§ 3.47 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I beg to move,That this House fully supports the action taken by His Majesty's Government in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter, in helping to resist the unprovoked aggression against the Republic of Korea.The issue before the House this afternoon is a simple one although it involves very grave issues of peace and war. I am asking the House to support the Government in the action which they have taken in resisting aggression. That action is fulfilling our obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. The policy of supporting the United Nations has the active support of all parties in this House, and, therefore, the only question before the House today is as to whether or not the Government are right in the action which they have taken in the circumstances which have arisen in Korea.
I think that it would be as well to set on record the facts of the situation and the actions which have been taken by the 486 United Nations. It will be remembered that Korea became a fully independent state in 1895 as the result of the Sino-Japanese War. It subsequently fell under Japanese domination and was formally incorporated in the Japanese Empire in 1910. In 1945, when Japan was defeated, it was arranged between the Governments of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. that the Japanese north of the 38th parallel should surrender to the Russians and those to the south to the Americans.
It was not the intention to make a permanent division of Korea. Repeated endeavours were made by the U.S.A. to bring about the unification of the country. All these attempts were frustrated by the insistence of the Russians that only Communist controlled parties should be consulted in the formation of a provisional Government. In these circumstances the problem of Korea was submitted to the United Nations. In November, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations set up a temporary Commission which supervised the elections held in May, 1948. The result of that was the establishment of the present Government headed by Mr. Syngman Rhee, the President.
It is alleged that here is an example of American imperialism, when what actually happened was that the United States Government went to the United Nations, arranged that there should be full and free elections, and left the government of that country to the Koreans. Nothing could be less like either the old-fashioned or new-fashioned imperialism.
The American occupation was brought to an end formally in 1948, and the last troops left in June, 1949. The Republic was recognised by His Majesty's Government in January, 1949, having previously been recognised by the United States and China. It has been recognised by many other States since. On 12th December, 1948, the general Assembly resolved:There has been established a lawful government (the Government of the Republic of Korea), having effective control and jurisdiction over that part of Korea where the Temporary Commission was able to observe and consult and in which the great majority of the people of all Korea reside; that this Government is based on elections which were a valid expression of the free will of the electorate of that part of Korea and which were observed by the Temporary Commission and that this is the only such Government in Korea.487 It has to be noted that, at the time when the invasion of Korea took place, the United Nations Mission was actually in the country. Meanwhile, North Korea had developed on the general lines of a Communist satellite State and it had been heavily arming. Elections were again held in South Korea on 30th May of this year, and they were observed by the United Nations Commission.
I pause here to remark that this is a fully constituted and recognised Government, a Government resulting from elections supervised by the United Nations. I say that because one of the excuses put forward for the attack on Korea is that it is not a very good Government. I am not concerned to defend the Government, or to estimate whether it is a good or a bad Government, but I never knew that an excuse for assaulting someone peacefully pursuing his way was that his character was not very good. It will be noted that the United Nations Commission have never been allowed in North Korea, and we have not very full information of what happens there.
On 25th June, there started the invasion of South Korea by the armed forces of North Korea. Here, again, we have one of these extraordinary inversions of the facts, it being alleged that South Korea attacked North Korea. Anything less likely, in view of the fact that North Korea was heavily armed and South Korea was not, could not possibly be imagined. There is also not the slightest sign of any evidence of that. The world, then, was faced by an act of naked aggression committed against a Sovereign State established by the United Nations and recognised as the lawful Government of South Korea.
There could not be a greater affront to the United Nations, and any suggestion of condoning such an action would, in my view, have struck at the whole basis of the United Nations, which has been set up in order to try to preserve the peace of the world. This was immediately recognised by the calling of an Emergency Meeting of the Security Council on 25th June. Let us see what is the resolution passed by the Security Council. It is as follows:Recalling the finding of the General Assembly in its resolution of 21st October, 1949, that the Government of the Republic 488 of Korea is a lawfully established Government having effective control and jurisdiction over that part of Korea where the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea was able to observe and consult and in which the great majority of the people of Korea reside; and that this Government is based on elections which were a valid expression of the free will of the electorate of that part of Korea and which were observed by the Temporary Commission; and that this is the only such Government in Korea;'Mindful of the concern expressed by the General Assembly in its resolution of 12th December, 1948, and 21st October, 1949, of the consequences which might follow unless member States refrained from acts derogatory to the results sought to be achieved by the United Nations in bringing about the complete independence and unity of Korea; and the concern expressed that the situation described by the United Nations Commission on Korea in its report menaces the safety and well being of the Republic of Korea and of the people of Korea and might lead to open military conflict there;Noting with grave concern the armed attack upon the Republic of Korea by forces from North Korea;Determines that this action constitutes a breach of the peace,That resolution was adopted by nine votes to nil, with Yugoslavia abstaining. The North Korean authorities failed to comply with the terms of this resolution, and on 27th June the Security Council passed the following resolution:
- (1)Calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities; and calls upon the authorities of North Korea to withdraw forthwith their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel;
- (2)Requests the United Nations Commission on Korea
- (a)to communicate its fully considered recommendations on the situation with the least possible delay;
- (b)to observe the withdrawal of the North Korean forces to the thirty-eighth parallel; and
- (c)to keep the Security Council informed on the execution of this resolution;
- (3)Calls upon all members to render every assistance to the United Nations in the execution of this resolution and to refrain from giving assistance to the North Korean authorities."The Security Council,Having determined that the armed attack upon the Republic of Korea by forces from North Korea constitutes a breach of the peace,Having called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and Having called upon the authorities of North Korea to withdraw forthwith their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel, and 489 Having noted (from the report of the United Nations Commission for Korea) that the authorities in North Korea have neither ceased hostilities nor withdrawn their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel, and that urgent military measures are required to restore international peace and security, andHaving noted the appeal from the Republic of Korea to the United Nations for immediate and effective steps to secure peace and security,Recommends that the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and so restore international peace and security in the area.This resolution was adopted by seven votes to one. The Indian and Egyptian delegates abstained through lack of instructions, but the Indian Government have since accepted the resolution.
I think it wise to consider for a moment the question of the validity of these resolutions. Article 27 (3) of the Charter says thatdecisions of the Security Council on all other matters,(except procedural matters) shall,be made by the affirmative vote of seven members, including the concurring vote of permanent members.The resolution of 27th June was passed by seven votes, which did not include a concurring vote of the U.S.S.R., which was absent from the proceedings. A custom or practice has grown up in the United Nations that if a permanent member present at a meeting chooses to abstain from voting, the resolution of the Security Council shall be regarded as legally effective and not invalidated by the fact that that permanent member has not passed an affirmative vote in favour of it.
This practice has had the support of the U.S.S.R. itself. But other members have on occasions abstained, such as, for instance, the United Kingdom in connection with the admission of Israel, and France and China in connection with Indonesia. If a member of the Security Council, and in particular a permanent member, chooses to refrain from exercising its right of voting, not by failing to vote when present, but by refraining from attending the meeting at all, that member must be regarded as having deliberately abstained from voting.
In fact, the absence of a permanent member has already twice in the past been accepted as not invalidating a resolution. The first occasion was in connection with the discussion in 1946 on the 490 Soviet-Persian dispute, when at a late stage in the consideration of the question the U.S.S.R. absented itself. The second occasion took place more recently in connection with the Kashmir dispute.
I think there is, if anything, a stronger reason for regarding the deliberate absence of a permanent member as not invalidating the vote but as being a deliberate abstention, because Article 28 of the Charter prescribes that:The Security Council shall be so organised as to be able to function continuously. Each member of the Security Council shall, for this purpose, be represented at all times at the seat of the Organisation.That provision, I think, makes it abundantly clear that it was never intended that the activities of the Security Council should be impeded by the absence of a member, and justifies the conclusion that the Charter does not permit a permanent member, by deliberate absence, to impose a blanket veto on all Security Council proceedings. I conclude, therefore, that the absence of the Russian representative did not invalidate these resolutions.
But another point has been raised. It is suggested that the State of China, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, is not validly represented. Under the rules of procedure of the Security Council, the right of an individual to take part in the proceedings of the Council as the representative of the member whom he claims to represent is a matter of credentials, and has to be decided by the examination of credentials, which is clearly a matter of procedure, and by the practice of the Security Council has been treated as such. That is to say, that the validity of a representative's credentials is, under Article 27 of the Charter, a question of procedure to be decided by a simple majority vote of seven members.
The question of the validity of a representative's credentials may turn on whether they have actually been issued by the authority, which purports to issue them, or whether that authority has the power to issue credentials to a representative of the State in question. It therefore, includes, when the credentials have been issued by the head or the foreign minister of a government which claims to be the government of the State, the question whether that government is in fact to be regarded as the government of that State.
491 When Dr. Tsiang was originally appointed as the representative of China, there was no dispute as to the validity of his credentials. But since a number of Governments, including the U.S.S.R. and the United Kingdom, have recognised the Central People's Government as the de jure Government of China, Dr. Tsiang's right to continue to represent China has been challenged and been subjected to a vote, and up to the present time Dr. Tsiang's right to continue to represent China—and, of course, the right of the Chinese Nationalist Government to appoint representatives of China—has been approved by a majority of the members of the Security Council.
Therefore, according to the rules and practice of the Security Council, Dr. Tsiang is at present entitled to occupy the Chinese seat and cast the Chinese vote. Consequently, the U.S.S.R. has no right to impose its own view on the question of Chinese representation on other members of the Security Council. His Majesty's Government, who also think that the People's Government is the Government of China and should appoint the Chinese representatives, properly recognise that they must accept the decision of the majority. Therefore, under the rules of the Security Council, there is no justification for maintaining that the Security Council is not properly constituted. I think one must mention these matters, complex as they are, because these charges have been made.
I turn now to the action of the United States Government. In view of the sudden aggression and the great disparity between the forces of North Korea and South Korea, there was clearly very great danger in delay. Delay might well have meant that the United Nations would have been faced with a fait accompli. Past experience has shown that that is a favourite technique on the part of aggressors. Rapid action together with reliance on the fact that others will not interfere, very often not knowing what really happens, provides, they think, the chance that there may be condonation. It is always the hope of the aggressor that delay and unwillingness to accept responsibility will enable him to get away with it. The world is indebted to the Government of the United States for its prompt 492 action. With equal promptitude His Majesty's Government resolved to support this action.
The question has been raised as to whether the United States was justified in taking this action under the Charter of the United Nations. I believe that she was. The United States acted before any resolution had been adopted by the Security Council recommending action, but after the adoption by the Security Council of its first resolution calling for a cease fire and a withdrawal of North Korean troops to the frontier, and finding that a breach of the peace and an aggressive attack on the Republic of Korea had already taken place. The ordinary principles of international law recognises that any State which is attacked has the right to defend itself, and that any other State has a right to assist the State which is the subject of aggression.
The Charter of the United Nations has not taken away this inherent right. On the contrary, it expressly states in Article 51 thatnothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.It is true that Article 51 only mentions in this connection an armed attack against a member of the United Nations, and the Korean Republic is not a member. But the purpose of Article 51 is not to create a new right but merely to make it clear that an inherent right vested in every State is not prejudiced. In our view, Article 51 cannot be regarded as attempting to define this inherent right.
Thus it could not and did not attempt to limit the rights of self-defence of a State which was a non-member, nor to limit the right of such a State, when the subject of aggression, to receive assistance from others. The only limitation which it put on the right of self-defence was that which it expressly states in the wordsuntil the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.All the Powers which are parties to the North Atlantic Pact have recognised expressly that the right of collective self-defence referred to in Article 51 applies in the case of attacks against States which are not members, because every party to 493 the Atlantic Pact is obliged immediately to come to the aid of both Italy and Portugal if they are attacked, neither of these States being members of the United Nations. Further, in an earlier Treaty, the United Kingdom had already accepted a similar obligation in the case of Jordan which is also a non-member. The broad principle is that all States may be endangered if the aggressor is allowed to get away with the fruits of aggression in any part of the world.
Clearly, too, if it were not lawful under the Charter, for the States, parties to these treaties, to assist each other in collective self-defence, it would not be lawful for them to enter into treaties undertaking to do it. It is abundantly clear that there is this right of self-defence. After the passing of the resolution of the 27th June, justification for the continued action of America and the United Kingdom and of other members is to be found in this resolution, which I have already read to the House.
I hope the House will not spend very much time on these legal subtleties, but will concentrate on the realities of the situation. I think that no one can have any doubt whatever that here is a case of naked aggression. Surely, with the history of the last 20 years fresh in our minds, no one can doubt that it is vitally important that aggressors should be halted at the outset. It is quite unnecessary for me to go back over those melancholy years between the wars.
We all know the sequence of events—the Japanese aggression in Manchuria which was condoned and gave rise at once to aggression in other parts of the world such as the attack of Mussolini on Abyssinia, and to a general lack of faith in the preservation of peace by collective security under the League of Nations. From that start, that failure to check the first beginnings of aggression, there was a crescendo of violence, culminating in the Second World War, due to the fact that no one was willing to act when aggression first started.
If the United Nations is not to go the way of the League of Nations, the members must be prepared to act when the need arises. If the peoples wish to avoid another world war they must support their Governments in asserting the rule of law. I do not conceal from the House that there are dangers in the situation, 494 but the question is: Is it dangerous to take action or to fail to take action? To my mind the danger of war would be increased were action not taken in this case.
I have already informed the House of the striking unity of view displayed in this. matter by the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and of the contributions which have been already made by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand to the forces operating in Korea. I should add that altogether 43 states have intimated their approval of the action taken in this matter. There is, in fact, a great solidarity among all the free and democratic countries in the world. The House has been informed that we have sent forces to join with the forces of the other States. There is little to be said at present on the military operations.
British and United States naval forces have been in action during the last few days on both the east and west coasts of South Korea. On 3rd and 4th July, British and United States naval aircraft carried out air strikes against coastal targets on the west coast. On the east coast, an Anglo-American task group have shelled coastal targets. During these engagements, one British frigate was attacked by Yak aircraft. It only sustained superficial damage and there were no casualties. We are doing our share in resisting aggression.
I need not remind the House of the heavy obligation which we have undertaken for the preservation of peace all over the world. This act is one of open aggression but it is only one manifestation of Communist pressure all over the world. We are resisting this attack in Malaya, and we have to be on our guard in other parts of the world. As the House knows, we are taking all the steps possible to try to build up conditions in the world which will not provide fruitful soil for Communist propaganda.
The main matter that concerns all of us is the preservation of peace. I have no doubt at all that this matter has to be carried through and settled, to show that aggression does not pay. I hope that it will be realised by all the people in all the free countries that to preserve peace the rule of law must be upheld and that we are in this, and that we cannot leave it to someone else to do. It concerns 495 us all. We have pledged ourselves to the support of the United Nations. We have taken action with others. I confidently ask the House and the country for their unanimous support.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I feel that the whole House is indebted to the Prime Minister for the cogent and lucid account which he gave of the events in Korea leading up to the present situation, and also for the full disquisition which he gave on the legal aspects of the decision of the Security Council. on which some questions have been raised by the Soviet Government. I found myself in very general agreement with the Prime Minister in the closing part of his address, and am fully able to associate myself with him, for reasons which I will presently venture to dwell upon, in his broad conclusion that the action which has been taken by the United States and endorsed, supported and aided by His Majesty's Government gives, on the whole, the best chance of maintaining the peace of the world.
We consider that the Government were right to place a Motion on the Order Paper asking for approval in general terms of the course which they have adopted since the invasion of South Korea began. There are grave dangers, as we learned in the war, that false impressions may be created abroad by a Debate prominently occupied by a handful of dissentients. It is better to have a Division so that everyone can know bow the House of Commons stands and in what proportion. Should such a Division occur, we on this side will vote with the Government.
I do not propose to embark upon a detailed argument about the merits of questions which have been raised by events in Korea, nor upon the decision reached by the Security Council and the United Nations. They have been ventilated in the Press and have just now been clearly explained to us by the Prime Minister. I do not believe that Soviet and Communist propaganda, with its perverted facts and inverted terminology, has made the slightest impression upon the well-tried common sense of the British people. No one outside the small Communist circles in this island or their fellow-travellers believes 496 for an instant that it is South Korea which is the aggressor and North Korea which is the victim of a well-and deliberately-planned and organised attack. On the contrary, the very unpreparedness and inefficiency of South Korea is the proof of their innocence, though not, perhaps of their wisdom.
Few, I think, will believe that Seoul, Suwon and other places which have been captured by the North Korean armies have been liberated from tyranny by Communist rescuers. Even the charge that the United States has attempted to create a diversion in Europe by scattering Colorado beetles from their aircraft throughout Saxony and elsewhere—although it has actually formed the subject of a formal and official protest by the Soviet Government to the United States—has not, so far as I can gather, made any deep or permanent impression upon the British public.
On this side of the House we hold, in full agreement with the Government, that President Truman's action in South Korea was right and that His Majesty's Government, accompanied as their action has been by the action of other members of the Commonwealth, were also right in acting as they have done under the mandate of the Security Council by giving armed support to the intervention of the United States. The Conservative Party give their full support to the Government in these matters. We understand that the Liberal Party take a similar view of their duty and that their position will presently be put before the House.[Interruption.] Do not despise help and friendship when they are offered. Neither of us sees what else the Government could have done in the circumstances.
I must for a moment step aside from my general theme to express the hope that the action of the Government and their supporters will be upon this same level. I cannot overlook the fact that in giving our support, we run some party and political risks. I was reading "Reynold's Newspaper" at the weekend and in it there was an article called "Tom Driberg's Column," though whether that has any direct relationship with the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg)—
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon) indicated assent.497
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
Did the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) say "It is true?" That is shameful.
§ Mr. Churchill
Perhaps the hon. Member for Maldon will say that he is not responsible for the headlines but only for the text?
§ Mr. Driberg indicated assent.
§ Mr. Churchill
And also these words? Let me just read them, because the House ought to see how all this is working out:There is quite a substantial number of back-bench Tories who, true to their jungle philosophy, cannot help baying their delight at the smell of blood in the air.
§ Mr. Driberg
—for his courtesy in giving way. May I just say here and now that I consider that a perfectly accurate description of a scene in this House last week, and that I only wish that the right hon. Gentleman could have seen it before the editor toned it down and modified it.
§ Mr. Churchill
I know it is the hon. Member's pride that he can be neither muzzled nor led, and no doubt what we have seen in the columns of "Reynold's Newspaper" is only a bowdlerised version of the total and utter untruths which he was scattering to the world.
§ Mr. Churchill
The cheers from the Conservative benches were for the Prime Minister when he made his declaration, while some of the benches behind him were curiously silent.
§ Mr. Churchill
We are also told that it is being put about in many constituencies that if the Tories had been in office 498 there would have been war now. That is not true. If we had been in office when the news of President Truman's action arrived, we should have acted in very much the same way as His Majesty's Government have done.
§ Mr. Churchill
I am not at all sure that we should have received from all the Ministers opposite and from all their followers the same measure of good will and support that we are giving them on this occasion. We shall not, however, allow our action to be deflected in great matters by behaviour of this kind. We believe that the electorate, in judging these matters for themselves, will be influenced by the ordinary British standards of fair play, and it is on that that we rest ourselves.
I must say one word here about the Secretary of State for War, whose speech at the weekend was the subject of question and answer just now. As to the merits of his comments on the Schuman Plan, I shall not attempt to pronounce, except to say that they are very different from the formal Amendment placed on the Order Paper by the Government that they welcomed the French Plan. But I really wonder that the right hon. Gentleman cannot a little cast his past behind him and rise to the occasion of the great responsibilities which he has the honour to bear as the head of a Fighting Service at this critical time. I really wonder that he should find it necessary to hamper his work in a great Service and reduce his influence in the country by plunging into these bitter political controversies. Surely he has enough responsibilities to bear and enough work to do, and surely he has been treated with a great deal of forbearance by the House of Commons?
I was commenting on the article of the hon. Member for Maldon just now, but I must confess that in some ways I prefer his outspoken diatribes to the comments of the hon. Member for Coventry who really has laid down a principle—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Cross-man). Certainly I would not like to saddle any other constituency with the responsibility of the hon. Member. But this is to my mind one of those little sayings which should always be placed 499 on record. This is what the hon. Member wrote in the "Sunday Pictorial":But there is one lesson we can and must learn from recent history—the time to start thinking about peace is the beginning and not the end of the fighting.All I can say is that it has usually been thought, and I hope will not be overlooked on the present occasion, that between the beginning of fighting and the end of fighting, between the beginning of a war or a military operation and peace, there is an intervening stage called victory. It seems that the hon. Member for Coventry, East in trying—curiously and even characteristically—to have it both ways, has really excelled himself in this particular statement, which has only to be followed by any Government carrying on military operations to lead to certain military disaster.
We naturally cannot accept the responsibility for creating the present situation, nor do I suggest that this falls primarily upon Great Britain. Still less, as I have already stated to the House, can we accept any responsibility for the military position of our country or of Europe, or for the use that has been made of the unprecedented sums of money which have been voted by the House for the Defence Services, or for the resources of manpower placed with our full support on this side at the disposal of His Majesty's Government.
Some time in May, before this crisis occurred, I asked the Prime Minister for a Secret Session of Debate on our military position in order that this new Parliament might have some idea of where we stood in Europe and of the state of our own defences. The Prime Minister did not grant my request and we had therefore intended on this side of the House to have a public Debate on Defence before we separated for the Recess. Now that this crisis has arisen I do not feel that it would be helpful at this stage if we had a general Debate on Defence in public, even though all responsible Members taking part in it were to confine themselves strictly to facts which they were sure the Soviet Government already knew. But even within this limitation, there is a vast amount of matter which is public knowledge, which has appeared in British newspapers and, far more, which has appeared in the United
500 States either in the Press or in the continuous proceedings of the Congress and its varied committees.
There never has been a period that I can remember covering the present century, in which the British public and the British Parliament were so totally ignorant of the conditions which exist. I must, therefore, renew my request here and now across the Floor of the House for a Debate in Secret Session upon this matter before we separate. I do not ask that even in Secret Session we should be told any secrets of a special or technical character. On the contrary, I should be quite content if the Government limited themselves in their statements to what they are sure is already known abroad.
I do not pretend myself to have anything like the detailed and precise information on which I based my warnings before the last war. Nevertheless, I am sure I could tell the House a lot of things which they ought to bear in mind, and these the Government could amplify or correct at their discretion, and other hon. Members would make their fruitful contributions.
If a Secret Session is refused and we do not ourselves, even within the limits I have prescribed, have a public Debate, the House will go forward into this deepening crisis with less information about it than any previous Parliament at any similar time. It seems to me that the Prime Minister and his colleagues will be taking an invidious and unprecedented responsibility upon themselves if they refuse us the Secret Session for which we ask. It is a responsibility which we on this side can in no wise share. Our responsibility is limited to supporting them in what they are doing in the international sphere since last Tuesday week, and does not extend to the military field or to what has happened since 1945 or to the methods which have been adopted or to the Ministers chosen to deal with our defences.
I will, therefore, confine myself today to a few general observations which are necessary to justify the support we are giving to His Majesty's Government. It might be asked of us, "How can you judge without the fullest information whether the United Nations, the United States, and Great Britain are strong enough to resist Communist aggression in the Far East when that resistance may 501 conceivably bring about a major crisis in Europe? Might it not be that the rulers in the Kremlin are drawing us all into the Far East as a preliminary to striking in the West?"
I answer these questions to myself, as one's mind asks questions at these times, as follows. The forces required for the defence of South Korea, or even its recapture should that become necessary, would not make any decisive or even appreciable difference to the situation in Europe. The immunity of Western Europe from attack depends overwhelmingly on the vastly superior stock pile of atomic bombs possessed by the United States. There is the deterrent, and the sole decisive deterrent, which exists or can be brought into being in the near future. Therefore I do not feel that a major issue of security is raised by the necessary measures which have to be taken in Korea.
Secondly, I have for a long time felt deeply concerned at the discovery by the Soviet Government of the secret of the atomic bomb, and the probability that it is already in production. I saw that General Omar Bradley, who occupies one of the most responsible executive positions in the United States defence system, said recently that in three or four years the Soviets will have a sufficient supply of these bombs to cause a major catastrophe at any time they so decided, or words to that effect.
It is for this reason that I think it very much better that we should make a resolute effort to come to a settlement with them by peaceful means, but on the basis of strength and not of weakness, on the basis of success and not on fatuous incapacity of resistance to aggression. We should endeavour to come to a settlement with them before they become possessed of this devastating power in addition to all the military and air superiority and armour superiority which they undoubtedly possess at this present time in Europe and Asia.
I can quite understand the Communist propaganda about banning the atomic bomb, for such a decision would leave the civilisation of the world entirely at their mercy even before they had accumulated the necessary stockpile themselves. Since this new aggression in Korea and the spirited reaction of the United States, I feel that we ought to bring the policy of drift to an end, and I believe that no 502 better prelude to the opening of major discussions with the Soviet Government could be found than the successful repulse of the Communist forces that are now invading Korea.
I believe that if this is achieved, conditions may be created less unfavourable to a general settlement than any others I can conceive before the Soviet power is freed from the deterrent of the immense American superiority in atomic resources. That hope may fail, but it is the best hope that now exists of averting from Europe and America perils and sufferings utterly beyond anything we have hitherto experienced. It is' my belief that the American superiority in atomic warfare is, for the time being, an effective deterrent against a general Communist onslaught. Of course, I may be wrong—no one can tell; no one can give a guarantee.
Still, if it be true that there are at present no signs of exceptional preparations or concentrations behind the Iron Curtain in Europe, it would at least give a temporary indication that the supreme events of misfortune are not immediately imminent. Indeed, it may well be that the Soviet Government have been taken aback by the resolute action of President Truman, supported as it has been by His Majesty's Government and by so many other States and members of the United Nations.
This is no time to despair of world peace being achieved upon tolerable foundations. Certainly, we must not despair. To do so is almost to despair of the life of the world. But one thing is essential now, and I cannot think that the Government will differ from me when I say that it is of vital consequence alike to our hopes of world peace and to our own safety here at home, namely, that what the Communists have begun in Korea should not end in their triumph. If that were to happen, as I said last night to an American gathering, a third World War under conditions more deadly than now exist might be forced upon us—would be forced upon us—before long.
There could be no more certain way of bringing about the destruction of civilisation than that we should drift on helplessly until the Soviets are fully equipped with the atomic bomb. Neither, meanwhile, must we accept defeat and humiliations in one place after another wherever the Communists thrust and 503 gnaw their way forward, and in this process of continued misfortune lose the faith in us of everyone else in the world, and lose our own confidence in ourselves. There could be no greater disaster than that; there could be no more certain road to what it is our first duty to avoid than that; and it is because of my confidence that those men in His Majesty's Government with whom I worked so long and with whom I have gone through so much, are resolved to prevent by every means in their power anything like that, that I shall follow the Prime Minister tonight should the need come to give him a vote.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I rise to support the Motion that has been moved by the Prime Minister. In doing so I speak not only on my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues, but, I believe, on behalf of all the Liberals in the country—certainly on behalf of the vast majority of them—and, judging from the messages I have received from the Continent, also on behalf of Liberals throughout the free countries of Europe. Whatever taunts may be thrown at one another by hon. and right hon. Members with regard to warmongering, nobody has ever taunted the Liberal Party with being warmongers. War is contrary to our beliefs and our faith.
Anyone listening to the recital of the facts as put before us by the Prime Minister, must then put to himself these questions. Could the Security Council have acted otherwise than they have done? Could the Government of this country have acted otherwise than they have done? Could the 41 countries that have now supported the action of the Security Council have acted otherwise than they have done? The answer to every one of those questions must be "No."
This deliberate armed aggression is the culmination of a whole series of incidents since 1946. I only wish that the Prime Minister had gone into even greater detail. and had pointed out that at the Conference not only at Potsdam, but again at Moscow at the end of 1945, the Soviet Government agreed with the United States Government and with the Government of this country that there should be one Korea, governed by a freely-elected Government, and that that was the 504 purpose of them all. But ever since that agreement was made at Moscow, there has been nothing but antagonism towards that idea, and frustration at every point. An effort was even made to prevent the matter from coming before the United Nations Assembly and to stop the United Nations sending a Commission. I only wish that the Prime Minister had read the Report of the United Nations Korea Commission. It is quoted in part, and I am quoting from that, in the "leader" of the "Manchester Guardian" of this morning:For the last two years the North Korean regime has, by violently abusive propaganda, by threatening gestures, by encouraging and supporting subversive activities in the territory of the Republic of Korea, pursued tactics designed to weaken and destroy the Republic of Korea. The radio propaganda offensive calling for early unification of North and South Korea by peaceful means seems to have been intended solely for its screening effect.That is the last report given to the United Nations. The question, therefore, which we have to put to ourselves is: shall we insist upon the maintenance of the rule of law, or are we to allow the aggressor to pursue his way?
Those of us of this generation have passed through tragic periods. For the bulk of this half century we have lived during a period of war and destruction and at the end of each of those wars our hopes have been raised that that was the end of war. There was not one of us who did not place high hopes in the League of Nations. It failed because we were not prepared all together to maintain the rule of law and to stop aggression when it arose. So we went through that period from one act of aggression to another until at last, again, on 3rd September, 1939, we found ourselves called upon to do what?—to defend our own and other people's liberties against the act of an aggressor. Six years of that war, and thereupon again we formed the United Nations organisation. That organisation has met, it has done what it could, and its own Security Council, having inquired into the facts, have now issued their statement. Could we possibly have acted otherwise?
I am sure it is the desire of every decent, sensible, human being, man or woman, to have peace; but peace can be bought at too high a price. Many of us 505 have suffered because of war. We do not want to see people suffering again because of it, but those who died did so that we might continue to live and follow our own mode of life and not one which was thrust upon us. We can buy peace at too high a price. We need not have gone into the war in 1914. We could have bought peace at the Kaiser's price. We need not have gone into the war of 1939; we could have bought it at Hitler's price. I suppose today we could buy world peace at the price of Moscow. Life under those conditions is meaningless to me and I should think it is meaningless to the free world.
For many years I have desired a world government. I am perfectly sure we shall never get permanent peace until all of us are prepared to surrender part of our sovereignty and have an international body that will lay down the laws all of us shall obey. That is one great fault of the United Nations organisation, that some were put above the law and some below the law. I only wish, and so do my party—who were the only ones who protested against it—that that right of veto had never been inserted. We desire that there should be only one army, the international army, to maintain the law. But, instead of free governments of the world being able to work together, we have two worlds, the Communist world, which desires to dominate all of us, and a free world, which is still struggling for its existence. That is the position which threatens us today.
It seems to me that the position is fraught with great danger, but the danger is greatest if we allow the criminal to go on. We have seen him go on. We have seen free people put into the position of serfs. Step by step, country after country has gone; there was a period of free Baltic States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Roumania; step by step we were able to do nothing except raise a voice occasionally in protest, and allow him still to go on. But now, in spite of the pledges and in spite of all that has been attempted by the United Nations and by the Commission, there is this deliberate armed aggression with a powerful Army.
Unless we stop that at this juncture, we shall pursue the policy that has been condemned by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, the policy of drift which will lead us into far worse con- 506 ditions and can only mean ultimately either war or the end of free life as we understand it. It is for these reasons that we Liberals, desiring peace, as every decent person desires peace, say there is no other course we can take at the moment than to stop the aggressor. For those reasons we support the Motion moved by the Prime Minister.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Lang (Stalybridge and Hyde)
No hon. Member of this House will doubt the gravity of the matters which we discuss today, of the position in which we are and indeed of what might presently happen. But this seems to be an occasion for us to think, to think with courage and to think with a regard to what we—nearly all of us in this House—have ourselves believed in and supported on previous occasions and given much service to in the intervening period since the last war.
I believe on this occasion that what we have heard this afternoon from the Prime Minister is true and right leadership. I believe what the Government have done is absolutely in accordance with the best things in which we believe, with the best hopes we have and in accordance with the desire of free men and those men who, free in heart, are not free because of what has already taken place in regard to Communist activities. I say that nobody would doubt the gravity of this occasion, but it would have been an even graver occasion if we were here this afternoon to explain why we failed to do our duty, if we were here this afternoon to discover and present reasons for not meeting this aggression at the present moment.
Let no one imagine that there is anything sudden in this matter. Some hon. Members on both sides of the House were with me when I went as leader of a Parliamentary delegation to the Far East in 1946 and some others in 1947, and on both occasions some hon. Members of the party went as far as Korea. As far back as that, the activity had begun. There was a complete cutting off by the North of those essential fertilisers without which the people in the South were unable to grow their crops and to live. There was a determined attempt to undermine the whole standard of living in the South. In 1947, the Japanese prisons were full of people from the North of Korea who had 507 been arrested and convicted for debasing the currency, and all through this period that determined attempt has been made. It is by no means too soon that a halt has been called. As was said by the three right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, the fact that the South is without any adequate defence even now, is proof that there was no aggression from them.
I can understand that some people feel appalled at having to consider these things again only a few years after the terrors of the last war. But to talk of improvements in the machinery of the United Nations organisation is the most arrant stupidity that I can imagine. It is as if a householder, when his house is entered by an armed burglar, were to ring up the gunsmith and put away his weapon until somebody came along to put it into complete order. When a man is so attacked he uses the weapons which are to hand. When he has despatched or disposed of his enemy he may then hold an inquest as to why his weapons were not better. This is no time to consider technicalities; this is the time to say to the burglar, "Get out," and to see that he is kept out.
I say without compromise that we had very firm leadership from the Prime Minister in his speech on this matter, and I hope that the Government, along with their allies and friends, will see that there is no halt called until this aggression is ended. That is not the same as saying—as I know some of my hon. Friends believe—that we advocate war or wish to begin war. I believe this to be the last chance, and I hope and pray that it will be an effective chance to prevent war. Whether it will or not, I do not know. I can only hope. What I do know and what I would ask every one of my hon. Friends in this House to search his heart about, is that if we fail now, there is no chance whatever of preventing a third war; and that I believe would result in the final submerging of our civilisation. So I am thankful for the prompt action which has been taken.
We may in the course of this Debate hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne), for whose sincerity I have the profoundest respect, and who has for a long time now been advocating world government. My view is that here is a real attempt at world government; there is a chance for the 508 nations to come together and enforce what they know to be right. After all, it will be a long time before we reach the stage when everybody is unanimous about everything; but here is a chance to prove that the free nations mean what they say and that the majority of them are prepared to stand up for the defence of liberty and right. This is a first-class experiment in world government and a great many nations and people will be watching to see whether it can succeed.
Then there is my hon. and very much respected Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. S. O. Davies). For his transparent sincerity I have the greatest regard. He has a flaming passion for peace, accompanied by the most blazing indiscretions, but no doubt this afternoon the hon. Gentleman will present his case. I admire his courage and I sympathise with his profound disappointment that after all these years, the era of real peace has not been attained. But I have to face realities.
This afternoon we stand at a juncture. Behind us in our own lifetime is a history of two world wars with inestimable tragedy for a large number of people. Those wars were fought, lives were laid down, and prices were paid and are still being paid for liberty, freedom and justice. Any failure to develop and to maintain what those men and women fought and died for would be a betrayal of them. It would make a hollow mockery of the things in which they believe and for which we gave them our support and for which, under God, we strengthened their hands.
We stand here this afternoon as people living in an age of disillusion, cynicism, and disappointment. But there is something in front of us; not for all of us perhaps, but surely for our children. We have the opportunity of making secure what was fought for in the past for those who have to come after. If we hesitate now, if we falter now, if we play the coward now, we shall be worthy neither of those who preceded us nor of those who are our responsibility and who will come after us. This is a great occasion. History is in the making.
It may well be that as the result of the action taken by His Majesty's Government and by something like 40 other freedom-loving nations, we shall see the end of aggression, the end of this abominable technique of mischief, sabotage, 509 underground activities, lying, third degree and all sorts of things which are the technique of Communism. No man who believes in right can dare to defend that sort of thing. We know this is going on. Many people, and personal friends of some of us, princes of the church in other lands, are now imprisoned and in danger of death because they have defended the right.
I am tired of that sort of propaganda which will have Russia always right and this country and Christianity always wrong. I do not believe that. I believe that the greatest menace to our peace today is the underground activity of the Soviet Union. Here is a real chance to call that bluff and put on the spot that activity. I am glad that the United Nations and America have done what they can. What should we have said had they done nothing? They have not always been too well spoken of with regard to the caution with which they came into previous wars. Here they have come quickly to defend the right.
I am glad that a General whose personal friendship I am proud to enjoy, General MacArthur, a very shrewd and competent General, with a great history behind him and the heart of a lion, is in command. We have a great deal to be thankful for. I am most thankful that in this free Parliament, maintained and kept free by the blood and sacrifice of those far better than I am, so many of whom are no longer with us in the flesh, we can this afternoon renew our belief in the things that last and are the things by which men live; that we can renew our pledge to oppressed nations everywhere and bring a fresh hope in the hearts of men now behind the Iron Curtain whose hope would truly die out if we were to fail in this great opportunity.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
I am particularly glad to follow the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) because it enables me to say first of all that I completely agree with every word he has said. I often have done in the past and I do so again today. He and I went on a Parliamentary Delegation together to the Far East, and I was also fortunate enough to visit Korea. As he has said, it was already quite clear then, nearly four years ago, that the situation there was extremely dangerous.
510 I cannot resist the temptation to quote what I said in a speech in the House when I came back. I called Korea "a powder barrel which the slightest spark would set off." Now a spark, not a very slight one—and we all know where it has come from—has set it off and there has been an explosion.
The resulting situation is, of course, extremely dangerous, and no doubt its danger will be emphasised again and again in the course of this Debate. But we have to remember this. However dangerous the situation is today, it is not any more dangerous than it was a fortnight ago before all this started. In fact, I would say it was less dangerous, because now we know how we stand. And it is quite certainly very much less dangerous than it would have been if the Western Powers had simply looked on, and done nothing.
Let us consider the present situation and how it is likely to develop. There are two main possibilities. Either Stalin wants a world war now, or he does not. If he wants one, he will pick a quarrel with us and there will be a war. It may be that is what he is doing at the moment. But if that is so, we can be sure that no amount of appeasement on our part would have stopped that. On the contrary, it would have increased the danger. But, to my mind, it is much more probable that Stalin does not want a world war now, for the reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). Stalin is by nature a cautious and a calculating man. He would only want war if he felt certain of a quick and easy victory. And there is no conceivable reason why he should expect a quick and easy victory at the present time.
That is one of the reasons why he has chosen Korea. It is a place where he is able to launch an attack without using Russian troops. That is why he has gone out of his way to emphasise that the Soviet attitude is one of what they please to call neutrality and nonintervention. Very wisely, he is leaving himself a loophole in case things go wrong. What he is doing is to see how much further he can go without war. And that is what makes it absolutely vital to show him clearly now, once and for all, while there is still time, that he cannot go any further, that this time he 511 has got to go back, and that the satellites he has sent into Southern Korea have got to clear out. If we can show him that, we shall have gone a long way towards averting the danger of a third World War.
This may prove to be the turning point in the cold war. Once again Russia has attacked the independence of a small country, but this time the Western Powers have reacted promptly and vigorously. By doing that, we have given badly needed encouragement to small countries standing in danger of aggression, we have given a badly needed warning to the Soviet Union and a badly needed shot in the arm to the principle of collective security What is perhaps even more important to realise is what would have happened if we had not done that. If we had done nothing, it would have been an invitation to the Soviet Union to go ahead, an invitation to small countries to throw in their hand and it would have been a death blow to the principle of collective security.
But it is not enough merely to give help. We must make sure that the help we give is effective. I was very glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford, with all his immense authority, say that. We must make sure that the invaders are routed and that peace, order and democratic government are established in Korea. Otherwise, matters will be worse in one way than if we had done nothing in the first place, because it will be clear that we have failed in our attempt to check the advance of Communism and, in the East—and not only in the East—nothing fails like failure.
There is another thing. It is essential that we should show the Americans and the countries of the Empire that we are in this with them right up to the hilt. It is essential that there should be no sign of disunity either now or later. It may well have been our failure to present a united front on the question of the recognition of the Chinese Communists that encouraged the Russians to launch their attack on Korea. Of course, it is not going to be easy. The job in Korea is likely to be long and hard. What has happened there so far has shown how little can be done by air and sea power alone without proper land forces. That, 512 I hope, will be a useful lesson for Europe as a whole.
There is also the possibility that the attack on Korea may be repeated elsewhere—in Persia, Yugoslavia or even in Germany, that before long we may have other commitments on our hands. But we must not let any of these considerations deter us. We must not abandon Korea. Korea is not only important psychologically and politically, it is also of considerable strategic importance. It has been called a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan. It has also been called a dagger pointed at the heart of the Continent of Asia. Whichever way we look at it, it is certainly a place worth holding on to.
Fortunately, we are lucky in one way, as the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde said. We are extremely lucky in having General MacArthur as our supreme commander in the Far East. The war in the Pacific showed what a great military commander he is and what immense determination he possesses. I have no doubt that in the end he will lead the forces of Western democracy to victory this time just as he led them to victory five years ago.
I mentioned the possibility that this might be only one of a series of such attacks. The situation in Persia is most disturbing; the situation in the Balkans has been critical for two years. Our duty is quite clear. If attacks are made on other small countries anywhere in the world, the Western Powers must meet them in the same way as we have met this attack. We must meet them with such forces as we can muster. It will not be easy; it will not be safe. But we must remember this. If we were to refuse to face these challenges, we should not be lessening the danger, we should be increasing it. It is no good pretending that we can pass by on the other side. "We are," as Donne said, "involved in mankind. Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."
§ 5.19 p.m.
Mr. Thistle (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
I am grateful for the opportunity to say why I welcome, and most ardently support, this Motion. Mine is a comparatively narrow aspect of the question, but I think that it contains the core of our fear about the totalitarian States. I 513 approach this problem from the point of view of individual liberty. I claim myself to be a passionate supporter of liberty. When I look at the threat to individual liberty by the great totalitarian Power of today, I feel that we must exert every possible effort to ensure that it does not deprive us of what is the most precious thing in the world.
A colleague asked me only the other day whether I could conceive of anything in the world more terrible than a third world war. I replied, "Yes, I can. Life in a totalitarian dictatorship would be worse even than a third world war." I hold to that view. I think that the United Nations and this country hold that view, too. It is the justification for the existence of the United Nations. That organisation was brought into the world for that purpose—to ensure that we all might live in peace and enjoy our individual liberty.
We can see from the events that have already taken place that, step by step, a dreadful attempt is being made to take away from the men and women of this country, and of all countries, that precious asset of individual freedom. It is against that attempt that we are now making a stand. It was against that which the old League of Nations struggled and failed. It is becoming more critical every month and year that passes, and if we fail on this occasion I can see us going down into the abyss of slavery. Even if the risk of a third world war is there and even if a third world war should come I feel that our liberty is so precious that it is worth while taking that risk.
The United Nations was created for the purpose of protecting our freedom. That is why we joined it. That is why we have pledged ourselves to it all along. It is now no use any Member of this House trying to contract out of that obligation. The time to have contracted out, if that had been possible, was before the crisis came. If any Member has been content to enjoy the prestige of supporting the United Nations and its fight for peace and freedom he should, had he wished to contract out, have said so before this crisis arose. The United Nations is supported not merely by this House but by the people. I saw a report the other day that a poll had shown that even now more than two-thirds of the people of this country are behind the motive of the steps 514 which are being taken by the United Nations to overcome the threat of this crisis.
I wish to give some explanation of my attitude. When this crisis arose I had doubts and misgivings. I wondered if it was to be the old story of hesitation and fear to meet the threat. We were deeply pledged to redeem our obligations, but were we actually going to redeem them? I wondered whether the old futility of the League of Nations would come upon us again. I am glad and proud that it did not, and I rejoice that our Government lined themselves up with the American Government in saying that there should not be another base betrayal
. There are among us a few who are seeking to escape the hard, grim decision which is necessary upon this question by what I think I am justified in calling spurious excuses. They are searching round in their minds to find a reason which will justify them in not standing by the obligations which they have incurred. There were the same hestitations in the days before Hitler. We wanted to stop him, but we had not quite the courage to do so. We let him go on and, in the end, we paid a terrible price for having done so.
We are, as I have said, pledged to the hilt to resist aggression. As the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have said, this is the most sheer and naked aggression of which one could possibly conceive. We are obliged to resist that aggression because we believe that the only way to achieve a free and peaceful world is by resisting the aggressor, and if we now go back on that pledge we are betraying our people as well as our pledges. Aggressors always bank upon the humanitarianism of the free world and to some extent they are justified in so doing. They know that we hate war, as we all do, and they know that we hate the prospect of another vast deluge of bloodshed. They know that and they bank upon it. They think that we will hesitate and let them go this far and that far until, in the end, we shall have hesitated so long that the opportunity for checking them will have gone.
The course of history has taught our people and the whole world a good deal in the last 15 years. America has perhaps learned more than we have. America now knows that the hesitations 515 and doubts about taking action in Manchuria had a belated but tragic sequel in Pearl Harbour. We know, and America knows, that our hesitations before Hitler and Mussolini exacted, in the end, a terrible price from suffering humanity
I would say, in that regard, that even recently in the Pacific there has been a certain degree of hesitation. If we look back, we will see that it was somewhat inconsistent of us to act as we did in relation to Formosa, but that was, so to speak, a process of filling the cup. America has at last been brought to the point where she is able to summon up her courage and say to the aggressor these vital words, "So far but no further," and she has been backed up by us and by a large number of other nations. That time had to come.
All of us who hate the idea of totalitarianism and who love liberty must feel that this great, I might call it surprising stand on the part of America against this act of aggression is a decisive act, and one which we must all applaud. There are people in this country who say hard and, I think, unjustifiable things about America. I should like to pay my humble tribute, here and now, to the great American nation for the stand which it has taken in the name of humanity. By our support of the United Nations we affirm our belief in freedom and in the security necessary to enjoy that freedom.
That freedom of ours is a great and glorious thing. It was proclaimed for us centuries ago by John Milton, and it has shown its results in the dignity and character of all who enjoy it, just as its antithesis, slavery, degrades the human mind. This issue of freedom, which is the core of the Korea struggle, is not Anglo-Saxon or Western European; it is something which has been fought for, suffered for, sacrificed for; some of the greatest sacrifices for it were made in the six years of the last war, and we must not forget them. If we maintain that freedom, as I think we may now maintain it as a result of the actions of the United Nations, it will mean a great deal to all of us in this House and to all of our people. It will mean a great deal to all the free peoples of the world. Perhaps even more important, it will mean a great deal to all the generations who are coming after us, the children to whom reference has already been made today. 516 I think a great duty and obligation rests upon all of us who are now enjoying that freedom, to see that we do everything we can to pass it on unimpaired to the generations which follow us.
Like the rest of us, I have enjoyed what I might call this Miltonic freedom all my life—the freedom to say what I think, to express the thoughts that are within me, as John Milton sought. But I am getting an old man. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, I am getting an old man. But when I am gone, children of mine will live after me and I should have a very uneasy conscience indeed if I failed in my duty to do the utmost in my power to preserve that liberty, unimpaired, for those children. It is my sincere hope that the House will be unanimous on this subject and that we shall find we have the whole of Parliament behind the Government in supporting this act to stop a ruthless, tyrannical aggressor.
§ 5.32 p.m.
Mr. Baker White (Canterbury)
I agree with everything which the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Thurtle) said, and, most of all, I agree with what he said about freedom. In my belief it is probably the most precious thing in the world. I believe, too, that the majority of the British people realise it in their hearts. I think it is quite clear that the majority of the British people today are solidly behind His Majesty's Government in the action they are taking over Korea. It is also clear that, perhaps for the first time, many people have overnight become acutely aware of the danger of Communism—people who have always regarded it as something which was distant and which did not affect them.
Of course, as the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury said, there are people who are hesitant and doubtful; there are people who say to us, "Do you really think America is right? Are not we taking an awful risk? Is Korea really so important?" There are people who think like that. We had that sort of wishful thinking at the time of Munich, and we know what happened. I think the best way to answer those doubting people is to ask them to consider the alternative. The alternative would have been to stand aside and allow one more act of brutal aggression to succeed; to allow one more people to be trodden into the mire and 517 the iron yoke of Communism placed upon their necks.
But the alternative would have meant even more than that. It would have meant the end of the whole United Nations organisation, the collapse of collective security, and in my opinion it would have meant something else as well. It would have meant that the Kremlin, having got away with one minor act of aggression, would immediately have attempted a major act of aggression in Western Europe. It would have meant, as well, that the victory of Communism in South Korea would have refreshed and invigorated the Communist forces which our men are fighting in battle in Malaya, which our friends the French are fighting in Indo-China, and the Communist forces in Burma, too.
I think democracy is fighting not only for the lives and the freedom of the people of Korea, but also fighting to prevent the red tide of Communism from engulfing the whole of South-East Asia and perhaps India and Pakistan as well. And it is fighting for the preservation of world liberty. I keep on my desk always, words that have come down over the centuries and which were spoken by that great soldier-statesman Pericles:Remember that prosperity can only be for the free: that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.The courage to defend it. That is the issue, and that is the issue which we are not seeking to avoid any longer.
The news from Korea may be very sensational, but it is important to realise that nothing very sensational has happened. The present phase of the cold war has been going on since 1945. The public are apt to forget that it has had its hot phases before. It was perhaps not generally realised that the Red partisan campaign in Greece in 1947 and 1948 was, in fact, a major act of invasion based upon Soviet-controlled territory and involving Communist forces, with their supply trains, totalling some 100,000 men. There is nothing very cold about the war in South-East Asia, in Malaya, in Burma and Indo-China, where the forces engaged on the side of democracy alone total some 220,000 men. There are 70,000 in Malaya and the French say that they have 120.000 in Indo-China. 518 We are, therefore, witnessing a hot phase of this new form of warfare, but I think it is also a decisive phase. For this reason. Democracy is no longer fighting a purely defensive battle. Of one thing we can be quite certain. The campaign in Korea will have a second front here in Britain. It will be fought here by the creature of the Cominform, the Communist Party, using the Trojan Dove of the bogus peace campaign. In Denmark the Communists are issuing a Peace Dove stamp to stick on letters going through the post. The Danes are countering it with a picture of the Red Army marching past the Kremlin. Both bear the same slogan—"Rally for peace." The attack on Korea and the peace campaign were ordered and directed by the same people, from the Kremlin, and I congratulate the Labour Party, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress and the international Socialist movement on their forthright denunciations of this evil and cynical plot. After all, this struggle has a world battle line. It is not just a battle line in the rice fields of Korea. Korea and Formosa. The outer bastions of Hong Kong. Indo-China, Malaya and Burma. The frontiers of Iran and Turkey, the northern mountains of Greece. Berlin. And the factories and docks of Britain, where the Communists, wrapped in white sheets and cooing like Picasso doves, are preparing their attack.
To me the issue is absolutely and utterly clear. Are we, together with America and the other democracies, going to be resolutely determined and united in our defence of freedom? Or are we going to allow citadel after citadel, fortress after fortress, to be swept away by the red tide of Communism—trying to hoodwink ourselves by saying that it does not really matter because it is happening on the other side of the world—until the Red tide suddenly sweeps over everything we hold dear, engulfs the freedom for which we and our ancestors fought and for which our ancestors died?
I have been fighting Communism myself for 25 years and as long as I have health and strength I shall go on fighting it. During the last five years I have been more and more depressed at the apparent inaction of the democracies in the face of the Communist attack. Whatever the outcome of this particular phase may be, I 519 now feel happier about things than at any time since 1945, not because there is a shooting war in Korea, with men and women dying in the mud, but because I believe that at long last, the eyes of world democracy and of the British people are really open.
I believe that the 14 men in the Kremlin who planned this attack have had three shocks in the past 10 days. The first shock was America's action. The second was the swiftness with which His Majesty's Government, with the full support of the Opposition, acted in support of America, and acted with the nation united behind them. The third shock, I am quite sure, was the worldwide rallying of democracy.
Like all dictators, the Kremlin are perhaps sometimes deceived by their own propaganda. I believe they thought that America had written off South Korea altogether. With their Communist contempt of Socialists, who, as hon. Members opposite know, they dismiss with a term of derision as Mensheviks, I am sure that they expected argument, uncertainty and delay, or no action at all, and that they believed the democracies were divided amongst themselves. Instead, Russia finds herself faced today with something that in the long run is more powerful than bombs, tanks and guns. That something is the will, determination and resolution of the millions of free men and women to act together for the preservation of what they hold very dear—honour, decency, faith and freedom.
We should not allow ourselves to be cast down by the march of events. Let us rather be uplifted, as we were uplifted in 1940, when we stood alone in defence of the very same things. This time we do not stand alone, and in that unity lies hope for the future, the only hope of survival for democracy. The battle we are fighting is unending. It has no sensational victories, no medals or honours, not even for the fallen. The international Socialist and trade union movement alone can number its cold war dead by the thousand. Many of their graves are unmarked. The fate of many comrades of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite is unknown. We read only today of the arrest of a large number of members of the Hungarian Socialist movement. The fate of countless thousands of people who 520 have dared to think as we do on this side of the House is unknown also. But if we face the trials of the coming weeks and months with something of their courage, we shall not fail.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Williams (Wigan)
I intervene in this important Debate because I am convinced that in the situation in Korea we have a threat to civilisation, a threat entirely and solely as a result of Communist aggression. From the many discussions I have had with my colleagues in the length and breadth of the trade union movement, I believe that that opinion is generally shared. It has been said that there is some doubt as to whether it is clear that there has, in fact, been an aggression by Northern Korea, and certain facts have been put forward by the Prime Minister today to indicate how absurd it is to suggest the contrary, as, in fact, has been suggested from Moscow—namely, that there has been aggression from the South.
There is, of course, the outstanding fact that there was no military means whereby the Southerners could successfully attack the Northerners. There is the fact that the attack from the North was obviously a well-prepared invasion, well-equipped and manned by well-trained soldiers, supported by sea forces. In those circumstances, it seems absurd that anyone should even ask whether there was an aggression, much less try to show that in addition to those facts there is further evidence from which an inference can clearly be drawn.
I submit that however confusing the different versions of the facts may have been one point which is today very clear indeed is that the power of initiative to withdraw exists on one side only. If the American forces withdrew tomorrow, and if the Southerners went back to their homes and declared that they had no further interest in the matter, the invasion from Northern Korea would still continue. But if a word was said in Moscow indicating that there should be a withdrawal to the 38th Parallel, if the request which was made by the United Nations, by America and by ourselves were accepted in the Kremlin, there is no power on earth which could prevent the Northern forces returning to the 38th Parallel. If that be so, as quite obviously 521 it is—and everybody, I presume, including Communists, would agree that they have this power—then it must follow that the aggression is an aggression from the North, since, quite obviously, they are the only force which has the power of initiative in regard to a withdrawal which could not be interfered with.
If it be clear that there is an aggression, we must then ask ourselves what can be done by anybody in the face of that aggression. There are, broadly speaking, only two possibilities: one is to resist, and the other is to accept the aggression and to submit to it. We had for many years a policy of appeasement and submissions to successive acts of aggression, and we know the ghastly end of that course of conduct. Surely we would not deserve the support of our electors if, having lived through that period, we had not learned its lesson.
Therefore, since appeasement and submission are out of the question, we have to consider the question of resistance. There are only two ways in which a policy of resistance can be formulated and deployed; first, by competitive counter-aggressions, by alliances between the nations, by opposing the aggression with successive localised acts of force, if resistance is to be offered; or one can say that the line is now to be drawn, that in future those competitive aggressions will not take place, and thenceforward a rule of law will prevail in international affairs, whatever difficulties may stand in the way.
He would be a very naive person indeed who would expect that it would be possible to bring the rule of law into existence overnight with the support of all nations, but that does not mean to say that one should leave out of one's reckoning what can be done by an association of a sufficiently large number of nations. On the facts as they obtain now, the United Nations is in existence, it has made a decision and we are a party to that decision. Consequently, if we do not carry out the decision, the United Nations will be completely discredited, and completely discredited at the behest of a puppet Government, completely discredited by the successful operation of the rule of force. So, clearing the ground on that point, the position now is that as between the rule of force and the rule of law, we have to make our choice. We have made it, and 522 if our suggestions had been accepted by the Kremlin, the bloodshed could stop, as far as the terrible business in Korea is concerned.
I do not want to anticipate anything which may be subsequently said in the Debate. But I know there have been certain criticisms quite apart from the purely legalistic side of this matter—and, in passing, let us draw our own inference from the fact that it was considered necessary by those who criticised to resort to legalistic arguments to justify their position. That, presumably, means there was no argument of merit which could be deployed. I hope the House appreciates that I use the word "legalistic" advisedly. I did not say legal arguments. Legal arguments are very distinct from legalistic arguments. Legal arguments relate to principles, whereas legalistic arguments can turn on mere points of procedure, disregarding the merits of the case from consideration at all. Since there was no point of substance which could be put, it was then a legalistic point that was put, and I ask the House to draw an inference from that.
One point which has been put in the Press, and which has not been referred to in the House as far as I know today—I was absent for a very short time from the Debate—is the point that since Formosa has been the subject of action or decision as far as the United States are concerned, that indicates, in some way, that the United States were guilty of aggression. I must deal with that point, because so much publicity has been given to it. I hope to demonstrate in a few words how stupid such a suggestion is. I apply this test to it—that as far as Formosa is concerned the action of the Americans has resulted in the certainty of less loss of life.
Had the action of the Americans in relation to Formosa been of such a kind that bombs, planes and tanks would have been sent there to destroy and maim the population, there might have been some point in that argument. But the whole point is that that sort of thing has been prevented by what the Americans did, leaving the problem of Formosa for discussion, however prolonged and heated, in the place where it should be discussed, namely, the United Nations. Similarly, the Kremlin has the opportunity—and the stake is the future of civilization— 523 to have the whole of this matter decided, not by aggression and by force, but by the rule of law. Having made the decision that we have made, it is for us to see that we give the fullest support to our Government and the fullest support to the United Nations, and that we add to the Prime Minister's comments our appreciation of the speed with which the Americans moved to face this difficult question.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
I agree absolutely with all the sentiments that have been expressed by the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams). I think we must welcome the bold American initiative, in coming to the support of the United Nations and a small country, as one of the decisive acts of history. 1 agree with the hon. Gentleman, too, that no one should miss the significance of the United Nations' decision and the actions which have followed it, because this is the first time in peace-time when 43 States—I believe the Prime Minister gave the number as 43—have decided upon collective armed action.
The democracies and the free peoples have been talking for 30 years about collective security; but on each occasion during those 30 years when the peace was threatened by an aggressor, effective action was always baulked by one of two things. The leaders of the various countries either took advantage of some legalistic loopholes, through which they could easily pass, or they showed an absolute reluctance to contemplate the use of force to prevent aggression. On occasion after occasion between the wars—and 1 remember them very vividly—the aggressor was allowed to get away with it, without any effective intervention on behalf of the free peoples.
I remember one occasion vividly in this House, and so will a good many hon. Members. That was the case of Abyssinia. It was probably the last case in which the free peoples had a real chance to prevent aggression. I remember Lord Templewood, Sir Samuel Hoare as he was then, coming to this House. In relation to certain naval actions which we in this country had taken at that time, in order to try and prevent the Italians pursuing their objective, I remember his saying that not a ship, not a machine not a man was moved by any other State. 524 The great difference which hon. Gentlemen will have noticed between all the previous occasions and this occasion, about which we are talking today, is that free peoples have voluntarily committed themselves this time in terms of ships and machines and men.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, Northfield)
In view of the considerable position which the noble Lord himself occupied at that time as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mr. Neville Chamberlain, will he say whether he or his party ever tried to give the lead to the free peoples of the world against aggression?
§ Lord Dunglass
We certainly tried to give the lead, and we were effectively opposed, on almost every occasion, by the party of which the hon. Gentleman is a Member. However, I do not want to enter into controversy on this happy occasion, when we are united. We should do well to realise in this country that, in this age of atomic warfare, this nation is particularly vulnerable. At this moment, above all, it is vital that we should give our full support to the United Nations in their decision about Korea and that we should promote, as far as we possibly can, this gathering momentum in favour of the organisation of collective security.
I want to put a very definite suggestion to the Prime Minister. I am not at all sure that in this present situation our military representation in America is at a high enough level. I am certain that it would do an immense amount of good if the Prime Minister were to ask President Truman to allow the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence to go to America to have a conference on the highest political level. I believe it ought to be held and that it ought to be attended by all the high military advisers. I do not say that because I doubt in any way the capacity of the Americans to handle this situation. Korea is within their sphere of influence, and obviously it is within their military capacity to deal with the situation, but, as has been pointed out by other hon. Members, there are two ways in which this situation may develop.
This may have been calculated to bring about what the Prime Minister described as a fait accompli. The Russians may 525 have considered that this would all be over in three or four days and that the United Nations, America and the rest of us, would all heave a sigh of relief that we had to do nothing. That may have been their calculation. If so it has gone wrong.
But there may be another interpretation. The Russians may quite easily have calculated that if they could draw America into Korea and involve them in warfare with large Communist forces reinforced from China, then the Communists in other areas with Russian backing would be free to move. I need not be more specific. My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Maclean) has shown us the possible dangers, particularly in the Persia and Turkey areas and in the Middle East. I ask the Prime Minister to consider that it is time there was a conference on the highest political level to review the whole situation and to make sure that military preparations are ready on a proper scale in any area which may be threatened.
It is my firm conviction that the only hope for a free world lies in victory in Korea. It lies in the mobilisation of effective power in each area which is threatened by Communism backed by Russian power. It lies, above all, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said, in the continued superiority in atomic weapons over the U.S.S.R. For those reasons I support the Government's Motion in the firm conviction that in supporting this Motion and in the support of United Nations is the only way to ensure peace.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)
The noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) is well known to us in the West of Scotland and he and his noble father have always taken a stand for collective security. Of course, we do not entirely agree that the party of which he is a member took the same attitude to aggression as we are now taking in regard to Korea, because we have some recollection of the famous remark of his previous chief about "a far-away little country of which we know nothing," by which he meant Czechoslovakia. We are dealing with a further-away little country of which we know very little—at any rate, I know very little of it—but we are prepared to counter- 526 attack whenever and wherever aggression takes place.
The Debate began with a restrained, statesmanlike profound utterance by the Prime Minister. I think it is a matter for great regret that the Leader of the Opposition dragged down the level of this Debate in a way that one would hardly have thought possible. He gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) publicity which I am sure my hon. Friend does not altogether dislike, but what relevance had this to the great matters that we are discussing today? Then he continued to debase the Debate by a wanton, vindictive, malicious attack on the Secretary of State for War—another cold war becoming a hot war.
When one thinks of the record of the Leader of the Opposition as the great war leader of this country during the Second World War, when one thinks of the support which this party and the Liberal Party gave to him—[An HON. MEMBER: "Some of you."] Since an hon. Member opposite has been so ill-advised as to make that untimely interjection, I am at least entitled to reply on behalf of hon. Members on this side of the House that had it not been for the support of the Labour Party and of only 80 members of the Conservative Party, the Leader of the Opposition would never have been Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)
Will the hon. Gentleman agree that during the prosecution of the war, some of the speeches from the benches opposite were definitely against the war effort?
§ Mr. McAllister
If we had chosen to attack the war chiefs whom the then Prime Minister appointed, we would have been on better ground than hon. Members opposite are, because, after all, it was the present Leader of the Opposition who appointed the most irresponsible journalist since Bottomley as First Lord of the Admiralty and then acclaimed him as the greatest First Lord since Nelson. However, I am in danger of debasing the Debate myself and I should like to address myself to the Government's Motion which I fully support.
The Prime Minister referred to the rule of law, and the Leader of the Opposition referred to this deepening crisis. We are dealing with just those two things—the 527 rule of law and the deepening crisis. Korea has demonstrated the great strength of the United Nations, the great strength of the free democracies of the world determined to resist aggression at this first assault. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) will forgive me when I say that equally it reveals the constitutional weakness of the United Nations. It is no disservice to the United Nations at this time to draw attention to that weakness. The Leader of the Opposition, in a much greater speech outside the House last Friday, said that this was the time for us to consider world government. I was infinitely glad that the Leader of the Liberal Party today put himself on record as believing that world government and the surrender to some extent of our national sovereignty, is the only hope for final world peace.
We have, in this Korean incident, asserted ourselves to protect international law against lawless aggression. But what would have happened if the right and moral purpose that we are sustaining in our attitude in Korea had been changed by the Russian exercise of the veto to a flouting of the whole Charter of the United Nations itself and to a deliberate violation of international law? That precisely would have been the position if the Russians had cared to attend the meetings of the Security Council and had exercised their veto. If Korea is merely an incident—and pray God it is merely an incident and not the opening phase of a third world war—we have to make certain that before there is another incident such a situation could not possibly arise.
We have got to change the constitution of the United Nations. In the Charter of the United Nations it is laid down in Article 109 that it can be changed, and, indeed, after 10 years it must give consideration to the question of changing its constitution. We are merely saying that the time has now come when the United Nations should give consideration to this problem and should transform itself from a loose amalgamation of nations, however strong, however determined, into an effective world government. We are out to support the rule of law and to deny the rule of force. But, before 528 we can support the rule of law, there must be law, and before we can expect that law to be accepted by the peoples of the world, there must be an assembly capable of passing the laws and a government capable of enforcing them. It must be a democratic assembly answerable to the ordinary people of the world.
There the United Nations organisation is open to some criticism. Can anyone defend the proposition that it is democratic and equitable that Luxembourg, with a population of 300,000 people, should have one vote in the United Nations, and that the Indian people, 300 million strong, should also have one vote in the United Nations? Is that really our conception of world democracy? If it is not, should we not set about putting in order the constitution of the United Nations in order to see that it becomes a real government answerable to the people?
When we talk of world government, and I would point out that over 40 hon. Members of this House have declared in favour of world government, we are accused of being "starry-eyed idealists." I have never been afraid myself of being—afar with the dawning and the suns that are not yet high.I think it would be a great pity if the Labour Party ever forgets that it, too, was once "afar with the dawning."
But opposed to our idealism there is what goes by the name of realism. What is realism today? Is realism the atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb? Is realism the steadily mounting horror of modern war—60,000 people killed in the United Kingdom by air raids in five years of war, 60,000 people killed in Hamburg in an air raid in one single night, 60,000 people killed in one split second of time at Nagasaki. Are we going on with that steadily ascending scale of horror? Is that realism and facing the facts, or is the true realism the idea of establishing some system of world law and getting the nations of the world to adhere to it? Is it not much more realistic than anything the realists can do?
Now, I would like to quote a scientist Dr. Brook Chisholm, Director-General of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations, who said:
529The world has changed, changed so drastically that one can only compare that change with such a situation as obtained during one of the greatest geological ages, when many species of animals disappeared from the earth. Many of them had lived at least as long as man has lived in the world; many of them had lived far longer. There is nothing to make us suppose that man must go on living on this earth, but we do know at least that many of us would like to, and would like our children and our children's children to carry on with this great evolutionary experiment. Dare we then turn this world over to them in a worse state than we found it when we took over? Must this generation accept utter defeat, throw up their hands and still stick to the same old methods, old attitudes, old exclusive nationalism? These are the marks of immaturity"—and I commend this to my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde—almost of infantility. This kind of world requires a new type of maturity that goes far beyond the bounds of any required maturity of the past.We who are called "starry-eyed idealists" have behind us in this movement for world government some of the greatest men in the world today. I think I can claim that we have the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, we have Mr. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, we have Professor Einstein, we have Lord Boyd Orr, we have Lord Beveridge. We have great men of every party—[Interruption.] Indeed, since the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) interrupts me, we have the hon. Member for the Yardley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Usborne), who has given so much single-minded devotion to this project. We also have men like Henri Spaak of Belgium.
May I say this in conclusion? In the United States, there is a great movement which is forming in every State, and already 26 States of the American Union have formally passed in their own State Parliaments resolutions calling for the reform of the United Nations to make it an effective world government. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has said:Unless some effective world organisation with the purpose of preventing war can be set up the prospects for peace and human progress are dark.My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says: 530I am willing to sit down with anybody of any party of any nation to try to devise the franchise or constitution of a world government with a limited objective—the objective of peace.Now is the time to begin these discussions. Even if we have got to wage a major counter-offensive in Korea, that should not prevent us from striving for and attaining this objective. The fact that we had to fight a war on several fronts did not prevent us going to San Francisco or from carrying on great conferences during the war, nor should it prevent us from going forward with this idea of making the United Nations a real and effective world government.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Hopkinson (Taunton)
I do not propose to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister), although I have very great sympathy with many of the views that he expressed. I should like to turn to the immediate question of Korea, and to remark that we are, in fact, now witnessing something quite unique in the enforcement by arms of collective security by a world organisation. That is something that has never before occurred in the history of the world, and it is, at least, I think the hon. Member opposite must agree, a consolation that we are moving along the lines towards an international police force, which I imagine would be his ideal.
The curious thing is that it is very largely due to coincidence that this has come about. It is due to the fact that the Soviet Union, for totally different reasons of its own, is not participating in the discussions of the Security Council at the present time. That is the sole reason why this action has been possible. It is due to the fact that the Soviet Union was not there, and was therefore unable to impose its veto, which it would no doubt have done.
I think it is important that we should seek to understand what were the motives which led the Soviet Government to encourage the North Korean authorities to commit this overt act of aggression at the present time and in the way they did, when they themselves were not in a position to veto action by the Security Council. I think one can now assume that they relied on delays and procrastina- 531 tion at Lake Success and elsewhere, and that they completely failed to foresee the strength of the American reaction and the support which it would get from His Majesty's Government and from the majority of members of the United Nations. They must have expected a very short and sharp campaign, which would result in the overrunning of Southern Korea, which the democracies would accept as a fait accompli.
Further, they must have thought that the damage to British and American prestige and the demoralisation of the democratic governments of South-East Asia would outweigh any risks involved to them. Otherwise they would surely, have left it to the process of time and the admitted inefficiency of the South Korean Government to bring about the easy infiltration of Communism and the final collapse of the South Korean Republic. Here it is interesting to note that, in spite of all that we have heard about the expected activities of guerrillas behind the lines of the South Korean troops, in fact, they have apparently not carried out those activities, or have done very little. I think that again is a tribute to the speed and strength of the action of the United Nations.
However, it does seem clear that, at best, this struggle will be long and arduous. But one thing is sure. Even if the American Forces were compelled to leave the peninsula, Korea cannot be and must not be abandoned. If necessary, there must be mounted an invasion of Korean territory. This is necessary because this is a test case, and the United Nations must make sure that their will is enforced, otherwise the hopes of successful collective action in the future will be irreparably damaged.
But assuming this to be so, it becomes apparent that, whatever course the operations may take, the time will come when the democratic forces now resisting aggression will find themselves advancing up to the 38th parallel of latitude. It seems to me that strategically it is impossible to stop there. From a military point of view the American forces will have to go on, and I suggest that the proper course will be for the democratic countries to proceed to occupy the whole of Korea, including Northern Korea.
532 Once this is successfully accomplished, it should be possible then to hold democratic elections under the supervision of the United Nations, as was originally intended, for the whole territory, and I would suggest that in this supervision the Soviet Government should be asked to take part. I think that would give them an opportunity, if they so desired it, to make amends for their present actions, and to collaborate in a peaceful solution to the problem. It would also afford the occasion to regularise the position of the Communist Government in China in the United Nations, and, indeed, to deal at the same time with the problem of the future of Formosa.
Meanwhile, there is a danger that bogging down of the United States Forces in Korea, and then the preoccupation of the British and French Forces elsewhere in the Far East, may lead to Communist action in Western Europe or in the Middle East, or Persia or Turkey. We have to realise that this is all part of one plan. This Korean adventure is no doubt part of the secret agreement between Mao Tse-tung and Stalin. We have to realise it was all planned at the meeting of the Asian and Australasian Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions in Peking last November. It sounds a harmless meeting, but it was, in fact, almost entirely military in character, and it covered the whole area from Persia to the Philippines.
Increased American aid in these different parts of the world, including that which has been promised in Indo-China, will certainly help; but our object must be to get the inhabitants of those countries to help themselves. We cannot indefinitely visualise Western troops—American. British, French troops—doing all the work against the satellite local troops employed by the Soviet Government for their own gains, and leaving the trained Soviet troops to operate elsewhere. We must equip those countries and train them, and see that they are made capable of carrying out their own defence, because we must also be looking elsewhere. The temptation to the Russians to attempt some coup, wherever it may be, is clear.
The situation in Germany is alarmingly like the situation in Korea. There are two States, one being the Eastern State, 533 with a Communist puppet government, and the other the Western State, bound up with the Allies. We have even the same situation with the troops. The troops employed by North Korea do not, as many people think, consist of Koreans who have been living in the country. They have, in fact, been brought from among 400,000 Koreans who rebelled against the Japanese 20 years ago and emigrated to the Maritime Provinces of the Soviet Union. They have been Russianised and trained by them and are now driving the tanks which are moving down the peninsula.
Therefore, in conclusion, I would say that we in this country must give the United States all our support in this Korean campaign, but at the same time we must keep ourselves ready to deal with wider and more dangerous problems here in Europe and in the great territories in the Middle East which are so vital to our position as a world Power.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I feel certain that in the minds of the men in the Kremlin tonight is perturbation at the turn of events in Korea. They expected a swift win in Korea. They abstained from going to the United Nations Security Council; they hoped that before they could be challenged, with North Korea, about this aggression, the country would be overrun and that the world would then accept the subjugation of Southern Korea as it has accepted other campaigns, and that that would be the end of the trouble. Then, probably, the final attack upon Formosa would have been carried out.
In the past, I must confess. I have always been antagonistic to the violence of war, because it was used often by competing countries over what, I believe, they thought were their vital economic interests, and sometimes those who created the dictators and associated with them then, appealed to the youth of the world to destroy the results of the work of the authority set up to restrain aggression. Today, however, we are in a different position. We have created an organisation that must function. I have watched with interest, whilst subscribing to what I regarded as the ideal, to see how this organisation would operate, although I was chary of it, in view of our experi- 534 ence of the previous organisation in the past.
Well, there are some people in this House who seek a third way of dealing with this trouble, but I see no third way. I think those who try to create the impression that there is a third way are sidestepping their obligations, and are not facing in a realistic manner the issues which are presented to this House and to the country. Therefore, we have either to accept—and I say this with all respect—the extreme pacifist point of view, which I can understand, or take action in this situation to restrain and to defeat the aggressor.
I have as great a hatred of war as any man in the House, and as great a desire for peace as any living human being, but today I see us as being in a situation in which we must either accept the challenge, or allow country after country to go down and refuse to fulfil our obligations in any circumstances, so that as the Soviet Union and its satellites become extremely powerful they can deal with other nations, like picking ripe cherries off the tree, one by one. In that situation, I as an individual must consider where I stand, and I stand, as a humble back bencher, 100 per cent. behind the Government in the action they are taking.
There are those who suggest that the United States took action just a little prematurely, before decisions were reached. I think that is splitting hairs. Speed is the very essence of this struggle. They knew with whom they had to deal, that they had to be quick on the draw and unless they had been, this aggressive action would have succeeded, and faith in our ideal and in those who are part of the United Nations would have been lost throughout the world for taking any future action. Not to have acted speedily would have been to say, in effect, to the people of Western Germany and elsewhere: "You had better make your peace with the people in Eastern Germany, because you cannot rely on us to fulfil our obligations in any critical situation."
In those circumstances, America went in speedily. I do not criticise them for that. I honour America for going in speedily, because one of the great complaints in this country hitherto has been that America was too keen on keeping 535 out and furnishing the weapons for other people to fight with in the two world wars. Today, if they are in, and in energetically, fighting and conducting the struggle against the aggressor, it behoves this country to give its support and to pay its tribute to America for coming in speedily and taking part in this vital struggle in Korea. The United States, this country and the United Nations cannot afford to fail in this situation. They must succeed. If they do not succeed, then I could prophesy the end of the struggle throughout the entire world.
I think that there has been a failure to understand the approach of Russia right back to before the Second World War. I always looked on that war—and said so—as a war in which the dam in the East would be broken down by having the coalition with Russia, and that Russia's coming into the Continent would not solve but would intensify the troubles of the world. Today we see that evidenced. Hitler in his hey-day had no support in this country; he had no support in any democratic country that was worth while; he had no industrial might and power. But Russia, by pretending to propagate the ideal of Communism—and no matter what hon. Members may think, it is an ideal if it is Communism—brings into the net thousands of unwary, simple folk throughout the world who believe that Russia will give greater freedom to the masses than they have enjoyed under any previous order. Russia has its agents in every workshop, in every factory and in every shipyard throughout the democratic world.
People talk about the use of the veto at the United Nations. I think it is about time we got rid of this power that Russia is exercising there. Whoever thought of allowing the criminal to decide the rules of the court that is to try him? If they are going to act in a criminal manner, we must take away the power of these people to restrain those who want justice and decency in the world; we must put them exactly where they belong, not as the allies of decent people in these assemblies, but as people who are creating disorder, chaos and violence throughout the world.
536 Russia today speaks with two voices—the voices of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, she has her agents calling everywhere, "Withdraw your troops from Malaya. Withdraw your troops from Indonesia. Withdraw your troops from Korea." Immediately any aggressive action is taken their members go out like commercial travellers, receiving their orders from their masters, chalking the streets and disfiguring property throughout the country with their slogans, and threatening with their violence those who refuse to accept their ideas. These things go on, and I say to the Government that it is about time we took action to outlaw this Communist conspiracy in this country, because there is throughout the world a growing opinion entirely against it.
It is no use hon. Members saying, "We have got to be very careful of the freedom to propagate difficult causes and difficult propaganda." I say that the Communist Party is not a British political party in the ordinary sense. It is a branch of the Russian Government, a branch of the Kremlin, to carry out Russian foreign policy, and, if possible, to sabotage and to use violence on every one of us who disagrees with them, if they have the opportunity and the power. I say that we are unwise to continue along the lines of toleration for these individuals as if they were members of an ordinary political party propagating an unpopular cause. Russia uses this force throughout the world to carry out its actions. The Communist Parties are out to weaken Britain and others and to strengthen Russia, to make the over-awing and the overpowering of nations an easy thing for the Russians.
If, in this struggle in Korea, Russia is, through Northern Korea, overwhelmingly defeated in the field, as I am certain they must be, we shall then have the opportunity, if they want to take peace and come to terms, to get down to a discussion with them. Up to now, however, I see no evidence that they have wanted to have any form of discussion, or any formal arrangement. They want to go on until the whole world has been overpowered and brought under the rule of the Kremlin, with their thuggery and their brutal violence, which is being used on decent-minded people throughout the country.
537 In this struggle let us conduct the fight under the United Nations. Let us give to the struggle all the aid and support we can so that the men of the Kremlin see that the hour has come, and realise that any further violence which is used will be met by the superior forces and the outraged opinion of the world. I say that in this struggle the Government are doing the right thing. They are not fighting for petty vested interests but are pooling their ability, their knowledge and their desire to build up a happier life in these lands.
I finish by saying to the House that the greatest recruiting agent of the Communist Party is the poverty of the masses of the Far East. If we fight Communism we may be able in the immediate struggle to destroy its power of violence today, but if we are to have a permanent structure to fight the men of the Kremlin, it can only be by raising the standard of living and giving education and health to the people of the East, which has been denied them for too long. As we advance the material economic conditions of the people, they will become our allies in the light against dictatorship and aggression.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Captain Ryder (Merton and Morden)
I think that I can safely say that we on this side of the House listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) with the greatest approval and admiration. I think that I may also say, after listening to the speeches which have been made, that it is generally recognised that this is indeed a test case of the greatest magnitude. It is a test case that is fraught with the gravest consequences which we have to decide here tonight, and on which will depend the future continuance of the United Nations.
We have, of course, still fresh in our minds the sad and dismal failure of the League of Nations before the war, the causes which led up to that failure and the war which inevitably followed. There are many people who feel that there is little hope that any instrument of world government or any instrument to control the world and avoid these greater conflicts will ever be successful. I cannot accept such a defeatist attitude, although I have no doubt that it will be many years before a world authority is fully and 538 finally accepted. We will, I am sure, get a nation or a group of nations who feel that they can advance their own particular cause by recourse to war. They will challenge the authority in the world. That is the case which is presented to us today.
We must take heart that each time a challenge of this sort is made and overcome, the prestige of the world authority will be enormously enhanced. We have, as is only too lamentably clear, a deep cleavage at the very centre of the United Nations, and we are, of course, left to ponder whether this cleavage can be overcome without recourse to force. I would suggest that at this critical juncture we must act not only with resolve and determination, but with a full understanding of the problem which lies before us and of the resources that may be needed. Let us not under-estimate the art and cunning of our opponents, who have shown such skill in espionage, sabotage and in propaganda.
May I recall events which have occurred in Europe since the war? There was the sudden seizure of Czechoslovakia from within to secure the uranium deposits. There was the fracas over Finland; there was the seige of Berlin and the Communist-inspired strikes in France and elsewhere and the peace campaign. Is it not now clear that these were all separate moves in a master campaign? What were they out to achieve? It was not only to secure the uranium deposits in Europe, but it was also to draw our attention away from events that were happening elsewhere. While we were, in fact, still congratulating ourselves on the success of the Berlin airlift the most momentous political events were taking place on the other side of the world that have probably ever been seen.
We are like a spectator at the centre court at Wimbledon. Our eyes are directed first at one court and then at the other. Now it is to the East. We have disturbances which have been very skilfully engineered in Malaya, tying down our forces. We are heavily committed to the defence of Hong Kong, with troop movements reported in the vicinity. The French Empire is also fully occupied in attempts to establish law and order in Indo-China, and now we have this fresh disturbance coming like a vortex to draw 539 in the remaining resources of the democratic countries. Meanwhile, all is quiet elsewhere. There is no disturbance in Europe and no breeze ruffles the deep political currents in the Middle East. It is all quiet there. We may well ask ourselves what this new, sudden and cleverly planned move portends.
Our problem is not an easy one. We cannot afford to become too deeply committed in the far off places of the Far East. On the other hand, we cannot afford to let the campaign dragon, becoming more exhaustive and using up more of our resources. There is a further complication. I feel that there is the danger, when we are faced with sudden decisions, that we may cast into the arena forces which may be unbalanced or ill-considered, and we have a duty to ask the Government whether the forces that are being committed are in fact well-balanced and well-formed tactical formations.
Our experience since the war in this respect has not been altogther reassuring. We recall the mining of our ships in the Corfu Channel and the despatch of H.M.S. "Amethyst" up the YangtseKiang, a ship designed for hunting submarines in the Atlantic and committed to strange surroundings with disastrous consequences. Now we read in the newspapers that we have in those waters one aircraft carrier, one aircraft maintenance ship, three cruisers, seven destroyers and eight frigates. I think that the House was agreeably surprised that we had that force available. The question I ask is: Does modern naval opinion consider that seven destroyers are sufficient to screen the larger ships in that unit in addition to the numerous other duties which they may have to perform? Are these eight frigates available to take their place in the screen, or are they required elsewhere, and are they fast enough for this duty? These are the questions which I hope the Government will consider.
I would ask, also—and this is of paramount importance—for an assurance that at this critical juncture, when we are waiting to see what may develop and what further moves may take place, that our intelligence services are not only on their toes, as I am sure they are, but are not impeded in any way by undue economy at the present stage. It is of vital importance that our eyes and ears should be 540 well attuned to the occasion. I ask, also, for an assurance that, in other oceans of the world which might at any moment become the scene of immediate interest, our fleets are organised in their correct tactical formations, that they are in their balanced tactical units, trained and organised to operate as such, and have not reverted to the pre-war practice of being organised in homogeneous flotillas and squadrons.
It may not be inappropriate to recall the disastrous fate that befell His Majesty's ships "Repulse" and "Prince of Wales." They were despatched without any thought of immediate action, without supporting arms, and dire consequences flowed from their destruction. These things happen very suddenly on occasions, and we should be aware and alert at the present time.
I am not asking the Government for any mobilisation or partial mobilisation. I am not asking for any extension of the National Service call-up. That might be a fatal move at the present time, and might greatly weaken our national economy. It might be the very thing our opponents desire. There is a danger in time of peace that our Forces, although numerically strong, may become scattered into small piecemeal organisations, into training flotillas, training schools and training camps, lacking the necessary technical cohesion. I ask that consideration be given to some form of concentration into tactical formations, so that without any increase in strength or extra cost, they may achieve a more immediate state of readiness.
Exercises have recently been taking place with ships of Western Union. I think they are still taking place. This is a most promising and fruitful step in co-operation and accord among the Allies. I ask whether we should not ask our friends to keep these forces still assembled, or, if it is necessary to disperse them, that they should be re-assembled as soon as possible to act as a steadying influence in the world. The Government may be able to reassure us that these measures I have suggested are not necessary. If so, no one will be more pleased than I to hear it. Meanwhile, I suggest that they will do no harm if they give an indication to the world that we are prepared to brace ourselves against any eventuality that may occur.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks (Broxtowe)
I wish to join in the chorus of approval which has greeted the action of the Government on this issue. As a Member of this House from 1932 to 1939, I am very glad that the humiliating experience we had during those years is not to be repeated. I was one of the first Members in the House to call attention 18 years ago to the attack by Japan on Manchuria, and at that time I got no satisfaction from the Government. As the area of Japanese aggression widened, we had the lamentable spectacle of the then Foreign Secretary finding every possible legal excuse for the Japanese action, and finally our being told by the Japanese delegate at the League of Nations that our Foreign Secretary was putting the Japanese case better than he could put it himself.
A little later, we remember, Mussolini launched a very carefully-prepared and widely-publicised attack on Abyssinia, and another Foreign Secretary went to Geneva land announced in ringing terms the intention of His Majesty's Government to stand by the League in resisting aggression. He raised the hopes of the peace-loving people of the world by that speech, but he did not disclose the fact that before making it, he had given a secret pledge to Laval never to apply military sanctions or to break off diplomatic relations with Italy. As a result of this secret agreement, the League failed and Ethiopia was conquered. That led finally to the shameful surrender at Munich, which I believe the right hon. Lady opposite approved of at the time. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why Czechoslovakia is now a Communist State. Before that happened, a very significant event occurred. Hitler occupied the Rhineland against the advice of his generals. The French Minister came to London and tried to persuade the British Government to take joint action with them in clearing the Germans out of the Rhineland, a request which was refused. That evening, I happened to be dining at the French Embassy when M. Paul-Boncour came in fresh from his interview at Downing Street. He was not in a very agreeable mood. He denounced this country in fiery terms, and said that Britain had broken her word and had not kept faith with her Allies. For me, as an Englishman and a lover of France, 542 that was not a very pleasant thing to hear, and I do not want it to happen again.
Hitler told his generals, as we now know, that if we moved to attack them they would have to get out, and that if they did that he would commit suicide. No doubt if he had not done that, he would have been overthrown by his generals. It may be that if the Nazis had been checked at that point, the 1939 war might have been averted, and that our weak refusal to act caused the war to become inevitable.
I feel that we may now have reached a similar point. An act of armed aggression has been committed in broad daylight, and that act must be resisted if any peace guaranteed by law is to be preserved. It is no use talking about the shortcomings of the Government of Southern Korea, or indulging in pedantic arguments on minor legal points. None of these things can draw out the issue before us. The open aggression which has been committed must be repelled, and when it is repelled we can then consider what to do next.
Some of my friends fear—we all fear—the prospect of a third world war, but we cannot avoid a third war by running away from it. Many years ago I thought one evening I saw a ghost. I got a thrill of fear, my heart almost stopped, but when I walked towards it I found that it dissolved into a ray of light on a mirror and some curtains. If we retreat now and run away, a third world war may become inevitable. I say: let us face boldly the aggressor now, and maybe then this terrible fear may be postponed.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Hollis (Devizes)
A large number of important and weighty arguments have been adduced by hon. Members on both sides of the House with which I am in full agreement. I shall be excused if I do not attempt to go over their case again, and I am sure I shall also be excused if even my gallantry and my devotion to my right hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Miss Horsbrugh) does not tempt me to indulge in a rebuttal of the charges of the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) of making her responsible for the troubles of the world before the war.
543 I want very briefly to concentrate on one or two particularly small points, though points of some importance. The Motion before the House asks us to support fully,the action taken by His Majesty's Government in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter, in helping to resist the unprovoked aggression against the Republic of Korea.I think myself that the legal argument that the Prime Minister adduced was a perfectly satisfactory one, and that this Motion is, in the fullest technical sense, in conformity with the principles of the Charter. Therefore, we might as well say so.
Nevertheless, I was also very glad that the Prime Minister made it clear that he did not rest his case alone upon some legal technicalities, and I think it is very important that we should make it quite clear that the British Government recognise the inherent right of self-defence both in themselves and in other people. It seems to me that the particular arguments that are adduced in criticism of the present action are irrelevant. It may or may not be true that it would be a good thing if the United States recognised the Pekin Government. It may or it may not create a certain anomaly if a Chinese Nationalist represents that State at this moment in the United Nations. Whether these things be true or not, they have no bearing on the fact that the North Koreans have attacked the South Koreans. It cannot be less true because a Chinaman says so who ought not be saying so. We are, therefore, at the moment in this situation that we are acting in conformity with the United Nations Charter.
At the time it is very important that we should not in any way bind ourselves never to do anything beyond what may be technically laid down in the Charter. We are living today in a very confused world, which is much more confused than international lawyers recognise. The other day I heard a comedian say that he had been reading Tolstoi's "War and Peace." He remarked, "Tolstoi is a very clever man. He is the only man of whom I have ever heard who could tell the difference." That is very much like the world we are in today. Events are, 544 to a very large extent, in control. Last week we spent Monday and Tuesday debating whether it was possible to submit any British authority to a supranational authority. We decided the time was not ripe for it. On Wednesday we put the British Naval Forces under General MacArthur. Events are to a large extent in control.
It is most important that the British Government should not bind themselves. Today we may be in conformity technically with the articles of the United Nations constitution, but there may come a time when we are not. We have got to take account of what President Truman said in his statement on 27th June:The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations, and will now use armed invasion and war.He very properly put the responsibility not merely on the North Koreans but on Communism.
There is a further situation arising from conformity with a purely legal situation, which could be an extremely difficult one. By the Cairo Declaration we have granted the right to the Chinese to be owners of Formosa and we have recognised Mao Tse-tung to be the owner of China. It might be very difficult technically, supposing he attacked Formosa, to say that he was the aggressor. At the same time there is the further point that it is a valid argument to say that the present action of the Security Council was a legal action, because abstension is something different from the veto. By abstaining the Russians have not vetoed our action, but supposing the next attack takes place on Ruritania. The Russians, having observed our arguments this time, will say, "We will go down and veto the attack on Ruritania." Then we should be in a very difficult position if in any kind of way we now pledged ourselves not to go beyond the wording of the United Nations Charter, or do anything to deny our inherent right to self-defence.
I was very glad that the Prime Minister warned us not to bear too much upon legal niceties, because it is vitally important, as hon. Members have said, that we should at this time give the assurance that we will give all the support that we 545 possibly can to anybody in any part of the world who may be victims of future aggression.
Last Thursday I happened to be in Berlin in company with the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies), and he suggested we should make a little trip into the Soviet Sector. For some strange reason he thought it would add to his security if I accompanied him. My opinion was exactly the opposite. If he went alone, though perhaps nobody else might bother about him, at least he could be sure that the Government Chief Whip would make a fuss, if he suffered some calamity. If we went together it seemed to me that nobody would mind. However, I persuaded my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery), to come along with me, and then we knew that we would be secure because of the watchful eye of my hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip, so that we felt quite secure. We made our trip, and we saw the people with their banners, on which were, such slogans as, "Down with Western Imperialism," and, "Hands off Korea." slouching through the streets to their great mass meeting.
We have to have in our minds the nervous tension in which the people exist who live upon the borders of this aggression. Therefore, I think we did right to take our stand with President Truman and with the line that the Prime Minister adopted this afternoon—the inherent right of self-defence. We must make it quite clear that if we have occasion to go to the rescue of those who are attacked, we shall not be deflected from our purpose by any mere legal nicety, and I welcome the fact that the Government have taken their stand on broader grounds than the legal ones.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:expresses its deep concern at the alarming situation in Korea, and recognises the possibility of another world conflict arising there-from. It, therefore, calls upon the Government to withdraw all British naval forces from the affected area; to give, in accordance with the decisions of the Cairo Conference in 1943, and the Moscow Conference in 1945, full recognition to the claim of the Korean people for the unification and independence of their 546 country; to repudiate all British commitments which involve on our part any obligations to maintain the present division of the nations of the world into two powerful and dangerously poised hostile groups, and to declare in conformity with the Government's socialist principles our determination to give every encouragement to all peoples aspiring for freedom and self-government.At the outset I hazard the opinion that were the Opposition changed in this House and, unfortunately, became the Government of this country, and if those of us on these benches were occupying the benches opposite, the type of Amendment which would have appeared on the Order Paper by such an Opposition would be that which I have moved tonight. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I appreciate the: gesture made by my hon. Friends.
At the outset of today's Debate the Prime Minister exhorted the House not to spend too much time on the legal niceties of the Atlantic Charter in its relation to the situation that has developed in the world, but, added the Prime Minister, we should face up to the realities of the situation. I shall do, my best in the short time that I shall occupy the attention of this House to do so. One thing I say at the outset is this: The reality of the situation is that a third world war is impending. We on these benches might as well make up our minds to accept the logic of the situation. The Prime Minister also, to my amazement dealt with Northern and Southern Korea as if they were two totally different-nations. As a consequence of this treatment, most of what he had to say on the situation was pathetic, artificial and unreal.
The Leader of the Opposition, may I remind hon. Members on these benches, has not been as happy in this House for a long time as he was this afternoon. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I did not interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, and I am entitled to give my opinion and personal reaction to his speech. I can quite understand why the right hon. Gentleman has led the Opposition to support the Government's motion. It is fairly obvious to all of us who have known and have paid close attention to his life that the right hon. Gentleman is never as happy as when all hell, in terms of war, have been let loose upon the people of this country. [HON. MEM- 547 BERS: "Withdraw."] I will not withdraw unless Mr. Speaker asks me to.
I need not remind this House of the obvious logic of the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which was this—and this is the construction that millions of our men and women would place upon his speech—"It looks obvious and certain that the United States have piled up quite a number of atom bombs. and it is doubtful" —in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman—"whether Russia has any at all. In that case, now is the time to use that deadly and destructive instrument that the United States have brought into being." [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
I am not going to enter into any kind of argument with the Opposition. I shall leave the good sense of the British people to judge whether the construction that I have placed upon the right hon. Gentleman's speech is or is not the one that they will place upon it.
The Government are asking for the approval of this House for their declaration of war against Korea— [HON. MEMBERS: "No."'] Well, this is the opinion of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil and of many people in his constituency. It is a declaration of war on our part against a country, incidentally, that is not without some signification. It is a country 12,000 miles away, and the people of that country are unknown to many of us. They have suffered 40 years of Japanese tyranny, and in all those years they fought as a nation and as a people for their freedom and, I contend, for their inherent right to govern their own country in the way that they considered best.
Our Government—I say this with profound regret—have aligned themselves on the side of what is very well known to be the corrupt regime of Syngman Rhee and his immediate associates and advisers, with black marketeers, and with collaborators from the days of Japanese occupation and during the last war. This régime has a venal police force reminiscent of Hitler's Blackshirts. That is the crowd—not the people and not the nation—with which this Socialist Government are asked to identify themselves and to plunge this country into war, to sustain and maintain a rotten regime of that kind.
548 The Government, in so doing, are invoking the United Nations Charter in justification of their intervention. I am not going into the legal niceties of the Charter. I follow the Prime Minister in that, but there are two outstanding things which one cannot ignore having regard to the action which we have taken. I would ask one or two questions which were not answered this afternoon. Was Northern Korea invited, in accordance with the Charter, to appear before the Council of the United Nations before the warlike intervention of the United States, and subsequently of this country? The power is there for all to read and see. The answer, of course, is "No."
At the same time, did our Government consider the full significance—the Prime Minister was uncertain on this point this afternoon and he skated over it as speedily and as uncritically as he possibly could—of Mr. Truman's declaration regarding Formosa and the implications of that declaration and of the subsequent steps taken by the United States with respect to it? No. The United Nations ignored it, as it was ignored in the opening speeches this afternoon. We know that it is not only not in accord with the United Nations Charter but is a direct violation of the Charter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I must advise my hon. Friends to read the Charter again.
I must emphasise that the Government have allowed themselves to he drawn into this tragic situation by the wholly irregular action of the United States and in direct violation of the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will not misunderstand me when I say that I should have expected a Socialist Government to be a little more deliberate and cool-headed in such a situation as this and not to have plunged headlong in support of the reckless irresponsibility of the United States.
The Government know about the hysteria which exists among American leaders, the deliberate, grotesque persecution of outstanding Americans, their fantastic doings, the guise of uprooting un-American activities and the terribly dangerous megalomania of such people in whose possession are the most horribly destructive weapons which have ever cursed this world of ours. Our Govern- 549 ment should have studied a little the horrible and dangerous psychosis which has gripped those people and which is known to millions of working men and women in our country; but that was not done. Hence the dreadful fear—I admit it—which possesses me and millions of British men and women that such power associated with such hysteria and such megalomania, may be let loose in this world.
§ Mr. Davies
I expect that when hon. Gentlemen opposite are dealing with this matter in their constituencies they will show the same irresponsible levity that they invariably show in the face of facts which they do not like.
§ Mr. Davies
Let us look for a minute or two at Korea. I suppose that we all know that it is inhabited by a people who, by tradition and language, differ appreciably from both the Chinese and Japanese. It is a people—its fighting history shows this—which is conscious of its nationhood and conscious of being a nation which is neither Chinese nor Japanese, and let us pray to God that it will never be American.
§ Mr. Davies
In their ignorance, the Allied Powers divided this nation with complete artificiality by means of the geographical travesty now known as the notorious 38th Parallel, but with a promise that that would be eliminated very soon after the end of the last war.
I hope that hon. Gentlemen will allow me to state one or two other facts about the country. We know that to the north of that line the country is rich in minerals, and that to the south, from the oriental point of view, it is equally rich in food production because there is the great rice bowl from which the whole of Korea could easily be fed. It is a country where a balanced economy could be built up. The Koreans were described in the official pronouncement of the Cairo Conference in December, 1943, as having suffered 550 enslavement in the hands of the Japanese and they were, at the same time, promised that they would be made free and independent after the war. That was endorsed almost exactly two years afterwards at the Moscow Conference. Let us try to be fair in this matter. Although four and a half years have passed the 38th Parallel still stands as a break dividing that nation. I wonder what any Britisher would do in a situation of that kind.
§ Mr. Davies
Any Britisher would have done precisely what the Koreans have been forced to do by the dilatoriness of the Security Council. It is not to be wondered at that these people, who have fought for 40 years for their independence and the right to govern themselves, have become impatient and angry and are now in the process of uniting their country.
§ Mr. Davies
We should remove our forces from Korea and leave this matter to the people. We should then know what would happen.
In their Motion the Government talk about unprovoked aggression on the part of the Northern Koreans. This is surely an abuse of the English language. I make that charge as a Welshman and a Welshman is generally the most competent judge of when the English language is ill-spoken. Had it not been for the unprovoked aggression of the United States—I am of opinion that this is of extreme importance to us today—this conflict would have finished in a week. If it is war which hon. Members want, I can understand it, but I do not know how many hon. Members derive great satisfaction from the fact that they are not likely to be conscripted in a third world war.
§ Mr. Davies
Also, may I ask, how is it that the Southern Koreans have put up such little opposition to their own countrymen from the North? I am told that they are disarmed. I express the opinion that there is another, much stronger reason, 551 namely, that there are millions of Southern Koreans who are as anxious for the independence of their country as are the Northern Koreans.
Before I conclude—and I shall do so unless I am provoked to take up more time—[An HON. MEMBER: "Is that a threat?"] I repeat that, notwithstanding some little strained sense of humour on these benches this evening, I am certain that no real pleasure can be taken by hon. Members in the tragic step which the Government have taken. What would have been the position of this island, with its abnormally high density of population, if Russia, concerning whom so much has been said today, had acted with the same criminal irresponsibility as the United States in this matter, and we had plunged headlong into war?
Perhaps it is my Celtic imagination that makes it impossible for me not to try to visualise what would happen, what must inevitably happen in this country in the event of another world war. We all know that this small island of ours would inevitably be regarded as the principal base of the Western Powers; in fact, as an annexe of an extension of the military power of the United States. This country would be the first to be destroyed in a war of that kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "By whom?"] By whom? I should hold responsible those who provoked and instigated—
§ Mr. Davies
The megalomaniacs who provoke the third world war. I say this as a deliberate warning to the men and women of Britain should that catastrophic experience befall this country.
In conclusion—[HON.MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am only concerned with the desires of Mr. Speaker and I hope I shall not be encouraged to take more time than I had intended. At the moment I understand that our interests, our good name as a nation, as far as the war is concerned, is placed in the hands of General MacArthur. I am certain that the Socialists on these benches will take considerable pleasure out of the fact that General MacArthur has imposed his will on Japan, and has destroyed the freedom which so many working-class people and working-class organisations have the right 552 to enjoy. [An HON. MEMBER: "Absolute-nonsense."] I am certain that my hon. Friends here derive considerable pleasure from the fact that the Governments of Australia and South Africa have promised every assistance in this war of freedom for the Southern Korean people.
To conclude, surely the Socialist Government must have realised—and it is the only type of Government I would ever expect to realise the obvious—that the world is not divided between the U.S.A. and its satellites and the Soviet Union. It is divided as never before between the rampant forces of reaction and the resurgence of many nations in the world who are fighting for freedom and for self-determination, and it is because of these facts that I have moved my Amendment. [Interruption.] Do not worry—those people will be good enough to fight your next war. They are the cannon fodder for the next war.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (Ayrshire, South)
I beg to second the Amendment.
Had there been time, and had it been possible, I should have enlarged and elaborated the wording of the Amendment by giving an outline of what I believe to be a constructive alternative to the present policy supported both by the Government and by the Opposition. When I am asked to support the Government in a Motion which says that this House fully supports the action taken by His Majesty's Government, I regard that as being asked to sign a blank cheque for total war. And I wish to say at the commencement that the Leader of the Opposition did not state the case accurately when he argued this afternoon that the opposition to the present policy of the Government was confined to Communists and to fellow travellers.
I have never been associated with the organised Peace Committee sponsored by the Communist Party. I have kept rigidly aloof from it. As for being a fellow traveller, last year I tried to travel in Russia but was refused a visa by the Soviet Government. I want to put the point of view against the policy and methods of war which has been put in this House for over 100 years, ranging from the opposition to the Crimean War by John Bright and the opposition to the 553 First World War by Lord Morley and by the old I.L.P., and the opposition to the last war put by people who did not share the Communist philosophy or point of view.
I dissociate myself from the policy of the Government with great regret, because I believe, not that this policy will prevent war but that it is a step towards a further development of the international policies which are just as likely to end in the greatest possible catastrophe of all, a third world war. I cannot follow the Prime Minister's argument that because certain action was not taken in Manchukuo and certain policies were followed at Munich, a parallel situation faces the world today. We have to deal with the world in 1950. As I listened to the Prime Minister I felt that he did not face the position of the world today, but argued in a narrow legalistic way as if he were putting a legal case at a county court.
Then we heard the Leader of the Opposition. As I see the position, we are today in this House an embryo Coalition in which the Opposition are uniting with the Government, supporting the policy of the Government; and I can see that if we are to follow the historical political parallels, we are going into a Coalition. What is the broad objective of this Coalition to be? Is it to be the unconditional surrender, not only of North Korea, but of Russia and of China and the whole Communist world?
I ask the House to face the fact of the situation in Korea. The Prime Minister has told us that at the United Nations we have 46 different nations on our side. But look at the other side; does it not contain three-quarters of a continent? Are there not, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, in China and in Russia, hundreds of millions of people who—I do not know—probably far outnumber the people who are represented and give their vote at the United Nations Security Council? What is the attitude of India? India is not wholeheartedly in favour of supporting the United Nations resolution in this matter. It may give theoretical adherence to this policy, but it is not backing it up with force of arms.
And so we have to face the inescapable fact that the hundreds of millions of people of China and Russia, and the whole of Europe east of the Iron Curtain, 554 are asking about, and looking critically at, the action which has been taken. Are we entitled, therefore, to say that the United Nations is really an international organisation which is running some kind of international police force? I fail to see the parallel, and I wonder what will be in people's minds in Asia, in China and in Russia. They will look at the facts. They have to look at the matter from other points of view—for instance, that this is not merely an aggression by North Korea backed by the Soviet Union; they look upon it as an aggression by capitalist America. That is their point of view, and we may have to face the fact that if we go into this war, we hill have to go into a war against three-quarters of the world. I ask the House to look at this matter very carefully before giving a blank cheque for the action that has been taken by the United Nations at the instigation of the United States of America.
I wish that the Soviet Union had gone to the Security Council. Had the Russians gone there and proposed the veto, what would be left of the leading arguments of the Government? The Russians would have been perfectly entitled to have gone to the Security Council and exercised their veto. Does anyone say that the same action would not then have been taken by the Americans in Korea? I cannot see this matter from that legal view at all, and, whether we like it or not, I fail to see how we can look at the world today and imagine that we are really achieving the objectives of the United Nations organisation that are set out in its Charter.
Why was the veto put into the United Nations Charter? Because it was realised that the United Nations is a sort of super-national authority. Its whole purpose, in deciding the issue whether there should be a war on the rest of the world, lay in the fact that there could be no real international police action against any of the big Powers who were victorious in the last war. That is the situation today.
What surprises me in this Debate is that so very little has been heard about the people where the war is being fought. I read in the "Sunday Express" on Sunday that there was "police action" in Korea. President Truman said that it is not a war, but is a police action. I read in the "Sunday Express" also that in a conversation at American G.H.Q. one of the leading American officers had said that 555 the Southern Koreans were being driven into battle by their military police. When I saw that, I began to realise the analogy with the police. Does anyone say that there is any wish on the part of the peasants of Korea to be associated with the Americans? If America wins the war in Korea and gets established there, do we imagine that the Russians will decide to throw up the sponge and say, "No, we are not going to risk the third world war"? It is an extremely dangerous prophecy to make.
If the Americans throw back the Korean armies and get settled in the territory south of the 38th parallel, what will be the effect in Moscow? Will Moscow then say "Yes, we have got to talk and to throw up the sponge, we have got to go back to the United Nations"; or will there not be a school of people in the Politburo in Moscow saying, "They are getting near Russia, they are getting near Vladivostock, they are getting dangerously near the territory of the U.S.S.R."? When this argument is examined a little closer, therefore, I fail to see that there is any solid justification for the argument, which was the main argument of the Prime Minister, that by taking this action we would stave off the third world war.
The Leader of the Opposition did not argue in that way. He talked about it as if it were a phase in the third world war. He talked about the West. One cannot talk about this possibility of the third world war without talking in terms of East and West, and already there is disquiet expressed in the articles by the military critic of the "New York Times" that this may weaken the possible forces in Europe as against those in Asia.
I want to ask the spokesmen for the Opposition—and we might have a word or two from the Government as well—what is to be the attitude towards the use of the atom bomb if this conflict develops. I ventured to challenge the hon. Member for Heeley (Mr. P. Roberts) when he interjected the other day his suggestion about the dropping of the atom bomb in North Korea. But I believe that the hon. Member for Heeley was logical. He said that if we had to restrain aggression in North Korea, if we are to oppose the aggressor by force of arms, we must be prepared to drop the atom bomb.
556 The hon. Member had the courage of his convictions.
What did the Opposition do? That same evening we had an official disclaimer by the Opposition, presumably sanctioned by the Leader of the Opposition, that they did not approve of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Heeley. The hon. Member, however, has had the courage to put down his Motion on the Order Paper, and I should like to know from some responsible leader of the Opposition if they now repudiate the policy of the atom bomb which was suggested by the hon. Member for Heeley.
The hon. Member does not propose immediately to drop the atom bomb, but there is to be a warning and then a period of 10 days' notice in which the people in the aggressor cities are to be evacuated. There are two nations who have the atom bomb and if that warning is given, are we to assume that for 10 days the Russians, who have the atom bomb, would wait calmly until the 10 days' notice expired? The hon. Member is, at least, trying to face the problem, but he should follow it to its logical conclusion. He is prepared to support a police action which involves the destruction of hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children; and, whether we like it or not, that is war, it is crime, and I think it is time that in this House there should be some section opposing it, totally and completely.
I listen with a certain amount of interest to the views on military strategy of the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low) and I have learnt a great deal from him. I think he will agree with me on this. Recently we had a book on "The Defence of the West," by Liddell Hart, a stimulating book which should be read by people interested in defensive strategy. What is the defence from the atom bomb? If we are prepared to follow this argument to its logical conclusion, we have to be prepared to face the atom bomb. Captain Liddell Hart, in "The Defence of the West," which I hope hon. Members are going to read, points out that if we are to have defence against the atom bomb, we must have certain defensive measures which are economically impossible in this country. Liddell Hart says:The soldier's idea of marshalling a great expeditionary force to go overseas, drive the 557 enemy back and then capture his launching sites is so slow as to be hopeless.He adds, and this is what we must be prepared for if we are going to accept as inevitable that we must prepare against atom bomb war:In the first place, we should develop a pattern of dispersion, not merely an emergency evacuation, but a planned dispersion of industry and population, beginning without delay.This, however, is not nearly enough. Essential services and industries must go underground in another war. That means they must have the underground sites prepared in advance. Nor will it suffice to be thus protected. The workers would need to be provided with quarters of a kind where they could be in conditions adequate for health.Does anyone say that this country, faced with its financial and economic difficulties at the present time, can undertake an adequate defence of the civilian population of this country? If we cannot adequately defend the civilian population of this country, if we cannot defend the women and children—and we are going to have, as Lord Trenchard said, 10 million casualties in this country—let us think twice before we agree to the inevitable course which leads to destruction and war.
§ Mr. Hughes
No. I want to end with a quotation from a prominent American, General Marshall, who said recently:The Western European Powers realised that, whoever won another war, their generation would lose it.He also said:It would be unwise, it seems to me, to console ourselves with the thought that we would ultimately win if hostilities should break out again, because I fear that the victorious power in another war will stand amidst its own ruins with little strength left to re-establish itself or to offer assistance to its neighbours. It will only enjoy the empty triumphs of inheriting the responsibilities for a shattered and impoverished world.Hon. Members opposite talk about Communism. The First World War brought about the Communist Revolution and a totalitarian regime in Soviet Russia. The next World War led to the spreading of Communist totalitarian regimes over the greater part of Europe. China is Communist. To say we are going to win a war against Communism and that if we have this war we can escape the condi- 558 tions which lead inevitably to Communism, is, I am afraid, to live under a delusion. It is all very well for the Government to say "Yes, but we must help to deal with the problems of poverty among hungry nations that create Communism." If we prepare for war we inevitably prepare for poverty and the conditions which lead to Communism. If we prepare for war we inevitably end in creating Communist conditions over the greater part of Asia and the greater part of Europe.
I know I would be one of the first victims of a totalitarian regime. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes. However, that is an academic point. I believe essentially in democracy, but I believe that if we accept the policy outlined in this Motion we shall face the possibility that we are to have not only the destruction of world war, but are likely to have Communism afterwards.
The Clerk-Assistant at the Table informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. SPEAKER from the remainder of this day's Sitting.
Whereupon Major MILNER, the CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, took the Chair as Deputy-Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
I cannot help thinking that on this occasion every right hon. and hon. Member who is called to address this House should do so with a very deep sense of responsibility and with a very careful selection of words, because it is quite clear that those words will go far beyond this Chamber. I cannot think that either the mover or the seconder of the Amendment, to whom we have just listened, had that in mind. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) was inaccurate and hysterical and I would like to call his attention and that of the House to some of the concluding words of the Amendment, which read:…our determination to give every encouragement to all peoples aspiring for freedom and self-government.But in an earlier part of the Amendment we see that at the same time it calls upon His Majesty's Government to withdraw all their forces from the affected 559 area. Does he really believe, does any hon. Member of the House really believe, that to withdraw our Forces, and for America to do the same, would giveencouragement to all peoples aspiring for freedom and self-government"?I think exactly the opposite. Experience over 25 years shows that it is only swift action that gives that encouragement to those aspiring to freedom and self-government. At the same time, the hon. Member had the effrontery to refer to the American action as "reckless irresponsibility." I do not think that if those in South Korea had to judge between the "reckless irresponsibility" of swift American action to help them and a decision to withdraw all forces they would have two minds about it.
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil referred to the process of unifying Korea. That is a typical euphemism of the fellow-traveller. The process of unifying in tanks has a very familiar ring about it. The process of "unifying," of "pacifying," Czechoslovakia twice with tanks and with weapons is a process of "unifying" which has a very different name. It is aggression, and not a process of unifying at all. I hope, therefore, that those who heard the speech of the hon. Gentleman who, very dangerously, expressed a sentiment towards me—when he said I had a fatal attraction for him, which is not reciprocated—and who drew a ridiculous travesty of the situation in the Far East, as well as those outside the House who read the reports of the Debate will realise that he and his hon. Friend speak on this occasion with hardly anybody behind them but their two addle-pated selves.
One thing, however, is most necessary and that is to go back to the real effect of this Korean war. I have spent a good deal of my life in the Far East, though I do not claim to have a greater knowledge than many other hon. Members of this House. But every hon. Member who has spoken about this war in Korea has adopted the theory that the propaganda effect of the outcome of it throughout the whole of the Far East and the Middle East will be enormous. There is a good deal of truth in that, but, on the other 'hand, we have to analyse and consider the matter a good deal further.
Korea is in the extreme Far East. The effect of the war in Korea and its success- 560 ful conclusion by the American and United Nations Forces—which, I think, will take place after a long and difficult struggle—will not necessarily be exactly what most people seem to think. If there was a failure it would have a disastrous effect, but success there, will not be enough to restore confidence in those who are trying to break down the already tenuous, hesitating and doubtful belief in Communism prevalent in China, and South China in particular.
President Truman, in his first statement, was most careful to point out that there were four areas in which assistance was to be given. It was not only in Korea, it was to be the Philippines, Formosa and Indo-China. I would sound a serious note of warning and say that not until Communism has been cleared out permanently and shown clearly to have no chance of surviving in all those four areas, and not in Korea alone, shall we be able to regard the Far East as anything like an area safe from Communism.
Do not forget that when we get further west than Korea, when we get to Malaya and Indo-China we find people mostly of the South China mind, and there is a great difference between the South China and the North China mind. They are racially very far apart in every way and to assume, easily and automatically, that success in Korea will mean that after the amber light has turned red, as it is now, it will automatically turn back to green, is to be too optimistic.
In supporting the Government, as I shall in every possible way, I would beg them to take this question of propaganda in hand at once. The first thing we need is political warfare and propaganda. It is of the utmost value, and the greatest life-saver if properly installed. The first thing to be done is to co-ordinate the propaganda between ourselves and the United States, who have different stations in the area which will have the most interest in what we are doing. The hon. Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass), in a very interesting speech, suggested a high level of co-ordination with America. Whether that suggestion is accepted or not, I would suggest absolute immediate co-ordination of the means of propaganda and I will explain why this is so important.
561 At present there is much talk about aggression and non-aggression. Let us try to think for a moment with the mind of an ordinary peasant or fisherman in a small port in Southern Korea. For the purpose of defence the Americans have to land forces. What happens? They arrive there, and to the peasant it is very difficult to distinguish between one set of foreigners, as they are considered, and another. The Americans will take over the port and requisition things. They will destroy things in order to produce fields of fire and mobility for weapons. To the villager in that particular village it will not be very easy to explain that that is an essential move in the repelling of aggression, and not aggression itself. But it is absolutely vitally important that from the word "go" an attempt should be made to do so. Such an attempt can be made. I have seen it work in the middle of China during the war and the task should be taken in hand right away. There are skilful men in all countries concerned who are trained in this work.
The other day we had a small Debate in this House on the radio situation in the Far East. That question has now become infinitely more urgent, and I suggest that extra expenditure on the Hong Kong station and extra expenditure and more trained staff for the other stations should be in no way avoided. It is a better investment to make known throughout China and the other countries at present that this is not a piece of unifying, as the hon. Gentleman had the temerity to call it, but it is the first attempt at solid encouragement to those who have been waiting for a long time inside China to see Communist aggression thrown back.
It is wrong to assume that Communism is a success. Its success at the beginning was due to reaction from another Government which had failed, and in that connection how wise were the Americans to give the warning they did about Formosa, that they would not support General Chiang Kai-shek and his rump Government then.
There is a thin red cover painted over China which people accept too easily as Communism, but in South China and South-West China and the borders of Indo-China there are, to my certain knowledge forces which could form the first self-governing area breaking away from 562 it. The sign has been awaited on all sides, and on the determination in Korea—[Interruption.] I am sorry if hon. Gentlemen are upset because I am getting a little support from the other side of the House, but in that area there are those listening with their ear to the ground who have never accepted Communism, except entirely passively, because there was no alternative. That area can either be an area of danger or the first point of defeat of Communism.
What is happening in Korea is being watched; what is happening in Formosa is being watched; what is happening in the Philippines is of moment. But of far greater moment is what is happening in Indo-China. In my view, Indo-China will be the decisive area for the whole Far East. The open defeat of Ho Chi Minh and his very well known lieutenants, with the possible sealing off of Communism from seeping its way through Siam, Burma and Malaya will take place there.
The cockpit of Communism in the Far East will be in the north of Indo-China. We must have regard to the expressed determination of President Truman's first statement. Korea is vitally important. It is the beginning of the turning back of the tide. But that process must go on. Let no one imagine for one second that the process will be easy, cheap or rapid. We support the Government fully. We have set our hands to the plough. We must use everything available; above all, we must organise and co-ordinate the power of propaganda, and go right through to the end in the areas I have mentioned.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Mainwaring (Rhondda, East)
The. Amendment was moved by one Welshman and seconded by another Welshman who represents a Scottish constituency. Perhaps it is fitting that another Welsh' voice should be heard on the issue involved. I should be attaching to the digressions of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) far greater importance than they deserve if I attempted to analyse them. To the second Welshman I would say that it is. not enough to analyse war from the point of view of its effects upon the aggressor or the victorious nation. War must be discussed on far wider lines. There is no 563 man or woman in this House, or I dare say in the country, who would declare himself a lover of war. We all detest it.
The question we must consider is whether, in certain eventualities, we must bear arms. After the First World War the nations of Europe and the world, torn and mangled by that conflict, made up their minds that, somehow or other, an organisation should be brought into being to prevent another war. The League of Nations was formed. It was hopelessly inadequate in its conception and in the forces it envisaged to enforce its demands and views. Time and again we had to witness, its tragic weaknesses.
I was a Member of this House when Manchuria was invaded and I listened to the then Foreign Secretary, who now sits in another place, even seeking in a halfhearted manner, to justify the position that Japan occupied at that time. I do not blame that Foreign Secretary, because he spoke for the Cabinet of that day. Let us not place the blame upon the individual Foreign Secretary of any administration. There came a second invasion, that of Abyssinia. Once more a Foreign Secretary, who also sits in another place, explained logically how even Italy was justified in entering Abyssinia. There came a third war in Spain and, to his credit, the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) resigned his office of Foreign Secretary rather than carry upon his shoulders the obloquy of defending the action taken there.
In all those instances, it was the weakness of the League of Nations, the failure of the principal nations to attack the evil, that was to blame. Is it any wonder that, one by one, the Herods of the world became strengthened? Hitler marched into the Rhine convinced that no one would attempt to stop him. One by one the Japanese Herods, the Italian Herods and the German Herods became stronger. The Germans marched into Czechoslovakia and Austria. One by one the nations of Europe feared that the next morning would see the end of their existence.
Inevitably, the Second World War came. That again left the world even more torn and mangled, and again there was the 564 conviction that at all costs we should bring into being an organisation to save us from another war. The United Nations was formed. For what? To prevent aggression. From whom? From Communist nations? No. Nor was it to prevent aggression from capitalist nations. Did they examine and make reservations? Did they attempt to analyse the political colour of any future aggressor? No. They used the word "aggressor' without qualification. It matters nothing whether it is a Communist aggressor, a capitalist aggressor or anyone else. The word "aggressor" was the word that mattered.
What is the use of trifling with words about who is the aggressor in this instance? In my experience in this House I have seen weakness piling upon weakness and Herods becoming ever stronger, until at last they were prepared to conquer the world. Am I asked to repeat that experience? The mover and seconder of the Amendment take it upon themselves to say that they represent the interests of the workers of this country. I deny that. I want to save the workers of Britain and of the world from this sort of experience. We can only do that by being strong and determined in our resolution.
In this moment of world tragedy we have a very grave decision to undertake. I have faced many grave decisions in this House. I remember the occasion when Mr. Neville Chamberlain came back to this House and reported the result of his talk with Hitler. At that time we occupied the benches opposite. I saw Members on the Government side of the House wave their papers with delight. There were not many on our side of the House. There were great cheers from the Government supporters, and I admit that a good many Members of the Labour Party also cheered. They thought that the world had been saved—saved by good intentions. I do not want to say anything to besmirch the reputation of the then Prime Minister, but I say in all honesty that it was a good intention which led the world astray, and we found that out to our cost. So it is today.
I remember the declaration of war, and those of us in this House on that fateful day did not enjoy it. We were all struck with the responsibility which 565 rested upon us. We said, "Heaven knows how many people we are now condemning to death." There came another fateful day when this country alone had to make a decision. France had fallen. That decision did not go to the individual men and women of the country, but to the individual Members of this House, and no one faltered. We were very grim, but we pulled ourselves together and did not falter. We faced the facts. Why? Because of individual gain to someone? Goodness knows, there was no gain for anyone. It was all loss, sacrifice, suffering, death, and many Members of this House went. They paid the penalty. Tonight in this House we are faced with a similar decision.
Do not let us treat this matter lightly. It is not a matter of bandying words of logic or so-called logic: it is not a question of discussing theoretical pacifism or theoretical objection to war or whether the aggressor is capitalist or Communist. This is a serious decision. I am supporting the Government; so are my fellow Welshmen apart from the one who moved this Amendment. I know what this decision means. I would not condemn a single Welshman to this struggle if it could be avoided but if we are to win what we regard as fundamental in this world, we have to be prepared to fight for it.
Throughout my life I have, as a trade unionist, had to fight. We had to sacrifice, we faced all sorts of trouble and suffering, but we did it gladly in a sense, though we did not welcome those weeks and months of suffering which inevitably followed our decisions. Tonight I appeal to my fellow Members, men and women in this House—let us face this decision as men and women. Do not let it be said that there is any surprise at hon. and right hon. Members on the other side of the House supporting the Government.
There was no division in this House when we agreed on the setting up of the United Nations; there was no division, no party problem. The Conservative Members, no less than the Socialist Members said: "We must have it." If they fail to support that decision it will be treachery to this nation. I say to the Conservatives of this country, "If you fail in your decision to uphold the decision of the United Nations, you would be betraying your own country." Equally 566 if we failed we should be betraying our country.
I stand for the international working class, without qualification of creed, colour or race, and when they are attacked by aggressors we must defend them. I say to this House: Let us face this situation with the sense of responsibility which people expect of Parliament, and let us decide it like men and women elected to represent the nation to which we belong.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
The hon. Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. Mainwaring), in a speech of deep feeling, has drawn attention to the underlying unity that binds us all together tonight. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) made two accusations. The first was that the Leader of the Opposition, a warmonger by instinct and tradition, has persuaded and pushed His Majesty's Government into warlike measures against Soviet Russia.
History will surely tell a story different from the one he told the House tonight. It will tell how my right hon. Friend, even before Soviet Russia came into the war, when she was an ally of Hitler, warned her of the oncoming aggression. It will tell how, on the day Germany entered Russia, my right hon. Friend pledged the support of Great Britain. It will tell how at Yalta and at Potsdam he and President Roosevelt went to the very limits of concession to meet the Soviet point of view.
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil likewise accused our American friends of being in possession of great power and of being extremely wild and intemperate. I cannot help recalling the words of President Wilson in the First World War, "Too proud to fight." I cannot help but recall the difficulties of President Roosevelt when confronted by the Isolationists when this country was in great peril. I cannot help recalling that under the American Constitution, a two-thirds majority of Congress is required for a declaration of war. What would our position have been today had the Japanese, instead of attacking Pearl Harbour, sailed southwards to Singapore? Would the American Congress have obtained the necessary two-thirds majority?
567 No country in the history of the world has enjoyed a greater measure of good will outside its frontiers than did Soviet Russia in 1945 at the end of the war. All the newspapers in the free countries greeted the victories of the Soviet armies. I remember Red Army Week, when Ministers of all parties held public meetings, and meetings were held in factories to show our appreciation of the Soviet contribution. I remember the presentation of the Sword of Stalingrad. All that has now changed. It seemed, at that time, that this good will found its most apt expression in the military treaty between this country and the Soviet Union. It seemed to me that common sense and self-interest on the part of the Soviet leaders might persuade them to maintain that treaty through its agreed period, knowing well that while it remained in force it achieved one great object, namely, that Germany could never again rise as a military power. The Second Front was already in existence.
Furthermore, it appeared that no conflict of economic interests could mar our political relations. The Soviet Union, with its vast resources of coal, oil, wheat and cotton, with a home market of 180 million, could be self-contained and at no time compete with the free Powers in the markets of the world. All that has now changed. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) asked us tonight what the leaders in the Kremlin were thinking. I am quite certain that they have cast aside all apparent good sense and self-interest because they cling to the fanatical belief that tomorrow is theirs, that the free countries will disintegrate and that their duty as good Communists is to shake the apples off a rotten tree. They have shaken off a good many. China is the latest and largest. Those of Berlin, Western Germany and Yugoslavia still remain tenuously on the tree. But how many more attempts may not come?
I would reiterate the argument, used by other hon. Members tonight, that we must be very careful that this attack on Korea is not a diversion to take away our interests from other vital fields. The Americans could easily have said, "It is true that North Korea has entered South Korea. But it is true that no vital American interest is as yet at stake. American Forces are installed in Japan 568 and at Okinawa. We can hold our vital positions and salve our consciences by sending a few squadrons of Mustangs." On the contrary, President Truman has taken the initiative and has done in Korea what might have been done before the Second World War at a time when we were going through our Rhineland crisis.
This time we have done the right thing. What might not happen if we fail in Korea? What might not happen in Indo-China, where a few thousand guerillas are causing grave disturbance and heavy casualties to the French? What might not happen in Malaya, our largest dollar earner, if the rubber plantations were seriously disorganised or even taken from us? It would upset our entire economy as well as temporarily dislocate the manufacturing capacity of the United States. What might not happen if the Communists went into Siam and Burma Millions of rice bowls throughout Asia would be empty if they occupied the rice fields. This would be food politics with a vengeance. The approach to Tibet and Sinkiang places India in danger. It is possible that even now the great cities of the Ganges Valley are within bombing range.
Finally, the oil areas of Persia and Irak, the sole source of oil in the sterling area, lies possibly within two or three days' march for a Russian mechanised column or within a few hours of Russia troop-carrying planes. We must be on guard everywhere.
In conclusion, I believe that when the moment of decision comes it will be for the leaders of the Kremlin to make up their minds whether they will seek a decision by force of arms or not. When that moment comes, as it may in 1952 or 1953, I believe it will depend on two things: first of all, on our material strength, and secondly, and above all else, on our faith—faith in the cause for which we stand, faith in the cause of liberty which, in Europe, has been based on the traditions of the Christian teachings.
Many times in past centuries we in Europe have been almost overwhelmed by aggressors. We have seen enemies almost at the point of obtaining decisive advantage over us and conquering us, but never in those moments did the faith of our ancestors fail. Faith is not beaten by material forces. Faith only fails when 569 it declines from within. Let us tonight, by our vote in this House, register our faith in the justice of our cause, and, come what may against us, we shall surely win through.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
I am sure that the whole House was moved by the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhonnda, East (Mr. Mainwaring), and that we all appreciate his sincerity and eloquence. I speak with the utmost sincerity also when I say that I wish 1 could share his wholehearted approach to this Motion. I am afraid that I have many more misgivings, some of which he will perhaps think sceptical or even cynical. At least, they are as honest as his wholeheartedness.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. 0. Davies) was speaking, one hon. Member opposite called out, "You ought to be locked up," addressing himself, I take it, not to Mr. Speaker but to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil. Then, again, when my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) was speaking and was urging the, as I thought, very unwise course of outlawing the Communist Party, there were a number of cheers for that also from hon. Members opposite. I am happy to think that there is no likelihood whatever that that request will be acceded to by His Majesty's Government: it is only a few nights since it was firmly rejected by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department when it was put to the Government by the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers).
That brings me to the only passing point that I want to make on this question of law and legalism. I wonder whether it is too fanciful to see the working of a kind of collective guilty conscience in the frequent references made by hon. Members this afternoon to the "unimportance" of "these little legalistic arguments" and these "purely legal" disputes. I should have thought that it was of some importance to establish the legality of what you are doing if you profess to be conducting a crusade on behalf of the rule of law.
Then to say, as some hon. Members do, "Oh, well, they had to jump the gun,' otherwise they would not have been successful; there would 570 not have been time, and 'time is of the essence' in these matters," is, of course, to accept and to proclaim the doctrine that the end justifies the means—a doctrine universally abhorred by all civilised nations and all great Powers and universally practised by them in any emergency.
I thought the Prime Minister's quiet and unemphatic speech much more impressive than the bellicose ranting, high-flown rhetoric, and grand phrases—whose emptiness we have learned from bitter experience—which we have had to put up with since. His case also was impressive, but I rather wish that he had been able to give us some reassurance on two points. I hope that either he or the Lord President, when he winds up the Debate tonight, will be able to give some such assurances.
First, there is the question of the limitation and localising of this conflict in Korea, about which I know the Prime Minister has already given satisfactory answers at Question Time—which, however, seem to me to need some more specific reinforcing, with particular reference to Formosa, that we are not getting entangled in any adventure there, and with reference to the 38th parallel, beyond which we were urged to go by at least one hon. Member opposite, a Member already held in respect, although a new Member of this House, who urged that we should go beyond that line and occupy the whole territory of Korea.
I hope that the Prime Minister very soon, or the Lord President tonight, can make it clear that we do not intend to indulge in that particular example of two blacks making a white, and that we intend to remain strictly legal and within the territory south of the 38th parallel. Unless my right hon. Friend can give us some such assurance as this, against the enlargement of the war and that we are not going to acquiesce in any such enlargement of the war by the Americans, should they be so disposed, there will be profound disappointment and dismay among hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of people in this country.
I believe that it is true to say that, in the main, as has been claimed, the people of this country do support the Government in the action which they have been forced to take. I certainly found that in 571 my own constituency last week-end, particularly when talking to what one might call ordinary, non-political people. In some cases, their acquiescence seemed to me to be almost alarmingly jaunty. They took the line that it was "about time we had a smack at 'em anyway." But there is a very large number of people—perhaps a minority, but none the less a very large number—who do not acquiesce in the prospect of a third world war coming upon us through this local conflict, and who are intensely perturbed and alarmed, and almost in despair, at the very idea of it, particularly among political supporters of the Government, who are shocked that any such prospect can face them when a Socialist Government is in power.
A second point on which I should like reassurance is that the Government will make it clear that, at the earliest possible moment—as soon as it is at all reasonably practicable—they will be seeking every means of negotiation and mediation and arbitration in this dispute. If we profess to be fighting for the rule of law, that very profession must surely mean our readiness to replace the arbitrament of arms by the arbitrament of negotiation and discussion at the earliest possible moment.
People, either here or in America, who talk eagerly, as it would seem, of a fight to the finish with Communism are talking suicidal nonsense. I agree to a very considerable extent on this particular point with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes). If these people believe that it may be necessary to enlarge this hitherto local conflict, if they believe that we must attack Soviet Russia and have a fight to the finish in order to exterminate the idea as well as the regime of Communism—as if one could exterminate an idea in such a way!—what do they propose should be done after we have won the victory? Do they propose that we should occupy the whole of the Soviet Union for an unforeseeable number of years? If so, with what forces and at whose expense? The whole idea is ludicrous.
It is now platitudinous, but it is necessary to repeat and to keep on insisting, that the only way to halt the advance of Communism as an idea is by driving 572 ahead with social and economic reforms far more sensational than anything that has been attempted even in the last five years. Even if we are successful, and if the Americans are successful, in this localised police action, if we do not do that, if we do not carry out the necessary reforms in such backward areas of the world as we are responsible for—then I should not be in the least surprised if the whole of Asia were Communist anyway within five or 10 years—and we should deserve it to be.
Now, in this connection it is of course unfortunate that, owing to the necessities of history and of the situation in which we find ourselves—it is part of the legacy of the largely slum Empire which we inherited—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Some hon. Members opposite have been crying "Shame" the whole afternoon and evening, whenever they hear a bit of uncomfortable truth. It must be a sort of conditioned reflex in them; they are like Pavlov's dogs. I say that it is unfortunate that, owing to the exigencies of history, we find ourselves compulsorily in alliance with what most hon. Members on this side of the House must regard as the wrong sort of allies—whether they are rubber planters in Malaya, whether they are the people around the emperor Bao-Dai in Indo-China, whether they are rice speculators in South Korea, or people like President Syngman Rhee himself.
His is not in itself a regime with which we can be in the least proud of being allied. It is a repressive police State. The Commission that the Prime Minister referred to, which observed the election there, announced, rather cautiously, that it had been "valid." They preferred to use the word "valid" rather than the word "free" because there were, of course, a good many policemen in attendance at the polling stations—not quite so innocently as at our own polling stations. My right hon. Friend did not refer to the fact that there was quite a strong minority report from that Commission, dissenting even from that modest view. It is a regime in which political opponents are customarily imprisoned—just as the hon. Member opposite wanted the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil imprisoned, thus showing a fine example of the Parliamentary democracy of which we are all so proud—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who said that?"] One hon. Member opposite.
§ Lord John Hope (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
Will the hon. Member forgive me? I heard the intervention, and what the hon. Member said was, "You ought to be shut up." That does not mean imprisonment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, no. That is what the hon. Member for Maldon was referring to, and there is no reason to suppose that the hon. Member who said that meant prison at all.
§ Mr. Driberg
It is a very interesting exercise in the ambiguity of the English language, but 1 will leave hon. Members who were present to work out for themselves what the real intention of that interjection was.
Similarly, when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister drew the rather lighthearted parallel with an individual who is attacked when he is "peacefully proceeding on his way," and said that we do not in such cases bother about whether he has a good character or not, which is quite true, that is not really a very good parallel to apply to this particular régime, since, although it is undoubtedly the case that there has been an act of aggression—and that is what all the trouble is about—from the North, it is also equally true that there have been border incidents, aggressions, of a minor kind, not as big as this, from both sides, with provocation and threats from the South. [Laughter.] I do not honestly know why that should cause laughter on the part of some honourable yahoos opposite. It is too serious a matter to treat facetiously.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
On a point of order. I call your attention Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the fact that the hon. Gentleman referred to the "yahoos opposite," and I submit that that is not a Parliamentary expression.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I do not think it was a very happy term, and certainly if it had been applied to any individual I should have asked the hon. Member to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Driberg
It was not actually applied to any individual, but I am sorry, and I do of course withdraw it. I was quite wrong: I had forgotten that yahoos were almost human.
The evidence of what I have been saying is contained in the files of the 574 most responsible American newspapers over the last year or two—the "New York Times" and the "New York Herald Tribune"—which have recorded again and again the provocative speeches and utterances of Ministers in the Southern Korean administration. There is no getting away from that fact, any more than I think there is any getting away from the fact that there has been an act of aggression from the North. What is also interesting, however, is that these provocative speeches in South Korea also often complain of the restraint put upon them by the Americans. It seems to me true that the Americans, while they were there, before they withdrew, genuinely did their utmost to restrain the South Koreans from actual aggression. I think it is also true that economically and socially the régime was somewhat better while the Americans were there, and before they withdrew, than it is now.
These are some of the facts which make this such a complicated situation, and which make it so difficult for any reasonable person, who looks at it critically and more or less objectively, to take the simpliste black-and-white view of it, from either point of view. I think that the great danger of the present situation, just because it is a war situation and potentially a very big war situation, is that the influence and the initiative among the Americans naturally tends to pass from moderate men like Mr. Dean Acheson to people like, well, General MacArthur himself, of whom it is perhaps an understatement to say that he is a man with a strong personal sense of his own divine mission and a singularly inadequate Intelligence service.
Before I sit down I may perhaps be permitted to refer, in passing, to a personal reference to myself made by the Leader of the Opposition. 1 do so, not because it is of any very great importance to the House but because the right hon. Gentleman who is the Leader of the Opposition thought it sufficiently important to devote some minutes of his speech to it, and because in doing so he happened entirely to misrepresent me and what I said in a newspaper article. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, he did.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devon-port)
Can the hon. Member tell the House whether the Leader of the Opposition took the normal, courteous pre- 575 caution of informing him that he was going to make that statement?
§ Mr. Driberg
No, but I do not complain of that, because I think that on the occasion of a big Debate like this, probably most hon. Members would be expected to be here. I have naturally taken the normal precaution of notifying the right hon. Gentleman that I was going to reply to him, in the unlikely event of my being able to catch Mr. Speaker's eye, but I added, of course, that I realised that he would not for a moment wish to come in to hear the reply. [Interruption.] Hon. Members who are here are going to hear it all the same. We will get it over all the quicker if they will try to remember their manners.
What the right hon. Gentleman said was that I had written last Sunday a column in "Reynold's News" about the behaviour of his supporters, under the headline "Tories bay for war." He read out a very lurid sentence which I had written about hon. Members opposite baying their "delight at the smell of blood in the air," and he said it was very unfair of me to refer like this to them when they were only cheering the Prime Minister: because we sat so silent on this side, they were helping the Prime Minister by cheering in this way.
I took the trouble to go to the Library to see what I had actually written. For greater accuracy, I obtained a copy of it, with which I will not weary the House. In fact, I was not referring at all to an occasion on which hon. Members opposite were cheering the Prime Minister; I was referring to a specific occasion when my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) made what seemed to me to be a very sensible and obvious point in a supplementary question, when he asked the Prime Minister if he would do all that he could to localise the war, to which the Prime Minister replied, "Yes, certainly"; and in the middle of that supplementary question a number of hon. Members opposite started crying "Oh, oh" and even "Shame," which seemed to me to be a most astonishing attitude to take. That was what my reference was to, as the right hon. Gentleman must have realised very well if he had read the whole of what I had written.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Let the hon. Gentleman say now if he thinks that any right hon. or hon. Member on this side of the House wants war. Answer that question. Say "Yes" or "No."
§ Mr. Driberg
Hon. Members opposite really must learn something about Parliamentary manners. They cannot order Members to say "Yes" or "No" just to suit their particular behest. I am quite certain that there is a very small minority of people in this country—perhaps a slightly larger minority in America—who positively enjoy the glamour and excitement of a great war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] I am quite certain that the decent and responsible majority of people on both sides of this House and of all political points of view in the country do not want any such thing, but sometimes I think that hon. Members opposite allow themselves at Question time, and at other times, to be a little carried away and to allow their subconscious selves to get possession of their better selves.
§ Mr. Nicholson rose—
§ Mr. Driberg
I cannot give way again. I have already given way several times, and I have spoken longer than I meant to and I must soon sit down. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] When hon. Members interrupt again and again, it makes one go on longer. That is Parliamentary commonsense, which some of them may learn something about when they have been here a little longer.
The Leader of the Opposition also disclaimed any responsibility for creating the present general situation. He denied the imputation that had his party been in power we would be more likely to have been at war. That is anyone's hypothesis—anyone's guess. There is one point—one secondary and incidental point—one might make, and it is that had the right hon. Gentleman's party been in power and these events had come about as they have during the last week or two, I take it that he does not claim or expect that India would have acted or been in a position to act as she has done? I will say no more about that, except that when the right hon. Gentleman disclaims responsibility for creating the present situation, I would only reply that his Fulton speech was a decisive turning-point for the worse 577 in the whole tragic history of the postwar period.
I do not share the pacifist convictions of my hon. Friends who have moved and supported the Amendment, though, like everyone else, I respect their sincerity. I support collective security, as the Labour Party supported it in all the years that it was being betrayed by the party opposite. 1 believe that His Majesty's Government have been obliged to act as they have acted, but I beg them to say to our American allies, "Keep your heads, and keep it small."
§ Mr. Driberg
Keep the war small—perhaps the hon. and gallant Member has heard about it? I do not share either the wholehearted enthusiasm of my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, East, or the somewhat gloating enthusiasm we have had from one or two hon. Members, I dare not now say in which quarter of the House. I believe that this action was necessary. I remain somewhat sceptical about some of the high-sounding rhetoric and what it stands for. I do not think things are as simply black and white as the propaganda on either side in a Great Power conflict tries to teach us they are.
I simply say to my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council and to His Majesty's Government that, unless they exercise all their powers of restraint in this very difficult situation and do their utmost on the lines of the two assurances that I have asked for, then in a year or two's time some Martian visitor or some other stranger will probably wander about the wrecked remains of the American empire and say, with Tacitus,Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant—They make a desert and call it peace—or perhaps, with Thomas Hardy, that this world isA show God ought surely to shut up soon.
§ Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)
Before the hon. Member sits down, will he not reply to the charge brought against him by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, that in saying that hon. Members on this side of the House were "baying for war," he was saying what he knew to be untrue?
§ Mr. Driberg
I was not saying what I knew to be untrue, but if hon. Members opposite behave in that peculiar way they have only themselves to blame if they are misunderstood.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I consider that we are dealing tonight with matters of the utmost gravity, and I want to bring the House back to what I believe is the desperate seriousness of the situation which now confronts us. It would be quite easy for me to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), and bandy charges across the House as to who does or who does not want another war. There is nobody in this House who wants another war—nobody in his senses, and those who have seen the most of war are those who hate it most. I do get a little riled, and I beg hon. Members to forgive me, when I hear those who, for most excellent reasons of their own, have never taken part in any conflict, constantly calling others warmongers. That is not true. We who have seen war loathe it, and that applies to hon. Members on the Government side of the House as well as those of us on this side of the House who have experienced it.
Let us approach this question in regard to its seriousness, for if we do not, we shall not be fulfilling our duty to the House and to our constituents. The House has not yet seen the full implications of the position in which we are now. I think the Government's course is right, but I think the consequences are still completely unpredictable. I want the House to examine our problems in that light. This is not a matter which can be easily handled perhaps by one or two American divisions landing in Korea either to hold a position or to regain one. It is, I feel, more serious, and its repercussions are such that nobody in this House—at least not I—can visualise them tonight. I beg the House to follow me, in the few moments which I will take up, in some of the propositions I want to put before it.
I do not want to be controversial, but there are one or two matters which nobody seems to have mentioned at all. First of all there is this question of the division of Korea, mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr 579 Tydvil (Mr. S. 0. Davies). The fact that this division exists is due to the attitude of the Soviet Government. It is not anybody else's fault, because they declined at every stage—I have read all the documents as carefully as I can—to co-operate in any steps which the United Nations suggested for the unification of the country. The hon. Gentleman says he wants the unification of Korea. So do we all. That is what we put our names to in Cairo when we signed the document, but the fact that unification has not come about is not the fault of the United States of America still less the fault of the United Nations who sent their commission to bring about unification, and which commission was never allowed to cross the frontier into Soviet territory. We really must face these facts when we are trying to weigh the issue.
We are told now that the regime in South Korea is corrupt. I do not know; it very well may be. I know there are corrupt regimes in many parts of the world, but that is not our business, so far as this issue is concerned. All we had to do was to ensure that the regime was freely elected so far as we could, and the United Nations sent their commission to that country. There have been two elections and the result has been that the Government—I am sure it is not by any means a perfect Government—was reelected. If I may say so to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, there are very few Governments which are perfect except in the eyes of those who are members of them. That is probably what has happened there.
I would not be able to judge whether the present Government of South Korea was better than the Government of 20 years ago or not; on the average, I should say it probably was a little better, but however that may be the only issue that confronts us is—was this a freely elected Government? It was elected by the voters in that country, and so far as I know—the Lord President of the Council will correct me if I am wrong—the Government have received an endorsement by the United Nations as being, on the whole, reasonably fairly elected.
That again meets the point made by the hon. Gentleman about a geographical monstrosity. Nobody likes this partition. We have nothing to do with it, and the 580 partition has simply come about because the Soviet Government refused to allow either the United Nations or free elections to take place north of this particular line. I hear the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil pouring scorn on everybody—on my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, on Members of this House and on his own Government. I began to think that he had found a new perversion of Mr. Litvinoff's famous phrase, that for him "hatred is indivisible." There was not a good word for anybody anywhere at all that 1 could discover.
I must say just one word as to the legality of this action. I do so with some diffidence, because I never set up to have any legal knowledge at all. Perhaps that qualifies me to speak on this matter. I did have something to do with the discussions, so far as the United Nations were concerned. The point is: Can the absence of the Soviet Union be held to invalidate the legality of the Security Council's decision? I am sure that it cannot. The Prime Minister will remember bow much discussion we had at San Francisco about this question of the veto. He will also recall, as will others who were there, how anxious the British delegation were to weaken the power of the veto. At least one thing clear in everybody's mind was that the great Power which exercised the veto had to take the responsibility for its decision. That veto was given because we hoped that the great Powers would work together but if, for one reason or another, one of the great Powers did not agree, then that great Power had to take the responsibility of using the veto.
It was quite inconceivable, if that was the view then, when these articles were discussed, that a Government could stop the whole machinery working by merely staying away. It is obvious that that was not in the mind of anybody when these articles were drafted. We had interminable discussions over almost every one of these articles; I cannot charge my memory with all of it, but I feel absolutely certain that there was never a suggestion of any kind other than that the use of the veto could hold up the machinery of the Security Council. I am sure that absence would have been regarded, even if it had been suggested by anybody, as taking no part but not 581 wishing to withstand the machinery fulfilling its task. At any rate, all the documents are available to the Government. I am certain that that is the position.
Some hon. Members have criticised the Government about the technique which has been followed. I am not saying this to defend the Government because they can defend themselves perfectly well, but as an outside observer. I expect that hon. Members have observed the Soviet technique and have watched a certain parallel between what has been done in Korea and the attitude of the Soviet authorities in Germany. The approach is so similar. They did nothing at first, and said, "We will all work together as was agreed in Potsdam." But they withheld their co-operation. Eventually, the Allied Powers were compelled to do what they could themselves to set a democratically elected Western Government on foot. Once that Government was established the Soviet immediately set up their own puppet authority in their own sector and, through the mouth of that puppet, called for the unity of the nation as a whole. Having done that, they attacked the freely-elected Government and denounced it because it had accepted the responsibility of the free Government for only a part of the country.
That is the technique which has been followed in Germany, and that is precisely the technique which was followed in Korea. I could not understand the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil saying that the only Koreans were those north of the border, except that it was the only reasoning which would fit his argument. I expect that the poor people of the South, like the North Koreans, have only one desire, and that is to be left alone. What did the Americans do? They left them alone and withdrew their forces. The Koreans then found themselves subject to invasion from the North. That fact has to be faced by the House as a whole. It is no use even dropping leaflets on us and saying "Hands off Korea," if what is meant is "Hand Korea over to the Communists without any defence."
I want now to make one comment about the general military situation. The Prime Minister made no reference at all in what he said earlier this afternoon, to our general military plans in this new 582 situation, and 1 am certainly not asking him to divulge any secrets or anything of that kind. However, speeches have been made in the Debate urging the need for further help to he sent by this country to Korea, and, of course, we should like to share as much as we can, but we are fairly heavily engaged already.
I would say to the House that in a military sense Korea is not a new event at all but merely an extension of existing events in Indo-China and Malaya, and it would certainly be the height of folly if, in a very proper desire to show solidarity in Korea, we were to weaken ourselves dangerously on what is, indeed, a common front in Hong Kong and Malaya or if the French were to do so in Indo-China.
I should say rather that the lesson of all this is that the total of the responsibility which we now share in South-East Asia ought to be measured up between us on the basis of some common plan which takes account of both our obligations and our resources. The Americans seem to have taken account of both because at the same time as they announced their action in Korea, they also announced that they were going to give help to the French in Indo-China. What I should like to feel—I believe that the House would, too—is that the Powers who are now jointly engaged for good or ill in this endeavour—I think, inevitably engaged—were working out a plan to give effect to what is now the common purpose of us all.
Some hon. Gentlemen earlier in this Debate suggested that the Charter should be amended to make it into the means of creating a world government. Personally, have no objection whatever to the Charter being amended. I never thought that it was a perfect document. I only thought that it was the best document upon which we could get agreement at that time, which, indeed, is what it was. If it can be improved, let it be improved—I am all in favour of it—but let the House have no doubt that the most important contribution we can make to strengthening the authority of the Charter is to have a success in Korea. If we do not have a success in Korea it does not matter how good the Charter is which we draft; it will not be worth the paper on which it is written. But if we have a success, then will come the moment 583 when, on the basis of the establishment of the authority of international law, we can amend it and strengthen it and increase its authority if we so desire—and I would say all success to that endeavour.
Almost everyone who has spoken in this Debate has expressed a desire to go through with this business. I share that view, as I said at the outset, but we must not for a moment allow ourselves to minimise what will be, I fear, both a tough and a long business. Meanwhile, I should like to express the sense of confidence which 1 have, and which I believe the Government have, in the fact that General MacArthur is in command of these operations in Korea itself.
Before I sum up the arguments—I do not want to detain the Lord President of the Council—I should just like to read an extract. which has not been given to the House, from the cablegram which the United Nations representative sent at the time of this act of aggression. The Prime Minister did not read it. There are only two sentences and they seem to me to be not immaterial to the topic which we are discussing. This is a telegram from the United Nations Commission in Korea at the time of this event. It refers, first of all, to the invasion at four o'clock in the morning, and then it goes on to speak of the attitude of the President of South Korea—of whom the hon. Member for Maldon was so scornful—and says that he expressed complete willingness for the Commission to broadcast urging a ceasefire and for a communication to be sent to the United Nations to inform it of the gravity of the situation. Then it goes on:At 17.15 hours four Yak-type aircraft strafed civilian and military airfields outside Seoul destroying planes, firing gas tanks and attacking jeeps. Yongdungpo railroad station on outskirts also strafed.Here is the passage the House should bear in mind:Commission wishes to draw attention of Secretary-General to serious situation developing which is assuming character of full scale war and may endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. It suggests that he considers possibility of bringing matter to notice of Security Council. Commission will communicate more fully considered recommendation later.It may not always be the case in the history of the world, that when there is 584 an act of aggression we shall have a United Nations Commission on the spot. In this instance we have such a Commission there and here is their telegram, the full text of which might well be studied by every hon. Member. Either we accept the document—if we do, there cannot be any question at all as to who is the aggressor—or we do not, and in that case had we not better resign from membership of a club in whose offices we obviously do not believe? That seems to me the position we have to face tonight. I am sure myself—I have been sure for many years—that the only alternative to war or international anarchy is the establishment of the rule of law. Efforts have been made to do that in the past. They have failed. I have seen them fail. I have had my share of responsibility in those events. I do not think there is much object to be served in examining those failures, except to try to learn from the mistakes of the past.
The immense advantage which the United Nations seems to me to command today is the sense of world responsibility and world leadership which the United States is now displaying. As I see it all the nations engaged in it are trying—and I believe sincerely trying—to establish the rule of law, not in a vindictive or hostile spirit, but because we are convinced that we must uphold that rule if peace is to be preserved. Is it too much to hope that the rulers of Soviet Russia themselves will come in time to understand these truths which we all feel deeply in the free countries of the world? There is not any hostility in this House tonight to the Russian people, not the slightest. On the contrary, most of us can still remember, and can still recall with gratitude the unparalelled losses they suffered in the years of war, heavier in numbers than any other nation in Europe.
I recall a conversation that came to my mind today, as I heard the speech of the Prime Minister, which I had with Marshal Stalin at a very grim period of the war, in December, 1941. The Prime Minister will remember that I went to Russia by the North Cape at the same time as the then Prime Minister went to America. One night, after our discussions about the immediate situation were over and we were conversing more discursively, we spoke of Hitler. After all, the German armies were then about 40 miles from 585 Moscow. We discussed his character and I remember that Marshal Stalin made this comment, "We should not underrate Hitler. He is a very able man, but he made one mistake. He did not know when to stop." The Lord President may remember that from my record of the conversation at the time?
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison) indicated assent.
§ Mr. Eden
I suppose I smiled. At any rate Marshal Stalin turned to me and observed, "You are smiling, and I know why you are smiling. You think that if we are victorious, I shall not know when to stop. You are wrong. I shall know." Tonight, I am wondering whether the time has not come when he might recall these words and when perhaps he might consider that the time has come when it would be well to stop.
After all, what is it that we want? We are not trying to impose our rule or authority on any of these territories, nor are the United States either. We only require that these countries shall be allowed to express their own will in their own way by free election. We had the same story in another setting in the later phases of the Greek business. We do not ask that the country shall be a republic of a kingdom, or whatever it may be; we ask that the people shall be allowed to determine it in their own way and that the Russians shall join us in making that possible.
I agree with the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Hopkinson) that when these hostilities are over there should be a commission and that the Russians should be invited to take part. If they do not do so, it is their own responsibility. What we must insist is that unless we can establish the rule of law and a respect for that rule, it is impossible to find any basis for lasting peace which either our people or the Russian people can ever hope to enjoy.
The rule of law, it seems to me, must first be established. If, by what has happened in Korea, it is possible to do that, then we may go forward—and that is what my right hon. Friend meant—to a full discussion and a full settlement of all the differences which still exist between us. It is desirable that we should do so, but we must first establish the rule of law. If we do not do that, the future will be so 586 hazarded that we have no chance of building anything which is worth the paper on which it is written.
Once we achieve that aim—and I admit that it may be a hard and long struggle—then we have got the foundation. In that task the United States and our Government are, I believe, leading us all forward where we would go, where humanity would go. If our Russian allies of the late war cannot understand it now, let us hope they will understand it soon, because, if so, they can bring the whole world what it ardently yearns for—a lasting peace, secure on the foundation of true law.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I think that from the reception which his speech has had the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) can have the satisfaction of knowing that it has met—I think there was clear evidence of it—with the general approval of the House on both sides. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Certainly, speaking as a Member of His Majesty's Government, I do not think there is anything which the right hon. Gentleman has said by way of exposition of policy and the situation with which we are faced which we should be disposed to disagree with, and on behalf of the House—I think, on behalf of the country—I might thank him for an able speech which admirably reflected the temper, the spirit and the common sense of the British people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
As the right hon. Gentleman has said, we are debating today at a grave moment in the history of the world, and it is desirable that all Members of the House, in every quarter, should recognise the seriousness of these events in history and the great significance which they may have for the future peace of the world and the future of the human race. Therefore, when we deliberate today as we have been doing, and when we come to the conclusion of the discussion, as we shall, any pronouncement that is made or any vote that is given will be a matter of the utmost significance and fundamental importance.
We are in a sense, as so many hon. Members have said, re-living the events that culminated in the Second Great War of 1939 and it is for every man and 587 woman in Parliament and every man and woman in the country to think over these passing events in their own importance and in their own significance and, in judging them, to think over the events of the past and consider whether they give us help and guidance. I think they do, and I think it is profoundly important that we should take them fully into account.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me for confirmation of whether it was our view that the parliamentary authority of South Korea was fairly elected. I can only reply that, according to the best of our information, the election, which was supervised by representatives of the United Nations, was a fair election and that the result did reflect the wishes of the people, as far as we know. I add that phrase because we even have arguments in our own country as to whether an election and the composition of Parliament accurately reflect the will of the people; but, according to our information and to the reports of the body that represented the United Nations, the election in South Korea was fairly conducted.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is nothing that we can say is wrong in the procedure of the United Nations in relation to the present situation. There have been some arguments from some quarters in our own country and some from abroad to the effect that the procedure of the United Nations was wrong, that the decision reached was really illegal and ultra vires. I can only say that our advice—which the Attorney-General has given publicly—is that the procedure is within the Statutes and the Charter of the United Nations, end we believe that to be so.
But, in any case, in a situation such as this, it ill becomes those who have set aside international law on a number of occasions to start becoming pernickety and over-lawyer-like about what the law actually is. We believe the law is right and on the point, for example, that the absence of the representative of the Soviet Union from the Security Council invalidates the proceedings, I think that was adequately dealt with in the excellent speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I think he met the argument fairly in relation to the Charter of the United Nations itself and in any case, as someone has said, it would really be pre- 588 posterous if the whole machinery of the United Nations and of the Security Council should be brought to an end, not by somebody doing something, but merely by somebody refraining from attending a particular meeting. That argument seems to us to be quite wrong.
The right hon. Gentleman asked whether discussions were proceeding as to a common planned effort in the military field. I can assure him that that is under consideration by the proper authorities of the United Nations and is not being overlooked; indeed, it is very necessary that that should be so. He is quite right, I think, in saying that we must take into account the possibility that this might be a tough and a long business. We all hope it will not be; naturally, we would wish it to be short and effective, but we must recognise the possibility that that may not be so.
I am sure the House was touched by the report that the right hon. Gentleman gave of his discussion with Generalissimo Stalin about Hitler and that it was time that gentleman stopped. Indeed, if Hitler had stopped and become—I will not say a good citizen, because that is a bit difficult to imagine, but at any rate a person who would lead his country peacefully in relation to other nations and with some greater degree of tolerance of other people's points of view, he might have lasted a long time.
I have often thought of the lesson of Hitler. He achieved enormous power. He rose to a great, powerful and dictatorial position, and it seemed as though he was there a very long time; but after all, he was only in power for 10 years, and then he came to an end which, so far as we know, was an unpleasant one. I think it is a warning to all other gentlemen in a similar position, and, as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said, it is a good thing to know when to stop—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I freely admit it is a good thing for politicians to know. But if I may go back in order to equate the situation, in the direction of social reform, social advancement and economic progress, it is also a good thing to know when to start.
We have had an interesting Debate and a number of back bench Members on both sides have been able to take part in it, owing to the brevity of most of the 589 speakers. My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) made a good speech in approval of the action of the Government; it was useful because he based it on the Christian angle and approach. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) said this might be the turning point for good in the cold war. That is possible, and indeed we all hope it is the case. One of the reasons for what has been done is the hope that it will bring to an end the long series of happenings which have been a danger to the peace and welfare of the world. I hope with the hon. Member that this will 1-,e a warning and a shot in the arm for collective security.
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Thurtle) referred to the fact that in some quarters there were hesitations, but he thought that there was no avoidance of the challenge which had taken place, and I think that is a right view. A useful speech was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams), whom we were very glad to hear. The hon. Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) got rather into the field of the controversial, but he was not the only one. He referred to Abyssinia and other incidents of the 1930's, and alleged that the Government which he then supported and the Prime Minister with whom he was closely associated did their best to give a lead, but were opposed in those matters by the Labour Party. I am afraid that our recollection of what happened at that time does not altogether agree with what he has said. The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister) made a reply to the noble Lord and made a useful contribution to the Debate, as did the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Hopkinson). The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) spoke with his customary vigour, as did the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), and a contribution was made by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg).
We must obviously resist the Amendment which has been moved. It does not seem to us to be right—indeed it leaves us completely in the air. It means that we would have to withdraw all British forces from the area. It means that we would have to refuse completely to support the United Nations of which we are a member. It means that we would have to acquiesce in the combination of North 590 and South Korea, to which we are not necessarily opposed for all time; but if it really means that we should hand over South Korea to the political system and situation of the North, that of course is doing exactly what the aggressor wants. I do not think that there would be much use in that. So one could go on through the terms of the Amendment. What my hon. Friend should have moved, if he wanted to move an Amendment at all was:That in the opinion of this House it is time that His Majesty's Government withdrew from the United Nations altogether.That is the logical Amendment. That would be facing the issue. But the Amendment he moved is merely an evasion of the issue—not very much of an evasion either—because it means that we should make our association and cooperation with the United Nations utterly ineffective and useless. What the Amendment really means is that we ought to withdraw from the United Nations and leave each country which is an aggressor to do exactly as it likes. We would thus go back even before the League of Nations, to the system of international relationships that then obtained.
I do not know what the House thinks about it—I think I do, really, but I cannot follow this reasoning. I am absolutely sure that any candidate for Parliament who put himself forward on the basis of the complete withdrawal of this country from the United Nations would have a difficult time at the polls, unless he had an exceptionally safe seat. [HON. MEMBERS: "Lewisham."] That one is going to be even safer.
I confess that I thought that, now and again, the Leader of the Opposition was in danger of getting involved. I like his partisan speeches very much indeed, but I thought that in this Debate he was in danger of getting involved perhaps in somewhat needlessly partisan considerations. I thought this was going to be one of those very great speeches of which he has made many in this House, but I thought that at times there was rather an endeavour to provoke supporters of the Government into doing something about which the Government would be sorry. I freely admit that that is one of the functions of the Leader of the Opposition in normal times, but I thought that in the circumstances of this Debate 591 the right hon. Gentleman was a little in danger of leading us astray and getting us into an unfortunate atmosphere. But everybody has his own way of looking at things and doing them.
The right hon. Gentleman urged that there should be a Secret Session of Parliament to discuss the Defence situation. As he said, the Government were requested by him to give consideration to that matter some time ago. In fact, I think that on two occasions the right hon. Gentleman has raised the matter. We understand his point of view. We appreciate the case he puts. But I think that Parliament and the public generally are not in love with secret sessions of Parliament if the secret sessions can be avoided. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that during the war, when we served together in his Government, even then in the circumstances of war there was some unhappiness in Parliament about the holding of secret sessions, though they did come off. They happened when the right hon. Gentleman and the Government wished them to happen, but there was some criticism about them. Some hon. Members were not happy about them.
Our belief is that never in peace time as far as we know—and in any case, it would be a very long time ago—has there been a secret session of Parliament to discuss Defence matters. That is what I am assured by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. It does not follow that we should not make a new precedent, especially as a Labour Government. We have made some already. But it is, on the other hand, a serious departure from peace-time practice, and I am not at all sure what view the country would take about it—whether they would like it or dislike it. They might be inclined to say that they have a right to know what are the facts, and they might, on the other hand, be inclined to draw the inference that the state of our defences is much more serious and weak than in fact is the case. If that were true, it would not be a good impression to give people in other countries.
There is, of course, the case that the right hon. Gentleman has put to us, that it would enable hon. Members on all 592 sides, and the Government if they were so disposed, to speak with greater frankness and clarity upon these matters than their sense of public obligation would perhaps permit them to do in public session. That is his case and we understand it perfectly. But on balance we have taken the view that we do not think it would be wise in all the circumstances of the case, and therefore I gather that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister still takes the view that it would not be a wise or a sensible thing to do, at any rate in the circumstances with which we are faced at this time.
The Government, in considering the aggression which has taken place in Korea, naturally gave the matter very deep, sincere and earnest consideration. If there is any thought in any quarter of the House that this Government—and, indeed, I should say any Government—would come lightly to such a conclusion, that it would not weigh up all the elements relevant to consideration and all the circumstances of the case before coming to a conclusion—if anybody should think that the conclusion was come to hurriedly and lightheartedly, let me assure the House with absolute sincerity that that is not the case. It was properly, carefully and deliberately considered.
One of the questions that we had to consider was whether it was established that there had been aggression upon South Korea on the part of North Korea. There were, first of all, reports available to us. Some of them had appeared in the Press, but we had other reports as well. In our judgment, there was no question on the facts of the matter that the aggressor was North Korea and that she had made a deliberate and calculated aggression against the Republic of Korea, which is in the South. Indeed, we have a report which has been given out by the United Nations Commission on Korea, and there is a report in particular dated 24th June based upon a tour made by field observers along the 38th parallel in the fortnight preceding the invasion. These investigators covered the fortnight preceding the invasion.
The impression of these observers is stated in their own words as follows:The general situation along the parallel: The principal impression left with the observers 593 from their field tour is that the South Korean Army is organised entirely for defence and is in no condition to carry out an attack on a large scale against the forces of the North.That was the report which they had made objectively, and we believe that to be true. Indeed, the whole series of military events following from that Sunday—by the way, it is curious that they should have been attacked on Sunday; the weekend habit seems to have persisted into the new chapter from the old chapter before the last great war—the whole series of military events since that time do indicate, as I think any hon. Member with a fair mind will admit, that South Korea was not organised for offence, and was not adequately organised for defence, whereas the Northern Army was obviously keyed up for aggressive action. On the facts of what has happened, together with the reports which we have, one of which I have read to the House, we did not think that there was the slightest question that the Northern Government were the aggressors.
It is said, not in so many words, but by implication, that, even if it were the case that the Northern Koreans were the aggressors—this is not explicitly said, but I think it is the implication—even if there was that element of aggression on the part of Northern Korea, South Korea on the whole deserved it, because it is a reactionary and corrupt country. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, in these matters of resistance to aggression and the re-imposition of peace we cannot always determine it by the relative domestic virtues of the parties concerned. If we are to maintain the peace of the world by the action of the United Nations, we have to settle the matter upon its own merits, and we cannot entirely settle such a question upon the basis whether we like the habits, the looks or the customs of people of various nations.
The allegation is made by certain opponents of the Government's policy that the South Korean regime is corrupt and unpopular, as if that were a justification for armed aggression. There are plenty of unpopular régimes in the world at present. [Laughter.] I do not know why there should.be this merriment. I do not think that would, in itself, justify people declaring war on all those countries in which they think the regime is unpopular. If hon. Gentlemen opposite are thinking of their own country, I am sorry they are 594 taking that line, because it almost indicates that they have flirting, subconscious ideas of civil war which I would not associate with them for a moment. I do not think this country under this Government has been in that category.
Even if it were true as regards particular countries, and there are some where the regime is objectionable judged by British standards, it does not justify anybody marching across their frontiers. In any case, while on the subject of popularity, it may be doubted whether the North Korean Government's accusations against South Korea are on a very firm foundation, because I am advised that, since Korea was divided along the 38th parallel, some 750,000 Korean refugees have come across the 38th parallel from the North into the South. If it be the case, as I am advised it is, that 750,000 refugees have come from the North to the South, it does not indicate that opinion is widespread in the northern territory that things are so bad in the South.
Therefore, in the first place, the Government came to the conclusion that there was here an aggression, and, in the second place, we came to the conclusion that the aggression was not justified. Finally, there is this fundamental point to be kept in mind. If we look back on the history of events which led up to the Great War, then, as has been said by various hon. Members, surely it is the case that if aggression starts and is not checked it tends to repeat incident after incident; and that was, indeed, the case; and it was largely because of the weakness of the League of Nations, and the unwillingness of many countries to take their stand and their part in these matters, that the consequence was that, in due course, we were bang up against it, and that our own security was beginning to be imperilled, and, with the Polish incident, we became involved in war.
It is not our desire to interfere with the internal régimes of other countries. That is their business. But it was the case with the Nazis, it is the case with others, that if the internal régime, not content with going on with its own peaceful business in its own way, wishes to attack other countries, or to promote mischief, or to overturn democratic regimes, or to promote civil war, or to impose tyrannical regimes upon them, it 595 becomes the business of other countries in the world; and it was because of that that the development of Nazism became an international circumstance, an international fact, of the greatest importance. It is because of that that Communism in the world now has become an international fact that no country can avoid.
The House has to decide tonight what to do with the Motion and the Amendment. I appeal to the House to concur unanimously with the Motion the Government have moved. I think the Leader of the Opposition was disposed to the view that a Division would be a good thing, and I can see the case for that point of view. On the other hand, I should have thought it was for the general good that the Government Motion went through without a Division, even though we know, as a foregone conclusion, that the Government's Motion will be carried, and carried with very few dissentients. But I want to put it to' the House that we are now at a crucial point in the history of the world, and that the future peace of Europe and the world is very much involved in our decision, and I would urge upon the House, and hon. Members in all quarters, that, in the circumstances of the case the wisest thing would be for the House to accept without a Division the Motion which was moved today by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Driberg
Before my right hon. Friend sits down, could I ask him to say a word on the two points on which I sought assurances from him—the point about limitation of the war, with particular reference to Formosa, and that negotiations for a peaceful settlement will be begun at the earliest possible moment?
§ Mr. Morrison
I would sooner not go into those particular matters of detail, and if I may suggest it to my hon. Friend, I would say that, when we are in a bother of this kind and a difficult situation of this kind, in which we may or may not come into more difficult circumstances—I hope not, very much: I believe this is the best way to prevent ourselves getting into more difficult circumstances—then if he expects the Government to recite a long list of things we will not do, I cannot concede that that is in the public interest.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.596
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
That this House fully supports the action taken by His Majesty's Government in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter, in helping to resist the unprovoked aggression against the Republic of Korea.