retreat now than the previous loss of the Rhineland and Austria was a reason 986 for a further retreat from Hitler in 1938. On the contrary, it is an additional reason for standing firm.
I take exactly the same view now as I did in 1938; that, if we want to avoid a third world war, we must stand firm. We cannot have any further retreat; and, if it ever comes to an ultimate choice between moving into Berlin or moving out, I say quite candidly that I should be in favour of moving in. I am by no means sure that a military war would be the result of action of that kind. On the contrary, I think it might well avert it.
We are beginning to face the fact that there is a great world struggle for power going on. It may be that Stalin was right when he said that it was impossible for Communist and capitalist States to live together in the same world for any considerable length of time, although he has also contradicted that statement. It may be that Mr. Burnham is right when he says that the supreme objective of Communism, to which everything else is subordinate, is a monopoly of power; and that it must conquer or perish. The fact remains that we are, at the moment, involved in a desperate struggle for world power; and, that, as a result, the world has already reached a state of explosive instability.
Germany is the crux, which makes this Debate of supreme importance; and that is why the struggle has reached, in Germany, its most intense manifestation. Unless and until the Russians succeed in gaining control over the whole of Germany and in making Germany a Communist State, they cannot be masters of continental Europe. That is what they are now trying to do; and that is what I say they must be prevented from doing at all costs. It is significant, and in some respects encouraging, that the Russians have abandoned the method of infiltration by apparent kindness and have resorted to brutal force. It could hardly be otherwise. They have turned the Soviet zone into a desert, enslaved its population, and they are now attempting. to starve the population of Berlin.
The German people have, in consequence, turned away from the East, and are attempting to turn towards the West. It is a process that should be encouraged by this country; for, without Germany, 987 Western Europe can neither recover nor survive. The only method of preventing a recurrence of the German menace is to make what is left of Germany an integral part of a Western Union; right in, on level terms. It is for this reason that I genuinely think that the trial at this stage of these old German Generals, after over three years of imprisonment without charge, is not only wrong but mistaken. The Foreign Secretary was justifying himself; but he got a pretty cool reception from both sides of the House as he spoke about these old boys. There was not much enthusiasm for getting the doctors to decide whether they can still stand up in court, after three years in prison. They are old and ill: and they had better be left to it.
The same goes for the process of dismantling. By all means dismantle factories which can be used solely for maufacturing arms; but not clocks. I am content, in this connection, to quote from a remarkable article in the "New Statesman" by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman):Dismantling is a clumsy method of reducing Germany's war potential. When it is carried out with the methods used in Wuerttemberg it becomes indistinguishable from looting. The Swabians are a tough people, and, however many machines are taken away, we cannot destroy their skill. All we can do is to make them hate us and everything associated with us.That is the view of the hon. Member for East Coventry, after a personal inspection of what has been going on.
I turn for a few moments to the wider question of Western Union. My own attitude towards this problem has changed somewhat under the impact and pressure of recent. events. The situation is one of such extreme urgency that there is no time to set up any kind of elaborate federal constitution. We must content ourselves, for the time being, with practical ad hoc arrangements which will work at once. I also think that a Union of Western Europe alone will no longer fill the bill. In order to stay the Communist advance through Germany to the Atlantic coast, we must have a comprehensive Western Union, including certain countries in Western Europe, the British Commonwealth and Empire, and the United States; and we must have it quickly, in view of the present situation. 988 Where does the Foreign Secretary stand upon this issue? Because that is what I cannot make out. I listen carefully to what he says, but I get no further. He spoke fine words last January, but fine words are not enough. We are getting a bit tired of these resounding declarations which lead nowhere. As "The Economist" recently remarked, the stage props have been assembled, but of the great play called "Western Union" there is still no sign
Western Europe remains a disintegrated and disordered power vacuum, which, but for the military power and financial aid of the United States, would already have collapsed completely. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech the other day in the Debate on the Address, demolished the Interlaken proposals with what I thought was rather suspicious relish. It did not seem that his heart was very much in this business of Western Union. I agree that these resolutions were quite impracticable; but we should not forget that they are an expression of the desperation, amounting almost to despair, which now grips the Continent of Europe, and which those of us who have not recently been there do not realise in this country.
I managed, in the end, to get an Amendment accepted to the Preamble that one of the main objectives of a European Union must be to formulate a common policy of defence against aggression from without or from within. But, to my mind, the most significant feature of that conference was a strange, rather sad defeatist little Debate, which left a strong impression that many of the delegates really wished to avoid at all costs this issue of defence. It seemed to me that they no longer aspired to be a third world force; and were content, in the words of a paragraph which was mercifully expunged, to be a connecting link between the two great opposed world forces represented by the Soviet Union and the United States—the revival, in another form, of Litvinov's famous twentieth century narcotic, neutrality. That would, indeed, spell the doom of Western Europe. We may be on one side or the other; but we cannot be neutral in this struggle.
On that point, I should like to quote a rather remarkable passage from James 989 Burnham's book, "The struggle for the World," because it has a bearing on the dangers which confront us at the moment.Between the two great antagonists there is this difference, that may decide. The Communist power moves towards the climax self-consciously, deliberately. Its leaders understand what is at stake. They have made their choice. All their energies, their resources, their determination, are fixed on the goal. But the Western Power gropes and lurches. Few of its leaders even want to understand. Like an adolescent plunged into his first great moral problem, it wishes, above all, to avoid responsibility for choice.That is the great danger which I see confronts the Western democracies, and particularly those of Europe.
I regret all this chatter and writing of academic Federal constitutions, while Berlin burns. The theoretical best is so often the enemy of the practical good. All these hypothetical Federal constitutions only do damage to the cause of Western Union, because they frighten people off. It is always a mistake to cast oneself for a rôle which has already been played in another century. Sir Oswald Mosley, whose departure from cur public life I have often regretted, thought he was a cross between Julius Caesar and Lord Byron. The result was fatal. Now the hon. Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay) has cast himself for the rôle of Alexander Hamilton. It will not do. There is no valid comparison between the American States of the 18th century and the Europe of today. Nevertheless, we ought to give a much clearer lead to Western Europe than the Foreign Secretary has yet given. They are looking for it. We have this responsibility. It is the responsibility of leadership; and my complaint against the Government is that they have not faced up to it.
The democracy of France is collapsing before our eyes. It is my belief that it will not recover until Western Union 'ceases to be a pious catch-phrase, and becomes a reality in some form or other. It will not do so until goods, money, and people can circulate much more freely than they are able to do at present. The chief contribution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to European unity this year has been to place a prohibitive duty on one of the chief French exports to this country, namely, wine—to the deep regret of all of us—and to ruin the Swiss and Belgian tourist trades. Nobody knows what he is going to do next year.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
It is quite unfair to put it that way. As the hon. Member knows, we have had the greatest difficulty up to this week in sending our coal to France.
§ Mr. Boothby
The price is too high. If we are not prepared to import the goods which France wishes to send us without slapping prohibitive duties on them, we are not going to get a good feeling between our two countries.
On this question of European Union, there are three aspects: defence, political, economic. The first two must precede the third, because security and political decisions are essential to effective economic co-operation. The O.E.E.C., to which everybody has paid tribute, has, in fact, managed, by the skin of its teeth, to dish out the dough; but it is now inevitably immersed in a sea of technicalities. Progress in the field of defence has been extremely disappointing; and in the political field there has been no progress at all.
I therefore want to make three practical proposals, because one must say where one stands in this matter of Western Union, just as one must face up to the issue that we may have to move in or out of Berlin. First, we ought, on the initiative of the British Government, to establish a proper functioning Council of Western Europe, including Western Germany. I would have Spain and Portugal in as well. We cannot bring in Greece and Turkey, because then it loses reality. I would have such a Council without further delay; and, by confining it to the Western States, we should avoid the structural confusion inherent in any organisation consisting of the Marshall countries as such. In addition, I would have a permanent International Secretariat, developed out of O.E.E.C., on the lines of S.H.A.E.F. Thirdly, I would have a purely deliberative assembly or senate, composed of representatives of the Parliaments of the countries concerned, to discuss matters of common interest.
I do not think there is anything very dangerous in those proposals. It is the first step at any rate. The Foreign Secretary said we must advance step by step. But he has not yet taken one effective step. I submit that these are three practical proposals, which might work; and which would bring immense encouragement to a lot of people in Western Europe 991 who are now clinging desperately to the idea of Western Union.
In conclusion, I believe that the only hope for the future lies in integration and union. The greatest danger to our civilisation is a continuance of the present process of disintegration in the Western democratic world. The French Revolution gave birth to the conception that States and nations ought to coincide. This gave rise to the virulent nationalism of the 19th century, and to the Wilsonian principle of self-determination in this century. What happened? The victorious combination of Allied Powers was precipitately dissolved after the first world war. A number of small separate sovereign nation-States were brought into existence which made neither political nor economic sense; and indoctrinated with the principle of self-determination which meant, in practice, secession, disarmament, discord and isolation. As a result, a second attempt was made by Germany to impose integration on Europe by force. Unless such integration is achieved by voluntary co-operation, another attempt will inevitably be made to impose it by force—this time by Russia.
The tragedy of Benes epitomises the continuing tragedy of 20th century Europe. He never understood the nature of the forces with which he was contending. He was largely instrumental in bringing about the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which, in retrospect, was a fatal mistake. The little nation-State, which he did so much to create, was absorbed, first, into the German, and then into the Russian Empire. It is easy now to see why. Little independent sovereign States are an anachronism in the present world. Neither politically nor economically can they stand on their own feet, a fact well recognised by the Russians.
It is the same in the East. I believe the liquidation of the British Empire in the East is an unmitigated disaster for the whole world; and the Americans, who are at least as much responsible for it as the present Government, will very soon find that out. The demands so strenuously put forward by so-called Left Wing democrats for complete sovereign independence are thought to be highly progressive, and very advanced, by those who 992 make them. The editor of the "New Statesmen," who referred the other day to "the occupation of Norfolk bases by an alien air force," claps his hands with glee over the secession of Burma from the Commonwealth. Secession into what?—into chaos and civil war. The truth is that all these demands and secessions are, in essence, profoundly reactionary; and, if carried to their logical conclusion, will return the world to a condition of political and economic anarchy which can only breed pestilence, poverty and war.
The world was not a bad place under the Pax Romana; and it was not such a bad place under the Pax Britannica. At least, it was a sight better than it is now. The late Lord Tweedsmuir wrote that the Puritan was pre-eminently a destructive force, for he was without the historical sense, and sought less to erect and unite than to pull down and separate. That applies also to many of our Left Wing intellectuals today. They seek to pull down and separate; and the result, too often, is the destruction of things of great value, which have been an inspiration to mankind. I believe, with some passion, that the only hope for the salvation of our world and our civilisation lies in a revived belief in creation, integration and unity.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
It would be an impertinence for me to comment on the speech to which the House has just listened. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] It would be an impertinence because it was a deeply thought out speech, and one which should be studied in HANSARD. I hesitate to agree with the hon. Gentleman, even though he has applauded the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman).
I wish to speak—and I hope it will not be counted by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) as a discourtesy—about what I regard as the attacks upon the Foreign Secretary. First, I want to ask this question. Who in this House of Commons has the right to attack the Foreign Secretary? Has the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) who was once Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs? Have the party opposite? What right have they to attack His 993 Majesty's Government, assuming that they believe that at the moment we are pursuing a policy which smacks a little of the Neville Chamberlain policy of appeasement? What right have hon. Members opposite to utter, as I have heard them utter, reproaches which they dare not utter in public with the full flavour that they would like to give, on the ground that this Government is alleged in some way to have entered into a policy of appeasement, when they themselves were responsible for that policy of appeasement which led to the last war?
I ask that question today, and let me say that in asking it I am not seeking to curry any favour with my own party. I was re-adopted on Monday night by my constituency, and I have waited to make this speech until after I was re-adopted. I believe that it is absolutely monstrous for hon. Members opposite to attack the Foreign Secretary or to sneer at him with all the great responsibility which he has, unless they themselves are prepared to come forward and say what they would do. Has the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden told us whether two months ago, in his opinion, convoys ought to have been taken through to Berlin? I shall give my opinion tonight. In my opinion, convoys ought to have gone through, with the Red flag if necessary, and by agreement with America and France.
I say that, and I have said it publicly. But has the right hon. Gentleman said it? Has anybody on the Conservative Front Bench said it? What right have they to talk about appeasement, unless they themselves are prepared to indicate what action they would take? Whoever is to wind up for the Opposition will not dare to say on behalf of the Opposition that they favour taking convoys through to Berlin. Therefore, neither he nor anybody on the Conservative benches have a jot or tittle of title to accuse the Government tonight.
No Labour Members who abstained from voting on the Motion of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) have the right to criticise the Foreign Secretary, because that was a vote which said we ought to be neutral as between the United States of America and Russia. It was a three-line Whip and any hon. Member on this side of the House who abstained from voting on that occasion, has no right whatever to criticise the 994 Foreign Secretary. And then it comes down to myself. Finally, I have no right to criticise the Foreign Secretary—none whatever. I have criticised him; I spoke immediately after him in the conference of December, 1944, the conference in London, and I was utterly wrong about Greece and he was completely in the right. I very much regret that fact. I now know I was wrong.
Let me, however, now come to the guts of the matter. It is this. Funnily enough, it was in the papers. I very rarely read Sunday newspapers, but someone brought in the "Sunday Dispatch," and it had a leading article. [Interruption.] I beg hon. Members on this side to bear with me for one moment. In this Tory paper it said in effect, "No, this is not 1938" and why? Why did this Conservative newspaper say it was not 1938? Precisely because—
§ Mr. Blackburn
The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) underestimates the intelligence of his own newspapers. No: the newspaper said the complete difference between 1938 and 1948 was this: that today we have the United States of America with us and in 1938 we did not have the United States of America with us, and that because of that, we are so strong that the Soviet Union will not dare to challenge our authority. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman nods his head. That is, in fact, demonstrably true, but may I ask the hon. Member for Cambridge University not to forget this—he has every opportunity to reply; he is winding up; he is one of the big battalions, whereas I am merely a small individual; I think at least he might be courteous while I am speaking; he has 20 to 25 minutes while I have only 10 minutes—I ask him not to forget this about the Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Secretary of the party which, according to the party opposite, would alienate the United States of America, has kept the United States of America solidly with us the whole time. That is his great achievement.
May I go a little further to say that through the Marshall Plan he has initiated Western Union and the idea of Western Union. He is the leading exponent of a policy by which 16 States of Europe are today trying to plan their economy. Is that a 995 small thing or is that a great thing? Let me go a little further and ask hon. Members on this side something about the United States of America. Hon. Members talk about the United States as a capitalist country. Is it really a capitalist policy to give money to people? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] All I can say, then, is that if there is any capitalist on the other side who is prepared to give me money, personally, I am perfectly willing to take it.
I want to say one word about a speech of great importance which has been grossly misunderstood. People always quote the Foreign Secretary as having said, "Left cleaves to left" at the Blackpool Conference. I have taken great trouble over this and I challenge any hon. Member on this side to dispute that when he said, "Left cleaves to left" he was referring not to the Soviet Union but to France. What he said about the Soviet Union was far more profound. He said, "Let us get the conferences and when we get conferences, let them be conferences; let us not have long distance telephone calls." I challenge any hon. Member here to read the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Blackpool and deny that, and I say I believe it was the most fore-sighted speech that I have ever read in my life.
Let me come now to the main issue—what shall we do now? I do not wish for one moment to evade it. I said, and I repeated two months ago, that in my opinion, after giving due warning to the Soviet Union we should have stated we were prepared, in co-operation with America and France, to send convoys under red flags—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why red?"]—red flags because, after all, it is the red flag's mission to bring food to beleaguered people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] The red flag for the Communists and the Red Cross flag for us. I am quite clear about this, that any such mission would have to be planned as a full military operation. The bridges might be blown up. We might have to guard bridges. Well then, we should have to do it. I believe we still ought to do that, and I agree with the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby). If we do that, I still believe there will be no resistance. I may be wrong, but I believe that this step ought to be taken now. I also 996 believe that the party opposite ought to tell us where they stand, and that they ought to tell us tonight.
I have only two more points to make. The next is, I believe, fundamental. Nothing I say tonight is in any way intended as criticism of the Foreign Secretary. I mean that quite sincerely, and for this reason—[Interruption.] I have a right to state my reason, despite barracking, and I shall state it. The reason I give is this, that the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister cannot get up at the Despatch Box here and tell us what they think. They have got to get the French Government and the United States Government to agree.
§ Mr. Blackburn
If anybody seriously criticises the Government, he has to criticise them, not for what they are saying tonight, but for what they failed to get the United States and the French Government to agree with us about. So what I am saying is not any criticism of the Foreign Secretary. I believe a mishandling of the situation in Berlin occurred. We said we would not negotiate while the blockade was on. What on earth have we been doing in the last two months? What has Frank Roberts been doing, and the ambassadors in Moscow, if not negotiating? We said we would not negotiate under duress. Yet we have done it for two months. That is a small matter in a sense, but it is a big matter in another sense.
Why did the last war start? Because Hitler believed that after he had overrun Poland Britain would enter negotiations for separate terms of peace. The danger of another war is the same that Stalin and the Russians will not believe that we mean what we say. Therefore, there is one cardinal rule for our foreign policy which must be followed, and that is that we must not say anything we do not mean 100 per cent. Yet we have done it once or twice. We must not say anything we do not mean and are not prepared ourselves to back up by force.
I want to finish on an entirely different note. I hope the House will bear with me on this occasion, because it is something I feel personally very deeply. It is nearly a year ago since, at about six o'clock in the morning, the great Bul- 997 garian patriot, Nicolai Petkov, was taken out and hanged by the neck. It took him about 10 minutes to die a nasty death. The full facts are now appearing. But I am reminded of the words of a great Englishman, John Donne:Every man's death embarrasses me,Because I am involved in mankind.Wherefore send not to knowFor whom the bell tolls:It tolls for thee.I believe that the bell that tolled for Nicolai Petkov tolled for every one of us in this House of Commons. I believe that we may avert this dread catastrophe of war if we are now firm and resolute, and if we indicate that we are not prepared to submit to blackmail.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge. University)
I hope that the House will forgive me two sentences of prefatory apology. First, generally, I think, I am as willing as anyone to give way to interruptions, but on this occasion I desire to speak to an exact time schedule. I desire, as far as can be reasonably hoped, not to be unnecessarily controversial, and I hope, therefore, that I shall be forgiven if I do not invite, and even do not admit, interruptions. Secondly, I hope that the House will forgive me in another particular. One who speaks last from either side in a Debate of this class of importance is faced with an extremely difficult choice. It is much the more difficult for one, like myself, who is not in a position to employ others to act as secretary or otherwise to take half the burden off his shoulders. The choice before a person in my position is either that he should retire from the Chamber for an hour-and-a-half or two hours, according to the quickness of his wit and in that time compose his answer to the Debate, thereby missing half of it or very nearly, or, alternatively, he can sit in the Chamber throughout and make a speech which may not have the logical construction and concentration he should give to it. I hope that the House will forgive me for having chosen the second alternative. I hope that all I have to say has a logical connection, but I am extremely conscious that what I have to say will not be said in the right order.
I begin where the Foreign Secretary began, leaving out the German Generals, who seem to me a comparatively minor 998 point—I begin with Palestine. The Foreign Secretary told us that Count Bernadotte recommended that there should be every reasonable assurance to the Arabs. He added that in his opinion—that is His Britannic Majesty's Foreign Secretary's opinion—the United Nations should give specific guarantees to the Arabs. I assume that the Foreign Secretary, speaking after advice, in a Debate on a date chosen by him, distinguishes between assurances and guarantees. I assume that when the Foreign Secretary does that, he is conscious of what he is doing, and if not, the Under-Secretary ought to correct the House's impression this afternoon, because if the Foreign Secretary was conscious of what he was doing, there is all the difference between assurances and guarantees. I may assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I will pay your debts, but if I guarantee your debts that means that I put such sum of money as will cover your debts within the control of some other person, so that your creditors may be guaranteed repayment. A guarantee is in law and in diplomacy a technical term. The Foreign Secretary was once the "Dockers K.C." He would not carefully use the word "guarantee" and carefully contrast it with the word "assurance" unless he knew what he was doing—and I should be the last to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman ever does not know what he is doing—and if by any chance he did not know what he was doing, then the House ought to be better informed before we rise tonight.
The next point to which I come—and I think probably almost the only one on which I can address the House in the time at my disposal—is the question of Germany and in particular of Berlin. I would like, therefore, to begin with a question to the Under-Secretary which is related to our previous Debates in this short Session. The Foreign Secretary told us that Western Germany was being invited—indeed I think directed—to find for itself a democratic constitution within the limits laid down by the occupying Power. Now, I think I am in a minority almost of one on this point, the immediate point to which I come first, and that is that in my judgment it has always been a mistake to suppose that an occupying Power has the right to direct the constitution making of any territory. I have always thought that a mistake. I think it is too long an argument to go 999 into now, but I think that it is one of the roots of the troubles we are now in. Nevertheless, pass that for a moment. Pass secondly the logical difficulty that if "democracy" means the setting up of Government by the consent of the governed, it is rather difficult to see how that can be done within conditions imposed by an occupying Power. That is a logical difficulty too. But pass that one, and I come to a specific question which I will put to the Under-Secretary, and I hope we shall not rise tonight without his answering it.
The right hon. Gentleman told us that there were certain basic principles of a democratic constitution within which the Germans had to act, which include guarantees—and I have already indicated to the House what I think about the word "guarantees"—of individual rights. Now the question I have to put is this: Do these basic principles within which the Germans are to make their constitution, do these guarantees of individual rights—which are the minimum within which they are to erect a constitution—do they include this, that the new Government so established shall not be entitled by the vote of one Chamber retrospectively to alter the rules under which it itself acts? Are those among the democratic limits within which the Germans have to find themselves a constitution? I think we ought to be told. We know that those are not the democratic principles within which this country has to find itself a constitution. That we know.
Now we ought to be told: Are those among the democratic principles within which, under British occupation of Germany, the Germans have to find themselves a democratic constitution? I think that a specific, a quite clear and a perfectly fair question. It cannot come as a surprise to anybody. We know it has been the matter of everybody's thoughts for the last two or three weeks. I put the question quite fairly, and I think we ought to have a specific answer to it.
Then there is another question which I wish to put, and it is on this difficult problem of reparations and dismantling. It is a difficult problem. I fully understand that. I fully accept the three principles which the right hon. Gentleman told us that he had accepted from the Coalition and Caretaker Governments. I 1000 fully accept that. But I am bound to say that his indication of the practical difficulties did seem to me very difficult to follow.
I do not know if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have, all of them, seen the performance of a great artist whose name was Grock. He was, I think, fundamentally more serious than the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary—indeed, than any of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite—but he was also extremely laughable. I do not know if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite remember one part of his turn where he used to find that the piano stool was a little too far away from the grand piano, and he used to spend a very long time trying to push the grand piano up to within reach of the piano stool before it occurred to him that the piano stool might possibly he moved up to the grand piano.
Now, similarly, when this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman told us that there was machinery in Germany which could not be used where it is because of the want of skilled labour or of materials there, and that therefore it ought to be removed for that reason, it did occur to me that he might be falling into what I might call the "Grock fallacy," and that really that argument ought not to be made by statesmen who have it within their power to control the flow of raw materials
The main difficulty of our Debate today—I shall not be long, so I hope hon. Gentlemen will find it possible to listen to me—is the assumption that you are always in a condition—the Under-Secretary at least really should listen to me. The Under-Secretary has not been here for a very long time this afternoon. I will take this time out of the Under-Secretary's time. [Laughter.] Any time he does not appear to be listening to me, I shall take out of his time. Hon. Gentlemen opposite should not think that every argument is to be answered by factious laughter; that is not a key that fits all locks. I would ask him to consider this fact: they pose themselves as being the world's last line of resistance against totalitarianism because they stand for Socialism combined with democracy, they stand for economic Socialism combined with Parliamentary government. That is the only justification—I am sure every candid hon. Gentleman opposite will 1001 agree that is the only justification for their existence as a party and as a Government.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
It is a very good one if it stands up. Very well, then. Upon the assumption that there is their justification, I ask them to consider this. Parliamentary government consists, has consisted for many generations in this country, in the control of government; most of all, perhaps, in the control of foreign policy by persons who are politically strong enough to control foreign policy because of their Parliamentary performance. That is what Parliamentary government is. Now a series of accidents, including the last war, made the right hon. Gentleman the present Foreign Secretary into a Cabinet Minister without ever having been in the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh.''] Certainly that is so, there is no use denying it.
That being so, there is an unusually heavy duty lying upon hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to see that foreign policy continues to be guided by discussion in this House. How many external Ministers have we got now—with respect to the hon. Gentleman opposite—not counting Under-Secretaries? There is the Colonial Secretary, the Minister of State, the Minister of Commonwealth Relations, and so on and so on. Yet hardly ever is one of them able to be here except when he himself is speaking. They really must get it into their heads that they cannot pose as defenders of Parliamentary government unless they are prepared to be here, and unless they are prepared to listen.
That was a digression, which I take out of the time of the Under-Secretary. I return to my main argument. The principal difficulty of our Debate today has been the 19th Century assumption that either you have war or you have peace. But that is no longer—if I may use a word once used by my right hon. Leader—an exclusive dichotomy; the two things do not cover all the possible situations. We are not now in a condition either of war or of peace, we are in a condition of continual guerrilla which has been going on now for at least three years; a guerrilla war, a little war has 1002 been fought against us and is being fought against us in the Balkans, in many parts of the East—most noticeably in Malaya. And it does not rely upon my assertion, that statement. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said as much in the references he made to Malaya a week ago. There is a guerrilla being fought against us in various parts of the world. I take only three—Greece, Palestine, Malaya. [An HON. MEMBER: "Palestine? "] Certainly Palestine. About Palestine I cannot say all I want to say tonight. I have, I think, said all I must say.
About Greece I wish to ask the Under-Secretary this and I hope he will answer it—again I asked the question, I think, long ago, so there has been full notice —at what stage has there been or at what stage will there be indication to U.N.O. by His Majesty's Government that unless U.N.O. recognises, however it acts on the most striking facts it is bound, whatever our will, to turn into a nonentity. Does anyone doubt that for months, for years now, parts of the Balkan peninsula, particularly Albania, have been used and exploited as a place d'armes, a place for manoeuvre? Is that doubted? If it is doubted I think the Under-Secretary should tell us. I think his senior has clearly indicated the contrary. Will the Under-Secretary tell us when we did or if not yet when we are going to, draw the attention of U.N.O. to that state of affairs? It is not for us to dictate what U.N.O. ought to do but I think it is clearly the duty of His Majesty's Government to make quite plain to the United Nations organisation when there is a state of fact which in an earlier state of civilisation would amount to war, that it is the duty of His Majesty's Government to make sure that that state of fact is brought to their attention. I want to know whether that has been done or when it is going to be done.
The same is true about Malaya. I thought the right hon. Gentleman rather over-did the Communist side of Malaya. I think the non-Communist ingredient in the Malayan business is greater than he admitted. I think it was incompetence by His Majesty's present Government which enabled the difficulties partly endemic and partly epidemic in the Malayan Peninsula to be exploited and integrated by an outside power into what amounts now to 1003 insurrection. I think the right hon. Gentleman over-did the Communist control: at least, he certainly put Communist control in Malaya very high. If he puts it anything like so high, it is his duty if he is conscious of that happening, as His Majesty's principle adviser on foreign affairs to bring that matter to the power most likely to have an influence on it. I brought that matter forward 10 days ago, so there's been ample notice given of the question; when was that done and if it has not been done, why has it not been done? [An HON. MEMBER: "Is this the same speech as last week?"] No it is not the same speech as last week. I hope I shall not get quite the same meaningless answer.
I come back now to what has been the liveliest subject in our Debate today, the Berlin situation. I was interested in one phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. He said it was a remarkable feat that we should have carried out the air lift—and I agree it was a very remarkable feat but an even more remarkable feat was his expression that we should have carried out this air lift under ordinary conditions of peace. These are "ordinary conditions of peace." We, in conjunction with allies, one of whom is the Soviet Government. occupy Berlin—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am not going to give way. It will be found in HANSARD that I am quoting correctly.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
The right hon. Gentleman said it in those words and hon. Members know it.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
"Under ordinary conditions of peace"—I want to know what are the ordinary conditions of peace. He also told us that we should continue to keep the air lift working at the cost of considerable discomfort to the Berliner. The lift had been difficult for them, they had borne it very well but we could carry on, at a cost of considerable discomfort to them. Very true, I hope, but the right hon. Gentleman should have mentioned also at what cost to us. How many hundreds of thousands of pounds are to be spent every day, or every week? 1004 Is it known how much interference is being caused to the proper development of the Air Force by the air lift? Is that known, because it ought to be known; we should be clear about it? We were told that we would not negotiate under duress, but surely one is under duress if one is negotiating with a party who is compelling one, as long as negotiations continue, to spend large sums of money or to hold up the organisation of one's business. We ought to be told what is the whole cost to us.
We ought also to be told what is the policy. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he cannot tell us today. If he cannot tell us today—I am very sorry that the Lord President of the Council is not here—why are we not told when we can be told, why are we not held together until we can be told? All our business and all our pleasure is interrupted, and in a sense rightly interrupted, when there is any legislative business which His Majesty's Government with the utmost extreme of tortuous and disingenuous logic can hold to be necessary.
But far more important than any business of legislation is this business of defence and of our relations to the world. If hon. Gentlemen opposite ever doubted that let them doubt it no longer. They may once have taught their followers that external affairs mattered only to the ruling classes, mattered only to the officer caste, or something of that sort. They may once have thought that, but now they know, or do they not even now know, that they would have one million, two million, three million unemployed or starving or both, or war, if their external affairs were in any respect worse than they are, That they know now, surely.
Nevertheless, for month after month they have had the effrontery to tell us that the most urgent matters of external affairs were not yet ripe for discussion here, and even today they are not yet ripe for discussion here. The right hon. Gentleman has gone off somewhere else where they are ripe for discussion—but not yet here. If that is so, and if that is necessarily so, why is it that we are not told that next week or the week after or the week after that, there really will be a possibility of Debates which may affect the decisions of His Majesty's Government in this greatest of all questions
§ 9.28 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)
I am indeed glad that the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) has not carried out his somewhat juvenile threat to deprive me of a few minutes of my time as the result of a few words to my neighbour on this Bench while he was speaking. It would of course have made it impossible for me to answer the numerous questions which he was simultaneously asking me. A number of those questions were wholly irrelevant to foreign affairs. There was a large passage of opposition to the Parliament Bill. There were a large number of thoroughly partisan and irresponsible references to unemployment. Sometimes I feel that it is high time the hon. Member for Cambridge University graduated.
There was, however, one question of some importance and some relevance to the Debate which he asked and which seems to me worthy of a reply on behalf of the Government. It was the question about Palestine. It is an important matter and one on which it is particularly difficult for me to make a specific statement on behalf of the Government, namely what precisely is intended by "special guarantees" in the Report of the Mediator.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The quotation comes from the Mediator's report which was published very recently and was endorsed only today by His Majesty's Government. Clearly there must be long discussion on the precise meaning to be given to that. I would, however, say on this subject that at least there is an idea in our minds that, if pending agreement between the parties in Palestine, the boundaries recommended should be violated as a result of force, the Assembly should recommend the Security Council to decide that it is a threat to the peace. That is the way our minds have been working. But the House should know another relevant factor which is that, if as a result of the recommendations of the Mediator, parts of the Arab part of Palestine go to Transjordan and a small part to Egypt, then I am advised that the areas concerned would be covered by the existing Anglo-Transjordan and Anglo-Egyptian Treaties. 1006 That is relevant I think to the point raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge University.
I was also asked another question on Palestine by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) who urged the Government to grant recognition to the provisional Government of Israel. He will have heard my right hon. Friend state our views when replying to questions this afternoon. The acceptance of the report of the Mediator does not involve recognition, either by this country or any Arab State which might agree to accept the Report. Our position remains as it has been, namely, that during the period of the truce, for us to recognise the provisional Government of Israel would, in effect, be a form of political intervention unwise in the existing circumstances of the truce. We must know before we recognise the State of Israel what precisely it is that we are recognising. Also, we must have an assurance, as surely recent events have shown, that the Government can control its supporters. We say, therefore, that it would be no contribution to this Palestine problem to grant recognition at the present time to the State of Israel. Indeed, while the truce lasts I think it would be a most unhappy and ill-judged thing to do. No doubt as the position develops we may wish to reconsider our attitude.
The problem of Palestine has, however, lain rather outside the general trend of the Debate today. Most of the speeches have been concerned with the Berlin situation, the biggest issue of foreign affairs—
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the question of Palestine would be give me an answer as to the laying of a White Paper?
§ Mr. Mayhew
Yes, Sir. We will of course gladly do so. We have already made arrangements to lay a White Paper on the report of the Mediator.
The principal topic has been Berlin, the biggest issue of foreign affairs. There the speeches on both sides have shown I think, with one or two discordant voices, a remarkable unity of view—that the Western Powers must maintain their determination to assert their rights in Berlin. My right hon. Friend would wish me to acknowledge the many helpful and responsible speeches made on both sides 1007 of the House in the course of the Debate. Where there has been criticism on this issue it has mostly been that the patience of my right hon. Friend with the Soviet Government has been altogether excessive. That is where the main body of criticism has come in this Debate, though it was accompanied invariably, as the hon. Member for Kings Norton (Mr. Blackburn) pointed out, by no constructive suggestions as to any alternative policy that should be adopted. The unity that we have seen in the House today is, of course, parallelled in the country too. I hope that this will be noted by overseas as well as home observers. For example, I noticed in "Pravda" last week that it was stated that in Britain, as elsewhere in the west, the gulf between the working masses and the right wing Socialist ruling cliques is growing deeper and deeper. The same sentiment in a very different context was recently expressed by Lord Woolton on behalf of the Conservative Party. Lord Woolton's view was nonsense. "Pravda's" view is, I think, also dangerous nonsense.
Of course, the truth, as I have said, is that it is a dangerous illusion to suppose that there is somewhere a mythical working mass opposed to the allegedly undemocratic policy of the Government. Our own experience, the Debates in the House, public opinion polls, if I am allowed to quote them in the House of Commons, all show that such opposition as there is to the Foreign Secretary in this country—and it is not very great—comes from those who feel that his patience with the Soviet Government is excessive. I think it is as well that that should be known.
One of the two discordant notes was struck by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) in one of his usual vigorous speeches which, I am told, was excellently answered by the hon. Member for Shettlestone (Mr. McGovern), who invariably answers in the most appropriate possible form the speeches of the hon. Member for Mile End. I was not here for the speech of the hon. Member for Mile End, but I would say this if the House will allow me, irrelevantly. It makes me sad to see, after the hard work put in by the hon. Member for Mile End and the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), that they should 1008 continue to be cold shouldered out of the Cominform. This is a thing that has struck me deeply recently. The British Communist Party may be very small, it may be very uninfluential; and it may be true that in the most classconscious of the working-class districts of this country in any municipal election, any Communist candidate will come right at the bottom of the poll; nevertheless, the British Communist Party is as hard working and as loyal to the Kremlin as any in the world. I am trying to help the candidature of the hon. Members to the Cominform. I say that with truth, and I think it is grotesquely unjust that even their comrades should so despise them as not to admit them to the Cominform.
The second discordant note was struck by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) who, in a sincere speech was listened to with great respect by the House, expressed the pacifist views which he has held for so long. I am bound to agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean). Sometimes it is hard when one listens to a pacifist claiming a monopoly of the hatred of war. I often feel that some of us who have actually had to fight them might be credited occasionally with a little dislike of war ourselves. However, with that exception, and with the exception that again I agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster that in actual cold fact the existence of pacifists and pacifism in this country is no contribution whatever to the peace of the world—none whatever—in spite of all that, I think we all listened with great respect to the hon. Member's speech. We acknowledge his right to express his views freely and, as far as the best of the pacifists go, this House and the country would be a poorer place without them. I also wish to apologise on behalf of the Government for the invitation sent to him to address a recruiting campaign. I am bound to say that that is carrying preparedness to excessive lengths. The international situation is grave, but not as grave as that.
A number of speakers have criticised the Government on the grounds that we have, in fact, been negotiating under duress; the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) and several other hon. Members made this point. My right hon. Friend never meant, and I do 1009 not think any reasonable person could have thought that he meant, that we would refuse to talk to the Russians about the conditions under which the blockade could be lifted. We specifically excluded any other subjects than what was to be done to start negotiations. We have discussed no point of substance relating to the future of Germany.
These are the facts, and it is still fair to say that we have not been negotiating under duress. I am handicapped in trying to pursuade the House of this because of the secrecy with which we still have to treat this subject, because the talks with the other three foreign Ministers are still going on; but we are entitled to say that, while we have talks with the Russians about the conditions under which the blockade can be lifted, there has been no weakness, no negotiation under duress and none of the appeasements which has been so entirely unjustly and without evidence attributed to my right hon. Friend by some speakers in the Debate.
For the rest of his speech, the hon. Member for Lancaster was gloomy, partisan and unconstructive. He told us a number of perfectly obvious platitudes. He said it was unfortunate that we had got ourselves into the position in which we find ourselves in Berlin, without any suggestion as to how it could have been avoided or differently handled.
The second main body of criticism has been that we are not going fast enough in the arrangements of defence, in political organisation and in the O.E.E.C. The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) said so, and he was supported by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) and by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley). On the subject of defence arrangements the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden asked why we did not extend this hard core of the Brussels Powers to the new Italy, the Atlantic countries and so on. My right hon. Friend, I know, appreciates and understands that line of thought, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite will understand that I am not in a position at the moment to give full details. I can assure him that much work has been done, and work according to his prescription.
I would remind him of the security talks in Washington recently, of the forth- 1010 coming meeting of the Defence Ministers of the Brussels Powers next week, and that, at the recent meeting of the Military Committee of the Brussels Powers, there was an attendance of observers from the United States and Canada. All these things are relevant and all build up to a picture, and the fact that the full extent of this work 'is not told does not mean that we are unaware of its importance, or that we are not pushing ahead as quickly as we possibly can, and along the general lines indicated by the right hon. Gentleman.
The only bone I would pick with the right hon. Gentleman was in regard to his reference to the Iberian Peninsula. If one is a Conservative statesman and wishes to attack Franco Spain one refers to Spain as the Iberian Peninsula, or perhaps, Franco Spain was not intended by that reference? More frankly the hon. Member for East Aberdeen suggested that the time had come to bring Spain into Western Union.
§ Mr. Mayhew
If it is prejudice to decline to enter into an alliance with a Fascist country, it is a pity there is not more prejudice on the other benches. We were also accused of not going fast enough in the economic field, in the work of O.E.E.C.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the last point, I hope that his general, sweeping remarks did not refer to Portugal, which I happened to mention today?
§ Mr. Mayhew
No, certainly not; I was only referring to Franco Spain, not to Portugal.
On the subject of O.E E.C., we were accused, as I say, of not going fast enough. But I would ask hon. Members to look back 18 months and to consider how far we have gone since then in European economic co-operation. If one looks back to the time before Mr. Marshall made his speech at Harvard, and considers the degree to which we have got the habit of common action in Western Europe, one cannot but marvel at the amount we have achieved. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen referred contemptuously to the work of O.E.E.C., so far, as "dishing out the dough," and 1011 intimated that it was an easy and rather discreditable task. It is not; it is an extremely complex, difficult, and worthy task for O.E.E.C. to be doing. It is a great achievement for these countries to have reached agreement on the difficult subject of the division of Marshall Aid, a subject involving all kinds of political and economic difficulties, and all kinds of conflicts of different interests. The fact that they were able, by free discussion, to reach agreement, was, I consider, a first-class achievement.
Secondly, we have prepared, and almost completed, the intra-European payments scheme. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke about this at considerable length in the Debate last week, and I do not propose to cover the same ground. It is a scheme of enormous importance for facilitating intra-European trade. We hope the agreement will be ratified on 1st October. We do not claim that the scheme is perfect by any means, and we reserve our right to improve it as experience shows where it can be improved. That, again, is an achievement of concrete importance to European unity.
Now we come to the third stage—perhaps the most spectacular of all—the preparation of the four-year plan which will, by uniting the production and trade plans of the member nations into a single plan, lay the foundations for Europe's economic independence by the year 1952–53. That may seem a dry and dreary task but, in point of fact, these programmes which will be asked for from each of the 16 member countries—programmes relating to their production targets for the next four years, their trade policies, their imports, exports, and prices—will mean a revolution in the possibilities of planning economic recovery in Western Europe.
We have already started on the job. The country plans will be in by 1st October, and they will then be knit together into a single four-year plan to make Western Europe viable. That will be the moment—when we have that information and when we can see the economic prospects in some detail—for the Western Union countries, both individually and as a whole, to take up the points which the right hon. Gentleman put to me about what he called the further economic integration of Western Europe. Though 1012 economic integration is a far-reaching and rather vague term, it describes the kind of projects which we have in mind—projects for avoiding wasteful capital expenditure and for the co-ordination of food production in the different Western European countries. The hon. Member for Buckingham in his excellent speech, mentioned the possibilities of co-ordinating steel production in Western Europe and the importance of surveying together the steel production in Germany and in Britain.
The time to see what is possible and what is desirable is when we have the country programmes in on 1st October for the four-year plan of European viability, because it is no good academically picking out steel or foodstuffs or whatever it may be and asking ourselves whether that is a good thing to work on or not. The proper empirical way to go about it is to make viability the overriding criterion, to ask what Europe needs to stand on its own feet and be independent, and out of, one's study of that to see what are the prospects of coordinating the steel production or the food production or the foodstuffs imports of the various European countries. That is the attitude of mind of my right hon. Friend. It is a business-like, empirical approach and one which we mean to pursue with great seriousness.
Those were two things on which we were told we were not going fast enough. There was a noticeable absence on the Opposition side of pressure to hurry up with the great schemes of Western Federation which we have heard so much about. Indeed, I was astonished to notice that the right hon. Gentleman, speaking for the Conservative Opposition, had nothing to say on this topic at all. Even more significant, perhaps, is the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has not even seen fit to attend this Debate, and I consider these facts are significant.
§ Mr. Mayhew
All these interruptions cannot hide the fact that the Conservative Party is cooling off about their Western Federation proposals. That is the truth. That is perfectly plain on all 1013 sides. If not, they have only to put up their spokesmen to press us on this point. The truth is that my right hon. Friend has persuaded the Opposition on this point. They have begun to realise the difficulties of some of the wild schemes which they were attacking Labour for not supporting.
The truth is that my right hon. Friend is concentrating on the substance of European unity rather than on the form of European unity. The truth is that the critics are spending great thought and energy on formal constitutions, on the apparatus of federal and confederate government. I read in "The Times" this morning that certain people say, "We agree that the case against a federal or a confederate solution is strong; all we want is an assembly." There is an underlying unfairness about that position, because the whole purpose of the assembly is to discuss a federal or confederate solution. If one opposes the one, it is a little hypocritical to criticise people who will not go to an assembly to discuss it.
We, on the other hand, say that we need the substance of unity. We need to ask ourselves what are the precise acts of co-operation which are desired, and in which particular fields. It may be a question of the production of fighter planes, or of Belgium's position as a creditor. It may be the attitude of the Western democratic powers towards Franco Spain. Whatever it is, we ask ourselves on what precise things do we need to co-operate. When that is done, it is seen that the machinery for cooperation is capable of performing these tasks nine times out of 10 without the erection of great federal or confederate constitutions, without jeopardising our Commonwealth relations and without all the difficulties and many of the wild schemes that have been put forward.
Sometimes I feel that those who put forward these schemes are trying to bring the countries of Western Europe together to have the largest number of arguments about the matters of the least immediate importance. My right hon. Friend is determined not to prejudice the very real measure of practical co-operation we are getting, and which is growing and which he means to grow, by diverting the energies of this new team of countries to tasks of co-operation which are, in fact, beyond their strength and not of im- 1014 mediate importance. There is a saying that it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all, but in my view the wisdom of that saying is vastly over-rated and applied to Western Europe in the context of the present international situation there is no truth in it at all. There is too little margin in the defence of democracy to attempt and to fail to carry through very ambitious schemes of that kind.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
If the hon. Member will permit me for a moment. I did not wish to intervene in the flow of his argument, but before he finishes, there is just time for him to deal with this point. We have seen the news that a new note has been sent tonight, or will be sent tomorrow, by the three Powers in reply to Mr. Molotov's aide memoire. If this is so, we should be very grateful if he could tell the House about it before he finishes; if he could also tell the House whether before we adjourn for a month we shall be given any information as to the contents of that note and as to the situation which is created by it. It seems rather difficult to conduct the whole of this day's Debate and only to learn by chance, upon the tape machine, that the most important element in it, the presentation of a new and, we understand, final note, if that is true, has just been decided upon by the three Powers.
§ Mr. Mayhew
It is true that a note was presented this evening at seven o'clock to the Soviet Ambassador but, quite apart from the fact that I am allowed only a few minutes until ten o'clock, I think I am entitled to ask for notice of this very important point.
§ Mr. Macmillan
When I said "before we adjourn," I did not mean before we adjourn tonight, but before we adjourn for a month on the day after tomorrow.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I do not think I can commit my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House at this stage, but it will, of course, be open to the right hon. Gentleman to raise the matter tomorrow, perhaps, when we have had time to think it over. I do not want to make any commitments at the present time.
If I may finish what I was saying, in case it sounds as though I have poured cold water on some of the schemes, I 1015 would like to make it quite clear that my right hon. Friend is not content to leave the machinery of Western Union cooperation where it stands now, but that he regards it as something growing and something developing. He expects new institutions, including an assembly for Western Europe, to take shape, but he does say that our approach to it must be empirical and that it must grow naturally out of our experience, out of our habit of common action, and not artificially with the risk of seriously compromising the actual practical co-operation which we have already achieved.
I am afraid I have been unable to covet very many of the points raised in the Debate tonight. I apologise to hon. Members for this. I will end by saying, if I may, that the speeches rightly have emphasised the gravity of the present situation. Some of them, if I may say so, have. I think, over-estimated the difficulties which face us and perhaps rather under-estimated some of the weaknesses—
§ It being Ten o' Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment lapsed without Question put.