§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)
On returning to the Foreign Office after six years of absence it is natural that one should attempt to sort out one's impressions and convey them to the House. I am afraid that these, in present circumstances, cannot be cheerful or heartening.
It is not so much the multiplicity of the problems that lie on Foreign Office desks these days, or their tangled character. This I expected. It is not even the alarming growth of international committees and commissions of every sort and kind, covering foreign affairs and defence, by which the nations seek to build up some form of regional security because they have not any real confidence in world security. That, too, I had expected to find. But it is the depth and the width of the forbidding chasm that separates East and West, mentally as well as physically, that is so disheartening for the present and so alarming for the future. What are we to do about it? Can we do anything about it? And what plan are we to work to? Here, without doubt, in my opening sentences—is the cardinal issue in international affairs at the present time.
As I listened to M. Vyshinsky in Paris the other day it was not the violence of his language that saddened me. Parliamentarians like us are not unduly disturbed by that sort of thing. It was not that. But it was his apparent imperviousness to any other shade of meaning than his own. I hope I was mistaken, but there did not appear to be a chink open in his mind; he was not prepared to listen to and accept an appeal from others.
Then there is another factor linked with this. There is now virtually no diplomatic contact between East and West—either side of the Iron Curtain, I mean by that phrase. That, I think, is something new, and entirely to be deplored. By this I mean that though, of course, we have missions in Communist countries behind the Iron Curtain, in all the capitals, and though they have missions here, very little 35 business passes. Still less is there any real meeting of minds. This is something which is certainly unprecedented in my diplomatic experience. I imagine that it has rarely existed in history before—certainly not between States who have at one time or another in their history had real diplomatic contact.
Then there is the difficulty of understanding the purpose that lies behind some of the Soviet charges, as I listened to them the other day in Paris. Can the Kremlin, for instance, really regard the Atlantic Pact as aggressive in intent? Can one believe that countries like Denmark or Norway or Belgium or Canada could conceivably want to join an alliance designed for aggression?
However ill the Soviet Government may think of the greater Powers of the free world, if they pause for a moment to examine the matter they simply cannot believe that these Powers could make a joint aggressive move against them. And again, it seems so difficult for the Soviets to understand how they are viewed by some of the countries of the West, even by those who share their own political faith. Only last week—again during the Assembly in Paris—we heard the Yugoslav Foreign Minister tell us that his country, although Communist, is regarded by Russia as "war booty" and is threatened by a steadily increasing build-up of Russian satellite military strength around its borders.
The Yugoslav Foreign Minister has now tabled a motion—a motion that recommends that the Soviet Union and the satellite States should re-establish normal relations with Yugoslavia in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, and that mixed border commissions should be set up to investigate frontier incidents. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is a motion we would all endorse; a resolution one would imagine any peace-loving people would be prepared to endorse, but the view behind the Iron Curtain has yet to be declared. If they would but say, "Yes" to this, by one move they could at once reduce the tension in Europe and in the world, which still continues to mount.
These instances which I have given to the House—and hon. Members themselves could multiply them many times from their own experience—are only a glimpse of the pattern of stern reality which now 36 confronts all nations, and drives them to spend an every-increasing proportion of their national income upon armaments. Then, added to all this, is the Middle East situation, where frenzied nationalism or religious fanaticism, or a blend of both, seeks to create mass hatreds between those who ought to be friends, and thus makes calm discussion of any charge almost impossible. The fact that this ferment of nationalism is often a means to divert attention from difficulties and abuses on the home front—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—if that is true—does not make it any easier to deal with internationally.
Then, at the heart of Europe, there is still the problem of Germany, linked, of course, with the relations of East with West. What are our chances of bringing a unified, democratic Germany into a world order so torn and rent with bitter feuds and hatreds?
I take no pleasure in reciting these things to the House, but I think that it is my duty to give hon. Members these, my first, impressions before I ask them to enter with me into the study of a few of the individual issues which confront us. It was these thoughts and conclusions that made me feel at the Assembly last week that our first task must be to try to find some means to halt and, if we could, to reduce, the mounting international tension.
In present conditions I do not believe that this can be done by a sudden and spectacular move. I wish that it could. On the other hand, I do believe that if we could take a number of definite, but limited, problems and agree among the "Big Four"—or whatever number of Governments, I do not mind—to discuss them, and seek to solve even one of them now, we might from this small beginning move into a wider and more hopeful field.
There is, of course, no originality in this idea. It may be that it is rather an old-fashioned idea, but, in my judgment, it is the only one which, at the present time, holds out any real hope of success. At any rate, that is the way I have gone to work. Whether we can make any significant progress or not, I cannot tell, but I do intend that the world should understand what we have in mind, and it is this: if the meeting of the United Nations in Paris—or any other forum— 37 will provide an occasion to make progress—I do not care where, or when, or how—I am ready at any time to meet my colleagues, not for wide, general discussion, or sterile debate, or mutual abuse about our respective ideologies, but to discuss and seek to solve some specific topics which today divide us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
I am ready to discuss them formally or informally, as may seem the most useful. I am not going to attempt to give the House today a comprehensive world survey—how could I do it? I have been in the Foreign Office a few weeks and I am hardly abreast of the daily telegrams; there is so much to catch up with that has happened before. It would take far too long even if I were to attempt it, and it would be too much like a dreary catalogue of a troubled world.
I am not going to do that, but I am going to concentrate for a few moments on a limited number of major issues, and, if the House is willing, I would, at the conclusion of tomorrow's debate, try to reply to the points which will inevitably have been raised on a wide range of issues which I shall not have been able to cover at all. If that method is agreeable to the House, I choose as my first topic disarmament.
We and the United States and France put forward certain proposals in Paris ten days ago. Mr. Vyshinsky has now made two speeches about them. I must confess that I prefer his second speech to his first. But then, of course, I heard the first! However, let me say, in all seriousness, that Mr. Vyshinsky's latest proposals to the Assembly, which are in more serious vein, are being carefully studied by us all.
I have already been in communication with the French and American Government about them. At the same time, I must make clear to the House some of the motives which lie behind our own proposals. For five years, I am told, the United Nations have been trying to evolve a practical scheme of disarmament. Much work has obviously been put into that. In the proposals which we have now put forward, we think that we have made realistic and constructive suggestions to break the deadlock which has arisen in these discussions. No one will deny that in the world as it is today, any realistic programme for disarmament 38 must inspire some confidence that its terms are being carried out by all parties as we go along. That is why we have proposed that this confidence shall be built up, step by step, by a progressive system of disclosure and verification.
We have not suggested this to delay disarmament, but to try to convince nations that disarmament will not imperil their security because, unless they believe that, they will not disarm, whatever may be put on paper. All this endeavour, of course, has to go forward hand in hand with the plan for resolving our political issues, one by one, to which I referred a few minutes ago. We also make constructive suggestions for definite criteria. I did not work that out; I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman did. I think that they are good suggestions. I think that they could be adopted to determine a legitimate level of armed forces and armaments for each country.
There is another purpose in our proposals. We have tried to meet Soviet criticism on one particular point. We have agreed—and this is important—that the control of conventional and atomic armaments should be treated as one. It has been a constant Soviet complaint through the years that these two things have always been treated separately, but where we cannot agree with Mr. Vishinsky's new proposals, which are, I understand, to be debated in Paris this afternoon, is when he suggests that we should prohibit atomic weapons and reduce all other armaments, all of them by equal percentages, without any agreement being reached on the general principles which will cover the disarmament programme as a whole.
Let the House see what that would mean. If we were to accept the Soviet proposals as they stand, we would merely leave overwhelming superiority with the Power that today possesses the greatest strength in conventional weapons, and everybody knows what that Power is. The Assembly is to examine these things. It is all to the good that it should do so. Meanwhile, we three Powers have submitted the motion to the Assembly which gives detailed form to our original proposals. I am arranging that a copy of that motion shall be available to the House if hon. Members wish to have it.
I turn now to the Atlantic Treaty Organisation. That is a big subject about 39 which I must say something. We are signatories of this North Atlantic Treaty. We have to make our contribution to building up our joint military strength. This threatens no one. In my view, there never would have been a North Atlantic Treaty at all, however hard Western statesmen would have worked for it, but for the intransigence of Soviet policy. They are the authors of the North Atlantic Treaty, and if they do not like it they should occasionally recall that fact.
There are other countries who share our desire for peace and security within that orbit, and who ask to join the Atlantic partnership although they are far separated geographically from it. At the meeting in Ottawa last September the Atlantic Council decided to ask Greece and Turkey to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty. Both these countries are old and tried friends of ours. We welcome them as new members of our free association. On 17th October a Proctocol was signed in London, which extended a formal invitation to Greece and Turkey to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty. This Protocol has been laid before the House, and it is available to Members. It requires to be accepted formally by Governments. We propose to notify the acceptance of His Majesty's Government in the immediate future. In doing so, I am confident we shall be interpreting the will of the House.
This North Atlantic Treaty does not only provide for mutual defence arrangements; it also encourages a joint economic effort to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. Those are admirable purposes, and at the last meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Ottawa, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was present, special attention was given to what I may call the nonmilitary aspects of the Treaty. I should like to give the House my views about those matters. I hope that with the gradual development of these Atlantic contacts at all levels, as they are now being made, we shall increase the sense of being an Atlantic community, organised not only on a military basis for the purposes of defence, but also for a joint endeavour for our common betterment in every sphere. That is the way I should like to see this movement develop.
40 In the meantime, within this broad Atlantic framework we hope the Continental European community can be developed. The Schuman Plan is an important step towards strengthening the economy of Western Europe. No one argues about that now; we are all agreed about it. Furthermore, at Paris a conference is now nearing its conclusion to establish a European defence community as part of the North Atlantic defence system. Moreover, the House well knows that these projects offer a means whereby Germany can be associated on a footing of equality in the common task of reinforcing the security and prosperity of the West. His Majesty's Government promise their whole-hearted support to the development of this European community within a constantly growing Atlantic community.
In this connection, there is no doubt that the declaration of the three Foreign Ministers at Washington on 14th September marked a considerable step forward. We endorse that declaration. I want to be perfectly frank about that. I have learned from the French with how much satisfaction they greeted that declaration. We entirely endorse, of course, what was said there. It has been made plain to me in Paris, in the course of my very cordial conversations with Mr. Schuman in the last few days, that the position of His Majesty's Government in these matters is well understood and approved by our French allies. That is always something gained.
I look forward, also, to having the occasion next week in Rome to exchange views on these and other matters with the Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Signor de Gasperi. We in this House and in this country deeply regret that Italy is still excluded from the United Nations where, by every standard, she deserves a seat. We shall continue to do our utmost to secure her admission.
§ Mr. Eden
Yes, and others. I approach these problems with a new mind and I agree with the hon. Member. I have certain views about this problem, which I am not going to put forward this afternoon. I will let them develop a little bit. It is desirable to have others, but I do not like bargains of that kind very much. I should like to see the United 41 Nations much more representative, than it is at the present time. How that can be done is a matter on which I am not going to embark at the present time.
§ Mr. Eden
I think both hon. Members will realise that nothing could be more unwise at this moment than that I should raise the subject of the status of China in relation to the United Nations.
We welcome Italy's help in the North Atlantic Council, and, for ourselves, we reaffirm that we wish to establish the closest possible association with the European continental community in all stages in its development.
That brings me to a larger question which is more complicated still, and that is Germany. The German Federal Government was set up more than two years ago. The aim of His Majesty's Government is to associate Germany, if we can, more and more fully with the European community, and at the same time, to transfer our special responsibilities in Germany gradually to the Germans themselves. The two processes must go hand in hand. The latest stage in this double process is the agreement that, with Germany's entry into the European defence community, the existing Occupation Statute should be replaced by a new relationship based on equal partnership.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. When the right hon. Gentleman says Germany he is using an ambiguous term, and I was wondering if he would tell us exactly what he means. Is it Western Germany or all Germany, and is he abandoning any prospects of a unified Germany?
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Gentleman will know certainly from my argument that I do not visualise abandoning any prospect of unifying Germany. I am coming to that, but it is quite true that I should have said in this respect, the Federal Government in Bonn. I thought it was fairly 42 clear that what I was dealing with was the Government in Germany with whom we are at present in diplomatic relations.
The existing Statute—we cannot talk of the East Germany Statute, because we are not responsible for that—would be replaced by new relationship based on equal partnership. Discussions about this are now going on in Bonn. They are complicated and they will take time, because they have to cover all aspects of the right relationship with Germany. They are not finished. I had hoped that they would be finished before we met the Chancellor in Paris on Thursday. I am afraid they will not be, but so far they are going quite well, better, I must confess, when I came to read the papers, than I had expected to find. I hope that when they are concluded we shall have approached a normal peacetime relationship with the Government of Bonn. More important still, can we not hope by these steps permanently to resolve—or shall we say begin to resolve?—the traditional Franco-German conflict? No event could more certainly strengthen the solidarity of the whole Western world than that.
Meanwhile—and here I come to the point mentioned by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—we have submitted to the Assembly of the United Nations a proposal in connection with the future unity of Germany, the whole of Germany. It owes its origin to a suggestion of Dr. Adenauer. The proposal is that an impartial, international commission should be appointed to carry out a simultaneous investigation in the Eastern Zone, in Berlin, and in the Federal Republic, to establish whether the conditions make possible the holding of genuinely free elections by secret ballot.
We should welcome this if it could be agreed, because it is a practical first step towards a settlement of this crucial problem of the division of Germany. I hope that the Soviet Government, although they voted against the admission of this item on the Assembly's agenda, may, nevertheless, still come to see the matter in this light, and that we shall be able to proceed.
Mr. Schuman, Mr. Acheson and I have taken one further step. We have invited the German Federal Chancellor to meet us in Paris on Thursday in order that we 43 may review all these problems with him. In particular, we shall welcome the opportunity of examining the work that has so far been done in the negotiations which our High Commissioners have been conducting in Bonn. I am also glad, and so I know is the whole House, that in the first week in December we shall be able to welcome Dr. Adenauer to London. He has played, and is playing, an important part in the creation of the new Germany and of the new community of Europe.
I travel far to my next stop, which was much discussed at Question Time, and which is Korea. For most of the world, the attack on South Korea in June last year by a Soviet satellite was an attempt by the Communist bloc to strike at the free world in what was considered to be a weak and vulnerable point. Things have not turned out that way. The challenge has been taken up. The nations of the free world decided to uphold the rule of law. They did more. Many of them decided to give practical effect to their determination to resist aggression by force. These nations can sincerely say that out of this tragic business they seek nothing for themselves. They are concerned only to maintain the principles of international law upon which world order depends.
In this context, let us examine the position of the armistice talks at Panmunjom. The House will be aware that no progress was made until the resumption of the talks at the end of October, when the Communists abandoned their insistence on the 38th Parallel as the demarcation line. Discussion then proceeded, and the United Nations Command made the specific proposal that the demarcation line and the demilitarised zone on either side of it should be based on the actual line of contact at the time of the signing of the armistice, with appropriate adjustments, and that both delegations should at once initiate discussions on the other items of the agenda, with a view to the early conclusion of an armistice.
I have to read this matter to the House very carefully, because it is a very tangled account, which I have done my best to sort out for the House. The Communists made counter-proposals, which the United Nations delegates found difficult to interpret, and they further complicated the situation by putting out statements from 44 Peking which were at variance with what their delegates were saying at Panmunjom. The Communists appeared to want a demarcation line based on the existing line of contact, and appear to want it settled at once. In expounding their proposals, they repeatedly made statements strongly implying that they expected the fighting to stop as soon as a demarcation line was agreed upon. For instance, as late as 14th November, a Communist negotiator said that a de facto cease fire would be an unavoidable result of the fixing of a demarcation line. They made it clear that they expected all United Nations military activity to cease, at sea and in the air, as well as on the ground.
The United Nations Command were unable to accept this, and I will show why. The House will remember that the talks opened from the very outset—ex-Ministers on the other side of the House will remember this better than we can—on the understanding that agreement on the armistice terms—not the demarcation terms—should proceed the cessation of hostilities. General Ridgway made this absolutely clear in his message to the Communist commanders on 3rd July, before the talks even started, and this message was acknowledged without question by the Communists in their reply of 4th July.
An immediate cease-fire, without any agreement on the remaining items of the agenda, would be unacceptable to the United Nations, because it would leave unsettled for an indefinite period at least two vital questions and those are: arrangements for supervision and prisoners of war. Without supervision, agreed supervision within the armistice terms, there can be no guarantee of what is going on behind the lines, no guarantee that the Communists will not build up their forces and supplies.
§ Mr. Silverman
There may, possibly—I do not know—be different views about that. That is a political question; but when two parties have agreed to discuss things on a purely military basis in order 45 to find a line on which each of them feels it is safe to stop fighting, why should not they be treated in the negotiations on an equal level?
§ Mr. Eden
They are treated on an equal level. Supervision will apply to both sides. There is no doubt about that at all. The only point—and I hope it is a legitimate one—which I was putting was that there may be some special reason in our minds why supervision behind their lines is desirable and in the Communists' minds some reason for supervision behind our lines. I have not the least objection to that. What I am trying to make plain is that if we are to have an armistice decision it must cover supervision and prisoners of war as well as a demarcation line.
§ Mr. Eden
The release and exchange of prisoners of war. We have not even had contact with our prisoners of war. The right hon. Gentleman knows that. We do not even know where they are. We do not know how many they are. The Red Cross have never been allowed to see them. All this must be cleared up before we can agree to an armistice.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn, East)
Is it not a fact, as "The Times" pointed out, that the United Nations' Forces hold far more Communist prisoners of war than the Chinese do of ours? Therefore, there would not appear to be any great difficulty in arranging for exchange? Is not one of the real difficulties the extraordinary mental reaction which our Allied negotiators show every time?
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Lady is being rather unfair in her last comment. I was trying to explain the position, and if the hon. Lady will let me finish I think I can show clearly what it is. As regards our having more prisoners of war than the Communists have of ours, I do not 46 know how much relative comfort that is. Some countries have a different attitude about prisoners of war. I will not put it higher than that. I have just come into this Korean business, and it is all new to me.
I repeat that it would be absolutely wrong to sign a demarcation agreement and to leave out prisoners of war, leaving them in a doubtful position. I absolutely believe that, implicitly and entirely. Anybody who knows the Communists' attitude towards prisoners of war will agree with what I have said. We have tried to obtain information about them. We have tried inspection. We have tried through the International Red Cross and through the Geneva Convention. Through whatever channels we have approached this matter we have failed under every single head to get any information at all about our prisoners of war. We cannot conclude an agreement with the other side that would leave the fate of our prisoners in suspense.
In the last few days—now I come to the less difficult part of the business—there have been signs that the Communists may be prepared to abandon their insistence on a cease-fire in advance of the conclusion of a full armistice agreement. General Ridgway is, naturally, reluctant to accept an inflexible demarcation line which could not be changed however long the subsequent negotiations on the other items of the agenda may happen to take. If the United Nations negotiators were to accept now a demarcation line for an unlimited period, the Communists would have that amount less incentive to come to reasonable terms on what we regard as vital items of the agenda, like prisoners of war.
It was with that consideration in mind that, on 17th November, the United Nations delegates proposed that a demilitarised zone, based on the present line, should become effective in any armistice agreement signed within 30 days. If an armistice agreement is not signed within 30 days there should be a fresh delineation of the demilitarised zone, on the basis of the line of contact as it exists at that time, and it would become effective under such conditions as at that time were mutually agreed between the delegations on both sides. The Communists have sought elucidation of these new proposals in the two meetings held at Panmunjom 47 yesterday and today. Their first reaction has not been unfavourable. I do not want to say more than that, because things can always go wrong.
The House will perhaps have seen the statement attributed to the North Korean representative, which is as follows: "We have heard your proposal, but we have yet to make a full study of it. I can tell you this much: Your proposal seems, in the main, in accordance with our principles." Nevertheless, we still await their final reply, and one has to be reserved, in view of what has happened in these negotiations before. For our part, we earnestly hope that these fresh proposals will lead to the early conclusion of a secure and genuine armistice and the restoration of peace in Korea. If that is achieved, the way will then be open for discussions of a political settlement of the Korean problem, and then, perhaps, for a wider settlement of other problems in the Far East.
I cannot leave this topic without paying tribute to the splendid morale displayed by the United Nations Forces in Korea in hardship and exacting conditions. We know that the United States have supplied the greater part of the Forces there, and we pay sincere tribute to them for that. At the same time, we, too, are proud of the important contribution of the Commonwealth Division to the common cause. In General Ridgway, the United Nations have a Commander in whom His Majesty's Government have the fullest confidence. He has been responsible for maintaining the morale and fighting efficiency of his forces through a series of hard-fought engagements and in the difficult conditions we have just been discussing. At the same time, he has been conducting delicate and difficult armistice negotiations in a glare of publicity.
I have two more topics to which I wish to refer. I am sorry to keep the House so long. They are, however, both of such importance that I must deal with them before I close. One is Persia, and the other is Egypt. At the outset of my speech I referred to the ferment of nationalism among the Middle Eastern nations. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South will agree with me that nowhere is 48 that more conspicuously in evidence than in Persia. I have as yet no news of any developments of importance to give the House about the oil dispute. The most recent event has been the Persian Prime Minister's visit to Washington. Mr. Mossadeq is now on his way back to his own country, and the United States Government have issued a statement—I shall not trouble the House with it, because it has been in the Press—with which His Majesty's Government are in complete accord.
What, then, is the present position? It is that the great Persian oil industry is almost at a standstill and the economic position of Persia appears to be deteriorating seriously and rapidly. Now, Sir, it is necessary that I should make plain certain factors about the position of His Majesty's Government today. We are grateful for the untiring efforts of our American friends to find, in discussion with Dr. Mossadeq, a basis on which negotiations can be resumed. We, too, are concerned at the growing deterioration in the internal conditions in Persia. We have a long tradition of friendship with that country, and its independence and prosperity must always be a first objective of British foreign policy.
We also realise certain facts, which the House should bear in mind. Underlying the dispute is a widespread feeling among the Persian people that the Persian oil industry should be so conducted that their economic and political independence is not prejudiced and that an unfair proportion of the profits of the industry should not go abroad. Such feelings are intelligible enough, and account must be taken of them in any solution which is ultimately reached.
But what we cannot accept is the methods hitherto employed by the Persian Government in attempting to give effect to them. If the Persian people could be convinced of the essential good will of our country towards them, a long step would have been taken towards a restoration of confidence. Such confidence is not going to be easy to create, but it will be my endeavour to try to do this, because I fully understand how much the value of any settlement that is reached will depend upon it.
Let me make it clear, meanwhile, that His Majesty's Government are ready at 49 any time to resume negotiations for the settlement of this painful dispute. Its continuation benefits no one. I think it might be of assistance to all who wish to see such a solution if I state now what we regard as the essential elements of a satisfactory solution. They are three, and none of them is inconsistent with the principle of the nationalisation of the oil industry in Persia—none.
First, and most difficult of all, there is what I call "practicability," and by that I mean that Persia's economy cannot be assured unless the oil industry can be efficiently operated in all its stages. This applies to the fields themselves, to the refinery, and to the selling organisation as well. For instance, no company—I do not care of what nationality—could commit itself to take over the distribution of oil products to the markets of the world unless it was satisfied that the supply of oil from the fields and the manufactured products from that refinery would be forthcoming over a period at the right time, in the right quantities and at an economic price. That is, I say, the most difficult of all practicabilities.
Second, the benefits of the Persian oil industry should be fairly shared between Persia and those concerned in developing her oil resources. But this distribution must be such as to permit the price of Persian oil to be competitive in the world's markets. It must, therefore, have some relation to the terms generally prevailing in other countries. Finally, fair compensation must be paid for the act of nationalisation and its range of consequences. The amount of compensation should be settled by agreement or by arbitration; it cannot be settled by one party alone.
I do not accept that it is really impossible to work out an arrangement which takes account of these three elements. At any rate, we certainly do not despair of doing so. It is, therefore, our intention to continue to seek, in the closest consultation with the United States Government, a way by which a solution may be found. Though I raise no hopes in this business, I do not yield to despair.
Finally, I think that maybe a word would not come amiss at this moment about the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. It is when a lot of hard words are said about people that one ought perhaps to look at the other side occasionally, and it 50 is fair to say that, without the initiative of this Company, the oil industry in Persia would never have developed to anything approaching its present size; nor could it possibly have commanded the world markets on which the industry depends now. This has been a prodigious achievement.
Much can be said about the division of profits. There is a lot I could say about my thoughts in years gone by, about who has been greedy, and so on, and who has taken too much out of the industry in the past. But it remains true that it was the receipt of the large oil revenues which enabled Persia to contemplate the financing of an extensive seven-year plan for economic development. It is also true that under the supplemental agreement, which the Majlis itself failed to ratify, Persia's revenues from the Company this year would have been increased to between £40 million and £50 million, which is approaching the sum which they are now asking the United States Government to give them or lend them—there is not much difference, probably, between the two expressions. That is all I have to say on that, except that we shall continue in our efforts to find a solution.
Now about Egypt. I observe that the Egyptian Prime Minister, a few days ago, accused us of preferring violence and of having recourse to brutal force rather than choosing peace and admitting the facts. That is not true; it has never been true. We fully understand that Egypt should demand a place of equality in any treaty instrument which is concluded with her. But in passing, I might observe that to give an ally facilities on one's own soil is not necessarily derogatory to one's own sovereignty. If that is so, this country is doing precisely that thing now.
However that may be, the House will recall that in 1936 we concluded a Treaty of 20 years' duration with the Egyptian Government. I myself signed that Treaty for this country and Nahas Pasha, the present Prime Minister, signed it for Egypt. Nahas Pasha publicly welcomed it with great enthusiasm. I remember that very well. So much did he welcome it that it is the only occasion on which I have ever appeared on a postage stamp side by side with him. It was an Egyptian postage stamp. I do not know what has happened to all those postage stamps now.
51 But we do not hold to the position—and our predecessors did not hold to the position—that this Treaty can in no circumstances be revised. Indeed, the Treaty itself provides for revision. What we have said, however, and what we repeat, is that it cannot be denounced by one of the parties to it. We are quite prepared to supersede the 1936 Treaty with a new joint arrangement, to which a number of Powers would be parties. We offer Egypt equal partnership in that agreement, a partnership which would involve her in no more derogation of sovereignty than we have accepted in our joint Western defence plans.
Let us be quite clear what our offer means. Though the Treaty runs till 1956, we are prepared to revise it now and to substitute for it a mutual arrangement between the four Powers and Egypt on full equality. If Egypt does not wish to be associated with us alone, here surely is an opportunity for a wider partnership with the United States, Turkey and France, as well as with ourselves. Despite all that has been said and done, the four-Power offer to Egypt remains open still. I hope that wiser statesmanship will yet prevail. Meanwhile, His Majesty's Government have no choice but to maintain their position in the Canal Zone, basing their rights to do so on the Treaty of 1936, and that is what we intend to do.
There is another aspect of the question which is important to Egypt and to all the States of the Middle East. I refer to the Middle East Command, in which the United States, France and Turkey are joined with us, and with which Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are in close and cordial association. We hope that the States of the Middle East as a whole will realise the over-riding importance to themselves and to the free world of these defence plans and will work with us and with the other Powers who are associated with us to give them effect.
The Arab States and Israel were informed of the offer made to Egypt, in order that they might be aware of the proposals which were in the minds of the four Powers for the defence of the area to which they belong. Egypt, unfortunately, rejected the offer summarily, without even consulting the Arab States at all. I learnt, when I went to the Foreign Office, of sortie fears which the 52 Arab States were expressing that association with a Middle East Command might prejudice their independence and their freedom of action. Nothing could be further from the truth.
At the same time, I thought that the countries of the Middle East were entitled to the fullest and clearest exposition of what we had in mind. That is why, a few days ago, in Paris, we issued jointly —the United States, France, Turkey and ourselves—a declaration which I know has been helpful in allaying their fears. Two assurances I can give emphatically to the House and to them. The States concerned need have no fear that the Allied defence plans would in any way prejudice their national sovereignty or lead to the establishment of undue influence of any kind in their territories. If they decided to associate themselves with the command, they would do so as equal sovereign independent Powers. There can be no question of stationing British or other foreign troops on their territories without their full consent.
Now, let us see where we are in this business. I am very conscious of the internal stresses of the Middle East, as well as the external ones. It sometimes happens in diplomacy that there is between nations a fundamental clash of purposes and policy. To put it bluntly, each may consider that some particular territory or strategic point is vital to its defence. The other, with equal confidence, may take the counter view. There are scores of examples of this kind of tension. They exist today, and they are much the most difficult to deal with by diplomatic methods.
But this Egyptian business is not one of those problems at all. Fundamentally, Egypt's interests and those of the four Powers are precisely the same—of course they are. The concern of the four Powers and of the Middle East States is the same as that of Egypt: simply to build a defensive system in the Middle East which shall prevent any danger of war. And it can be done without any excessive outlay of men or money, and certainly without any derogation of sovereignty on the part of any single one of the States concerned.
The four Powers ask no more of Egypt in the base which they wish to maintain there than has been asked of Britain and freely given. Is it too much to hope that 53 wiser counsels will prevail and that the chance of building up a defensive system on terms of full equality between us and our Allies will not be thrown away? That is all we seek. I know that the Arab States have begun to understand this message. I hope that Egypt will understand it, too. If so, she will find us ready and willing to work with her. But there is this warning which I must utter. If any conversations between us are to have a chance of success, the terrorists activities against us in the Canal Zone have got to be called off.
I have concluded my long recital, and I apologise for its length. I have made no attempt to disguise from the House the grim reality of some of the problems—and there are many more—that confront us at the Foreign Office. I shall try to give a continuing account of my stewardship in the same fashion, although, I hope, at not such great length. The outlook is admittedly grave. It is even dangerous, but it is by no means desperate.
There are many imponderables which may affect the issue. I could talk about them all day and discuss how to assess them, but there is one tangible aid the force of which I have felt already, and that is the union and understanding of our Commonwealth partners. Nothing has heartened me more in the few weeks since I have taken over this office than the first contacts I have made with the representatives of these countries, many of them old friends and all of them carrying increasing authority in the counsels of the nations.
I have tried to put out some salient points in a survey of a tangled and troubled scene. I have tried to explain the thought by which we will be guided in our actions and in our attempts to reduce the present tension, but it still remains true, unfortunately, that in all too many cases the main authority for the last decision does not lie with us alone. What we can try to do is to build up our reputation for patience and sane counsel to use the diplomatic experience of centuries, which is our heritage to guide the nations, and to guard the peace.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
I am sure that the whole House is obliged to the Foreign Secretary for the survey he has given on the outstand- 54 ing matters of foreign affairs and international policy. I wish to say straight away that I do not think that in the statements which he has made there will be much quarrel, as far as we on this side are concerned, with the views and policies he has outlined.
As far as I can see, the policy which we pursued is substantially being carried on. I do not think that there is any material departure. Differences of emphasis and interpretation there will be, but up till now, at any rate, I do not see any material difference between the policy outlined by the right hon. Gentleman and that which we pursued. I think the right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that the labours of the Foreign Office have materially increased. I did not have his earlier experience but I had my own, and it is certainly a very heavy job at this time; and I should not be at all surprised if it has not increased very much since 1945, when the right hon. Gentleman was last there.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the cardinal issue of foreign policy is the relationships between East and West, and to that I will return. We are glad that he is interested in the nonmilitary aspects of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which was a matter that came up for discussion at Ottawa and in which we took our part. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is wrong that Italy should not be a member of the United Nations organisation, and we express our hopes, too, that before long Italy will be a member of U.N.O.
I agree also with regard to Korea. Let us hope that the problem of the prisoners of war will be settled side by side with the armistice settlement, as it certainly ought to be, and we all very much hope that the armistice will soon be brought about. I add my tribute also to the morale of the United Nations Forces. To Persia, and to Egypt also, I will return, but, in the meantime, let me say straight away that I do not think there is any material difference between the point of view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman and the view which we have taken of these problems.
It is inevitable that the speech of the Foreign Secretary should be in part a speech of his own work at the Foreign Office and to some extent should overlap into the period of his predecessor. There- 55 fore, if it be the case that my speech is in part a report of my own activities as well as a commentary on the present situation, I am sure that the House will understand.
We have been following the proceedings of the United Nations Assembly at Paris with very great interest indeed, and we have noted the disarmament proposals which have been made by the United States, supported by France and the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and the proposals which have been made by the Soviet Union, on the other hand. Like the right hon. Gentleman, I do not want to be committed to the detail of the United States disarmament proposals.
This is a difficult matter to find the right definition and the right classifications, because one may get into great complications about it, but we are glad that the issue of disarmament has been raised. Whether the formula of the United States is right or wrong, I should not like to be committed at this stage; whether another formula would be better, let us examine it and see. But what is clearly right is that we should find some sort of formula whereby, as a result of its operation, every nation can feel reasonably safe and there is no excessive predominance of one school of thought or one combination of powers within the world and within the operations of the United Nations organisation itself. Therefore, one would not like to be too closely committed to the exact details of the formula. We read with interest and appreciation the right hon. Gentleman's speech at the United Nations, and, with him, we hope very much that the outcome of their proceedings may be good for the peace and security of the world.
All of us agree, whatever point of view we may take, whatever shade of opinion we may pursue, that the fundamental difficulty in international relationships—the big trouble, the big issue—is the cleavage between the Soviet bloc and the Western democracies. There are suspicions on both sides. Both sides are re-arming. Let us be quite clear that the first degree of re-armament, or, at any rate, the large-scale retention of armed forces, came from the Soviet Union. Either they were rearming or they were refraining from a degree of disarming which was undoubtedly being pursued by the Western democracies.
56 Consequently, there was becoming a lack of balance of a worrying nature of the armaments of the Western democracies as compared with the armaments of the Soviet bloc. The Western Powers proceeded to reduce their amaments and their armed strength, and this went on with the consequence that there was a disparity between the armed strength and the armaments of the Soviet bloc and those of the Western democracies; and the time came when, clearly, this could not continue.
As a result of the recognition on the part of the West that this could not continue, it became inevitable that the Western Powers should begin the process of re-armament. This was a process which was regrettable for both sides. It meant a loss of material and economic strength that might have been used for other purposes had it not had to be used for re-armament. But this process of Western re-armament has not become, and it should not become, a preparation for war. I agree that it is both silly and untruthful to have the idea that the North Atlantic Treaty organisation is a preparation for war. It is nothing of the kind.
§ Mr. Morrison
I have said to my hon. Friend before, when I was sitting on the other side of the House, that it really would be a good thing if he could see the British case, as well as the Russian case, on all these matters. I know that he is good at seeing the other side, and I understand that it is always desirable to see the other side; but it is also desirable to see one's own side at the same time.
§ Mr. Morrison
And the other side, I quite agree. But it is desirable to see one's own side as well, and I wish that my hon. Friend would more frequently do so.
Whether it be the N.A.T.O. or whether it be the re-armament of the Western Powers, the purpose is the protection of our countries against aggression and for peace. It is an effort on the part of the Western Powers to have sufficient force 57 to deter aggression and to enable us in the course of international discussions to speak from strength
. There are problems arising about the cost of all this, which undoubtedly is a big burden upon the nations concerned. We began some discussion about these cost problems in Washington in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), was concerned, both at Washington and Ottawa, and so was my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Defence. Undoubtedly, there will have to be a fair adjustment of the cost of armaments as between the nations of the world, particularly those who are associated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
My view is that the right view for the United States to take is that United States defence does not stop at the Pacific coast, it does not stop at the Atlantic coast; it spreads over other territories, including Europe, and, therefore, it is right that some of the armament production of the United States should be devoted to Europe and other parts of the world.
We were friends and allies with that great country, the Soviet Union, in the war and, strange as it may seem at the moment, we still have a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union. We were anxious to be friends and allies and collaborators in the United Nations after the war. I think we can say for all of us and, indeed, for other countries also, that nothing would please us more than if we were able to be collaborators, cooperators and friends with the Soviet Union at the present time. For if that were possible we, the Soviet Union and the United States could between us guarantee the peace of the world and could contribute much to its progress.
It is with deep regret that we see that situation has not persisted after the war. We deplore the present situation and we must be on the alert for every occasion which manifests a real change of heart, spirit and purpose on the part of the Soviet Union itself, for it may be that they may yet come to realise that the evil dream of world revolution, based on force and dictatorship, is unreal, impracticable and mischievous from every point of view including their own. So we say let us not only wait but watch out for chances and let us all be free from political and ideological prejudices.
58 As and when we and our associates approach the point of armed strength having some relationship to that of the Russians, then we shall have to be careful —not only we and the Commonwealth, but the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation itself, together with any other Powers with whom we are associated, as should also the Soviet and its associates. All of us will have to be exceedingly careful when that point comes, for then, when we approach a situation when our strength is beginning to reach some degree of approximation to that of the Soviet bloc, it will matter very much who, in the various countries, is in control of foreign and military policy. A momentary aggressive mood, or, what is perhaps more possible, a needless attack of nerves—it may be on the part of one nation alone—could plunge us into the third world war.
Therefore, while it is right that we should re-arm, let us be exceedingly careful when we get to the point of real strength because the real danger is the race and spirit of the race. We must be ready to stop the race, if it be a race, at the right time. We must be aware of the temptation to use the forces when they are built up, for we have had two world wars in our century and we do not want a third which may well be far more terrible than those which have gone before. So all the way through the purpose of our actions, whether they be diplomatic, whether they be military, whatever they may be, must be to protect the peace of the world, to prevent war, and to promote the well-being of mankind.
Let us have a short look at the Far East, to which the right hon. Gentleman did not devote a great deal of attention—I am not complaining, because he had a great deal of geography to cover and I assume we shall have a debate later on the ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty—but I want to say a word about China. Peace in the Far East is vital. It is not unnatural that we Europeans should have our minds concentrated on Europe and that we should feel that here is the danger spot of the world, that here is where trouble broke out in 1914 and 1939 and that Europe is the centre of trouble. But it could equally be that the Far East could be the centre of trouble and could be the beginning of the difficulty which might lead up to terrible events in the 59 future. Indeed, there is already trouble in the Far East.
We take the view that because China has a Communist Government we should not therefore assume that China is a satellite of the Soviet Union. Nor do we take the view that it is necessarily the case that China will permanently pursue political directives from Moscow. In these matters we cannot be sure, but we think that we ought not to assume that because China has a Communist Government she must, therefore, be treated as if she were in exactly the same category as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In the first place, China has an enormous population, a population substantially larger than that of the Soviet Union. She has a long and a great history of her own. She has her own psychological and tempermental features. In the course of my travels I have met a few businessmen with very long experience of China whose politics I do not know, but it is quite likely they are not mine—businessmen with many years' experience of China and Chinese people. The interesting thing is that the predominant view among them is that it would be a great mistake to assume that China's outlook, even under a Communist Government, is in any way bound to be the same as the outlook of the Soviet Union. Indeed, the predominant view is the probability that it will be different.
Therefore, I think that it would be quite wrong for His Majesty's Government, or for any other Government for that matter, to assume that because China has a Communist Government she is exactly the same in policy as the Government of the Soviet Union and that she is bound to be a slavish and subservient satellite of that country. I submit that we must be careful about policies which may permanently drive that great Chinese nation into an anti-Western bloc for, if we treat Communist China as a country which is beyond the pale, we are likely thereby to drive her into policies and into a mood which will cause her to be permanently against the democratic, peaceful countries of the world.
Naturally, we are sorry that China has gone Communist, but we must not overlook the grave imperfections of the former Chinese régime which assisted in bringing this transformation about. The 60 former rélgime was a pretty bad one and very imperfect. Despite the disappointments following the decision of the Labour Government to recognise the new China, we on these benches, I think, can say that, on a balance of practical and other considerations, the decision of the late Mr. Ernest Bevin to recognise the new Chinese Government, which was and is in effective control of the mainland, was a right one. It is customary to recognise the Government in effective control of a country, whether one agrees with it or one does not. One might delay for a bit, but one does not delay unduly and that was the main and fundamental reason for the recognition of the People's Government of China.
We sought to bring the new China into the United Nations and we still think we were right to seek to bring the new China into the United Nations, but a majority was and remains against admission. I agree that the continuance of military operations in Korea, in which China is undoubtedly participating, together with the predominant opinion of the United Nations, does make an immediate decision as to admission difficult. However, we hope for an armistice and we hope for peace and as soon as circumstances change and the possibility of China's admission emerges, we trust that His Majesty's Government will seek the admission of the effective Chinese Government to the United Nations.
The political struggle between the Communist dictatorship and West democracy is a real thing. It will go on until the Communists develop a better outlook, as we hope they will. But we must not overlook our wish that the United Nations should be a comprehensive world organisation. We should not seek to make of the United Nations a mere instrument of anti-Communist propaganda and activity. Nor is it wise, therefore, to seek to make of China an outlaw. That is what some people, not on our side, might well desire.
I will say nothing about the Japanese Treaty, because that will come up at a later stage for ratification. In any case, my right hon. Friend the former Minister of State will be able to deal with any issues in that respect from our point of view which arise later, because he played a valuable and important part in the dis- 61 cussions with Mr. John Foster Dulles about that important Treaty.
There are many other problems in the Far East, Malaya, Indo-China, the democratic and economic development of Indonesia and the terrible poverty of millions of human beings in that part of the world. We must suppress banditry in Malaya, as well as encourage the extension of self-government in that country, as was being carried through by my right hon. Friend the ex-Colonial Secretary. We have a sympathetic understanding of the huge problem facing France in its conflict with Communism in Indo-China and we should—I am sure we will—do what we can to be helpful in that matter. At all times we must seek the social progress and the upliftment of the poverty-stricken millions of the Far East. I may come back to this in relation to matters connected with the Middle East.
In the Middle East we face important political and social problems. These are countries to which democracy came swiftly after the First World War and it is not an easy matter for us who are today enjoying a very refined quality of Parliamentary democracy to realise that it has taken us some 700 years to get where we have got, including a General Election and various other things. After the First World War, these countries of the Middle East were emancipated from over-rule and more or less suddenly had to become Parliamentary democracies.
It is not easy. Consequently, in this, as in some other parts of the world, there are great difficulties and great complications. One surviving activity is that of the assassins. We have been aware of the activities of the assassins in various parts of the Middle East. It is a horrible business; it is thoroughly bad; a business which is to be utterly deplored and should be destroyed as soon as possible.
With regard to Egypt, the issue, I hope, is relatively simple, if anything in that part of the world is simple. The Suez Canal and its neighbourhood is of great importance to us and to our Allies, as well as to Egypt, and, no doubt, to all the peoples of the world. Strategically and commercially it is a vital part of the communications between West and East. It is a great pity that the policy of the Egyptian Government, not only on the matters which have now arisen, but on 62 some others, should have created in the House of Commons, on both sides, such a feeling of irritation and impatience as we as the Government experienced in the last Parliament; because anything concerning Egypt was a matter on which one felt one had, in the Parliamentary sense, to be exceedingly careful.
Undoubtedly, the Suez Canal is an issue of great importance, not only to Egypt but to many other countries in the world. The Labour Party have encouraged the political emancipation and independence of Egypt; a matter in which our late friend Mr. Arthur Henderson played his part. Indeed, the independence and emancipation of Egypt was the basis of the 1936 Treaty, negotiated by the Foreign Secretary with the good will and support of the Egyptian Government.
The presence of British troops in the Canal zone is not in any sense an occupation in the old imperialistic sense of the term. It constitutes an exercise of a military facility which was freely negotiated between the Governments of our country and of Egypt. Indeed, the free negotiation was testified by the then Egyptian Prime Minister, at the time of the 1936 negotiations and settlement, and the Treaty was actually signed by the present Egyptian Prime Minister.
Consequently, the story that this was the product of coercion, of extra pressure, and so on, is really untrue. The Treaty was freely entered into by both parties and in our judgment, as we expressed at the time and as we consider now, Egypt has no right unilaterally to repudiate the 1936 Treaty. When at the Foreign Office I had, therefore, no hesitation whatever in resisting any such claim. We were not merely negative about our policy in respect of the Treaty, or of the military defence of Egypt; and I hope and believe that the right hon. Gentleman will not be merely negative either.
In association with my right hon. Friends the present Leader of the Opposition and the former Minister of Defence, I was very pleased to initiate the proposals for a collective Middle East defence, with which Egypt would be honourably associated in a dignified way with us, the United States, France and Turkey; with the door open for other Middle Eastern Powers.
63 Knowing that some such proposal would be submitted—because they did know that proposals were about to be submitted—the Egyptian Government, nevertheless, took precipitant action deliberately. She repudiated the Treaty before the proposals could be submitted to her which she knew would be officially forthcoming in a matter of a few days. I still hope for such collective and cooperative defence, replacing the present Treaty, and with which should be associated an increasing number of Arab States together with Israel.
I am glad to say that I think our relations with the State of Israel have markedly improved during recent times. I hope that that improvement will continue. I know how difficult it is, but I also know how important it is, that the suspicions and the antagonisms between Israel—a country of great vigour and importance—and the Arab States should be cleared up. Good relations between Israel and the Arab States would be a great blessing for the whole Middle East and for the peace of that important part of the world. One of the problems of the Foreign Secretary is to maintain good relationships both with Israel and with the Arab States. Anything that can be done to promote good feeling and co-operation between them is to the good. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, while not under-estimating the importance of the Arab States, not to under-estimate the importance and the vigour of Israel as well.
So far as Egypt was concerned, the late Government took the view that the 1936 Treaty must operate until some other arrangement was agreed for the defence of Egypt and other countries of the Middle East. To that view, which I took directly the trouble blew up, I personally adhere. Nevertheless, none of us must have rigid minds about this or other matters connected with any part of the world. We must be adaptable according to the evolution of circumstances and events.
I would now like to mention Persia, as did the right hon. Gentleman. We took the view that the action of the Persian Government—another unilateral action—in throwing over the Agreement which was the basis of the arrangement between Persia and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was unjustifiable. They took 64 that unilateral action and we think they were wrong. In the course of the policy which we pursued we sought four things: respect for agreements as against arbitrary repudiation; free negotiation between two parties trying genuinely to reach a settlement; legal adjudication by the International Court; and a fair decision by the Security Council.
Without any wish to provoke a riot, I want to explain to the House the policy which we pursued in relation to Persia. Earlier we had a riot, and at the moment there is nothing which divides me from what the right hon. Gentleman has said in relation to Persia. At the earlier stages the Persian Government would not recognise the standing of His Majesty's Government in the matter. In fact we had the right to have a standing, because British interests and British rights were concerned; and in addition we happen to be, as a Government, the owners of 51 per cent. of the shares of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Nevertheless, we did arrange for negotiations between the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the Persian Government.
Unhappily, these negotiations failed. Later, there was a Ministerial mission which went to Teheran to negotiate with the Persian Government. It was headed by my right hon. Friend the then Lord Privy Seal, who is not unfamiliar with the Middle East. I think that the House knows of his knowledge of the Middle East, he has often been there, and we would all regard him as the kind of man, both temperamentally and intellectually, who would be suitable; and who would be sufficiently elastic and adaptable to deal with a trickly problem of this kind. He is capable of understanding the outlook of other people, which is not true of everybody on this side—on this earth—[Laughter.]—I am glad that that truism has gone so well.
My right hon. Friend tried hard and fairly to reach a reasonable settlement with the Persians. We had previously, in the beginning of the discussions, accepted the principle of nationalisation, although we could not accept the way of the Persian Government in going about it. My right hon. Friend put forward proposals which were really forthcoming, which were understanding of the Persian point of view. They were in themselves reasonable, and followed upon the helpful efforts made by Mr. Averill Harriman, 65 not to settle the dispute, not to mediate, but to open the door to the kind of discussion undertaken by my right hon. Friend.
Unfortunately, the Persian Government went back on the understanding, which they themselves had reached with Mr. Harriman, forming some kind of basis upon which the negotiations might proceed. It has become clear that Dr. Mossadeq was either incapable or not desirous of conducting effective negotiations. In the light of the conversations which have been taking place recently at Washington it would appear that that is still the case. We must still hope that negotiations will bring about a settlement which will be good for the economic life of Persia, which, goodness knows, is important for the people of Persia; and which also will ensure oil supplies from Persia not only to that country, but to the Western world as well. Unhappily, the present Government of Persia seems to be indifferent to the welfare of their own country, or whether or not it is ruined economically.
There was an issue as to the use of force. As I told the House at the time, we were determined to protect British life, and we would most certainly have done so. We were, however, committed by our own membership of the United Nations organisation, not otherwise, in these circumstances to take forcible action. Moreover, we were well aware that such use of force would not have had the support of the United Nations. The attitude of the United States was absolutely clear in opposition to the use of force. Therefore, if we had gone to the United Nations we might have been in very great difficulty upon that issue.
I would say this about the general problem of the Middle East. Throughout the Middle East, and the Far East also, there is very great poverty. I and my hon. Friends think that this terrible poverty is a bad thing for the people concerned, and is, in itself, a danger to the peace of the world. Poverty-stricken people can develop dangerous characteristics. It can produce such a feeling of anxiety and desperation that anything can come out of it. The Labour Party are proud to have taken a major hand, as we think we have, in banishing destitution from our country.
66 We wish also to play our part in banishing destitution from the civilised world, and the uncivilised world as well, if it comes to that. I applaud the efforts of the Trades Union Congress in relation to the trade union movement in the under-developed countries of the world, where the British Trades Union Congress is seeking to promote trade union organisation. The development of a modern constitutional Labour movement in such countries would be a very good thing for those countries and for the peace of the world. The poverty-stricken masses should organise and argue their problems out politically in their own country with their own employers and Governments, including the Governments composed of corrupt and parasitic men.
But, as was pointed out by the Foreign Secretary, the tendency of such Governments is to seek to divert the minds of the poverty-stricken millions into hatred of the foreigner. Undoubtedly, that has been the tactic of both Persia and Egypt and of their Governments. For such reasons, the Labour Party in our country promoted an imaginative plan for world mutual aid, so that co-operative schemes could be evolved for the social and economic progress of such countries. It was for such reasons that the late Government took a leading part in promoting the Colombo Plan.
We and the Governments concerned need to think big about the Middle East. I took an initiative at the Foreign Office which I trust the right hon. Gentleman will follow up. It was for the consideration of the question whether we could not promote a collective scheme of oil extraction from the Middle East—collective in the sense that it could be promoted, not only by the Western Governments concerned, but by the Middle Eastern Governments concerned, with a view to lifting this oil business out of narrow limits and making it a comprehensive business for the Middle East as a whole. If that were done, it would be no less necessary to relate it to the economic and social development of the Middle East as a whole.
If we could have such an international authority—international not only in the sense of some of the Western countries being directly concerned, but also in the sense that Middle Eastern Governments would be concerned—we might get in 67 that part of the world, which, apart from oil, is not, economically, an easy part of the world, some sort of Tennessee Valley Authority which would be an enormous blessing for the whole economic future of the Middle East and its social and economic well-being. It would not only be good for its social and economic well-being, but also for the peace of that part of the world and the peace of the rest of the world as well. I believe that action on lines such as these would be good, and that we should proceed with it.
I think the right hon. Gentleman would say that our relations with France and in Europe generally are good and close, and I hope that the intention that there should be direct talks from time to time with France, on the official level and ministerially, may be pursued, because I think that is all to the good that there should be close Anglo-French understanding. Germany and Austria are important in the sense that it is desirable that they should be co-operative with the Western countries. We wish Western Europe well with its cohesion and cooperation, including the Scandinavian countries.
Let me say just a word about our relations with the United States. I could not take a stronger view than I do that our relations with the United States should be close and cordial. I think anti-Americanism is a very unpleasant thing, and I do not think we want it. It is bad, just as anti-Britishism in the United States is bad. [Interruption.] Well, do not provoke me.
§ Mr. Morrison
My hon. Friend is quite wrong; I am not anti-Russian. [Interruption.] All right, what is my hon. Friend interrupting about? If he is not accusing me of being anti-Russian, then why does he drag Russia into the picture? Anyway, it is not a good thing, and it is desirable to avoid it.
On the other hand, I thought that, in the speech which the Prime Minister made at the Mansion House, he went rather far on the line of implying that the United States was—I thought he was exaggerating the point over-much—the leading Power in the world, and that we were, so to speak, followers and rather down 68 below and inferior. I thought these were some of the implications in the speech of the Prime Minister at the Mansion House. If that interpretation is unjust, I would be sorry, but I think that, on the whole, taking the spirit of the speech, it is a just interpretation.
I think it is a wrong approach, for if we approach the problem of relations with the United States on the basis that we are an inferior Power and that somehow we are on the way to becoming the 49th State, nothing could produce anti-Americanism more than that. I think it would be an error. After all, the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth must have a relationship with the United States based on discussions as between friends and political equals, and not on an inferiority, which will inevitably breed ill-feeling. I do not believe that there is any real wish on the part of the United States that our relationships should be otherwise. It is not my experience that that is so, but I think that the words of the Prime Minister might possibly stimulate friction.
Let me add this, as one who had the pleasure of settling with Mr. Acheson quite a number of differences between ourselves and our American friends, and as one who discussed with him and with M. Schuman an enormous agenda at Washington, and to some extent at Ottawa. I settled with Mr. Acheson quite a number of differences between us which had been outstanding for a little while.
I think it is a mistake to assume that differences of opinion must always be hidden and evaded in our relationships with the United States. Certainly, we must seek agreement with the United States in friendship and to the maximum extent, but neither country must assume that it is a crime that there should be such differences as cannot be avoided. There are and there may be differences of view about China. There is a difference of view about East-West trade. Indeed, I argued them out frankly and publicly at the National Press Club in Washington during my recent visit, but the heavens did not fall. There was no harm in it. There was some discussion, but there was no harm in it, and one can overdo obscuring, side-stepping and evading differences between the two countries.
American democracy is plain-spoken; that is one of the outstanding characteristics of American democracy. Every 69 American thinks and exercises the belief that he has a right to say anything he likes about anybody in the civilised world, in his own country and everywhere else, and I am not complaining that they do so. I believe that the citizens of the United States and the high-up people in the United States would prefer us to be plain-spoken and to argue our views out, provided that it is done in the right spirit, rather than that we should appear to the Americans' forthright mind to be evasive and over-subtle, which might indeed lead them to think that we were over-smart and even deceptive.
I remember that, during the war, many Americans came to see me when I was Home Secretary in the Government led by the present Prime Minister, and I asked them. "Would you prefer us to be more plain-spoken, or would you like us to cover up what we are really thinking?" All of them said, "For heaven's sake, do be more plain-spoken than you are." I honestly believe that that would be all to the good, if it is accompanied by good will and good friendship.
The interests of our two countries are fundamental. Our constitutions are very different, but we are both live democracies, and our general outlook, although expressed differently at times, is so similar in essentials that, just as the Americans, their Press and their Congressmen are frank about us, we also can be frank, provided that that frankness is in the spirit of friendship and mutual respect.
I end where I began—with the big cleavage in the world. It is between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union. It is a tragedy which must involve a great cost, not only to us and the other Western democracies, but an enormous cost to the Soviet Union. It is a burden upon the peasants and workers of that country. Armaments, military services, propaganda, the cost of the fifth column in other countries, which must be substantial—all of these are burdens upon the labour of the common people of the Soviet Union.
It really is a tragedy. Our own burdens of re-armament and other things are burdens upon us as well, just as they are on our associates among our allies and in the N.A.T.O. Powers. If it is believed by the Soviet Union that, ultimately, there 70 can be violent revolution and a harsh police State and dictatorship set up in every country of the world, I am bound to say that I think they are living in a fools' paradise if they think that is possible. The bulk of the world will not stand it; the bulk of the world will resist, at whatever cost that resistance may involve.
Therefore, what is the sense of going on with all this? Surely, all of us in this House will agree that nobody in our country wants to attack the Soviet Union; at any rate, very, very few and they are not exactly sane, if they exist. Nobody wants to make war upon the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact, in this House during the last war, so great was the admiration of the Parliamentary parties for the bravery, courage and fighting abilities of the people of Russia, that I remember so well that there was actually competition between the political parties in the House as to who could pay the best tributes to the Soviet Union. When there was a proposal that some Labour Members should go to Russia—and some of my hon. Friends will remember the occasion—many Conservative Members butted in and said, "What about us? We want to go and show our friendship with the Soviet Union."
There is no lack of desire to be friends. If only the people of the Soviet Union were free to know what was going on in the world, to know what was passing in the arguments between the Nations and could have really full reports about international discussions in the United Nations debates and even in our own Parliamentary debates, and if they were free to have their arguments with their own Government and were free to have discussion among themselves about Soviet policy, what a difference it would make.
The major tragedy of the world is that we cannot get together with the people of Russia. I do not believe that the people of Russia want war, and I am certainly not convinced that war is inevitable. We must not get into the habit of thinking that it is, because that thought itself could be dangerous. Neither do I think that the people of the Soviet Union believe that war is inevitable. It is my belief that they want peace as much as our people want it, and I would make an appeal that all the peoples of the world, including the peoples behind the Iron Curtain, should 71 be free to know what is going on in the world and should be free to hear and read discussions about international affairs so that they with us may play their free part in discussing, debating and shaping the future policy of all the countries in the world.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
I hope the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), will forgive me if I do not follow him in the very wide and general survey of international affairs to which we have just listened. I wish to speak on a very limited problem and one which I put to the then Foreign Secretary in a question last May. I am encouraged to bring it up again this afternoon because of what the Foreign Secretary said about the imminent revision of the Occupation Statute for Germany.
I wish to draw attention to the great hardship which is being suffered and has been suffered since the war by German mothers of illegitimate children of British Service men in Germany. This may seem a very small problem compared with the great and varied problems we have already considered this afternoon, but it is by no means a small problem to the German women concerned, and it is a matter of some injustice which has continued for several years, and which, I think, has done a certain amount of harm to our relations with the German people.
The Church Assembly have recently carried a resolution urging the Government to take some remedial action and to try to put this state of affairs right. A number of Members on both sides of the House will agree with me that there is need for something to be done. The then Foreign Secretary told me in May that while the British Service men in Germany could make voluntary contributions if they wished, there was no power to compel them to make compulsory contributions for the maintenance of these illegitimate children.
There was no compulsory power either while they remained in Germany or, alternatively—and I will come to this in a moment—while they remained in the Armed Services. For neither of those periods could they be compelled to make any payment for these children. Under the law of this country British girls can apply in British courts for an affiliation 72 order against any man of any nationality if he is in this country, and that such an affiliation order can be enforced as long as he remains in this country.
The American Forces at present in Great Britain go further than that. They have a system whereby the alleged father is interviewed by his commanding officer, and, if he admits paternity, can be compelled to make payments, not only so long as he remains in this country, but so long as he remains in the American Forces anywhere in the world. If he does not admit paternity of the child to his commanding officer, then the girl can apply to a British court for an affiliation order, and if the paternity is proved then the same arrangement applies.
I admit that this arrangement for American Forces in this country would not solve the whole problem of the German mothers if applied in Germany. But it would be a very great advance on the present position, because, first, it would remove a great deal of the present bitterness felt by these German women. I am told that a number of them are more concerned about the acknowledgment of paternity than with the payment of a maintenance allowance.
We can quite see why they should be anxious for this acknowledgment. For instance, they would be anxious to have it if they were about to marry in their own country, and they would also be interested in it for the future security of their children. Again, it would provide a sense of security for them if they really felt that some interest was being taken in their children by the people of this country.
The difficulty at the moment is that a great many of these German mothers allow things to drift until some crisis arises, and then, when the child is three or four years old, it is very much harder to trace the father. Even if he is discovered, it is very much less easy to persuade him to pay a voluntary contribution. I am told that the German office in charge of these matters is more ready to help in cases where paternity is established.
Lastly, it is much easier to appeal to the father's responsibility if paternity is established. It would vastly ease the problem of voluntary associations in this country, who are trying to collect from 73 the fathers payment for the maintenance of their children in Germany, if there were some machinery by which paternity could be established. I am informed that there are a number of arguments against setting up this necessary machinery and that valid objections have been raised against it. But I do not believe that any of the objections really carry much weight or can be sustained in face of what most will agree has been a great injustice in the past.
Therefore, I ask the present Government whether, when they are discussing the revised Occupation Statute for Germany, they will make a great effort —perhaps they have already done so—to find a way round these objections which have held up this matter in the past. I am quite certain that if the Government care to act they will merely be doing justice and will be removing a very great source of bitterness which none of us here would desire to prolong.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
I am sure that all hon. Members who have seen evidence of the hardship caused in the cases referred to by the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) will hope that the Government may be able to do something in the near future to help those people. We should not forget that until last year great injustice was done even in this island owing to the fact that it was so difficult to get maintenance in Scotland in respect of what had happened in England or Northern Ireland and vice versa.
It was only last year that we were able to straighten out that matter here. Let us hope that something can be done internationally as well. The hon. Member for Bridlingon will, I hope, forgive me if I do not follow him further on that subject because I wish to refer to the coming visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Washington, and in doing so. I wish them well.
I have had a certain good fortune in that I have for one reason or another spent a great deal of time in the United States of America. I studied there, I was stationed there for a year or so during the war, I have visited the United States on several occasions, and I have, at one time or another, been in all but one of their 48 States. Naturally, therefore, I have made friends with a considerable 74 number of Americans, and through Anglo-American organisations I have made other friends. Most of these people are, of course, humble, obscure men, but there are one or two who now occupy positions of authority in their various professions or businesses or in politics.
All of them, without exception, agree with me that the Prime Minister is enormously popular among the Americans. But they go on to regret that he is going to Washington and not leaving the job to the Foreign Secretary. They would prefer the Foreign Secretary to go alone because they feel that the great personal popularity of the Prime Minister in America may confuse the American people and mislead them into believing that he is representative of the feelings of this country towards the United States.
The Prime Minister has gone far indeed in saying that we must stick to America at all costs. There are many Americans dedicated to the cause of Anglo-American understanding who feel that the Foregin Secretary—who has never ceased to keep in touch with opinion in this House or in the country generally—has a better understanding of public opinion here. They feel that, in the long run, he could lay the basis for a much more enduring friendship between our two countries by stressing the limits which public opinion places on our cooperation.
What worries people concerned with Anglo-American relations is that a situation might arise in which this country was involved in war with Russia and that a large number of people here might believe that it had been brought about by some error on the American side. There are people in this country who are becoming ever more alarmed by two developments in the United States: first, the pressure for a preventive war as the enormous weight of arms in the West develops, and, secondly, the violence of political passions in the United States today and the hysteria sweeping through its public life.
This is not confined to people like Senator McCarthy or Senator Taft. The fact is that there are people in this country who fear that the Americans are moving towards a stage in which even to suggest a settlement with Russia might be regarded as treachery. This wave of hate and intolerance—which is very real 75 —is amazing to those who know the kindness and the warm-heartedness of ordinary Americans in their day-to-day life. I think the explanation is the intensity of American life. They work hard, they play hard, and they hate hard.
Again, the intensity of their life emphasises to them the present. What does that mean? It means that they are not so interested in yesterday or tomorrow as they are in today, and today Russia is the menace. They know that today Russia is the menace. And many Americans feel that this is all they need to know.
If war were inevitable we would not need to go much further in foreign affairs. But we do not agree that war is inevitable. So what then? I think our task, beginning in Washington, is to induce the Americans to look beyond today to tomorrow and the other tomorrows and see the shape of a world in which all of us have to live side by side with Russia.
In Washington, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) has said, everything is to be gained by frank speaking. It is clear that already the Foreign Secretary, on his unofficial visit this summer, gained a great success in this terribly difficult matter of East-West trade. He argued, not for less but for more East-West trade in the interest of the whole economy of Western Europe.
I suggest that he must speak up too on other matters and make clear the opinions of the people of this country. There is no question that not only is a preventive war beyond any practical politics in this country but that it must be made clear that no Government could exist in this country if it ever endorsed the action of an ally in engaging in preventive war. It would be swept from office.
Above all, I ask the Foreign Secretary to impress upon the Americans that what we need to show the world—and this goes for the East and the West—is not only good will but evidence of good will. Only a few years ago, throughout large regions of the world, the symbol of America was the missionary representing the great philanthropic societies of the United States. Today, unfortunately, we have reached a stage when the symbol is an 76 American general and the missionary is all but forgotten.
It is up to us join with the Americans in explaining the great assembly of arms in the West; because American policy appears to millions of people to be based on the assumption that a war with Russia is inevitable and that it is merely a question of manoeuvring to the most favourable ground. We know the Western world wants peace but others see only the vast assembly of arms.
We in the West must show the world, and especially the new nations of Asia and Africa first, that we can build tractors as well as tanks, second, that we can train doctors as well as generals, third, that we think of a better life for mankind as well as think in terms of global strategy and chains of command, and fourth that we are at least as interested in the figures for blindness in Africa as we are in the figures of the production of our latest armament.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South, mentioned the poverty in the Middle East. Last week President Truman set up the Middle East and African economic and technical aid agency. Like our own Colombo plan it is a step in the right direction, but it would have had far better results if it had been done through the United Nations and not through a national agency. We must not forget that the Russians can always play the West off against the East whenever they have a chance of making the point of exploitation by the West.
Two years ago the United Nations Economic Committee, of which I was a member, had the experience of securing unanimity when discussing a United Nations scheme for technical assistance and economic help to under-developed countries. We were one of the only committees, if not the only committee, in which there was unanimity on an important matter. This was because the Russians knew that it was useless to talk about exploitation of those countries because it was the United Nations that was to undertake the work and these backward countries were represented in the United Nations as sovereign States.
It was a world scheme dealing with a world problem and not merely a national scheme, which can be good but will be only half as effective. I very much regret 77 that this country and the United States have not given as much support to this United Nations agency as they should have done over the last few years.
If we are to tackle these great schemes most of the resources, financial and otherwise, must come from the United States; but we have something to contribute, something which we are often inclined to forget and to let others forget. We have the technical knowledge, administrative ability and political experience. Although we have not the great resources that America can contribute to these schemes we have much to contribute too.
We must face that it may mean a lowering of standards in the West. But we must develop these backward areas and we must do so by rallying the people of the world under the simple banner of freedom from want. It could be a great cause for peace, this linking of the nations together. And it would not be against Russia or against some other association of States but against the common enemy of mankind; poverty and the lack of human dignity.
I ask the Foreign Secretary to think in Washington of the words which are part of the inscription on the statue of President Roosevelt in London. They speak of Freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, freedom from want. I ask him to be guided by the consideration that we cannot expect Communists and primitive peoples to value what they have never understood—freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from fear. But every man, wherever he may be, can understand and can value the last of them —freedom from want.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), whom I am glad to welcome as one of my constituents, said that in his opinion it would be wiser for the Foreign Secretary to go to Washington instead of the Prime Minister. I, for one, do not want to differentiate between the great talents of my two right hon. Friends, but during the war the intimate personal contacts established between President Roosevelt and that mysterious individual known as "Former Naval Person" was one of the most benevolent influences in winning the war. My right hon. Friend 78 the Prime Minister said that Anglo-American relations resembled the Mississippi, they just kept on rolling along. However, that rolling was considerably helped by the wise leadership of my right hon. Friend.
The hon. Member for Lincoln said that it was frankly impossible for the democracies to fight a preventative war. If it is true of this country it is even truer of the United States for, as he knows, it requires a two-thirds majority of Congress before a declaration of war can be envisaged. We know now, looking back on the Japanese war, that if the Japanese Fleet had not attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbour but had proceeded southwards to Singapore, the United States might not then have declared war, as that would not have been regarded as an act of aggression against them.
I should like to centre my brief theme upon a point made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and emphasised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). He mentioned in particular the great gap which now unfortunately divides the East and the West. I believe that when we consider this we should, first and foremost, try to make up our minds exactly the type and character of war we are waging against Communism.
I believe that Communism is not so much a political creed as religion. No one who has seen, as I have seen, the body of Lenin in Moscow can doubt the fact. The queue of patient, plodding peasants and industrial workers who come from every part of the Soviet Union, sometimes stretches right round the Red Square past the walls of the Kremlin. As they enter the ice cold death chamber and file past the body of Lenin covered with the Red Flag of the Paris Commune, the expression on their faces is that of devotion to a sacred relic or a saint. We must therefore realise that Communism as seen by them is a religion, and Karl Marx is its prophet, and Lenin and Stalin its faithful servants.
As Sir David Kelly emphasised in his articles in the "Sunday Times," the members of the Politbureau are fanatical and orthodox Communists. They believe, with Karl Marx, that the decline of the West is inevitable. They see their country, at the end of the century, surrounded by a number of friendly satellite States stretching from the English Channel to the Soviet 79 frontier and looking to Moscow for their true leadership. They believe Communism resembles the progress of the Hindu god, Juggernaut, who advances relentlessly attended by the cries of his votaries. From time to time a large stone may block his path, but patient hands soon remove it, and his triumphant progress is assured.
That being the case, it is no ordinary struggle that we wage against Communism. We are back in the days of the 17th century and the wars of religion. It is a war for souls. If that is true, it is no use replying to ideas and ideology with mere material arguments. It is no use trying to tell the Russians that we have more cars per head of population or better Frigidaires. We have to prove to the world at large that we have a better way of life.
Is there any chance of doing this at the present moment to the people of the Soviet Union? I believe the material difficulties are great indeed. The size of the country and variety of the population are our great obstacles. Perhaps some hon. Members have travelled in Russia, as I have, and have gained an impression of the endless plains which fade to a blue strip on the horizon, and one knows that beyond and beyond they stretch to the Pacific Ocean. The enormous distances and the radio jamming make radio propaganda extremely difficult. The variety of peoples and languages in the Soviet Union also make it difficult.
Those who have visited the Moscow theatres, as I have, must have realised with intense surprise that the Russians are mostly people of Asiatic origin, that there are more Turks in Russia than there are in Turkey itself, and the greater part of Russia is in Asia.
I believe, therefore, that in Europe we must find a common theme which unites all three peoples together. That theme was found in the past in the theme of liberty derived from the Christian civilisation. I believe that that theme of liberty still today can exercise its spell if properly organised. I should like to suggest to the Prime Minister that when he goes to Washington he discusses this point with President Truman.
In the last few years we have successfully organised a number of organisa- 80 tions for co-ordinating our military, naval and air forces—a sort of combined chiefs of staff. Cannot we have a combined chiefs of staff to co-ordinate political ideas and political warfare? The theme of this organisation should be: "What does freedom mean to you—the factory worker, the housewife, the professional woman, the leader of industry and the man of thought and science?" If we could show these people throughout the world, not only in Europe but in Asia, what freedom means in their own personal lives, we should have a far greater idea to put across than the Communists. Do we not believe that freedom provides the only possible political climate in which men and women can grow as human individuals? I believe that this country and the United States are well fitted to combine on such a theme.
I remember Mr. Baldwin once saying to a few friends how he had stood on Mount Vernon, George Washington's home, and pictured himself back in George Washington's days. There stood Washington watching the tobacco barges float down the Potomac, and Mr. Baldwin emphasised that in only one other country at that period could a man of similar type have existed, and that was England, for George Washington was the typical English squire, the prototype of John Hampden who a century before had led our country in the cause of liberty.
I know how some hon. Members feel about the United States. It is composed of a variety of races who may not be sympathetic to us; it has a German population, and there are Irish, Italian and Jewish populations. But, fortunately for us, the mould of American political life is that of Anglo-Saxon democracy. If we co-ordinate our ideas and our material resources, may we not yet retain peace for a hundred years?
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr) with interest, but I think he has committed what I regard as a fundamental error in looking at this problem. I think there is nothing worse than to suggest that the free world is attacking something called Communism. Communism in the minds of many people all over the world means some great ideal of "everybody for each other" The 81 peoples of the free world are not attacking any such ideal. They are not fighting against Communism, whether it be called Christian Communism or any other kind.
What the free world are resisting is a great nation which seems to be threatening their peace in some way. The mere fact that that great nation has adopted the name "Communism" to describe its imperialism is no reason why we should play into its hands by declaring to the world that we are fighting ideals.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr
Communism is attacking the free world and is hostile to the entire conception of freedom and democratic life.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. Communism is an ideal that is attacking nobody. By its very meaning Communism can attack nobody. There is no such thing as Communism attacking with arms or with anything else. What we are discussing is the Russian Government, which is a great political system that depends on what is called a Communist Party, which did not get its name because it stands for the principles of Communism but adopted the name "Communism" to distinguish itself from other parties which it described as traitors.
I think we are committing a great mistake if we unite all the people in the world who have ideals of brotherhood and make them think that the Western nations are attacking them. We are doing nothing of the kind. If people wish to live according to Communism nobody here will attack them; whether it is Communism in Tibet or in Russia, people are entitled to live under that system if they desire, but it is a travesty of the name to describe what is happening in Russia as Communism. We ought not to make the mistake of fighting an ideology when what we are dealing with is a great nation.
I think we are all indebted to the Foreign Secretary for the frank and objective description he gave of the foreign situation. I am sure that everybody in the House wishes him well in his sincere efforts to preserve peace in the world and to promote the idea of co-operation among the nations. We therefore have no dispute in this House on that score. I also welcome the fact that Russia shows some signs of adopting a more peaceful attitude towards the rest of the world. It may be very small so far in its influence on Korea 82 or in its attitude at the United Nations, but there are slight signs that the Russian attitude may be changing, and we hope that that change may develop into some real co-operation.
I am a little less optimistic about the Prime Minister's proposal to have a private talk with Mr. Stalin. I think our memories of previous private talks between the great men of the world and the results that came from those talks are not such as to give us any great confidence in fruitful results from further talks. A person needs a long spoon to sup with Mr. Stalin, and frankly I do not think the Prime Minister's generous, good nature is a fit match for Mr. Stalin's Eastern wiliness. I think it would be much better to send a good cautious Scots lawyer to deal with Mr. Stalin, rather than a man with the Prime Minister's jovial temperament.
There are millions of people today in Europe, behind the Iron Curtain, under the domination of Russia, who are paying the price we gave to Russia for co-operation in world peace. Russia collected the price but she has never delivered the cooperation. We do not want any further tragedies of that kind. While it may be very nice to stage a dramatic performance of a meeting of great men, I think we must be very careful that Russia does not go off with all the takings and leave the tragedy to the rest of the world. I hope, therefore, that the Prime Minister will seriously consider whether he ought to try this. We would wish him success if he did, but I think he must look back on history and see what happened in the previous talks which, in my view, were anything but beneficial.
I believe that many of the difficulties we have today arose out of our over-generosity in the settlement of the situation after the war by gifts to Russia of peoples and territories to buy peace which we have never had. I hope, therefore, that no price of that kind will be offered, and if there is going to be peace it must be arranged, as the Foreign Secretary said, on a proper business-like basis instead of something which is settled, as it were, behind the Speaker's Chair of international policies.
The issues which are in dispute are not such as can be settled by personal interviews at all. The issues are not clashes 83 between personalities, nor are they clashes between ideologies The issues are fundamental and great. The Russian urge to reach the great oceans of the world existed long before Mr. Stalin was born, and the Russian urge to reach the oceans of the world today is one of the driving forces of the modern Russian Government as it was of Tsarist Governments in days gone by. The other great urge of Russia arises from the great mass of poverty that stretches over one-sixth of the world's surface. I am informed that in the last 30 years Russia has not raised the output of food per head by one iota compared with what it was in the Tsarist days. Therefore, from the point of view of raising the standards of the people in Russia, Russia has made no progress at all.
The hon. Member for Cambridge thinks that poverty does not matter, but I think he must agree that the places where the Russians are able to make a success of their propaganda are the places where dreadful poverty exists. Everybody realises that if unemployment and poverty came to this country tomorrow we should immediately have a regrowth of the Communist activities that existed between the wars. It is the prosperity of this country and the reasonable distribution of this country's income among the population under the last Government which has prevented Communism taking hold. In fact, it has almost died a natural death because the circumstances here do not provide for its fertile rooting and growth.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr
If that is so, why is it that so many scientists have left this country? How has it affected the intellectuals?
§ Mr. Woodburn
Scientists are not people who are affected by their stomachs. They are content to work in garrets to satisfy their intellectual appetites. But the Communists ran 27 newspapers in the universities between the wars and drove into the heads of the young students ideals which have taken hold of their brains to a most remarkable degree. It is one of the tragedies and dangers of our country that the success of the Communists here has not been among the ordinary people but among people occupying key positions in our society.
§ Mr. Woodburn
That has got nothing to do with it. I was a member of the I.L.P. in Scotland when the Russian revolution took place. With the Russian revolution there spread a feeling of hope throughout the whole of Europe that Tsardom had been overthrown, and all the Socialist parties welcomed that as a removal of tyranny. The I.L.P. in Scotland did affiliate to the Third International and I was a member of the I.L.P. I took part in that. That "Communist party," as the hon. Member calls it, is quite different from the Communist party which is a member of and dominated by the Third International Government in Russia.
§ Colonel Cyril Banks (Pudsey)
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that Russia had made no advancement in the field of agriculture. The position is that Russia before the war—we have no records since—made greater progress in agriculture than any other country in the world.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am informed that the production of foodstuffs per head of the population in Russia is no greater today than in Tsarist times. I may be wrong, and I will accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's information, but certainly when I was in Russia there was still tremendous poverty there, and I am satisfied that there is tremendous poverty there today.
§ Mr. Woodburn
A large number of hon. Members want to speak, and if I were to give way to every interruption I should be speaking for a long time.
The other great issue, as I was saying, is the poverty in Russia and the struggle to raise the standard of life of the Russian people. If in 33 years Russia has not made any great strides in raising the standard of life by her own efforts, Russia naturally turns to find out how she can do it quickly by other means. As it is an urgent problem for Russia and she cannot raise it by her own efforts, she seeks to do so by absorbing more highly developed nations on her frontiers 85 and in the rest of Europe. Indeed, she has already absorbed to some extent East Prussia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Roumania. These countries are already resisting the exploitation of their resources for the benefit of Russia, and Yugoslavia has actually broken away from Russia on these grounds. I gather from the Press that in these other countries there have been certain purges of people who, even though they call themselves Communists, have taken a nationalist point of view in looking after the interest of their own nations.
The greatest prize Russia could attain in this direction of absorbing the more highly developed nations would be to absorb Western Germany, because Western Germany would give a tremendous impetus to the availability of goods and wealth for Russia. If Western Germany were brought within her sphere, Russia would become almost self-contained as far as her industrial production is concerned, and she would also probably have the means of developing her agriculture in a way she has not been able to do in the past.
If I were asked to give an opinion on why Russia has not been able to develop her production as she might have done, should say there were several reasons, and one of them is that she has imprisoned or persecuted a great many technicians in both the agricultural and industrial fields. They were men who might have been her mainstay. Russia started in 1917 with a much smaller proportion of such people than existed in Western countries and, furthermore, the geographical and physical extent of Russia is such that it is almost impossible to develop Russia to any great extent in a few years.
Lenin himself forecast that it would take something like 40 to 50 years before Russia could hope to reach anything like the standards of her neighbouring nations. Since then she has had famines and wars and the building up of a tremendous military machine, which has diverted many of her energies from civilian production into the creation of new and great armed forces.
These things have all prevented Russia from attaining that better standard of life, and her poverty, therefore, presses outwards; she is looking for a better life for her people by recruiting, from outside, the well-being and wealth of other nations. I believe the Iron Curtain is not 86 something erected for some ulterior purpose in Russia's relations with other countries. It has been erected very largely to keep the Russians believing that they are in a more fortunate position inside Russia than are the poor slaves of capitalism outside.
I remember, when travelling on a train, speaking to a Russian priest who many years before had lived in America. He said how sad it was to think that people in America were in such dreadful poverty, had such tremendous unemployment and were living in such misery. Although he had actually been in America, he had been persuaded to believe that Russia was fortunate to be in her present state, without unemployment, with everybody working, even though people were poor. I think the Russians believe that. Any of us who go to Russia will see that. When speaking with students in their universities they seemed to look upon us as members of a backward race.
If there were free movement of peoples from Russia to other countries, they could no longer continue to believe that. While therefore the Iron Curtain prevents us from seeing the poverty in Russia, it also prevents the Russian people from seeing the disparity between their conditions and the conditions of people outside. So tong as that disparity exists freedom of movement between Russia and other countries will not be allowed.
To Russia, with her problems, it seems a natural desire that she should be able to absorb or get the benefit of those more highly developed countries, but what I think Russia does not appreciate is that this continual pressing outwards gives the impression to the rest of the world of a great octopus with its tentacles stretching first to this place and then to that place—Korea, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Germany, and even up to the north. The countries surrounding Russia have a feeling of apprehension that these tentacles are coming in their direction. Indeed, I suggest that one of the dangers to world peace is that people will become afraid that in dealing with the tentacles and trying to repel them is not sufficient; and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) has said, they may develop a feeling that they must deal with the octopus by what is called a preventive war. That would be one of the 87 greatest tragedies the world has ever seen, as I am sure we all agree.
The greatest attraction to Russia is Western Germany, and I believe Western Germany is the frontier of Western civilisation in its struggle to defend its standard of life. I can understand the generosity of people who feel we ought to pool all our resources to help the rest of the world, but the pooling of our resources would not necessarily help the rest of the world. The population of Russia, China and India is something like 1,000 million; that is a rough figure. The population of this country is 50 million. If we spread all we consumed over the 1,000 million it would bring very little improvement to them, but it would destroy the possibility of this country maintaining its high productive skill and therefore destroy the possibility of this country helping Russia and India and China.
I earnestly believe, therefore, that on every ground it is important to maintain the high standards of life in this country, and in America and in France and in Germany. It is important to keep their skill alive and to develop it in order that they can help these other countries to help themselves. I do not believe pooling would do it. Pooling would destroy the possibility of our ever being able to do it. Therefore I am sure we must defend our standard of life, and on that issue Germany is the frontier where the essential defence must take place. On moral and political and practical grounds, therefore, I feel we cannot surrender that frontier by allowing Western Germany to become merged into the Russian system.
Nevertheless, we must recognise our responsibility in possessing these productive powers—the responsibility for helping other nations; and here we are faced with two problems. When Russia and others say that the other countries are poor while Britain and America, and others, have done well by getting materials from them at cheap prices, we must admit that there is a certain amount of truth in the statement. Before the war this country bought its food at bargain prices. After the world market had been filled, we stepped in and bought the surplus.
That time has gone. In the meantime, nations we trained and armed to fight Japan and Germany during the war are demanding a better standard of life. The 88 Argentinians are eating more of their own meat. The Indians are eating more of the food they produce. In the same way, every nation in the East asks for more.
In addition, the population of the world has grown by nearly 100 million in the last few years without the production of food increasing in the same proportion. Out of the existing pool of food therefore we are likely to get relatively less and other countries are likely to get relatively more than was the case before the war. This cannot be avoided if we are to help these people to raise their own standards of life.
In considering the defence of our own standard of life, we must also solve the German question. I had recently what I think was a unique opportunity, in travelling in three different capacities throughout Germany in the last five months. On the last occasion I was privileged to be the leader of the Parliamentary delegation from the British branch of Inter-Parliamentary Union to the Bonn Parliament. We were actually in Germany when the date of the election was announced. During our stay we had the opportunity of meeting the leading politicians. We had the honour of meeting President Heuss and Dr. Adenauer and many of the Ministers. We met the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German House of Commons, and we gathered a great many impressions about the attitude of the Germans to international affairs.
On my two previous visits I had the opportunity of meeting trade unionists, people in universities and the man in the street. I met no one in my whole stay in Germany who would willingly live or work under Russia. If, therefore, the struggle for Western civilisation is to become the struggle for the body and soul of Germany, I believe there is no doubt where the great mass of the Western German people would stand if they were asked to choose between living under Russia and living within Western civilisation.
I realise that there are great fears in the minds of people both in this country and in France as to whether Germany may get into wrong hands again if she grows strong. Indeed, many German trade unionists and other in Germany have the same doubts. Many Germans were imprisoned for years under Nazi rule, and 89 they share our doubts. We should recognise that these fears are not peculiar to ourselves but are shared by many democratically minded Germans.
From meetings I have had with many of those who are governing towns and those who form the Government and Parliament of Germany today, I believe that they are quite sincere and sound in this respect. If Germany is built up under their auspices, I feel she can be integrated without danger into Western civilisation. I should not like to say that Dr. Adenauer leads an entirely united Germany, because the German Socialist Party, in public at least, take a very distinct line on some aspects from that of Dr. Adenauer, but I think my colleagues who were there with me would agree that, on the best authority, we were satisfied that the S.P.D. in Germany also had no doubt about where they stood if it came to a choice between Russia and democracy.
I hope, therefore, that the Foreign Secretary, who gave us his report on the progress of the German talks today, will continue to seek progress in the integration of Western Germany into the economy and political unity of Europe. Western Germany, temperamentally and otherwise, is a part of Europe. Europe can never be successful without a prosperous Germany. The productive forces of Germany are essential to the well-being of Europe and I believe, too, that Germany is essential to a really successful United Nations. The United Nations can never be fully effective if a great nation like Germany is outside it, and we must continue to work for progress in the development of democracy inside Germany and, when democracy has been developed, for the inclusion of Germany as a partner in the United Nations.
We must ourselves clear our minds on the issue of Germany. There is a risk in a strong Germany, but there is a greater risk if Germany is not with us. If Germany were to fall into the hands of Russia, that would be a risk greater than any other we could contemplate in the present state of affairs. In any case, our objective is to build up the unity of all nations. We have no desire to create a permanent frontier between Germany and Russia, and the United Nations are ready to welcome the full co-operation of Russia in their councils in maintaining a collective system of peace.
90 It is a great tragedy that after two world wars, it is even possible for nations to be arming and fearing a third war. There is no doubt that this has arisen almost entirely because of the attitude of Russia. From 1945 the Government, and Mr. Ernest Bevin in particular, strove might and main to find some way to satisfy Russia that she was having a fair deal and was a member of the United Nations in the fullest sense. Ernest Bevin had no success and was never able to discover what Russia wanted and what satisfactory guarantees could be given to her to ensure her sitting round the table in co-operation with other nations in a full sense. She has remained aloof and in isolation, and in that isolation has created the fear which dominates the world.
We extend our best wishes in the hope that some progress will be made in breaking down those barriers, for until those harriers are broken this country. America, the United Nations and Europe have no alternative but to build up strong defence forces to ensure that if their liberties are attacked or any aggression should take place they will be able to defend themselves and quickly restore the peace of the world. Without peace the world can look forward with no hope. We all feel the horror of the tragedy which would sweep across the whole human race if there were a third world war. Any nation that started a third world war would have to take the responsibility for destroying civilisation itself.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Hollis (Devizes)
The House is indebted, I am sure, to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn), for his analysis of the situation in Russia. Some of the items of the analysis seemed to meet with disfavour on the part of some of his hon Friends, and others with disfavour amongst others of his hon. Friends, but we were all interested, I am sure, in what he had to say. What I was not clear about, however, was what the right hon. Gentleman thought that we in this House were supposed to do about it.
In one of the right hon. Gentleman's points I half agreed with him and in another I wholly agreed with him. I half agreed with him that it is highly desirable that we should do everything we possibly can to get rid of poverty. I do not wholly 91 agree with him that one can simply say that poverty is the cause of Communism. I think that that is too superficial an analysis. On the contrary, when we look around the world we find that Communism is indeed strong in some countries where there is great poverty, but that in other cases it is equally strong, or almost as strong, where there is a comparatively high standard of living.
For instance, the standard of living in France is a great deal higher than the average standard of living of mankind, but that does not alter the fact that there is a large number of Communists in France. The other point, upon which I wholly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, was in the importance of preventing Communism from spreading to Western Germany—and, indeed, to the Continent of Europe in general. One does not wish to see it spread anywhere, but I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that Western Germany is a place for which it is more important than anywhere else to prevent its spreading.
I wish, in a very few minutes, to make a few observations which arise to some extent from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I am grateful to him for opening the way for me although he could not have foreseen the fact that he was doing so. I wish to make a few observations about an international organisation that has not yet been referred to in the debate, that is to say, the Council of Europe, because I think the time has come when a decision has to be taken fairly definitely as to what part this country shall see fit to play in the deliberations of the Council of Europe in the future. There are, roughly, three courses. I think, from which we can choose.
It would be possible, I think, to argue that the Council of Europe has proved itself as being an organisation of no very great practical importance. We could say that Europe has not showed itself ready for a federal solution, and that, therefore, the Council of Europe cannot hope to be any more than a consultative assembly, and that it is in great danger of being a consultative assembly which, in fact, no one consults, and that, therefore, there is no reason to attack it but, at the same time, no reason to be 92 enthusiastic about it. We could say about itDead things cannot die,"as the poet said, but, "Let us not waste too much time on it." That would be a point of view possible to take.
It would be a point of view, in my opinion, that would be a very mistaken point of view, and a particularly unfortunate one that this Government at this moment should take, seeing the enormous part that the present Prime Minister played in the creation of the Council of Europe. Indeed, it would go far to break the hearts of many people in Europe if such an attitude were taken up. It would be particularly unfortunate because at the moment, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out, there are a large number of European countries which, for one reason or another, are not at the moment members of the United Nations. Therefore, it is very important that we should be able to meet those people in the Council of Europe. That would he one line possible to take up—in my view, as I would have said, an unfortunate one.
The second line it would be possible to take up would he the line of the uncompromising idealist. It would be possible to put forward large claims for the re-organisation of the life of mankind, of the life of Europeans, that, in point of fact, would not be accepted, and then throw the responsibility on others and say, "We did not compromise. They did. Others proved themselves to be faint hearted." That would he a possible line, but, again, a not very useful line.
The third line it would be possible to take, and the line that I hope will be taken, would be to concentrate on trying to find out the number of small practical things which the Council of Europe can usefully accomplish and, by accomplishing them, possibly build up its prestige so that at some future time it could tackle other tasks. I am sure that that is the most useful policy for us to pursue at present.
There are all sorts of little things in Europe, which, I think, it would be possible to reform without too great difficulty—such sorts of things as passport regulations, visa regulations, that may well be swept away. We all know really how absurd passports are. The first thing 93 that an international crook or an international spy is always able to do is to forge the necessary papers to facilitate his movements. These regulations are entirely useless in preventing the movement of such people, whom we may well wish to stop. They are useful only in harassing the good citizens of Europe who happen to lose their passports from time to time.
There is an enormous amount that the Council could do about quarantine and disease regulations. There is an enormous amount it could do about the exchange of information about matters of industrial research, that could be carried on, perhaps in collaboration with O.E.E.C.—work in connection with the sort of conference that O.E.E.C. had at Lancaster House last week.
There are a number of small tasks of great practical importance that, I think, the Council of Europe can tackle, and that it would be well advised to tackle, but one of the particular problems which has been considered there during recent months is the attitude towards what are called—very unhappily called—supra-national authorities. It is an ugly phrase, undoubtedly; in my view; but it is no good quarrelling with phrases. A supranational authority, if called by any other name, would hardly smell less sweet than it does by this name.
However, it is very important that we should consider really what contribution the Council can make to that matter. I think it is most important that we should approach the problem of supra-national authorities from no doctrinaire point of view. I have myself very little use for the person who thinks it necessary to approve of every suggested supra-national authority simply because it is such, or for the person who thinks it necessary to disapprove of every supra-national authority simply because it is such. Each must be considered on its own merits. Also, we must keep our minds open to the changing merits.
Suppose, for instance, that the experiment of a European army meets with success and, as a result, we get a European budget, and that it should be found necessary and possible that there should be something in the nature of a European Government to make the budget, then, obviously, all sorts of things would have to be done on a European scale that it 94 would be impracticable to do on a European scale at present. It is important that these questions should be debated in general, and I think that it is particularly important that they should be debated at the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, because that Council of Europe has, of course, the advantage or disadvantage, as the case may be, by contrast with every other European body, that the people go there who are not representatives of Government, and, indeed, not representatives of majority parties. That very fact may perhaps cause hon. Members opposite to look at it now with greater favour than they did in the past.
As hon. Members know, the greatest example of a supra-national authority up to the present is the example of the Schuman Plan, and there was a very useful debate on the Schuman Plan at the Council of Europe last May. It was interesting from many points of view, and particularly in revealing the wide divergences of opinion on that plan between people of the Socialist faith. British Socialists attacked the plan on the ground that it set up a supra-national authority at all. French Socialists approved the plan. German Socialists attacked it on the ground that the supra-national authority was not strong enough. M. Reynaud, the French statesman, very fairly commented that the only example of successful nationalisation in post-war Europe was the nationalisation of Socialism.
Anyway, we have moved on from that, and the case has been put that, now that the Schuman Plan has been adopted, it should be considered whether there are other things fitted for similar supranational authorities, for which supranational authorities should be set up. A scheme for a supra-national authority for transport has been drawn up, and that scheme has, apparently, not met with very great favour, and is unlikely to be adopted, at any rate, in anything like the form that it at present holds. A suggestion also has been made, very largely by our French friends, to set up a supranational authority in agriculture. M. Pfimlin, until recently French Minister of Agriculture, has circulated all European Governments to see what they think of it as Governments, and M. Charpentier has presented it at Strasbourg to see if the people there will accept it.
95 The supra-national authority planned for agriculture is, roughly, that a supranational authority should be set up which would regulate the production and prices of agricultural commodities, and it is hoped to establish eventually what is called a single market for all Western Europe. It is on that plan that I should like to make just a few observations.
There seem to me to be three things that we ought usefully to bear in mind. The first point I would make is that it does not seem to me useful to argue on the mere analogy of the Schuman Plan, whatever the virtues or vices of the Schuman Plan. Iron and potatoes are very different things. What is good enough for iron is not necessarily good enough for potatoes. In particular, the iron industry, as we know, has been concentrated, by the nature of things, into the hands of a comparatively few producers who have traditionally all sorts of international relations with one another. The machinery that may be adapted for running that industry would not necessarily be well adapted to imposing itself as the authority for the agricultural industry, in which the work is in the hands of many hundreds of thousands of peasants scattered throughout all Europe.
The difficulty about all these supra-national authorities, of course, is that, rightly or wrongly, there is no supra-national government. If and when there is, the problem will be very different indeed. At present there is not. A supranational authority issues its decrees, but it will fall to the national Governments to inforce those decrees, and it does not seem reasonable to expect that they will have more success in enforcing the decrees of a supra-national authority than they have in enforcing their own decrees, and, to put it mildly, some of them have not had complete success in planning their own national agriculture. That is the first point.
The second point to bear in mind is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirling said in a slightly different context. It seems fantastic in the modern world to talk as though the normal problem in agriculture is how to get rid of a surplus, in this world of growing population, and eroding soil. The surplus is obviously an abnormal 96 problem. The normal problem is to produce sufficient food to feed this very rapidly growing population.
The third point which we ought to bear in mind is this, and it is a point which is relevant to all considerations about European unity. No one is a stronger supporter of European unity than I am, in the sense that I want to emphasise in every way the great cultural unity which binds together the nations of Western Europe. When, however, we look at this matter from the economic point of view, Europe, in many ways, is not an economic unit at all. The countries of Europe produce much too nearly the same sort of thing. In nothing is that more true than in agriculture.
The great problem is that all the countries of Europe are in deficit at present to the U.S.A. Supposing we broke down every barrier between them it would not follow that they would not all be in deficit together. As the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby) once said, "If you have a lot of deficits, you do not get rid of them by adding them together." Europe and the Commonwealth, associated together, will, I think, be something in the nature of an economic unit, which may well get free from dependence on the U.S.A., but Europe alone, whether one or twenty countries, is not, in the nature of things, an economic unit. If we built up a single European market with one single tariff barrier around the whole European Continent, although we did it in the name of the liberalisation of trade, we should, I think, interfere with a great deal more trade than we would liberalise.
One of the most useful discussions which took place at the recent meeting of the Council of Europe was whether we could, in some way, associate, in the first instance, as observers, the countries of the Commonwealth with the deliberations of the Council of Europe. I hope that these discussions may prove fruitful. Nothing would be more likely to make them prove unfruitful than to give, for instance, the Australians the impression that they would at once come under the control of some European authority which would regulate say the number of sheep which they were able to shear. Therefore, we must consider very carefully before we associate ourselves with any scheme such as that which will have to be considered by the Council of Europe next week.
97 If the only question which our French friends were to allow us to answer was the answer of whether we say "Yes" or "No" to such suggestions, I do not think that we should have any alternative but to say "No." I very greatly hope that the question will not be presented to us in quite so blunt a form. I hope so for a number of reasons. Firstly, because, of course, for every sort of reason, we must have the closest and the most friendly relations with the French that we possibly can.
We could very well understand the problem of the French. In the past, they argue, they lived by the export of luxury goods, and now, in these days of austerity with countries not willing to accept these luxury goods from them, they wish to become exporters of food. That in itself is a laudable ambition. On the other hand, it cannot be expected that we should be willing to sacrifice and upset our friendly suppliers in the Dominions just to take French food. Matters cannot be settled on such a small scale as this, but if we could get organised a larger unit, there would be little doubt that if the French could produce a surplus of food they would find someone to buy it. This is a mad world, but not so mad that civilisation would go down the drain because the French had too much food and no one would eat it. No one can believe that such a problem can prove insoluble, if the scale on which it is tackled is large enough.
Secondly, I think that it is very important that we should not be faced with a blank "Yes" or "No" on this question, because, although I do not think it is possible for us to accept a supranational authority in agriculture, I think that there is every reason in the world why we should co-operate in some international organisation which would tackle such small problems as those to which I have referred. These, I think, are problems which could usefully be settled by an international authority. Let us all work on scientific co-operation against disease and on such matters as under what conditions of quarantine should be enforced for crops and animals between one country and another. A large number of important and valuable things could be done by such an organisation provided that it was not set up as a mandatory authority.
98 It could be done on three conditions. First, that producers must be associated directly with that organisation—and that was a condition made by my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Works when he was engaged on the study of this problem a year ago. Secondly, I think that this organisation could do very valuable work in facilitating the arrangement of commodity agreements between different countries, and the condition of being able to do that is that extra-European countries must be associated with it, because almost all these agreements are between extra-European countries and European countries. Thirdly, whatever is done by the Council of Europe must be done in collaboration with and not in opposition to O.E.E.C. It is most desirable that we should have the greatest possible European co-operation, but we do not want rival organisations competing against one another unnecessarily.
As the O.E.E.C. makes its reports to the Council of Europe, I do not think that any difficulty should be experienced in seeing that there is co-ordination between these two organisations. On these two lines I think that enormously important work could be done if people are content to move slowly. I do not feel that economically Europe itself is an economic unit at all. Europe and the Commonwealth together do form an economic unit, and it is enormously important to the future of the world that that economic unit should be made as strong as possible.
In the forming of that economic unit, it is obvious that a unique part does fall on this country to play, since she is the only country who is a member of both the Commonwealth and of Europe. Therefore, I greatly hope that our Continental friends will be persuaded to see that it is greatly in their own interest that they should allow us to play that part which will indeed increase peace and prosperity for us and will equally, I think, increase peace and prosperity for them.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) has made a closely reasoned argument for the extension of the federal principle in Europe to co-operate with the Commonwealth as a whole.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I have misrepresented him. I think that what he has said has a good deal of validity and would go a long way towards strengthening the present economic position in Europe, which will never really be satisfactorily resolved unless there is co-operation with some area such as that provided by the Commonwealth nations beyond the seas.
I was interested in what the hon. Member said about the future of the Council of Europe. I have not had the advantage which he has had of attending a meeting of the Council of Europe so I am open to correction, and quite ready to receive any propaganda from the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps the powers that be who sit above the Gangway can be persuaded to send me there to have a look at things myself.
Speaking as an outsider who has not been to Strasbourg, the impression which one gets is that a good deal is talked about there and very little is ever likely to be done, so I welcome the tasks which the hon. Gentleman is proposing as a real job for the Council of Europe, instead of a good deal of this "airy fairy" talk that goes on without any practical proposals resulting.
I should like to bring the debate back to the wider political problems dealt with by the Foreign Secretary in the very comprehensive survey which he gave to us. Those are the main issues facing mankind today and facing the world, and the Council of Europe, important though it is, is a relatively small side issue compared with some of the great political problems that we have to settle, or fail to settle, with dire consequences to the future of the world, in the next few months.
The problem that faces us in the field of foreign affairs, and which is the framework in which we live our lives, in that this crowded little island can be divided into two main sections. There is the immediate political problem resulting in our differences with Eastern European countries and Soviet Russia, which is the short-term problem, and there is the wider economic problem which faces the world as a whole—the long-term problem which faced mankind in the second half of the 100 20th century. Perhaps I may say a word or two about each one of those different sections.
First, a word about the political problems which face us at the moment. The most important political problem is the avoidance of a third world war and a political settlement between East and West. This can only be solved, as the right hon. Gentleman said in his speech in Paris, by dealing with specific issues, by dealing with hard, concrete problems and then going on to the wider problems which exist beyond. I should like to say a word or two about one or two of the specific issues facing us. The one most uppermost in the minds of people is the question of Korea.
I think it only fair to tell the right hon. Gentleman that there is considerable public disquiet in this country about the negotiations which have been dragging on for some many months. It is not the fault of his Government but an indictment of both Governments which we have had in the course of this year. Many people feel that there is not the resolution on behalf of the Allies to get the peaceful settlement there ought to be. Many people are getting fed up with a situation which has been dragging on for a long time.
I noticed that the "New York Times," last Tuesday I think it was, had an editorial saying, in effect, that it would be a good thing if we understood all the difficulties and that the lads in Korea must not get too fed up because people were really trying to patch up a settlement even though they were slow about it. Forty-eight hours later came the startling revelation of the atrocities supposed to have been committed in China. I do not know the rights or wrongs about that, but the thing that disturbs me, as it does all in this House and every member of the British public, is the way in which these revelations were made. It is profoundly disturbing that when we are in sight of a cease-fire negotiation, someone is in a position to come along and throw a spanner in the works in this fashion.
It seems reminiscent of last December, when we were hoping to get a solution and General MacArthur wrecked the whole idea. I am not blaming the right hon. Gentleman, but I think it fair to face this criticism in a public forum and 101 say that there are many people in Britain who are profoundly disturbed and who are glad to welcome the handsome apology which General Ridgway has made, but who would also like to know that this kind of thing will never occur again.
On it depends the lives not only of American but British soldiers and the future peace of the world. We do not want to see this kind of thing happening again. That is one aspect of the Korean war. What I would like to see, in addition, is a positive approach to try and get some clearer statement as to what really are our terms in Korea. We seem to change them week by week and month by month and no one has any definite idea of what we are trying to seek in the armistice negotiations which are taking place.
That is not good enough, and a number of us on this side of the House as well as many in the country would like the British Government to tell the American Government that the Korean war has gone on long enough: and that we think that now we have settled the question of repelling aggression in South Korea it is time to see if we could not come to an agreement without unnecessarily prolonging the negotiations. The Foreign Secretary spoke about prisoners of war, I could not help feeling that the surest way of keeping the prisoners of war from getting home is unnecessarily to prolong the negotiations in the way we have been doing for some time.
I should like to go from there to say a word about China. I was disappointed in what the Foreign Secretary said about Chinese representation on the United Nations Security Council. I cannot see how it is possible to get any kind of peace in the Far East until this matter is settled, and I think we are blinding ourselves and hoping for the moon if we ever think that we can get that kind of settlement permanently unless we are prepared to concede the legitimate demands of the Chinese Government.
It is not a question of politics or whether we agree or disagree with the Communist Government of China. They have a legitimate claim to this seat on the Security Council, and I should like to see a more positive approach by His Majesty's Government to the United States Government. I suggest that we might 102 say to the Americans, "We understand many of the political problems involved in your internal political position over this matter. Nevertheless, this is something on which we must get agreement if we are not going to have an indefinite and a serious situation in the Far East, which might at any time boil up into a third world war."
§ Mr. Eden
I did not announce any new policy today about China. So far, while we have been examining the matter, we have carried on the policy of the late Government, and it was their view that until the aggression in Korea had stopped no decision in respect of the seat on the Security Council could be taken.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I am glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman did not announce any change of policy but I rather gathered that he was not prepared to face up to the question of Chinese representation. The late Government—I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) in his place and perhaps he can help on the matter—went a long way towards pressing for Chinese representation but that they did not press it after the aggression of last year.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
I think the Foreign Secretary put the matter quite correctly. For a long time we pressed for a decision on this matter, and if I remember rightly we even went on pressing for some time after the resolution on aggression in Korea was adopted. After a certain time we felt that, once the resolution had been passed and the Chinese had had some time to consider it and act upon it, in view of the sentiment in the United Nations, we did not feel it reasonable to go on pressing. We thought the question should be postponed, and that the next move towards it should come from the Chinese themselves by stopping the Korean fighting.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I am grateful for what has been said by my right hon. Friend, but for the life of me I cannot see how the Chinese could have acted on that resolution. Also, I cannot see where the two are related in any way at all. Either the Chinese are entitled to sit on the Security Council or they are not. That to me seems to be the whole criterion of the matter.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
We ought to get this clear. Does the hon. Gentleman mean that when a Power is on the Security Council, or is going to be elected to the Council, and then becomes an aggressor, it does not make any difference at all?
§ Mr. Donnelly
As far as I can see, it does not make any difference at all in the context of the United Nations as situated at the present time. It is not an affable club, where people are selected for their good behaviour, and I cannot see why that yardstick should be applied in any way.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Does my hon. Friend agree that a Government which were complaining that they were not given their proper place on the Security Council could not be expected to honour and abide by the validity of a resolution of that Security Council arrived at only by excluding them from membership, and that it could not be binding upon them?
§ Mr. Donnelly
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for putting the matter so clearly.
I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), talking about our relations with the United States of America. His remarks started with the usual comment that he was not anti-American, and he then went on to say some words which I wish he had said a great deal more often when he was in office himself. I entirely agree with him that the best friends America have are those who are prepared to say things to the American's face. It is no good dealing in affable, diplomatic terms, and expect that that point of view will be accepted. It seems to me that there was far too much affable diplomacy in the late Government and far too little of the point of view which my right hon. Friend so ably expressed from the Despatch Box on the Opposition side of the House this afternoon. [Laughter.] Yes, he did very well indeed on that particular point. I think I had better leave it at that.
These are some of the short-term political issues which we have got to settle. First, there is the Korean question, then there is the Chinese question, and, third, we come to the German question. Here, I would urge the Foreign Secretary to adopt 104 a more positive policy towards the unification of Germany. What he said this afternoon seemed to us to be nothing new but a continuation of the policy adopted by the outgoing Government. Unless he is prepared to take steps towards unifying Germany, there can be no permanent settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
I would urge him to have second thoughts about Western German rearmament. We have got ourselves into a dangerous situation over this which may well lead to a third world war. It is also a situation which may lead to complications in a way which none of us have yet envisaged, except in the reports of some of the newspaper correspondents on the spot. For instance, there was an interesting article by Mr. Karl Robson in the "News Chronicle" last Saturday pointing out the dangers of German militarism. It gives Western Germany the worst of both worlds, and, at the same time, encourages very undesirable elements among ex-generals and ex-Nazi leaders in Western Germany.
The Foreign Secretary with the Prime Minister played some part in warning this country against the dangers of German aggression before the war. I urge him to think back to some of those warnings, and to remind himself now that he may well be sowing seeds which, if he is not careful, will result in a recurrence of some of those unfortunate happenings, which in 1939 culminated in the resuscitation of German militarism. We should give further thought to the whole question. We could use German re-armament as a bargain. It is no good using it as a permanent policy unless we are prepared to have one more try with the Russian Government to reach a settlement. I was glad to see in one of the newspapers that there is still a feeling among many of the representatives of the European countries in Paris for some settlement with Russia.
Underlying the whole of this problem is the question of our relationship towards the Communist countries. This is really the acid test of what we are going to do. Either we co-operate with them and agree to live and let live, on the principle that there is room in the world for both of us, or else we are to say that there is no hope of any kind of settlement. It is very disturbing when one reads in the "Manchester Guardian," for instance, a report from one of the American newspapers—I do not know whether there is any truth 105 in this or not—that General Eisenhower reported to President Truman that he should proceed on the basis that war was inevitable in 1952. It is dangerous when people start talking in those terms, or when even reports like that begin to appear in newspapers.
It is a serious responsibility for this Government to see that that kind of talk does not spread, which is one of the reasons why it is dangerous for this House to adjourn for two months, during which there may well be some very critical weeks in world history. It is important for Members of this House to use this forum as an expression of public opinion, and as a point from which public criticism may be exercised on Government action.
These are some of the short-term political problems that face us, but over and above all that is the supreme challenge which faces mankind, and that is the relationship between the better-off Western countries and the under-developed countries of the world. Our approach to this question is the final test of how our generation will measure up to the problems which are facing us. In the underdeveloped areas of the world the people were content to live for generation after Generation just below the subsistence level. Today, they are raising their eyes from the soil on which they have toiled for centuries, and they are looking for a place in the economic sun equal to that which we enjoy. They see the wealth of the Western world through the plate glass windows of society and they are prevented from enjoying what they see there. Many of them are getting ready to smash these plate glass windows in order to have security and prosperity for themselves.
It is this which is leading to many of the troubles in the world today, in Persia, in Egypt, in Malaya, in Burma, and in many other parts of the world. It is our duty to face this problem. It was our failure to face up to this problem which led to the situation in China, where the Communist Party has accepted the moral leadership of the Chinese people. Unless we are prepared to tackle this problem, we must abdicate any right we have to lead the world towards a permanent solution of its most important problems. That is the ultimate challenge which faces mankind in the second half of the 20th century. 106 The people in Asia and in the African countries see through glass darkly at the moment, but soon they will want to see face to face, and unless we are prepared to meet them with the hand of friendship and human brotherhood, to which so many of us pay lip service but do nothing about, then we are going to face a situation which may have awful consequences. It cannot be met in the way in which the Prime Minister proposed to meet the Indian settlement when we were dealing with political freedom for India. It cannot be met by atom bombs, rifles or bullets, but only by the substitution of better ideas and a better economic policy than those which the Communist countries are able to offer.
The Government of this country, coming to office as they have at this particular time, have a double responsibility on them to see that this long-term challenge does not go unanswered. If they prefer to follow the point of view advocated by the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Horobin), who, when he spoke in the debate on the Address last week said we should not mind about Colombo Plans or helping the underdeveloped areas, we shall face a disaster which may well wipe out the civilisation and culture which we have built up in this country over 1,000 years.
These are a few of the problems which face us today. A great deal, I know, depends on the visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Washington in January. I feel that that mission may be described to some extent as two gentlemen in search of a policy.
§ Mr. Donnelly
My hon. Friend wants to know why they should go to Washington for it. We realise that a good many of the economic difficulties that are facing us in this House come from the foreign policy which has been pursued for so long. It is no good trying to get away from that point of view, for it continually faces us. The ultimate solution of our economic difficulties can only be found in a re-orientation of our foreign policy. That is the permanent solution which we seek.
In conclusion, may I say that the Government have a very great task on their shoulders. There is nobody on this side 107 of the House who would not give them every support in the efforts that they may make to try to preserve the peace of the world both in a short-term aspect and in any approach to the long-term problems which are facing mankind, and which will require a great change of attitude from that expressed by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon.
His speech was very nice, very lucid and very charming, but the right hon. Gentleman said absolutely nothing new, although he said it charmingly. The policy which he is advocating, and which successive British Governments have adopted as their policy since 1945, is the policy which has led to this situation. If we hope to get anywhere in meeting the difficulties which confront us there will have to be a good deal of thought and heart-searching, and of thinking about things we have done wrong in order to learn lessons from them, and about the things that we have done right also. Unless we behave in this way, we shall meet disaster.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I am very glad of this opportunity of following the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), and of thanking him for the very interesting speech which he has just delivered. I agree with a great deal of what he has said, both with regard to the immediate problems and the long-term problems which confront humanity today. It is almost impossible to deal with these long-term problems while the immediate problems are hanging over our heads.
It has been a real pleasure to find such a consensus of opinion in the House today and so much harmony, in discussing the problems of the world. I wish that the harmony could be carried elsewhere. I wish it could be followed in Paris, or wherever the nations are meeting to discuss these matters. I would congratulate the Foreign Secretary, not only upon his speech this evening but upon his speech in Paris, upon the tone, the approach and the language, and especially upon the aim and purpose, of that speech. It showed a desire to try to turn the attention of those whom he was addressing from quarrelling to finding a solution, upon the basis of matters upon which they agree.
108 It is tragic that the world is still divided, and that each nation is beggaring itself by creating armaments. That is true not only of the free countries, but, as the ex-Secretary for Foreign Affairs has said, also of Russia. If any country needed to devote itself to improving economic conditions in the vast area between the China seas and the European boundary, it is Russia. She must be using a vast amount of labour, material and energy in creating armaments. After two world wars, the lesson ought to have been brought home to all of us of the futility and the iniquity of war, to whatever country we may belong.
In every country there is a desire, as the hon. Member for Pembroke has said, for an improved standard of health, nutriment and life generally. Instead of being able to satisfy that desire, every country is deprived of the materials and labour with which that desire could be satisfied because they are being turned into the armaments of destruction.
As the Foreign Secretary said, the position is grave and menacing, but it is not, and it should not be, desperate. A third world war is not inevitable. Anybody who says so is condemning not only leaders everywhere but condemning himself, for he who says it also has a duty towards his fellow men, which is to see that war is not inevitable.
I am also convinced, and I am sure that every hon. Member is convinced, that the ordinary man everywhere, on either side of the Iron Curtain, does not desire war, and that if matters were left to them there would be no war. It is only when the fate of the people is in the hands of a dictator or an oligarchy desirous of extending his or its power that danger comes to us all.
I like the right hon. Gentleman's approach, both here and in Paris, to this question, asking us all to consider what were the questions upon which we could more easily find agreement and not to emphasise those matters which have hitherto led to dispute and have led, in succession, to each side denouncing the other and going away in the evening to think out the worst things it could say about the other side. The right hon. Gentleman shows the first real approach to settling these differences.
Then there is the other matter, that one should concentrate upon the smaller 109 and agreed things which should have been solved long ago and that, with a little forethought, would be easy of solution today. For example, there is the matter to which the right hon. Gentleman has often called attention, peace with Austria, so that Austria could be left to manage her own affairs.
It seems to have been forgotten by many people who attend the Security Council and the General Assembly that the United Nations was formed to get rid of war and to bring the nations together for peace. Instead of that, some people treat the United Nations as somewhere where they can raise any kind of question which is likely to lead to disagreement.
The right hon. Gentleman put first the proposal that has come from him and from America, for disarmament. It might sound strange, at a moment when every nation is straining every nerve to create more arms and make itself strong, that we should come forward with a proposal for disarmament, but I do not think it is hypocritical at all. It is right that this very moment should be chosen to point out what is happening, and to say: "Here is a way in which we can stop all that, and turn our attention to other matters." If we could get agreement on that point perhaps we might move on to what we all want, general agreement and general peace throughout the world.
Our object, and I am sure it is the object of the Foreign Secretary, should be to strengthen the United Nations organisation, to make it a real world force and give it such a position that its decisions will not only be obeyed but obeyed readily and without question by all nations. Until that position is reached, I welcome all movements for agreement, even in a limited area, among the nations, because each of them is a step towards the bigger objective, namely, world agreement.
If we can gradually abolish barriers which have separated countries and led to jealousies, enmities and quarrels, I can visualise agreement extending over a wide area. The greatest of all the attempts at the present moment is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. A great step forward is the meeting which is taking place between members of the Congress of the United States of America and members of the European Parliaments. I hope the first meeting will be 110 the prelude to a bigger movement for bringing us all closer together and getting the unity which Members here unanimously desire.
We now seem to realise that these three matters are closely interlinked. First, we concentrated our attention upon defending our freedom, and, therefore, asked that there should be cohesion and co-operation for the common object of defending our own individual freedoms; but it was no good having that common object or common defence unless we also had a common foreign policy, and now it is also realised that it is no good merely having defensive armaments in common, and that we must also assist one another economically. So the three matters of foreign policy, economic conditions and general working together in common defence are now interlinked.
For that reason I welcome the new approach, especially since 14th November, towards European unity. I listened with close attention to the well-informed speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis). One always listens not only with pleasure but with profit to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure he is right in saying that we have to take these matters in steps and stages. We must get closer cohesion in Europe for a start. We occupy the amazing position of being contiguous to Europe and yet of being the heart of the Commonwealth, and it is in that way and through us that the plan which the hon. Member has in mind can be brought about.
I hope that from now on there will be more encouragement on the part of the Government to the nations of Europe to work closer together. Do the Government intend to encourage something more than functional co-operation? We know about the Schuman Plan. I do not quite know what the position of the Government can be with regard to it. It has been signed but has not yet been ratified. If the Government felt that they would like to join in that plan, even at this late stage, is that possible? Even if the Government cannot do that, I take it—I hope this is right—that there will be a very close association from now on with the scheme which has been set up for the operation of the Schuman Plan.
I feel that if European unity is to succeed, and if from that a larger area is brought into the scheme, including the 111 United States of America, which has been started by the talks now going on between the members of Congress and the members of the European Parliaments, one must go beyond mere functional operations. Much closer attention must be paid to the possibility of creating some supra-national body which will command the respect and confidence of all of us.
As the Foreign Secretary said—the Prime Minister was the first to call attention to it and has emphasised it on many occasions—the key to a united Europe is to be found in Germany. One is pleased to learn the statements made by the Foreign Secretary about Western Germany and the efforts which are now so be made to get a unified Germany. I should like to say how much we appreciate the great work that is being done by Herr Adenauer, who has shown a calm steadiness which is worthy of his very high statesmanship. Not only Germany but Europe and the free nations of the world can be grateful to that man for what he has done.
I was glad to hear what the Foreign Secretary said about Italy. The Italian people have suffered, and are suffering, grievously, and their sufferings are mainly due to the fact that they put their faith in a false idol. But they have paid, and are paying, heavily for that mistake. They are a great people, with a great history and a great tradition, and their assistance in our councils in Europe will be of tremendous advantage not only to Italy but to all of us.
I agreed with what the hon. Member for Pembroke said about Korea:Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.One was glad to hear better news this morning and to learn that the problem is likely to be brought to a head—
§ Mr. Davies
—and an end. We have waited anxiously for agreement which would lead to a cease-fire. It has been the desire of all that there should be a cease-fire, and we have been waiting day by day to see something of that nature emerge. I hope that the present move will lead not only to an armistice but also to a permanent settlement.
I have taken the view all along that the Chinese Government should not only 112 be recognised but also be admitted into the United Nations. I know it is difficult when the Chinese have broken Article IV of the Charter and are aggressors, but there are moments when these questions can be raised. I would say to the hon. Member for Pembroke that I agreed with the Foreign Secretary that this is not the moment to press forward the claims of China. If we can get Korea settled and that problem put out of the way, then will come the right moment to raise the other matter, and if it can be raised then I can see no answer whatsoever that can be given to the right and just claims of China.
I want to say a word about Persia. One is congratulating everybody on this occasion. I give my warmest congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said about Persia. We are all glad to know that he has thrown out the offer of re-opening negotiations. If it is possible to settle the problem on the three basic considerations which the Foreign Secretary mentioned, all of us will be satisfied.
The same applies to Egypt. I would only point out with regard to Egypt that she seems to have thought that in some way she suffered through our agreement with her in 1936 and through what we have done from 1880 to 1936. Everything that we have done there has been for the benefit of Egypt and to relieve Egypt of burdens, and we have taken upon ourselves the tremendous burden of defending the Canal. As this is an international highway of value not only to ourselves but to every country in the world—it is not merely a highway between East and West; it is a world highway—it is right that we should now be relieved of the burden that we have carried through all these years and that it should be shared by the other nations, certainly by the United States, France, Turkey and Egypt as well as ourselves.
Finally, I stress again the importance of the Middle East. Throughout the long history of man it has occupied a key position. All the various nations have, throughout the centuries, played a prominent part in regard to the Middle East. Most of our known history is concerned with that part which we call the Middle East.
I am glad now that it is recognised that there must be brought together all the nations that are there and that they 113 should not be antagonistic to one another; that not only should the Arabs be brought together, but that that amazing new nation, Israel, should also be asked to co-operate with Turkey and the Arab States to form one great cohesive people anxious for one thing and one thing only—the betterment of conditions in that part of the world and the defence of it.
One feels tonight, after hearing the speeches and the general consensus of opinion here as to what is needed, a greater optimism than one has felt for some time. I sincerely hope that that optimism will be justified and that there will come a real move away from armament and towards peace and good will.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), who is the Leader of the Liberal Party, will not expect me to follow in any great detail what he has said, although I have listened with the very greatest interest and with much agreement to his remarks. One thing with which I wholeheartedly agree is that one of the real tragedies of today is that having experienced two world wars, we should again be re-arming to such an extent. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree, however, that at this stage in our affairs, and in the present state of the world, no other policy is possible. After all, prior to the 1914 and 1939 wars we were very largely unarmed, and it may well be that the policy of re-armament may—indeed, we all hope, will—prevent a third world catastrophe.
§ Mr. C. Davies
I absolutely agree, and I have so often said that to me freedom matters more than anything else.
§ Mr. Craddock
I appreciate the right hon. and learned Gentleman's sentiments.
The problems which face the Government today are not new problems. They are those which have faced all governments from time immemorial: the problems of finance, defence, and foreign policy. From time to time a greater emphasis has, perhaps, had to be laid on one of these three aspects than on the others, but today all three are of vital importance, not only to ourselves, but to the whole world.
114 I still cling to the view, however, which I have always held, that in the realm of political activity the most important aspect is foreign policy. After all, we can build up a prosperous country, we can build great social services, and marvellous houses with wonderful fittings, but if our foreign policy is not conducted in a way that maintains peace but lands us in war, all these grandoise schemes will go up in smoke—or, to use modern language, everything will disintegrate into radio-active dust.
Ten days ago, during the debate on the Gracious Speech, we heard many criticisms from hon. Members opposite. I got the impression that they did not seem to think that the new Government had started to tackle their problems in the right way. There is, however, one thing with which every hon. Member opposite will agree, and that is that with the exception of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, no man in public life today has greater knowledge and wider experience of the problems of foreign affairs than my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
In the past few years, when the Labour Government were in power, one of the mistakes that, certainly, some hon. Members opposite made was that they were much too inclined to approach foreign policy and foreign relationships from partisan or ideological point of view. We all have our own ideas of what is desirable, but the real test of statesmanship is what is possible and what is practicable in the light of existing conditions; and I feel—we have had examples of it, not only today, but in the past—that our problems will certainly be approached in a spirit of realism by my right hon. Friend the present Foreign Secretary.
We are starting on a new chapter in foreign affairs, and I suggest it would not be a bad thing if for just one moment we looked at the structure of the Foreign Office, at the organisation over which my right hon. Friend presides. In his opening remarks he mentioned the tremendous burdens which he has to carry—committees, numerous telegrams, and the terrific detail that is entailed. It is a platitude to say that the Foreign Secretary, to whatever party he may belong, carries a tremendous weight of responsibility. Everyone will agree that that weight of responsibility was a major 115 factor in the premature and much-lamented death of the late Ernest Bevin.
I believe the time has come when we have got to look at the Foreign Office structure and see whether it is possible to relieve the Foreign Secretary of a good deal of the detail to which he must inevitably give attention. Therefore, I put forward for consideration the suggestion that the Foreign Secretary should be assisted by four Ministers of State. There are four main spheres of activity in the foreign field, all of which have been reviewed today. They are the Far East, the Middle East, Europe and the Atlantic Powers, and the British Empire and Commonwealth.
I shall have a word to say about this later because although the Commonwealth may not strictly come within the orbit of foreign policy, it is, as my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, of great importance that the Foreign Secretary of this country should be able to go into the councils of the world knowing that in the views he puts forward he is also voicing the foreign policy and ideas of the Commonwealth countries.
Therefore, I suggest that the Foreign Secretary should have, as his right-hand lieutenants, so to speak, four Ministers of State, one of whom would deal with Far Eastern matters, another with the Middle East, one with the details of Europe and the Atlantic Powers, and the other with the British Empire and Commonwealth.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
The point that the hon. Member is raising surely involves legislation and, as this is a debate on the adjournment, I submit, Mr. Speaker, that he is not in order.
§ Mr. Craddock
I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. Having made the suggestion, I shall leave it at that. After all, the matter has not yet reached the point of legislation. It is purely a suggestion which I ask my right hon. Friend and the Prime Minister to consider.
As we all recognise, the task of a Foreign Secretary is to create and maintain harmony among the nations. That is the long-term policy, but, as my right 116 hon. Friend said, the most immediate thing which has to be tackled at once is a tremendous effort to relieve the tension that exists throughout the world. I believe we have to adopt bold and imaginative policies to try to achieve that object. For a few moments I wish to touch on one or two matters in the four spheres of activity which I have mentioned.
The first is the question of Korea. I am bound to say that in recent months I have gained the impression that there has been rather a policy of drift displayed by the Union Nations. I believe we have to work for peace just as hard as we have to fight a war. Furthermore, while one recognises that the immediate need is a cease-fire in Korea, I believe it might well help towards the general situation in Korea and the Far East if the United Nations gave some indication at least of the policy which they hope to pursue after hostilities have ceased. That might well have a very far-reaching effect, not only on the immediate situation in Korea, but on the whole attitude of the Far East to the Western world.
I felt a good deal of sympathy with what the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), said in regard to China. Hon. Members who have lived in that country and know the Chinese, as I do to a certain extent, will agree that there is no certainty at all that China will remain under the present Communist régime. In fact, I think the whole history of China points to the fact that governments come and go with amazing rapidity in China. I do not believe for a moment that it is at all likely that the Chinese people will remain under the present régime for any length of time.
Holding this view, I believe that if the United Nations, particularly Britain and the United States, would make a real effort to get across to the Chinese people that they are in sympathy with their national aspirations, such a course would be worth trying. After all, we have enjoyed a very close friendship with China for many generations, and from what I know of them and from my personal experience of the Chinese people I do not believe that they are at all antagonistic to the Government or people of Great Britain, but would welcome some closer contact.
117 That brings me to the question of India. As far as one can judge from his utterances and from Press reports, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, has aspirations to become the leader of Asia. There is no harm in his trying to attain that position, and in view of the fact that he has tried to maintain friendly relations with China it may be that his services could be used in trying to impress upon the Chinese people and the Far Eastern people generally the attitude of the United Nations, particularly the attitude of the United States and ourselves, towards the aspirations of the people of Asia.
Mention of India brings me to Pakistan. This is my own view, but the impression I have formed by sitting in this House for the last two years and listening to the party opposite when they were in power is that while they were very keen on, and did succeed to a large extent in, cementing the relationships between this country and India, they neglected to a certain extent our relations with Pakistan and did not try to strengthen the bonds between this country and Pakistan as they tried, with success, in the case of India.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
Is not the hon. Member forgetting that until independence came there was no Pakistan, but only India?
§ Mr. Craddock
I am not, because I lived in India when it was one nation, so to speak, and my remarks referred to the time since India and Pakistan became self-governing Dominions. I felt that there were not enough effort made to strengthen the bond between ourselves and Pakistan. I think it not untrue to say that the tendency is for India to look towards the East, whereas the whole tendency of Pakistan is to look towards the West for friendship, and if we had had closer relations with Pakistan—
§ Mr. Sorensen indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Craddock
—they might have been of considerable help to the previous Government over the difficulties in regard to the Abadan refinery in Persia. Certainly Pakistan can be of great help to the present Government in relation to the Middle East generally.
As we all know, the situation in Persia was dealt with by the Hague International Court quite unsuccessfully. At U.N.O. the Security Council discussed it with no 118 result, and I feel strongly that now the question should be left to negotiation between the two Governments, between the Government of Persia and our own Government without interference from any third party. As every hon. Member who knows Persia will agree, the oil company has done tremendous work in the past, but the solution may be that it would be better for that great industry and for Persia itself if the oil company disappeared from the picture and the new set-up was run as a partnership between the two Governments of Persia and Britain.
I shall say only a passing word about Egypt. I feel it absolutely essential that the rule of law should be upheld in the world, and the sanctity of the written word must be upheld. That is one of the most important things. In passing, I should observe that when hon. Members talk, as they so often do, about the development of under-developed areas of the world, if the written word is to be broken and the sanctity of contracts not upheld, as in Persia and Egypt, what encouragement is there for any country to go further in the development of other parts of Asia?
I am delighted that Greece has been brought within the orbit of the Atlantic Treaty Powers. I am not sure whether Greece is a European or a Middle Eastern Power; I think it would be true to say that she has a foot in each camp. As a result, I hope that one of the things which will happen will be that as long as we have to go on re-arming the Island of Crete will be made into a really strong fortress. I know it very well and have flown over practically every inch of it. One thing which perturbed me profoundly in the last war was to learn that that island had been occupied with comparative ease by German forces. Those rugged mountains and that rugged territory can be built into a strong bastion in that part of the Mediterranean.
Like the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, I feel that a united Europe is an absolutely essential factor in the world situation. I am bound to say that I cannot visualise a really united Europe which does not include Spain. I quite appreciate that the question of Spain is perhaps rather a delicate one with certain hon. Members opposite. I would say to those hon. Members and others 119 who say that Spain should not be brought in, that I really do not understand such an attitude. What is the situation today? We have just concluded a treaty with one of our bitterest and most barbarous enemies during the war, namely Japan. We are now discussing, and have been doing for many a long month, the rearmament of Germany. Well, surely if those things—and I believe they are right and proper in the situation today— are happening, I can see no strong objection to bringing Spain within the orbit of a united Europe.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, made some remarks about the proposed visit of the Prime Minister to the United States of America. I did not quite understand what he meant when he referred to the remarks of the Prime Minister at the Mansion House. I cannot imagine the Prime Minister going to the United States in the rôle of a suppliant or a mendicant. On the contrary, I should say it would be quite the reverse.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that when the Prime Minister goes to Washingon he is going to ask for dollar aid for Britain's re-armament programme?
§ Mr. Craddock
The hon. Member may have more information from the Prime Minister than I have, but certainly I know nothing about that. What I believe that my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will do is to see that the British point of view is expressed more forcibly in Washington than perhaps it has been in recent years.
§ Mr. Craddock
Everyone acknowledges that the United States has the material strength, but we have tremendous experience and wisdom in political matters. I say that our attitude should be made quite clear to the United States, namely, that the United States need us as much as we need them in the world today. I believe that view will be expressed, quite forcibly and courteously, but strongly by my right hon. Friends during their mission to Washington.
I would say a word about the British Empire and Commonwealth, and here I get back to my suggestion, on which I had better not dwell, because it may be 120 out of order, about the benefit which would accrue to the Foreign Secretary if he had a Minister of State under him whose duty it would be to deal with the detailed foreign policy of the Dominions. I believe that is a step which would be welcomed by the Dominions. They would delight in the fact that they had a senior Minister of the Crown working in such close contact with them. If the Foreign Secretary, at the United Nations and in the United States, knew that he was speaking on foreign affairs with the whole backing of the Dominions and members of the Commonwealth, that would enormously strengthen his own position.
During the recent General Election all hon. Members probably had some interesting experiences. There was one which happened to me, and which I shall not forget for a long time. I arrived at the gates of a factory at lunch-time on one occasion to address the employees during their luncheon hour. I found I had been forestalled by a representative of my Labour opponent. The Labour candidate was not present himself, but his representative on this occasion happened to be a very delightful, good looking, tall, handsome young undergraduate. This undergraduate had a lovely voice. It was most cultured and refined. As we both arrived at the same time we decided we would each have a go. He started off first, this handsome, young man from the university, speaking on behalf of the Labour candidate. He started by saying, "This is the voice of Labour.…"
I respectfully suggest that what the nations of the world want to hear is not the voice of Labour, not even the voice of the Conservative Party. What the nations of the world want to hear, and I believe they are going to hear, is the real and authentic voice of Britain. The peoples of the world are disturbed and distracted, but I believe that, despite all the difficulties in our own country today, they still look to this country for leadership and guidance; and I believe that in the immediate years to come they will not look in vain.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
I am sure that we all wish the Foreign Secretary well in his onerous task, and wish both he and the Prime Minister well on their coming visit to Washington. I 121 wish very much that I was going with them, because there are a few things I would like to talk about to our American friends. There seem to be two American influences at work, both pulling in opposite directions. One seems anxious to put us back on to our feet, or to help us to get back on to our feet, and the other seems anxious to do just the opposite.
As a quick example, let us consider the present attitude towards the traditional sterling area exports of tin and rubber. There is a buyers' strike on at the moment. We have men out in Malaya who, in order to get this stuff, are facing death and mutilation every day. Further, we are in the middle of a very serious financial crisis; and it is at this very moment that Mr. Symington decides to put us in the soup. I would like very much to discuss that with him. It is a very bad thing, in my opinion, that we should have to pay 44 cents per lb. for cotton that costs less than 10 cents to produce.
We are told, "Well, that is the mechanism of the market. The price of an article is what it will fetch." We get that when it comes to us buying these primary products. But when it comes to primary products like the tin and rubber that we sell, we are told by the American Administration, "This is not a fair price." Although it is a price arrived at by the mechanism of the market, and not as a result of any tampering, we are told "This is too much; we are not going to buy at this figure." Then, of course, the dollar gap is widened and our difficulties increased. Yes, I wish very much that I was going with the Foreign Secretary. I feel I could have a very heart-to-heart talk with both Mr. Symington and Mr. Snyder.
Generally, I am not very much in favour of these high level conferences when it comes to the Russians. It is time we woke up to the fact that the Russians are the great traditionalists of the 20th century. They do not like this television diplomacy; and as I am not particularly photogenic myself I have some sympathy with them. It would be a good thing if we tried once more the traditional methods of diplomacy with a nation as traditionally minded.
But I do not despair of arriving at an accommodation with the Ruskies. I think they are very tough babies, and I think 122 we have got to be tough with them; it is the only language they understand. I get a bit worried when some of my hon. Friends talk as though all Russians were animated by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. I see no signs of it.
1 think it is very important for us to keep two things separate—Russian imperialism, which is traditional and as old as the hills, and goes back to Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great and all the rest of it, and, on the other hand, Communism. I am not unaware of the fact that the Russians are using the slogans of Socialism, just as Philip of Spain used the slogans of Roman Catholicism to make respectable—at least he hoped it would—his imperialist ambitions. It is a very old game; all through history it has happened. This is the hereditary political policy designed in order to try to make their course look respectable, because, otherwise they would not get anybody to support it.
We understand that very well, but I hope very much that the Foreign Secretary will not tie himself too closely to U.N.O. We shall certainly support U.N.O., but I thought this afternoon, when I heard the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) saying that this is a mad world, that it always has been mad, except when one Power has been on top, as we were in 1914. That is a chastening thing to remember today, but it is true all the same. Except when one Power does dominate the world, the world is mad. It is in these periods when one Power dominates the world that one finds wisdom and sanity and stability. I say again that I am not going to withdraw any iota of the support which I have always given to U.N.O. but I would ask the Foreign Secretary not to rule out a return to the traditional methods of diplomacy.
We must also think more than we have been doing about the basis of our foreign policy. In those long years in which we were top dogs, when the British Navy was the top dog in sea power and the City of London was top dog financially, we were able to pursue a foreign policy of benevolence. I do not think that is an unfair description. We could either send a gunboat or not, or we could withold a credit or not. In any case, we were in a position to dispense foreign policy. Latterly, this has passed away, perhaps as unhappily for the world as a whole as for us.
§ Mr. Evans
Today, we have a policy which is designed to keep us afloat. Lately, one has had the impression occasionally that, instead of having a policy and expounding it, we were all sulking a little. We have come a long way from those days of which I have spoken, and it is not very easy to accommodate oneself to the vast changes which have taken place in our fortunes, but we had better do it and we had better be aware of something which we acquired in those days. We were the "do good-ers" of that period. Whenever there was an earthquake, we used to send off ambulances and bandages. We were the "do gooders," and this doing good became ingrained in us, and we all felt very virtuous about it.
The time has now come when we ought to start thinking in terms of doing ourselves a bit of good. Many of my hon. Friends are very worried about the natives of Persia, Indonesia, Africa and other places. So am I, but I include among my natives the natives of Wednesbury. They are not bad people, either, and obviously, very encouraging people. We must, I believe, think out a fresh foreign policy. I think we have got to fill the vast, unoccupied no man's land between Munich and the Cobdenite idea of Palmerston. There is a no man's land here and we must fill it with a policy which, while serving internationalism to the best of our ability, will still have a very high and lively regard for British interests.
I have just come back from Africa, where I led a delegation to the British African Territories. I am quite sure that much of what we have lost in the world might be regained in Africa, side by side with the steadily advancing standard of life for the Africans themselves. There is just one point to which I think we must address our minds. Many of my hon. Friends—and they are quite right—are extremely anxious that we should raise the living standards of the backward peoples of the world, and, in that way, contribute to world peace. I think that is true. If the Communist Utopia is to founder at all, I think it will founder more quickly than on anything else on the rock of liberty, plus a full stomach.
124 I beg my hon. Friends to remember, however, that the lot of the backward peoples, in Africa, for example, can only he improved as a result of the development of the resources of the territories which they inhabit. Abadan is no encouragement to people to go into those backward territories and engage in those activities which alone will enable the lot of the backward peoples to be improved. I think we must do a great deal of thinking about this. We must give security to people willing to take risks in the common interest.
I have come back from Africa in great heart and with a fervent belief that, just as we pulled ourselves together after the loss of the American Colonies, so we can today. Our race is far from run, and I believe that, side by side with a steadily increasing standard of life of the backward peoples of Africa, we can from this quarter find a solution to our own problems.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I think that everyone in this House this evening has enjoyed the speech to which we have just listened. Certainly, it seemed to me to ring with the common sense which we are always glad to hear from the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), and it will be a very pleasant change for the agricultural area from which I come from some of the very remarkable comments made by the hon. Gentleman about the farming industry.
We were very glad, and I myself was particularly glad, to have his view that, perhaps, the traditional methods of diplomacy may be more effective at the present time. I quite agree with him when he says that we must give some security to people who are prepared to take risks in the common interest. He is absolutely right, and I will try this evening to devote my remarks to ways in which I hope that very thing may be done.
But before I do that, I want to join with other hon. Members on both sides of the House in congratulating the Foreign Secretary, not only on the speech he made this afternoon, but also on the one he made in Paris. I feel that, with his long experience of international affairs, my right hon. Friend has made as deep an impression on all those who heard him today as he appears to have 125 done in Paris. In reading a report of his speech it seemed to me that a great sigh of relief has gone up in Europe that he is now back again as Foreign Secretary. I certainly felt that myself, and we certainly needed him very badly over the last six years.
I hope he will long remain in his present office, because I am sure he will not only do much to enable Europe to revive its strength in the cause of right, but also to help the world to settle down to a more peaceful life than it has had over the last few years. His sincerity of purpose is at the moment the strongest thing he has with which to fortify himself in the most difficult task confronting him.
I cannot help feeling, after listening to the late Foreign Secretary this afternoon, that my right hon. Friend and he both agree that my right hon. Friend is really in the position of being the residuary legatee of an inheritance which is mortgaged up to the hilt, and that it will take a long time for us to get anywhere. But I believe he voiced an opinion which is very widely held in this country and abroad when he called for an end to the war of words, both cold and hot.
I would, however, offer my right hon. Friend one word of warning. I believe that we as a nation are very apt to err on the side of wishful thinking, on the side of apathy, and particularly to err on the side of ignorance of the fact that not all people approach all international problems from exactly the same point of view as ourselves. In the light of that, it is very important that my right hon. Friend should always remember that however important it is—and I agree that it is is very important—that he should express the common opinion of our people at any particular time, it is also important that he should try, first, to win the confidence of our own people in the policy which he is trying to pursue and then to win the confidence in that policy of people abroad.
There is always a great danger when any man enters into some project which is already on its way. It is always very difficult for anyone not to get his mind focused more on outside affairs than on the inside. I believe it would be a great pity if it should happen that a policy were agreed by other countries and that 126 we should automatically go into that agreement before our own people here at home were ready for it. Unless there is confidence in the policy at home, there can never in the long run be any effective confidence abroad.
I believe that all Foreign Secretaries should face up to the fact that they must have some long-term objective, and it is my belief that the objective of any Foreign Secretary of this country must always be the greatest possible measure of national sovereignty consistent with the necessary alliances and friendships of the time. That, I believe, is the greatest task facing my right hon. Friend at the present moment. I do not believe that over the last six years the people of this country have really known, still less had confidence in, what was the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government. I think it is a fair criticism to make that such a policy did not exist.
It is not a foreign policy merely to say that we believe in the United Nations. The United Nations is not a policy, nor is it an objective of policy. Were it a reality, it might possibly be a method of conducting a policy, as the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said today. I think that is the purpose of the United Nations, as I understand it, but there is a great deal of confusion of thought as to what is its purpose today. The same day as my right hon. Friend made his speech in Paris, Mr. Lester Pearson, the Canadian Minister for External Affairs, is reported as having said that he feared for the fate of the United Nations unless steps were taken to reduce the threat of war.
As I have always understood it, the purpose of the United Nations was to prevent the threat of war, and yet here we have a leading statesman of the Commonwealth saying that the instrument has become more important than that which it was intended to prevent. Neither is peace a sufficient objective of foreign policy. There are many forms of peace and our conception is utterly different from that of the Politburo, just as it was different from that of Hitler. British peace must be founded on justice and on the true liberty of the subject, which embraces peace and liberty of mind, if it is to be lasting. None of these things apply to the Russian peace as it exists today.
127 I would urge my right hon. Friend never to forget that the prevention of war is not enough for a foreign policy. If it is to have any lasting effect at all, it must result in the establishment of justice. Because there is such a great absence of justice today, I believe that we should face up to the fact that we must be prepared certainly to be forceful and perhaps even ruthless in dealing with those responsible for the injustices that exist.
Appeasement will never be any use in winning respect for British justice, and my right hon. Friend has certainly a great reputation for rejecting appeasement as a method. He must also, I think, be prepared to take strong measures against the perpetrators of injustice. To call the present state of the world, "world peace," is, I believe, the same as trying to describe a prison as a palais de danse. The slavery that exists in various parts of the world today seem to me to forbid our ever calling the present state of affairs "world peace," and it is against that general background that I want to deal with two matters in particular.
First, I wish to refer to the Middle East. In December, 1947,I warned the House, as some hon. Members will remember, that in my opinion the trouble going on in Palestine at that time, and the injustices being done to the Arabs, might very well be sowing the seeds of a world war. There are still today nearly one million Arab refugees from Israel. Those people are living from hand to mouth, and all too often the hand is empty and the mouth never receives any food. This sin against that section of humanity demands immediate attention. Unless it is soon redeemed it will cause further unrest, and will engender a bitterness likely further to endanger world peace.
I do not believe that the present situation in Egypt had its first roots in the Holy Land. I believe, however, that what happened during the establishment of the State of Israel has greatly exacerbated affairs in the Suez Canal area. The closing of the Canal to tankers going to Haifa was certainly attributable to it, and the closing of the Canal was certainly a major factor in the development of the present state of the tension in the Canal Zone.
128 As hon. Members may know, I had the honour to serve in a very minor capacity on the staff of Lord Killearn in 1942, when Nahas Pasha was brought back to power. I had the opportunity then of seeing at first hand how very rapidly Egyptian public opinion can change. One day the mobs in Cairo were shouting, "Down with the British; Long live Rommel." Literally the next day they were cheering the British Ambassador and, as though he were a feather-weight —and nobody who knows Lord Killearn would think of him as one—they were lifting him over a three-foot wall in their delirious joy at what they believed he had done.
It is important that we should realise that all is not yet lost in Egypt. I believe that if the right moment is chosen and the right steps are taken there is still a chance of winning the Egyptians round to believe what they really ought to believe, that is that British help has been in the past and can be again of the greatest possible assistance to Egypt as a whole.
Meanwhile, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has rightly said, we must stand firm. Here I would not withhold my congratulations even from the ex-Foreign Secretary. I only wish that he had been a little more ready to stand firm in Abadan along the lines on which he has stood firm in the Suez Canal area. I hope we shall continue that policy.
We must stand firm because I believe we are standing firm in the cause of justice. I believe there was never a more just treaty than the 1936 Treaty with Egypt. I should like to make one suggestion for the consideration of my right hon. Friend. In making it I do not wish to detract in any way from the present British Ambassador in Cairo. I realise he has had an extremely difficult time and that he has done all he can to the best of his ability. But I ask my right hon. Friend seriously to consider whether he thinks any good might come of asking Lord Killearn to go back to Cairo now, not as ambassador necessarily, to talk with Nahas Pasha and King Farouk.
I say that because King Farouk has long known Lord Killearn as a merciful man capable not only of firmness but also of a very considerable understanding. It was Lord Killearn who drew up with Nahas Pasha the 1936 Treaty, and he 129 was His Majesty's Ambassador in Cairo when Nahas Pasha came back into power in 1942. In making that suggestion I assure my right hon. Friend and the House that. I make it on no prompting other than my own. I make it simply because I have seen something of the way Egyptians conduct foreign affairs and I believe that suggestion might possibly prove helpful. Certainly I have not discussed it even with Lord Killearn; I wish to make that quite clear.
I think also that events in Egypt now should be placed in their wider setting. When we look at what is happening in South-East Asia, the Middle East and Abadan I am reminded of a saying of Stalin's in his book, "The Problems of Leninism." Unfortunately I have not been able to check the quotation as the book is out of the Library at the moment, but I think I can remember it nearly accurately. Stalin said something like this: "Where does one strike at Imperialism? Where the chain is weakest. Where will the next blow come? Some say India. Why India? Because there you have a young revolutionary proletariat."
I believe India is in great peril and likely to get into greater peril unless we do something soon. [An HON. MEMBER: "Such as?"] I should say that what we are doing with the United Nations in Korea or what the French are doing in Indo-China, what we are doing in Malaya and in the Canal Zone, are all things which tend to reduce the danger from Communism.
I wish we could say the same of what we have done in Abadan. I believe nothing has been of greater danger to India than our walking out of Abadan in the way we did. This is a most important matter. I mention India at the moment, though I realise it is not primarily a matter for the Foreign Secretary, because nothing in our foreign policy from now on should do anything to drive India out of the Commonwealth.
My hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) mentioned Mr. Nehru. Certainly, I think we must try to understand his position perhaps rather better than some of us on these benches have done. I realise he is an intransigent man and sometimes may seem rather too ready to appease 130 our enemy. But at least I would give him the credit of having read Stalin's "Mein Kampf"—the book to which I have already referred.
India, like Israel, has not found her feet as an independent fully autonomous State; and just as I believe the Soviet Union is trying today to keep Israel out of the Middle East pact so she is trying to drive out India from the British Commonwealth. Let us try to be as understanding of Mr. Nehru's position as we hope the world will be of our own. As soon as the fighting in Korea ends—and I hope that will be soon—I suggest we have immediate talks with India and Pakistan to try to settle outstanding difficulties and in particular to discuss any problems of defence. Although this may be a matter for the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations primarily, nevertheless any success he will be able to achieve will depend upon the success of the Foreign Secretary in his foreign policy.
Finally, I should like to turn to the United Nations. As some hon. Members who were in the last Parliament will remember, I was somewhat critical of this organisation, partly because of the reasons to which the hon. Member for Wednesbury has referred. I certainly believe that he has put a finger on one important fault—that is this "television diplomacy." Although I have been very critical of the United Nations and I have said that as far as the political side of it is concerned it ought to be wound up, I have never said the welfare side of it should be ended, nor that the International Court of Justice should be closed.
What I have said in the past is that I think the Security Council and the General Assembly were very dangerous to us. Since I said those things the situation has greatly deteriorated. I should be very unwise, as anyone would be, if I did not revise my views as circumstances change. Certainly I think the situation now is far too serious for us to throw overboard all the machinery that exists for international co-operation. What we have to do now is to make whatever machinery does exist work as well as possible.
We all know the United Nations organisation is very far from working as well as it ought to work. It is essential that we work with the United States and the fact that the United States places great importance 131 on the idea of the United Nations makes it imperative that we work alongside her. I believe that when the Foreign Secretary goes to the United Nations he has to make his first consideration always the protection of British interests.
It is because I believe that that is his main duty there that I would suggest two things to him: first that the proceedings of the Security Council and of the Assembly should be held in private and not in the full glare of publicity. I say that for the same reason I would say that when two individuals have a quarrel it is probably unwise for them to go into the middle of the nearest market place and start shouting at each other so that all the public congregates around them and sooner or later joins in, and the local Press come along and take down everything that is said.
I believe that what goes for individuals goes for nations. Therefore, I hope that there may perhaps be some effort by His Majesty's Government to persuade other members who think the same way as we do as far as policy is concerned to agree or recommend that discussions in the Security Council and the General Assembly should not be held in public.
Secondly, I hope that the Foreign Secretary will not allow himself or anyone else to believe that the Soviet Union will ever see reason unless those who think along our lines go along with us to parley with the Soviet Union after having first agreed among themselves what line they are to take. Some hon. Member in the course of the Debate—I think it was the right hon. Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn)—said he did not wish to see the United Nations become simply a ganging-up of the anti-Communist countries. My feeling is that both my right hon. Friend and the former Foreign Secretary have shown us quite clearly that there is this vast gulf between the East and the West and that if we pretend either at the United Nations or anywhere else that it does not exist we are deceiving ourselves and those who send us there.
Therefore, I hope we shall face the fact that the world, alas, is divided, and it would be just as stupid to pretend that it was not as to suppose that the two sides in this House were agreed upon the future of the iron and steel industry. I believe 132 the Soviet Union takes it as a sign of weakness for us to go to discussions as though we believed that the Soviet Union would remain a member a minute longer than it served its purpose to do so, and I hope the Foreign Secretary will not imagine that the Soviet Union serves any purpose other than her own in remaining a member of the United Nations.
Our hope and that of the world depends upon the British Commonwealth and Empire making itself as strong in its own right and in its own might as possible. My right hon. Friend will achieve very little unless he and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations work side by side at every stage. I believe one has been a rifleman and the other a grenadier. I do not mind to which tune they march or to what tempo, whether they go to "The old '95" or "The Grenadiers March," but so long as they march together that is the important thing.
The problems which confront us are not only political but, as other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Wednesbury, have mentioned, they are also economic. Just as in 1932 we felt that our hopes for our future rested upon the fullest possible co-operation between the countries of the British Empire, so today the same is true. As islanders it is perhaps natural that we should suppose that the disadvantages of losing the protection that the English Channel used to give us in the days before the aeroplane and the controlled projectile can be rectified by an immediate embarkation on to an international ship of State.
I believe that just as the Foreign Secretary recommended a procedure by limited objectives, so we must proceed by limited methods. Before we can hope for a successful performance at the concert of all nations we must first of all allow the Commonwealth orchestra, all members of which have at least rehearsed the same music, to make its contribution, and I hope very much that that contribution will be played double forte.
To go to the United Nations ignoring the fact that the Commonwealth possesses a really common wealth of resources, loyalties and outlook can, I believe, only lead to the impression in other people's minds that we have lost faith in those great ideals for which we used to stand. So far from our having lost our belief in these things, I believe they still remain 133 the great hope for our future generations. The question is not, shall Britain lead again? The question is, when shall Britain lead again? I believe the Commonwealth is ready, and it is up to us in this nation to give the lead.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
We have listened to a very sombre and realistic speech from the Foreign Secretary, but I think it was a very appropriate speech because the world is faced with dangers the like of which probably never faced it before. We are dealing with probably the greatest revolution in history. It has been in force now for over 30 years, since 1917. In my opinion, it is bound to go on for a long time. It will be a very formidable revolution as it proceeds, because it has studied the technique of revolution for the last century or longer and its methods are extraordinarily effective and successful.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we, meaning the Western Powers, have no aggressive intentions. I think the Russian Politburo understands that quite well. For propaganda purposes, of course, they say that we intend to attack them, but I have no doubt that the Politburo know very well that in democratic countries no Government which wished to start an aggressive war could do so without the full consent of the majority of the people.
But what are the Politburo's intentions? In my opinion, their intentions are perfectly simple and they make no bones about explaining them to the world. They want to carry out the revolution which was propounded by Marx in 1848, in the Communist manifesto, of violent revolution and world conquest. I am not concerned about the sort of propaganda in which they told the world that we were responsible for the murder of Gandhi or that the Americans scattered Colorado beetles on German potatoes. I am referring to the propaganda issued by the million copies throughout Russia and the satellite States which inculcated in its readers the principles and policy of the Marxist revolution.
I have a quotation from a book which was quoted a moment ago by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke); it is one of the classics of the Communist theology and it is, "The Problems of Leninism." The question is, are we to treat this as we 134 have treated "Mein Kampf," as a piece of bogus nonsense, or as reality? This is preached to millions of people, and new editions come out from time to time. It is not vulgar propaganda. It is catechism teaching to the faithful. The object of the Russian revolution, according to "The Problems of Leninism," is:Consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country as a support for the overthrow of imperialism in all countries. The revolution extends beyond the bounds of one country and the epoch of world revolution has begun.In another catechism, the short course, "The History of Communism," it talks of "the victory of Communism throughout the world." That is what we are faced with. They intend to conquer the world for Communism.
They have conquered a great part of the world already and we are up against a very formidable conspiracy against the free part of mankind. Communism, therefore, is at war. We may say we are not at war, but Communism is at war and in war we all practise deceits and ruses of every kind. All is fair in love and war, as the saying goes. With the Communists, no holds are barred. When we talk of having conferences with them, therefore, let us by all means try, but we must bear in mind that Communist imperialism is bent all the time on one objective and one objective only—the conquest of the world.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
Are we to understand that in the view of my hon. Friend war is inevitable?
§ Mr. Reid
Nothing of the sort. I will come to that later.
I believe that war is inevitable unless we understand the forces we are fighting. The Foreign Secretary has said that when he was in Paris he noticed there was no softening, no approach to friendship, by M. Vyshinsky, but that there was a hardening. That is inevitable, because the West are arming and the opposition to this world conquest is growing. There is, therefore, a hardening on the Soviet side.
Communist imperialism cannot retreat and will not change its methods. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), suggested that they should open their windows and let the voice of the rest of the world into Russia. That would be quite illogical from their point of view. It is 135 all right in a democracy, where Governments are willing to be kicked out at election times and where rival views are permitted, but in a constitution where those in power are determined to stay in power, whether the people like it or not, it would be absolute folly to allow rival views to be put forward.
I am trying to appraise what this monster is like. It cannot recant, for that would be to give up its objective of world conquest. One hon. Member has said that the Soviet Government is composed of people who have adopted all the Tsarist imperialism. That may be true, but they have added to it the Marxist theory of world revolution. Whether they believe in it or not does not matter; perhaps some do and some do not, but in any event they are using it as a means of getting the people to follow them in their designs.
Again, it was said that if the Russian people got a glimpse of what is going on in the outer world things would change. But the Communist leaders have seen to it that the people are blinkered and, in any case, the Russian people have no voice in their affairs for Russia is ruled by a Politburo of about a dozen men. Their methods are completely unscrupulous, and that is perfectly logical under their system because, according to them, there are no morals applicable to all human beings. To them, morals is a class affair, and each class has its own system of morals. If anyone doubts that, let him read what was said by Lenin:It is necessary to use any ruse, cunning 'or unlawful method, evasion, concealment of truth.That is perfectly logical according to their system and quite immoral according to ours.
We have either to get peace on our knees or we have to resist, and we must resist by not one method but by several, for force alone is not sufficient. We have to spread our propaganda in those countries which the Communists are now trying to ensnare. It has been suggested from the benches opposite that we should abolish the Ministry of Information. How are we to get over our message to the people the Communists are trying to ensnare if we abolish the Ministry of Information and the good work of the British Council? We have to spend money on these things as well as on arms.
136 Of course, we cannot get our propaganda into the satallite States, but we can get it over to the other countries of the world, and it is necessary to do so. Some hon. Members talk about reverting to the old traditions of diplomacy and giving up the method of diplomacy by television. I am not an expert on television. I do not care how diplomacy is done, but we have to conduct it on a big scale.
Finally, we have to resort to building up our arms because, in the long run, the Politburo will over-run any country unless that country is defended by arms. In that case, we should have Czechoslovakia all over again, with the Communists boring from inside and Communist troops on the border. We have to do all these things and we have also to help the backward countries as well as we can by showing them that we are better friends than are the Communists and that our money is of much better use to them than is Communist propaganda.
It is a colossal task, but we must do what we can, and I recommend to the House the policy of the Labour Party, which states that we cannot look after the 80 million in our own Dependencies, much less the dependencies of other nations, and that the job must be done by mutual aid, by co-operation among all the countries in the world, with a fund in U.N.O., so as to improve the standard of living in those countries.
In my opinion this awful struggle will go on for a long time. I do not think the Russians have the slightest intention of making war, and I do not think that war is at all inevitable, but I think that the cold war is going on a long time, unless and until the various measures we take, military and otherwise, convince the Politburo that their whole crazy scheme of world conquest cannot succeed, and until they drop it, or unless and until their system breaks down because of discontent in the satellite States—though that is a long-term policy, because the system is so well organised and so well planned that it is very difficult for any unrest to come to fruition in any of those States.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely, who, in my opinion, has spoken on the subject of the Arabs in Palestine with great courage during the last six years, against, I think, 137 the policy of his leader, dwelt on the injustices which have been done to the Arabs in the Palestine issue. I also hold that view.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
May I make one thing clear before the hon. Gentleman goes on? I certainly do not think that there was anything inconsistent between what I said about the plight of the Arab refugees and what the Prime Minister has ever said.
§ Mr. Reid
I hope I have not misrepresented the hon. and gallant Gentleman's views of the last six years. I was not talking of the Arab refugees, but of the setting up of the Jewish State in Palestine.
Anyhow, that is ancient history. The Arabs resent it bitterly. I said in the House that they would, and it has turned out to be true. I would say to my Arab friends that, though they resorted to arms and though they failed, and were beaten, that chapter is past. Whatever bitter feelings they may have had towards the West on account of that episode, I would say to them that now they are in a greater danger still.
The whole of the Middle East and the Far East and South Asia is in dire peril. From Turkey to the Timor Sea all the countries are in dire peril, and the only people who can save them, with their own assistance, are the peoples of the Western democracies. If it were not for the Western democracies the freedom of those peoples would not exist for one month. It is just as well to face the facts.
Somebody—I forget who—said today that it pays in dealing with such people to be honest with them and to tell them the truth, so long as the truth is told in a friendly way. I have lived amongst coloured peoples most of my life, and I have always told them the truth frankly, and I have never known one of them take offence at that. It depends on how one says it. The Arabs will take the truth from a friend.
I once before in this House quoted an Arab proverb and the circumstances in which it was quoted to me on one occasion. One day when I was criticising the follies of the Arabs and their inability to take advice from their friends an Arab friend of mine turned round and said to me, "We have a proverb which says, 138 'When a friend throws stones at us, the stones become pomegranates.'" It is beautifully put, and it is true. What the Arabs detest and despise is that hypocrisy by which one thing is said to them but another is really thought about them.
I say to them now that they are in dire peril from Communist imperialism and that their only friends are the West. We have been let down in our time, and we have had injustices done to us. Things change. For instance, in the First World War we were fighting against the Turks and they were fighting against us. Today, the Turks and ourselves are fast friends—and mighty reliable friends they are, too. I say to my Arab friends that we cannot go on dwelling in the past. The past is over and we have got to think of the present and the future.
I further say to them, "Do not be led up the garden path by a few students in Cairo University or by irresponsible processions in the Cairo streets." I say to my Arab friends, "Look after your own interests. You have only Turkey, France, America and ourselves to protect and help you, and whatever disagreement you had with Turkey, France and ourselves—and I remember the dispute about Alexandretta—that is all over and finished. But there are other things. You have to throw in your lot with Turkey. Turkey is one of your bastions on the North. If it were not for Turkey you might be overrun in a few months.
Throw in your lot with Turkey and with us, and your other problems will be all the more easily settled. Do your bit, as you did in the First World War, when the Arabs united for once marched triumphantly into Damascus. These things can be done again. There is no use depending on the West to save you. You must come in with us, and we will save each other, as we did in the First World War, in that glorious march right up through Palestine to Damascus."
Statesmanship does not depend on taking the line of least resistance and creating a great hubbub in the streets of Cairo. It does not hide the well-known fact that Egypt has dishonourably repudiated a Treaty. The world knows that Egypt has repudiated a treaty. I appeal to the statesmen of Egypt to meet our people in conference. They have 139 asked us to quit Egypt, and now we are offering to quit Egypt, and, instead, to have an international force, Egyptians included, appointed to protect Egypt and the Middle East. I appeal to the Egyptians to give up all this hubbub and rancour and to enter into a treaty with us and with their neighbour Turkey.
I do not wish to take up the time of the House further, but I would say from very long experience of the Middle East that it is strategically one of the key spots of the world. Therefore, I appeal to the inhabitants of the Middle East who control this enormously strategically important point, which supplies half the oil of the world, which is one of the great munitions of war and industry, quietly to think it over. I have spoken to many of them behind the scenes, and I know that they want to do the reasonable thing and to save themselves and the world. I appeal to them to change their methods, to throw in their lot with the West, and save the West and themselves.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
It is not the first time that I have found myself following the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) in a debate on foreign affairs. It is not the first time that I have found myself in substantial agreement with most of what he said. I entirely agree with what he told the House tonight—that the Soviet Union is at war with the free world. But the war is a cold war except in Malaya, Indo-China and Korea.
I have often said in this House that I thought that we were, as a country, paying insufficient attention to the problem of fighting the cold war, because I believe that the real problem which faces us is how to win the cold war and to prevent the cold war becoming a hot one. It follows from that that we must also win the hot war, where the hot war has broken out, in order to prevent the hot war spreading over a larger area.
I should have thought that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary earlier this afternoon, and the speech which he delivered in Paris last week, were in themselves a complete answer to the very cheap, and, if I may say so, scurrilous warmongering campaign conducted by the party opposite during the General Election. I do not believe 140 that campaign did them much good. In the long run birds of that kind come home to roost. The trouble with hon. Members opposite is that they always want to have the best of both worlds. In the inter-war years they paid lip service to the idea of collective security without working out what the implications were. They thought that collective security meant that someone else provided the security.
Many of them today are in favour of re-armament only until we reach the stage when the shoe begins to pinch; in other words, when re-armament has gathered some momentum and has begun to take effect. Some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will shortly be required to make up their minds whether they are going to back the re-armament programme, launched by the late Government, with all its implications, or revert to the traditional Socialist role of opposing all re-armament at all times on every occasion, and then pretending later that they never did so.
Several hon. Members have referred to the need to build up the economic life in the backward areas of the world, notably in the Middle East and in the Far East. No hon. Member in this House could conceivably disagree with that. It is important to do everything we can to build up the economic life of the backward areas, but that is no substitute for re-armament; it is complementary to it. It is no good trying to build up the economic life of Malaya—which depends upon the output of rubber—if the rubber plantations are to be over-run by Communist bandits.
Nearly all the countries in the Middle East and in the Far East require capital investment in the form of up-to-date plant and machinery, and for the most part that capital investment can only be provided from the West. If the truth be known, as the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) said earlier in the debate, the clock has been put back on that kind of capital investment by events in Abadan, by destroying confidence in the sanctity of any contract. What the Persian Government did yesterday some other Government can do tomorrow. If any Government in any of those "backward" areas can be allowed to pass legislation, either defaulting on the interest on any loan or on any payment due to any company providing the capital, it is not likely 141 that the plant and machinery will be forthcoming. The risk is not worth it.
I do not know whether we are now expected to provide further financial assistance to the Persians to enable them to rebuild their shattered economy because of the revenue they have lost from the oil in the Abadan refinery with the object of strengthening their position against Communism. If that is so, it would certainly seem a curious process. By certain hon. Gentlemen opposite it might be called "going our way."
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), made three mistakes in dealing with the Persian problem, which was admittedly a difficult one. In the first place he always assumed during the debates we had in the last Parliament that there was no alternative between clearing out or going to war. That suggestion showed a complete bankruptcy of diplomacy. Second, he regarded the dispute between the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the Persian Government as an isolated one involving the question of apportioning the revenues from the oil refinery, instead of seeing it as part of a much larger issue. In fact, it was an issue which vitally affected the whole of the defence plans in the Middle East. Third, he made what was perhaps by far the greatest mistake of all, namely, that he blew hot and cold. It is very dangerous to do that, particularly so in the Middle East, especially if you first blow hot, and then blow cold afterwards.
I spent most of the month of September in the Middle East, and I came back just before the Election with three outstanding impressions. The first was that if we failed to make good our case by holding on in Abadan we were going to have a great deal of trouble from Egypt. If Dr. Mossadeq succeeded in outwitting the former Foreign Secretary it was clear that Nahas Pasha was not going to be left behind.
My second impression was that, as a result of six years during which we have had no effective policy at all in the Middle East, we were getting the worst of all worlds. It would be an exaggeration to say that it does not matter what we do in the Middle East provided that we do something, but to have no policy at all meant that we were rapidly losing all our friends. They began to wonder 142 whether friendship with Britain was worth while. Events in Abadan brought that situation to a head.
My third impression was that the relations between the Arab States and Israel bedevilled all other issues in the Middle East and made any effective Middle East defence plan extremely difficult. We talk about Middle East defence in terms of potential aggression from the Soviet Union. The Arab States talk about Middle East defence in terms of a potential threat from Israel. I do not know that one can altogether blame them for taking that line. They have seen the Israelis get away with the murder of Count Bernadotte, a massacre at Deir Yassin, and the illegal occupation of territory in the Negeb. Who can blame them, in the circumstances, for regarding United Nations' guarantees with some scepticism?
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Does the hon. Member not think that he is doing a considerable amount of injury to the position in the Middle East by talking the way he is now? Why did he not realise that if we had followed what the United Nations had declared was the right course to take, the present position would not have arisen, and that Israel was merely carrying out what the United Nations had declared to be the correct course?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I do not entirely agree with the interpretation which the hon. Gentleman has put upon the matter. I believe that it is necessary to try to state the case for the way in which the Arabs regard certain problems in that area. We are doing ourselves a great dis-service if we think that the mistrust between the Arabs and the Jews is not a most important factor in dealing with any Middle East plan.
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
Will the hon. Gentleman explain, before he leaves the subject of Abadan, what he means by "holding Abadan" and why he talks about Persia as if it were a Dependency or a Colony?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I left that part of my speech a little time ago, when I referred to holding on to our undoubted rights in Abadan, that is to say, by staying in the refinery.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I have now passed on to the position of the Arabs vis-à-vis Israel.
If the hon. Gentleman wants to know, I believe that, with a little, intelligent anticipation and with my right hon. Friend as Foreign Secretary, we could have settled the whole dispute long before General Razmara was murdered.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
What I urge my right hon. Friend to do as soon as possible is to stop the general drift in the Middle East and to take a grip upon events. We must do everything possible to convince the Arab States that Israel will not be allowed, and does not intend, to become a kind of Frankenstein monster, in that her frontiers will be continually liable to expansion. We ought also to do what we can to persuade the United States, which has far more influence with the State of Israel than we have, to use her good offices to influence the Israeli Government to make some conciliatory gesture towards the Arab States in the hope of bringing a settlement between the two.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Many other hon. Members wish to speak and I do not want to take up the time of the House.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I do not know why it should irritate the hon. Gentleman when I suggest that we, with the Arabs, and the United States, with the Jews, should attempt to bring the two together. I do not know why that should arouse his anger so much.
My second suggestion is that we should pay a great deal more attention than has been paid hitherto to the problem of the Arab refugees. This is a burning issue. It is not merely a political or a territorial issue; it is a humanitarian issue of enormous proportions.
Third, we must push on as quickly as possible with our Middle East defence plans. Our original proposals were very good—I hand it to the former Foreign Secretary—and I believe that, by offering Egypt "founder-membership of the club" 144 we did everything which human ingenuity could do to reconcile at one and the same time the minimum needs of Middle East defence—which is just as much in Egypt's interest as anybody else's—with what are known as Egypt's national aspirations. But the trouble about any Egyptian "national aspirations" is that very quickly in any conversation one reaches a stage when logic, geography and fact all go out of the window and only emotion comes into play.
I believe that, psychologically, the question of Sudan is in many ways a greater obstacle in Anglo-Egyptian relations than the occupation of the Canal Zone. But we are pledged to the hilt over the Sudan and there can be no question whatever of our going back on our pledge, and I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend re-affirm the pledge about our intentions towards the Sudan. I believe that, by abrogating unilaterally the 1936 Treaty and the 1899 Condominium with it, Egypt has put herself out of court in relation to the Sudan.
If Egypt refuses to accept the hand of friendship by which we have offered her equal partnership in the new Middle East defence plan then we must regretfully continue to press on without her. We cannot defend the Middle East without a base in the Canal Zone, and the Egyptians themselves are not yet technically competent to maintain all the highly complex installations required in a base in the Canal Zone.
Last, let me say this. I think that in the world today there are two men, and two men only, upon whose shoulders rests the principal responsibility for preventing further aggression and, therefore, maintaining the peace of the world: that is, the British Prime Minister and the President of the United States. What a pity it was that during the last six tortuous years the then British Prime Minister and President Truman met on only one occasion. Had they met more often, a great many mistakes might have been avoided. If I may say so, had there been fewer week-end speeches by certain hon. Members opposite about dollar imperialism, there might have been a great deal less ill-feeling. [Interruption.] But all that is now past and over, and the new meeting in January, which is projected between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Truman, will, I hope, be the first of many.
145 Plans must now be co-ordinated. Events can be foreseen. The era of pettiness is over. The voice of Britain in international affairs is no longer the voice of men who could not even run a funfair in Battersea Park—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] I notice that hon. Members opposite always say "Cheap" when something gets under their skin. I believe that from now on, under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, a comradeship between Britain and the Commonwealth on one hand, and the United States on the other side, will grow and prosper just as strongly as it grew and prospered in the darkest days of the war.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) has presented such a travesty of the policy of the Labour Party, both at the last Election and before the war, such a caricature of the political position in the Middle East, such a grotesque picture of the attitude of the Israeli Government, and such a tissue of evasions in his description of the policy that he would have followed in Persia, all jammed together in one speech, that it is very difficult to know where to begin in reply.
Perhaps I may take just the issue of Persia, to which the hon. Member referred. It is all very well for him now, as he and his colleagues did during the General Election campaign, to say that of course they had never suggested that any military action should be taken in Persia, that they would not have suggested any strong-arm methods, and that nothing of that kind had ever occurred to them; but, of course, it was the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Minister of Supply who, in the debate which we had on Persia in June, proposed that we should send troops into Persia, and who was prepared to send troops into Persia even at the price of the Russians coming in in the north of Persia.
To do him justice, the present Minister of Supply did not make any bones about it. He said he thought that it would be better for us to send troops into Southern Persia and allow the Russians to come in at the north. That was his proposal.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
The hon. Member will not, of course, wish in any way to misquote me. What I said, had he fully understood my speech, was that I believe the whole Persian problem could have been settled, with a little intelligent anticipation, long before the murder of General Razmara.
§ Mr. Foot
I do not pretend for a moment fully to understand the hon. Member's speech. What we were discussing was whether there was a suggestion from the opposite side that military action should have been employed in Persia, and I was merely quoting the fact about the first Persian debate which we had in the House, when there were at least half a dozen Members who then sat on this side who proposed military action. I took as the chief example a Member of the present Government, the Minister of Supply, who not only said that he was in favour of sending troops into Persia, but said that he would be in favour of that happening even if it meant that Russia would be coming in from the north.
Those are some of the facts, and that is why it was perfectly legitimate in the General Election for the former Foreign Secretary to put the simple question, whether in fact the Conservative Party did agree with what had been said in this House of Commons by the right hon. Gentleman, now the Minister of Supply, and other hon. Members in this House? It was because of such questions as that —which brings me to another point in the speech of the hon. Member—that the Conservative Party at the General Election turned round, aghast and horrified, and said, "You are accusing us of being warmongers, and that is a scandalous thing."
What I recall of the charge of warmongering was certainly not made officially by the Labour Party in this election and certainly not made by me in my election campaign. It was certainly never made by the leaders of the Labour Party, but I can remember when the charge of warmongering was bandied about in this House and the country very freely.
It was bandied around in those years before the war when a large part of the Conservative Party accused any hon. Member of the Labour Party who spoke 147 of collective security, and also the Prime Minister of the present day, of being a warmonger because he was in favour of standing by our pledges to the League of Nations and standing up for our rights. It was at that time almost every day when we had the charge of warmonger levelled against hon. Members on this side of the House or the few members of the Conservative Party who were in favour of supporting the principle of collective security at that time.
I could deal with other misrepresentations the hon. Member has made, but I prefer to discuss some of the other matters raised during the course of the debate. It was indicated by the Foreign Secretary at the beginning of his speech that there was to be something like continuity in foreign policy. I remember a debate we had at the beginning of the Parliament of 1945 when it was also suggested that we were to have continuity of foreign policy. From this passion for continuity of foreign policy one might imagine that our foreign policy over the last 20 years had been a great and glorious success and had resulted in great achievements and pacified the world.
I am not much in favour of continuity of foreign policy because I believe there have been many respects in which we have failed and in which we have to think out new policies. As for the Foreign Secretary, I have said before that I have a soft spot for him. I do not want to do him any harm or injury, but I think he is about the best of the bunch even though, in the words of Shakespeare,There's small choice in rotten apples.I think he is about the best of the bunch, and it is perfectly fair to say to him, in order to continue in this amiable mood, that if the supreme need of the hour was that we should have a Foreign Secretary who would make the case of the Western Powers appear as reasonable, constructive and well-intentioned as possible, the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) would be the ideal Foreign Secretary because he has had plenty of practice at it and has many qualifications for the post. Looking at the rest of the Government Front Bench, one of the mysteries is how he got the job, in view of his qualifications. He has many qualifications for the post and has 148 certainly spoken many worse briefs than the one he had in Paris last week.
When it was the business of the Foreign Secretary of this country to make the policy of non-intervention in Spain appear as reasonable, as constructive and well-intentioned as possible, the right hon. Gentleman did it very well and when, at a later date, it was necessary to make the policy agreed at Yalta appear as reasonable, constructive and well-intentioned as possible, the right hon. Gentleman did that very well in the same fashion. But the well-intentioned policy of the right hon. Gentleman in Spain resulted in the destruction of the Spanish Republic and the well-intentioned policy of the right hon. Gentleman following the Yalta Conference resulted in the engulfment of almost half Europe within the Soviet Empire. Therefore, we have to judge the new Foreign Secretary, not only by his manners and his eloquence and his motives—which I am sure are all of the best—but by the wisdom of the policy to which he lends his talents.
It is my claim in this debate, and I am sorry to introduce such a jarring note after so much agreement on all sides, that the supreme need at the moment is not that we should present the case of the Western Powers as agreeably and persuasively as possible, but that there should be a change in that policy. I believe that the present policy of the Western Powers is incoherent and confused, that it does not make sense, and, if pursued, in some respects can prove highly dangerous.
I should like first to look and inquire into what some aspects of that policy are supposed to be. If we ask what is the purpose behind the re-armament programmes now being conducted in this country and the United States and by all the Atlantic Treaty Powers, the reply given on all sides is that we are seeking negotiation from strength. That is the view which is expressed by the Foreign Secretary, the Members of the present Government, the Members of the last Government, by people on the other side of the Atlantic, and, indeed, by most of those who are joined in the North Atlantic Treaty.
Negotiation from strength is supposed to be the purpose of the policy. That cliché is accepted everywhere, but I doubt if anybody can explain exactly what it means. We are told, and it may well 149 be true, that the Soviet Government possesses huge military forces far greater than our own; huge armies, great fleets of aircraft, tanks and submarines, and that in comparison we in the Western world are in a state of great military weakness. That is the reason given for our own re-armament programmes. That is the description which is still given when we are, roughly, just over a year from the beginning of the present rearmament programme following the outbreak of war in Korea.
So, according to this account, we are still in a state of great military weakness as compared with the Soviet Empire. If that is so, logically the policy of negotiation from strength is a policy opposed to negotiation at the present time. Because if we were to negotiate at the present time we would be negotiating from weakness. There can be no flaw in that logic—[Laughter.]—it is very obvious that hon. Gentlemen find it surprising when one tries to point out some of the realities which are involved in this phrase, so frequently used on all sides. If we say that we should negotiate from strength, logically we should not negotiate in weakness. But nobody in their senses would accept the proposition that we are not prepared to negotiate now.
It was never accepted, even by the Prime Minister. He was proposing in February, 1950, that we should negotiate with the Soviet Government, but so far as the military position is concerned we were then much weaker comparatively than we are today. Therefore, what does this phrase mean? It does not give any indication of how the Government will seek a compromise and real negotiations with the rulers of the Soviet Empire.
Take a more concrete example, the case of the Japanese Treaty signed in the last month or so between all the Powers of the West and many Powers in Asia. Theoretically, all the other countries were invited to take part in the negotiations which led to that Treaty. But we know that although the invitations went out, and although the Soviet representative came to San Francisco, in fact the general framework of that Treaty was agreed between the United States Government and the British Government.
They presented it, and it was accepted by some other Powers, but it was rejected by a number of countries in Asia, and 150 there was certainly one precise point on which it was rejected by a great number of people in Asia. It was one matter on which, so far from seeking to negotiate through strength, there was only dictation, because the United States Government said at the beginning of the discussions, and maintained their attitude right to the end of the discussions, "We shall not have the representative of China coming to participate in this conference and in this settlement," which settlement was to shape a large part of the affairs of the Far East.
When other countries look at this situation and we say to them that our policy is one of negotiation from strength, they say that, with regard to Japan, it was not a policy of negotiation from strength, but a policy of dictation from strength, because, in regard to Japan, we had the strength to be able to impose the policy which we wanted.
Therefore, we went ahead and imposed it, without waiting for the building up of military strength, because we thought that we could shape the affairs of a large part of this planet and that we would do it without allowing the representatives of 400 million Chinese to speak at all. We decided that we would go ahead in circumstances in which the leaders of the Indian people were not prepared to agree to a settlement. This was not negotiation from strength but dictation from strength. We were in a position in which we thought we had the power to impose our will.
It may be that some of these other countries will judge us by our deeds more than by our words, and will say, "Well, if the Western Powers seek to impose their will when they have the power to do so, as they did in the Far East, possibly this may be, throughout the rest of the world, the purpose of their general re-armament programme." They may say and feel that, possibly, when Britain and the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Powers have built up their strength to a very much higher pitch than it is at present, they will seek to impose their will in Europe, as we sought to impose our will in the case of the Japanese Treaty.
It would not really be so very remarkable for some nations to feel like that, because the present Prime Minister in 151 1948, when he thought that the Western Powers did have the strength—because at that time it was not known that the Soviet Government possessed the atomic bomb—did propose in his speech at Llandudno that we should seek to impose our will and should deliver, in effect, an ultimatum to the Soviet Government demanding that they should withdraw from those territories which they had taken in Eastern Europe.
So I say that, when we look at the situation this way, some may say that our purpose is to build up our military strength in order to use it in the same way as we did over the Japanese Treaty. I think it will have that effect on the people on the other side. If so, can anybody imagine that the people of the Soviet Empire are going to sit quietly by and watch this development and take no action? Of course, not; they are going to do everything in their power to build up what they in turn would describe as a position from which they can negotiate from strength.
In any competition in building up military resources from industrial resources, the Western nations are bound to win because of their superior industrial strength, but the rulers of the Soviet Empire have other weapons at their disposal, such as they have employed in Korea and are employing in Malaya and in other parts of the world. Therefore, I think they will seek all the more to use these weapons, because they are the kind of weapons, and the only kind, which they can use to try to build up their strength, as opposed to the strength of the Western Powers.
If we look at the phrase and at this policy which is supposed to be summed up in the words "negotiation from strength," we find that it is really meaningless, and does not give any indication of any constructive policy for trying to overcome our difficulties. I say, therefore, that the policy of negotiation from strength, and the whole idea of it, is a fraud, and that we ought to abandon it and ought to try to think out some new method of approach to the problem.
I believe that if we look at the problems that divide the world—and I think the Foreign Secretary was right at the beginning of his speech, in which he said 152 that the main issue which we had to discuss was what he described as the forbidding chasm between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world—this is the gravest problem we have to discuss. But if we look across this chasm we can see some issues on which at any rate there may be a mutual interest between the West and the East.
I think there is a mutual interest both on the other side of the Iron Curtain and on this that Germany should not be rearmed. I am sure it is one of the deepest beliefs in the minds of the Soviet rulers, and I am equally sure that if the Foreign Secretary were present he would agree with me about this, because he went there in 1935. We must remember that all European Russia has been overrun by German arms twice in the last 35 years, and that, therefore, they have a deep interest in that matter.
Do we in this country say that we have no interest in trying to prevent the rearmament of Germany if that were possible? Therefore, I say that there is a mutual interest in that matter. I also say there is a mutual interest in trying to seek the position whereby China shall be independent of Russian domination and also independent of the domination of other countries. These are two propositions on which there is a mutual interest. If anybody had said five years ago that these were matters on which we had a mutual interest, almost everyone would have agreed.
What are the obstacles to getting some kind of agreement on the question of Germany? I think there are two. The first is that the Russians have established in the Eastern zone a totalitarian régime and that they will be very loth to abandon it. The second obstacle is that we are insisting on the incorporation of Western Germany within a system of European defence.
In his speech today the Foreign Secretary referred to this situation. He said that we are all in favour of elections for a united Germany, but he also said in another part of his speech that we were going ahead with the proposal for incorporating Germany into a European system of defence. Does he really believe that he can have those two things at the same time? Does he really think it sense to believe that the Russians will 153 agree to the proposition that they should have elections over the whole of Germany, but that Germany, after its Government has been elected, is to be a part of the Western European defence system?
Of course, everyone knows that there is not the slightest hope of the Soviet Government agreeing to that proposition, and I would not agree to it if I were them. It is a senseless proposition, because, surely, the Russians have the right to say that if a Government is to be elected for a united Germany then—to put the point at its lowest—it ought to he decided after the election and not before whether Germany should come into this Western defence system or not. We cannot insist on the proposition that Germany should come into that sort of system before having the election. It does not make sense, and everybody can see through it.
Therefore, if the Foreign Secretary goes back to Paris and says that the House of Commons is 100 per cent. in favour of elections in Germany, but will insist on the re-armament of Germany and on Germany taking her place in the Western defence system, that is tantamount to saying that we are opposed to free elections in Germany and to the attempt to unite Germany. When the right hon. Gentleman said that he did not see one chink in the armour of Mr. Vyshinsky, he might have been well advised to have a look at his own armour.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
One chink in his mind.
§ Mr. Foot
I think the Western Powers should also examine their own policies to see if there are any factors in them which are preventing the goal which the right hon. Gentleman says he is as eager as anybody else to reach, that is, a united Germany.
The same applies to the question of China. It is idle to say that the only obstacle to a settlement in the Far East arises from the policies of the Communists, the North Koreans and the Chinese. It is perfectly true, of course, that the North Koreans engaged in wanton aggression. It is absolutely right to resist it. It was absolutely essential to establish that aggression shall not pay in Korea, but to talk as if that sums up the 154 whole of the Far Eastern situation is an absurdity, for how do the Chinese look upon it?
The Chinese look upon this issue in Korea as a question partly of whether they are to be allowed to settle their own affairs in their own country. There is no argument about this. There was a civil war in China and that civil war was probably the biggest event in the world since 1945. The Chinese Communists were fighting that war against forces supported by the Americans. American aircraft and American guns. There were no Russians engaged in the fighting. The Chinese fought against forces assisted by aid given by the Americans.
Therefore, it is natural that the Chinese, looking at this situation should say, "We believe that tied up with the whole question of what should be a settlement in the Far East is whether we are to be allowed to settle our own affairs." And when they look across the narrow strip of water to Formosa and see that the American Government are pouring aid into a corrupt police régime in Formosa on a scale on which they are not giving aid to any other country in the world, it is natural that the Chinese should be suspicious.
Therefore, if we are to have a settlement in the Far East and have a chance of establishing a mutual interest there—where I think there is a mutual interest, that China should be independent—we have also to examine the policies of the Western Powers instead of saying complacently to ourselves, as hon. Members have so often said in this House, that everything in our policy is perfect and that the Western Powers have no need to examine their policies or their consciences at all.
But of course if we are to achieve these changes I have indicated, such as a change in Germany of being prepared to accept some form of free elections and a united Germany without insisting upon the prior inclusion of Western Germany in Western Defence, and if we are to have a hope of armistice talks in Korea blossoming into a general settlement, there will have to be big changes in policy.
There will have to be big changes in policy particularly on the part of the Americans. One of the prime tasks of a British Government at this time should 155 be to seek to secure those changes on the part of the Americans. It may be that we will fail in these proposals; it may be that the Russians will prove intransigent in Germany and that the Chinese will prove intransigent in the Far East. It may be; but let us at least make sure there is no intransigence on our part that will prevent an agreement.
If we are to be able to say that with a clear conscience, we have to assert ourselves with all our power and influence to change some of the disastrous policies the American Government have been pursuing during recent months and recent years. If we are to be able to do that we have to be independent ourselves. We shall not be able to exert that power and influence if we are now going to place ourselves in a position of dependence on the Americans such as we have never had since 1945 or since even the beginning of the war. [HON. MEMBERS:"Oh."] Certainly.
This country took aid under the American Loan and took aid under the Marshall Aid scheme, and the declared purpose of receiving that aid was that we should build up our own economic strength as swiftly as possible and win a position of viability in our economy as soon as possible. But if we accept dollar aid now to maintain a re-armament programme that is beyond our own means to support, so far from helping ourselves to try and achieve economic independence we shall be placing ourselves in a position of dependence on the Americans far worse than we have ever been in before.
I interrupted one hon. Member and asked whether he thought that possibly one of the objectives of the Prime Minister when he goes to Washington will be to seek some form of dollar aid, and the hon. Member replied that he was not in the confidence of the Prime Minister and he could not say. It has been declared pretty openly in many of the newspapers. Of course, they may be wrong. But I doubt it.
My right hon. Friend the former Foreign Secretary today referred to the possibility of discussions for sharing the burden of defence between the North Atlantic Treaty Powers. If it is to be a question of the North Atlantic Treaty Powers sitting down and deciding that each of them shall contribute to their own 156 defence, say, an equivalent part of their national income, that would be a very fair arrangement. That would be something of which everyone would be in favour, and it would expose the fact that in this country during the past few years we have borne a heavier load for defence than probably any other country in the world.
But if it is to be a question of American aid to be given to us to enable us to carry through the re-armament programme which was announced by the last Government, it having been found in the meantime that that re-armament programme is too heavy for us to carry on our own shoulders, I hope we shall fight against and oppose that proposition. Not only would that course put us in the position of mercenaries but it would greatly weaken our power to influence these essential issues of foreign policy.
Therefore, so far from engaging in that process and putting ourselves in such a dependent position on the United States, I hope that this Government, despite all the statements that were made before the election by the present Prime Minister on how we must seek agreement with the Americans at all costs, will examine the situation again and see that if we do not resist some of the policies which the Americans have attempted to enforce upon us, then so far from building up a position where we can make a genuine peace we shall go from bad to worse and we shall find, perhaps in two or three years' time, that we are engaged in that kind of arms race which can only lead to the catastrophe of a third world war.
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I shall not follow my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) in his answer to the provocative charges made by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe). I would only add a footnote. I remember fighting a by-election about Abyssinia in 1936. There were posters in Derby 30 feet high saying, "A vote for Labour is a vote for war." I would invite the hon. Member for Windsor to read again what my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said at Scarborough at our Conference, and see whether his charges can be sustained.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)
Will the right hon. Gentleman also take note 157 of the fact that in the by-election at Oxford in 1936 there was a poster saying, "A vote for Hogg is a vote for Hitler"?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Alas, the Government then in power were pursuing a policy of appeasing the dictator. We were calling on the Government to stand for the League of Nations, and every time we did so our opponents said we wanted war. I remember a speech by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in 1937, when he said, "Every time we asked for that to be done the other side said, 'You want war.' I heard that murmur from those benches today. It is the kind of remark that might have been made by the Gadarene swine just before they fell into the sea."
I do not want to follow that because I want to talk about the speech of the Foreign Secretary and what he called the chasm between the East and the West, which, as he said, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport agrees, is the cardinal issue in world affairs today. Anybody who has dealt with the Russians must realise that it is very difficult to reach their minds. I have had enough experience of Mr. Molotov and Mr. Vyshinsky to know exactly what the Foreign Secretary means.
I believe there are for us two major lines of policy which should guide us in all we do. I believe that in everything we should be patient, conciliatory, constructive, even under provocation, when we are dealing with those on the other side of the chasm. Here I answer my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport: we must be in a position to negotiate from strength. We are not waiting till our armament programme is completed before we negotiate. We are constantly trying to negotiate with them every day—now, in Paris, about Germany, about Italy, about atomic energy, about armaments. We are not trying to put anything over the Russians on these questions; we only want to reach the solution which is in the best interests of the world.
My hon. Friend spoke about the Japanese Treaty. No doubt my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) will deal with that tomorrow night. I remember that the Russians had constant discussions with Mr. Dulles about the Japanese Treaty. They broke the discussions off. Why? Because they wanted a veto on the preparations which 158 were made. We cannot draw up a peace treaty by veto, and a peace treaty for Japan was urgently required.
I think the second line of policy is that we should go forward with those on our side of the chasm, three-quarters of the nations of the world, in building up the kind of international system we want to see—a system which will stop aggression and that is the sole purpose of the armament programme for which we stand. That world system, of course, will be imperfect until the other quarter of the nations come in, but in going forward on our side we shall in no way compromise the ultimate rights and interests of the other quarter when at last they do come in. With our three-quarters, there is much in many spheres which we are doing and which we still can do. Of course, in trying to create that system, it must be a major objective to try and settle our own disputes by peaceful means, by negotiation and the rule of law. That is why we so bitterly regret what has happened in Egypt and in Persia in recent months.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) will speak on Persia tomorrow. I shall not deal with it except to mention the great success of the measures which we took last summer to meet the deficiency of oil supplies caused by the loss of Abadan. We hope that that success may be one more reason which may yet bring Persia to accept a satisfactory solution on the lines suggested by us and, if I may say so, endorsed by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon.
The events in Egypt are no less tragic than those in Abadan and may be more dangerous still. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South, spoke of the great changes which have come to the Middle East in recent times. Twenty years ago Egypt was still in the first decade of its independence. All the other countries of the Middle East were under a mandate. Today, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia are all equal members of the community of nations. For centuries those nations led an unchanging, poverty-stricken, primitive life, a constant struggle against the desert. Now, thanks to Western engineering, here and there the desert is beginning to be reclaimed.
The initial successes in Egypt, in the Sudan, in Palestine and Iraq show what 159 could be done if the great rivers were really used. In some areas new sources of wealth to the Middle East have begun to appear. In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrein and Iraq, royalties on oil are bringing in tremendous sums. This year Iraq will receive, I believe, about £6 million. By 1953—the year after next—she may get over £50 million.
Oil is a wasting asset. Some scientists think it cannot last 70 years. To develop the other resources of those countries for the permanent enrichment of the life of their peoples is an urgent necessity, and possibly we ought now to try to get some kind of concerted international effort—a new body, perhaps—that will do for the Middle East what Marshall Aid and O.E.E.C. have done for Europe. The need is very real and very urgent. Great things could be accomplished within 10 years. Indeed, that is the only hope, as I think, of mitigating the grinding poverty which is the greatest danger of all the nations there.
But economic development would be useless without defence, and my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) was absolutely right: the Middle East cannot hope to defend itself. Indeed, without Western support it probably would not even try. Its newly won independence, its hopes of progress, would disappear overnight. That is what makes so tragic Egypt's summary rejection of the four-Power proposals which have been laid before her.
I hope that the Egyptians are going to think again. The Egyptian Foreign Minister spoke the other day of equal partnership. That is exactly what has been offered, as in the Atlantic Pact. The cold war has changed the form of this thing, but it is the only solution—extension of the collective world system. We want to see a system of pooled defence against aggression. The proposal made to Egypt is founded on the basic obligations of the Charter. Its acceptance would bring the abrogation of the Treaty of 1936. It would guarantee the participating nations against any interference with their Sovereign rights. Every nation would, of course, be equal in status. As the Foreign Secretary said, we ask of Egypt or of the others absolutely nothing that we are not doing today in Britain ourselves.
160 I sometimes wonder if both in Persia and in Egypt there is the thought, possibly sub-conscious, that in another war they may be neutral. No member of the United Nations can be neutral. That is why Switzerland has not joined. Surely, the Middle Eastern nations, reflecting on the last 50 years of their history, must see that neutality is a very dangerous mirage, that defence is the only alternative to subjugation, and that only an equal share in the world collective system against aggression can save them from the menace which threatens them today.
Crises create opportunities. The Middle East now needs a big new policy, with reconciliation among all those nations. They have got to create economic cooperation, and share in world defence, if they are to escape that double danger which they now confront. We have had to face that same double danger here in Euope since 1945. The Russians believed—indeed, I often heard them say it in the first 18 months after the war—that the post-war boom would inevitably be followed by a post-war slump. They thought it would be worse than that of 1931.
They thought, many of them, although they did not say it, that that slump would bring their armies to the Pyrenees. When the Assembly met last in Paris, in 1948, the situation was extremely grave. The democatic enthusiasm aroused by the liberation was dying away; poverty was hitting the peoples very sharply; the aggression on Greece and the Berlin blockade showed what dangerous things the Kremlin was prepared to do, and there was very little in the way of organised defence to put against the Russians if they had come.
In three years, the picture has greatly changed. The O.E.E.C. has brought great economic advances. In the first quarter of this year, the production of its countries was, on the average, 139 per cent. of the production in 1938. The Pact of Dunkirk and the Brussels Pact had become the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Of course, we have only just begun to gather our strength, but we have already, as General Eisenhower said the other day, formidable potential, and our re-armament programme, heavy though the burden which it involves, will soon create the strength which, I believe, will make the Kremlin hesitate before they try again ventures like Berlin and Greece.
161 We all realise quite clearly the danger to economic progress which re-armament involves. We accept it only because the risk is less than the risk of successful aggression; because the cost of the police, however high, is less than the cost of lawless disorder. I hope that in the very early future the Russians will see that the union of the West and its resolution will make it wise for them very soon to come to terms.
§ Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that even today there is an air lift flying from east to west out of Berlin with manufactured goods?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Yes, I do realise that. I do realise that the Russians are still capable of deciding on very dangerous things, and I beileve that in building up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, bringing in Scandinavia, who are certainly not aggressive-minded, and bringing in Greece and Turkey, has been wise. I think that there are other things which we can do to strengthen Europe. The Foreign Secretary spoke of two of them. One was to get Italy into the United Nations. I find it very difficult to understand that the veto should be used as it has been to defeat the plain purpose of the Charter in this affair. I hope that the Assembly in its present debates will devise a way in which that obstacle will be removed or overcome.
The second point to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was Germany. He endorsed the new policy for Germany which was agreed on with France and the United States by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), in Washington in September last. Nobody denies—I would never deny to my hon. Friends—that that policy involves a risk; of course, it does. Germany, after a century of militarism, after 40 years of war, inflation, slump and Hitlerism is in a lamentable condition. We cannot exercise the hatred and wickedness of the surviving Nazis. We cannot create a strong Parliamentary Government by pious hopes or paper plans.
There are dangers in any policy which we may adopt, but much the most grievous danger is to have no policy at all. My right hon. Friend agreed in September that we must support a democratic 162 Germany, included in the European community, and invite it to take part, within an international framework, in the defence of Western Europe. I would ask my hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port this question: Unless we do that who will defend Germany if she is invaded from the East?
Supposing we establish a free Germany. Supposing she is demilitarised, supposing Russia suddenly decided to strike, what do we do? Do we leave her to the Soviet? The thing is impossible. I believe there is no way out of this policy other than that which we have agreed. We may not, of course, get the union of Germany for which we are hoping under the plan which the German Parliament have suggested. I trust that the United Nations will organise the elections. I know that the Foreign Secretary wants them to do it. Even if we get it there would certainly be many doubts and uncertainties in our minds about the German problem. I believe that this general line is wise, but it involves the least of the various risks which face us now.
Let us not disguise from ourselves the fact that we have a long-term task before us. I know my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport is very much aware of it. We want to see an overwhelming majority of the German people believe in the kind of ideas in which we ourselves believe. M. Blum said long before Hitler threw him into Buchenwald that the only solution to the German problem was to make the Germans equal partners in a strong and integrated Europe. For my part, I believe he was right.
My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) said, quite rightly, that there was anxiety in this country about the truce negotiations in Korea. I am very glad that the Foreign Secretary gave a full explanation this afternoon. A cease-fire in Korea might be an event of historical importance, second only to the Security Council's decision to resist aggression 18 months ago. A step of tremendous import has been taken by agreeing on a line. A line is an indispensable condition to a cease-fire. I think also that the United Nations spokesmen are right in saying that we must settle about supervision after the cease-fire and about the prisoners of war, but I hope there will be no other conditions. I hope that the Foreign Secretary with his colleagues in 163 Paris will give his personal attention to seeing, so far as he can, that this truce now goes through.
I remember that when the United Nations Commission got a cease-fire in Kashmir, three years ago, they left many things unsettled to which both parties attached great importance, but the good will created by the cease-fire was such that if they had acted with despatch I still believe they might have got the whole dispute settled then. In any case, I am sure that the cease-fire stopped bloodshed in Kashmir. In all human probability it prevented the disaster of internecine war and a truce was arranged.
A truce in Korea now might open the way for us very soon to talk to China and to find out what China really wants. After all that China has suffered in civil and international war in the last 30 years I cannot believe that any Chinese Government would really go in for a policy of aggression. At any rate, it is of urgent and growing importance that we should know what the intentions of the present Chinese Government are, and we should have the chance to discuss a basis of understanding with them if we possibly can.
The Foreign Secretary spoke at length about disarmament. I hope he will press forward with the new proposals which he, Mr. Acheson and M. Schuman laid before the Assembly; and that like Mr. Acheson he will give the matter as much of his close attention as he can. I think the new proposals to start at once to make an actual draft treaty are sound and right and should go some way to reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport.
We know there are conditions which must be fulfilled before reduction in our immense armament burden can be obtained but it is not one of those conditions that every political difference between ourselves and Russia must be resolved. Armaments are not merely the result of international tension. They are also in themselves a cause of international tension. Someone sets the pace, and others must follow, with mounting suspicion and fear. If Russia's armaments were a quarter of what they are today, ours could be much less, and our hope of general political and economic co-operation would be enormously improved.
164 The reduction of armaments by international agreement, in whatever conditions it may be effected, is inherently a very complex problem. There are technical and political difficulties of every kind. Only thorough, persistent and long-term preparation gives any hope of an ultimate result. That preparation, fortunately, has been going on. The Atomic Energy Commission has a scheme, approved by the Assembly. It is a remarkable piece of work and the most drastic derogation from national sovereignty that has ever been proposed.
Whatever difficulties may be met, it is a gain that the scheme is ready and that the vast majority of Governments are already pledged to its support. It is a gain that exploratory work has been done by the Conventional Armaments Commission, and such technical progress has been made that I am sure the Foreign Ministers are ready to propose that the two commissions should be merged into one so as to get on with the economic solutions.
Broadly, in the technical suggestions which have been made, I believe that Mr. Acheson in his speech yesterday was right, and that this programme will help to advance the day when reduction of this heavy burden can be made; but let us have no illusions. That day will not come until two fundamental conditions have been fulfilled. The first is that the fighting in Korea and elsewhere must stop. We cannot produce armaments if aggression is to be a constant strain on all our resources, and at any moment a new aggression creating the need for extra strength.
We must have a more effective international system of inquiry and inspection, by the Americans, for example, into what is happening in Russia, and by Russia into what is happening in America. France should be able to inspect Germany, in the same way. That is indispensable to any armaments system; but, again, let us have no illusions. It is one thing to work out schemes on paper and another to realise them in fact. It is one thing to have a plan on paper and another thing to get the Russians to accept it. It means big new decisions by Russia. In this vital matter, Russia must lift the curtain around her country and those of her allies. Russia must waive the right to veto inspection when it is required.
165 Some day, Russia must agree, but let us recognise that it means a major change of policy for the Kremlin, if the Foreign Secretary can get Mr. Vyshinsky and the Kremlin to accept this system, on the conditions that we want, but with no fear that they would be opening the door to general interference in their social and economic life. If the Foreign Secretary can do that, he will be rendering a new service to mankind.
There is something else to which he and the Government must give their minds. It was raised in very eloquent language tonight by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke, and it is a matter on which many other hon. Members have often spoken. We must take effective international action to stop world slumps and we must relieve the poverty in which so many of our fellow creatures live. The slump of 1931 brought us Hitler. Another slump might be more catastrophic still.
I hope the Government will give their attention to a report, with proposals for concrete action, presented to the Economic and Social Council about a year ago. Even where there is no slump, more than half the human race are underfed. That was true in 1938, and since then the output of food has increased by 9 per cent. and the world population by 12 per cent. In Asia the average income per head per annum is 50 dollars, in Europe 380 and in North America 1,100. In Asia the expectation of life is under 30 years, infant mortality is more than 500 per 1,000, and most people are hungry from the cradle to the grave.
In those facts lies one of the gravest dangers which we face today. The new independent Governments of Asia understand the problem and want to solve it. At the Colombo Conference, Ceylon explained that she was reclaiming the jungle for growing rice. Pakistan is watering the deserts of Sind, India is using the rivers of the Himalayas and has a scheme to irrigate 10 million acres and to produce more power than the Boulder Dam.
In the work in regard to both slumps and the development of backward areas the International Bank for Reconstruction may, I believe, be the crucial instrument for us to use. I confess that I think that up to now it has been a disappointment. I hope the Government will encourage it to be more adventurous and 166 will help it to get greater resources than it has so far had.
I recognise that in all these matters of collective defence, collective settlement of disputes, collective prosperity and international fair shares, Britain has, as my right hon. Friend said, a great part to play. Indeed, when I think of what the free spokesmen of the Commonwealth can do together, I believe our leadership is now more important in world affairs than it has ever been. At this stage collective action for peace or for prosperity means heavy burdens. With heavy hearts we ask our people to bear them, but we do it with the firm conviction that, if we are equal to the challenge of our times, our children will at long last be freed from want and fear.
§ 10.19 p.m.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
The last three speeches from the Opposition back benches provided an amazing contrast. We had speeches from two social democrats, the hon. Members for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) and Swindon (Mr. T. Reid). I found considerable agreement with both of them, and I wish we had more speeches like those from the Socialist Party. Then we had the speech of the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). He is not a social democrat; he is a Socialist. He gave a rehash of the speeches he was making during the General Election or, if hon. Members prefer it, a précis of "Going our way" and "One way only."
§ Major Beamish
I am not reading my speech. I am entitled to hold notes in my hand. Those three speeches drew further attention to the split which exists in the party opposite—the split between the social democrats and the Socialists or Marxists—a split which is, in my opinion, quite unbridgeable.
The hon. Member for Devonport said that we called his party warmongers because they believed in the 1930's in collective security. I believe that the Conservative Party made many mistakes during the 1930's. But we have learnt our lesson. We have learnt that appeasement does not pay, and it seems to me to be politically dishonest and illogical for the hon. Member in the same breath to 167 denounce appeasement at Munich and then to go on to advocate more appeasement today in the face of an even graver military threat than we faced in those days. That is illogical and politically dishonest.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), to whose speech I listened with great interest and much agreement, departed from his notes at the beginning of his speech and told us the old story about his party believing in collective security in the 1930's. Has he forgotten the "guns or butter" by-election? Has he forgotten that his party voted against the defence programme or the Service Estimates on every conceivable occasion there was during those years?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The "guns or butter" by-election, if I remember rightly, was in 1933, when it was still very possible—almost easy—for the Disarmament Conference to succeed. If it had succeeded, we should not have had the Second World War.
§ Major Beamish
There were a few people in the House, one of whom was my right hon. Friend who leads this party and is now Prime Minister, who did not hold that view. If the right hon. Member wants to quibble about the date of the "guns or butter" by-election—it seems to me to be only a quibble—I ask him whether he has forgotten the occasion on which practically the whole of his party voted against conscription when Hitler was in Prague. Was there a disarmament conference going on then? No, there was not.
I know that there is an excuse for this. It is this: "We did not agree with the Conservative foreign policy. We thought that it might lead to war and, therefore, we voted against the defence Estimates" That is a fair paraphrasing of what is so often said. But what does that mean? It means: "We think there is going to be a war, and by every means in our power we are going to weaken the country's defences to ensure that if there is war we are defeated."
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
No. We many times demanded before 1939 that the Government should make better progress in disarmament preparations.
§ Major Beamish
All I can say is that it is on record in HANSARD. Those who wish to check it up for themselves can do so.
Apart from that one point, I do not want to squabble with the right hon. Member, because I and, I think, most of my hon. Friends are very broadly in agreement with practically all else that he said. What I want to do is to expand that part of his speech which he began by saying "What is wanted in the Middle East is a big new policy." I want to address myself to that and to the subject of the defence of the Middle East as part of the defences of the free world.
During the Summer Recess I was in the Middle East. I was there in 1949 for a long tour of the Arab countries, and before the war, when I was in the Regular Army, I lived in those parts of the world, in what is now Israel and in Egypt, for a number of years. I very warmly welcome, as did the right hon. Member, the entry of Greece and Turkey into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It was an entry too long delayed. Both countries will make first-class contributions to our joint defences.
The rôle of Turkey is of exceptional importance, because strategically Turkey is placed on the left flank of a possible Soviet advance into Europe, and on the right flank of a possible Soviet advance into the Middle East. But in Turkey I found great anxiety regarding the uncertain situation in the 1,800 miles gap between that country and Pakistan a gap which I might describe as being filled at the moment by two swing doors, one firmly hinged on Turkey and the other firmly hinged on Pakistan—doors with no bolts at the moment. The strategic importance of this area is obvious to anyone, whether looking at a map in the Kremlin or in General Eisenhower's headquarters.
In a recent speech, M. Köprülü, the Foreign Secretary of Turkey, said that his Government desires above all to see the establishment among the countries of the Middle East of a peaceful collaboration capable of assuring stability in that area. Obviously, with this in mind, Turkey has recently had military discussions with Pakistan and obviously also, with this in mind, Turkey has been one of the four Powers which have made the new 169 approach in the Middle East. What prospects are there of achieving this? What do these four Powers who have made this approach want? It seems to me they want, first, to extend a defensive system built up under the North Atlantic Treaty in order to ensure that there are no weak points in the front line, and for this purpose—let us face it—military bases are obviously required.
Secondly, it seems we have important economic and military interests in Middle East oil, on the free flow of which depends the effectiveness of our defence programme and the very success or failure of the recovery programme in Europe. Thirdly, it seems that we want to do all we can to keep open our communications with those parts of the British Empire which lie beyond the Suez Canal and to which the Suez Canal is the most economic route.
What do the peoples inhabiting the Middle and Near East want? This applies equally to Arab and Jew. It seems to me from my recent visit and previous visits that they want, first, independence. They want, secondly, a rising standard of living and, thirdly, the prospect of peace in which they can enjoy those two things. I ask myself next: Are the interests of the four Powers who have made this new approach to the Middle East in conflict with Arab and Jewish interests? I do not think they are in the least. It was the Foreign Secretary, in his most wise and refreshing speech today, who said—speaking of this part of the world—that we all ought to be friends. I entirely agree with him. The problem, however, of bringing about stability and peaceful collaboration in the Middle East is a thorny one and is swirled about by many crosscurrents. I want to mention a few of the problems and complications.
First, the Arab League, which was conceived I think in 1943 and came fully into being in 1945, has been a disappointment to everyone, not least to its own members. It was formed with two objects, first to retain Palestine, or as much as possible, for the Arabs, and, secondly, to help the Arab States to achieve their own independence. I believe the main reason for the ineffectiveness of the League has been that Egypt 170 has used it to combat Great Britain instead of to accomplish the primary object, which was to retain as much of Palestine as they could for the Arabs. I am not surprised, therefore, that there is so much discontent with the Egyptian leadership—discontent which has now definitely come to a head.
But, Egypt apart, I believe the Arab League has a great future. I am very glad to know that King Talal of Jordan is at the moment visiting Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, King Talal is not the permanently sick man which hon. Members would have us believe. I predict that he will prove to be a worthy son of a very worthy father. Personalities, dynastic and family quarrels have been the rocks on which the Arab League has nearly foundered. I hope the British Government will give all possible encouragement to a strengthened League and also to any projects which may lead to a closer integration and co-operation between any two or more of its members. There is still a doubt in Arab minds that what is described as "divide and rule" may still be part of British foreign policy. I do not believe that that is any longer the case.
Secondly, another problem facing us is the economic weakness of the Arab States. So far this matter has only been scratched on the surface. The Economic and Social Council of United Nations, after a great deal of talk, is now giving considerable technical and economic assistance, and working in liaison with it are such organisations as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Palestine Refugees Agency, as well as other specialised agencies, which can play an important role indeed within the strategy worked out by the Economic and Social Council. Then there is the British Middle East Office, which has done valuable work in the past, and whose work in the future can be expanded. Overall is President Truman's Fourth Point of economic aid in all its forms. Given the right climate of opinion, economic aid to Middle East countries can be a major factor in raising the standard of living.
There are many great schemes—for example, involving the irrigation of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, the Nile water scheme and a plan to open up a large area of the Jezireh region in Syria 171 for land settlement—which can only go forward with international help. There is another scheme in the Lebanon for harnessing four rivers for the purpose of cheap hydro-electric power, not only for that country, but for its neighbours as well. For a project costing £22 million the Litani river scheme would provide so much power that it would give cheap electricity to Iraq, Transjordan, and perhaps Israel as well. I hope to see that scheme go forward as soon as possible, although I am bound to say that the British Government have shown a singular lack of interest.
The economic strength of the Middle East lies obviously in oil. Rather more than half of the world's proved oil reserves lie in the Middle East. So great are these that even the loss of the Abadan refinery has not meant an oil shortage to any notable degree anywhere in the world. The refinery capacity in the world falls short of demand by 100,000 barrels a day. That is very little, and by the first quarter of 1952 refinery capacity will be sufficient to meet the demands of the market. It may be that during the next year or so the only real shortage of petroleum products will be in aviation spirit. Although it is true to say that the loss of the Abadan refinery has been a very heavy financial strain on this country, it is one we can bear, but undoubtedly the Persian loss has been far greater than ours, and I greatly doubt if it is one that they can bear.
The third problem concerns military weakness in the Middle East. The Lebanon and Syria have very small armed forces—very small indeed in the Lebanon —with practically no modern equipment and no modern aircraft. Several approaches to this country seem to have had a cold reception. These Governments had to buy arms, most of them obsolete, where they could. The Iraqi armed forces have been poorly served by this country, yet all the time the world had the impression that we were supplying arms to these countries, particularly Iraq. That is not, in fact, the case. The Iraqi forces are gravely short of artillery and ammunition of every kind, and only a short time ago their Tempest aircraft had no spares, and practically no ammunition. Yet the whole time the world was thinking we were equipping them.
172 Then the Arab Legion has been kept short of much-needed equipment, and nothing has come so far as I know of the Jordanian request for a Royal Air Force Mission to begin training a small air force. I hope that the Government will give early attention to that. A great deal has been said about Egypt, but I only want to add that it seems to me that the Egyptian attitude, although it springs from many causes, comes from one thing in particular, and that is a faulty military appreciation of the situation. The reason why the 1936 Treaty was warmly welcomed in Egypt was because the Egyptians were afraid of being attacked by Mussolini. Today they appear to be unable to see that the military threat to independence from Russia is far greater than was the threat in 1936.
I want to say one word about Israel's possible military contribution to the defence set-up in the Middle East. They seem to me recently to have expressed a determination to take up a position of neutrality. I can understand that. I do not see any reason why we should be surprised. Perhaps, at the moment, that would be the best thing. Looking at the picture as a whole, I am very glad that the Foreign Secretary has recently seen Nuri Pasha Said —I think in Paris. He has also seen in London the Regent of Iraq, who is now undergoing an operation for appendicitis. I am sure we all wish him a complete and speedy recovery.
I do beg the Government to take Pakistan into our confidence so far as defence of the Middle East is concerned. She has a position of great importance so far as that part of the world is concerned. I have regretted that during the recent discussion on Middle East defence, Pakistan has been an absentee. The strategy of defence of this area has to be carefully worked out in the light of the natural Turkish opinion that the frontiers of the Middle East lie along the line of the Caucasus and at the Bosphorus and not along the line of the Taurus mountains.
The next grave problem, the gravest of all, in the Middle East is the dispute between Jews and Arabs. There are many problems to be worked out which will require statesmanship of the highest order if solutions are to be found for them, and found in time. There is, for example, the fixing of Israel's frontiers. Israel's 173 frontiers are fixed only by a series of armistice agreements with her four Arab neighbours. The Jews still occupy practically the whole of the territory allocated to them under the United Nations' plan of November, 1947; and practically the whole of the territory which the Bernadotte proposals of September, 1948, allocated to them. It is also true that between 50 and 60 per cent. of the territory at present occupied by Israel is Arab-owned and has been for more than 1,000 years. Yet no compensation has been paid and little, if any, progress has been made by the United Nations in the fixing of the frontiers as fairly as possible. As a start, I should have thought that nobody would argue that the proposal that Jews now occupying Arab property should pay the rightful owners rent to be fixed by independent tribunals or buy the properties concerned if the owners wish to sell at current market prices was against justice or law.
Arising out of this Arab-Jewish problem is the future of the city of Jerusalem. The last Government made it absolutely clear that it favoured internationalisation of the city and an area including Bethlehem under the policy of the United Nations: I feel sure the new Foreign Secretary holds similar views. Nothing more seems to have been said about the Bernadotte proposal that the port of Haifa should be declared a free port, although if it were done it would go a long way towards finding a solution to the difficulties of the Haifa refinery. One could hardly expect that any politician who wishes to be a politician would allow the free flow of oil through the 12-inch pipes from Kirkuk to Haifa when there is no guarantee that it might not be used by Israel for aggressive purposes. I think the proposal made by Count Bernadotte that Haifa should become a free port was a wise one and should not be pigeon-holed.
The most difficult problem in the Middle East is the deep-rooted malaise arising out of the refugee problems. There are nearly 1 million of these desperately unhappy people. I can tell the House that I have never in my life had a sadder or more moving experience than the sight of these Arab refugees in their so-called camps. Details have been described in the House before now. Morally, without doubt, all are entitled to go home. But politics is the art of the possible and, short of a bloody upheaval 174 in the Middle East, which is unthinkable and must be avoided at all costs, such a solution seems to be impossible. The Government must turn their attention to the resettlement of these refugees instead of the present U.N. policy of simply keeping these refugees alive.
Resettlement is not such a difficult problem as many people think. It is the only long term solution. It will be very costly. One estimate I have heard is that it will cost £1,000 a refugee. I have no idea whether this is accurate. There are now in Israel 1,300,000 Jews, and they are entering the country at the rate of 3,500 a month, and during the next four to five years there might be an influx of 1 million more Jews. It is not known generally that Syria could absorb and find employment for the Arab refugees with great benefit to her economy. This could be done in the Aleppo area or along the Iraqi border.
Among the other difficulties facing the Government in bringing about a big new policy in the Middle East, such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), spoke about, is that of Communism. It seems to me to be foolish to over-estimate the strength of the Communists in the Middle East. It is still more foolish to under-estimate it. I have made something of a study of this. I find the Cominform headquarters in Beirut. It works a large network of agents throughout the Middle East. It is highly organised. It is so well organised that leading Arab Communists were able to go to Haifa to meet leading Jewish Communists for a Cominform meeting. That shows how well-organised it is.
Communism plays in the Middle East, as elsewhere, on extreme nationalism and, of course, offers riches to the "have-nots." The Portsmouth Treaty, which was in many ways almost a model treaty, fell by the wayside almost entirely as a result of Communist intrigue in Iraq; and only poor Communist organisation in that country saved Iraq from becoming another Czechoslovakia. Such a thing could still happen.
Let us beware, therefore, of Communist strength in the Middle East. Let us take advantage of its weaknesses; but let us not be taken in by the line of some irresponsible elements in the Arab countries and Israel who think they can play us off against the Russians. All the best 175 elements throughout the area know very well that Russian promises and performance have no resemblance to each other. They know, in fact, that their long-term and short-term interests lie parallel with the interests of the four main Powers who have made this new approach.
There is much more goodwill in the Middle East than might appear on the surface. For six years British policy in this area has been vacillating and weak. I saw recently a little verse which seemed to me to provide the perfect epitaph for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South. It said:When arguments get out of handWith those who are divided,Unalterably, I take my stand—I'm undecided.As a result of this weak policy many of our best friends have been left in doubt regarding our real intentions.
It is Russia's policy to create instability in the Middle East. It is ours to create stability. Fundamentally, the interests of Arabs and Jews are the same as our own. With a new Government in power, headed by men of real foresight and capacity, I look forward to fresh winds blowing in the Middle East. As the months go by, I hope to see the Middle Eastern peoples with re-established confidence in us. After all, we have been the best friends of the Arabs since they first tasted independence—and even as recently as 1943. No great Power has done more to befriend the Jews and help them to achieve their aspirations. Indeed, we have leaned over backwards practically to help them.
I am confident that now that the Middle East vacuum is seen in its world context, we shall move steadily forward to the great benefit of the whole free world. In the defence of freedom I expect to see the Moslem world playing an increasingly important rôle.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Tufton Beamish) will forgive me if I do not follow him point by point into the long and detailed survey he gave of the situation in the Middle East at the present time. But I should like to comment on one point which has emerged not only from the hon. and gallant Member's speech but also from the whole debate we have had so far today.
176 It is a measure of the gravity of the international situation that so many hon. Members, including the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary who opened this debate, should have found it necessary to devote the majority of their speeches to military considerations. In fact, I submit this has been more of a defence debate than it has been a foreign affairs debate. The Foreign Secretary spoke about Germany in terms very largely of defence. He spoke about the Middle East in terms of the new Four-Power base in Egypt and of the Far East in terms of the fighting in Korea. I submit we would make a great mistake if, in the course of this debate, we supposed there was only one challenge that faced us in the world at present.
In these days of co-ordinators of one kind and another I sometimes wish the Foreign Secretary, in speaking in a debate of this kind, could have co-ordinated his responsibilities for many more things than the simple danger of military attack. That danger undoubtedly does exist. The danger of premeditated military attack is one which leads us to have a defence programme. I for one should like to see a much more detailed assessment of that risk, but at any rate we all realise that risk does exist.
The second danger, and it is totally different, is the danger of a war that comes upon us without anyone, in fact, deliberately deciding to wage war. I do not mean by this a war that comes by accident. I think the day is long since past when a war can come by accident to the world. It is quite possible for there to be war in Korea and war as there was in Spain before the last world war without the great powers deciding to intervene.
I would put it like this; if either side in the present international tension comes to the conclusion that the other side definitely intends to wage war, then the case for preventive war is absolutely unanswerable. It is not enough for the Foreign Secretary to ask us how the Russians can possibly believe we are going to attack. He said, "How can the Russians believe that we, who have suffered so much, can intend to attack them?" That, I submit, is not really the point. The point is not how can they believe it, but do they believe attack from the West is likely to come. For then the Chiefs of Staff in the Kremlin are bound to think in terms of a preventive war.
177 With the atomic weapon there is such advantage to be had by striking first that it is likely to make an irresistible appeal to military men. If those in the Pentagon in Washington were convinced that the Russians intended to attack, it would be their military duty to launch a preventive war. This danger is totally different from the danger of premeditated military attack. It may arise from it, but it is conceivable that both East and West at present could become convinced the other side intended to wage war, and that would lead to a preventive war from one side or the other.
The third danger is quite different. It is the problem with which we are faced all over the world of rising nationalism. What the mobs are doing in Egypt today has nothing really to do with the East-West struggle. The feeling in China now has again nothing to do with the East-West struggle as we understand it. It is a totally different problem and calls for a totally different solution. It calls for enlightened statesmanship. It calls for the sort of wisdom and far-sightedness which led the late Government to grant independence to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and bring them into the Commonwealth.
Then there are economic problems again quite different from the military threats with which we are faced. There is the danger which we in this country face with regard to the security of our own economy. My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), speaking a few days ago in the debate on the Address, said he believed the economic problems that faced us in this country were not temporary but were permanent, and it is undoubtedly true that the terms of trade which had gone against us so constantly in the last few years are likely to remain against us for many years to come.
We face very severe problems. It should be within the responsibility of the Foreign Secretary to consider these problems when he is considering how much the British economy can bear at the present time. Nor are we the only country having economic difficulties at the moment. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), gave some statistics about the expectation of life, and the standard of living in India and the Asiatic countries. One sometimes wonders whether the world is not deter- 178 mined to prove that Dr. Malthus was right.
Unless we are able to do something about that we shall find that the crisis which faces us in the Far East will resolve itself in only one way, and that is mass revolution. The point I make is that each of these problems—the danger of premeditated attack, the war that no one wants, the danger of nationalism in various parts of the world, the economic dangers that we might face, and do face, in this country at the present time, and the economic difficulties which face people in other parts of the world—these are five aspects of the same problem.
It is the Foreign Secretary's responsibility to co-ordinate a policy which is designed to meet every one of those dangers and difficulties. Frankly, a policy that is designed to deal with one of them in almost every case worsens the other four. If we have a big defence programme we may make ourselves safe from premeditated attack, but that would heighten the danger of tension leading to war. It would weaken the British economy and it might lead to a reduction of aid to the backward countries.
What we need is a balanced programme. We want a man on the Government Front Bench who can say, "Here are my problems. I can do this or I can do that; but he must produce a balanced programme to meet all the difficulties. These difficulties vary in different parts of the world. In Europe at the present time there are two main problems: the danger of premeditated attack and the strength of the economy of Western Europe and of Great Britain. These two problems must be taken into consideration when we are dealing with Europe. The Atlantic Pact is designed to do that, to buy a measure of military security for the people of Europe and, accompanied as it was by the Marshal Plan and, as it is going to be, by the Mutual Defence Assistance Agency, it is designed to give a measure of economic security.
That is one of the ways we have tackled the problems that confront us in Europe. In other parts of the world the problem is different. In Asia the problem is not premeditated military attack but, as my right hon. Friend the member for Derby, South said, that 500 out of every 1,000 children die at birth. We cannot 179 believe that the same programme that would do the job for us in Europe will help us in the Far East.
In the Middle East it is a question of getting together in a workable association those nations which can maintain stability in that region of the world. We are members of a great association of nations—the British Commonwealth. What I wonder when I hear hon. Members opposite speaking about the Empire, is whether they realise that the vast majority of the Empire and Commonwealth are neither Christians by religion or heritage nor white by colour. We are members of a group of nations which has vast interests in the Moslem world through Pakistan, and in the Far East through India. We must be prepared to play our part with them and through them in arriving at a settlement of problems by nations.
It was curious that the Foreign Secretary should have compared the British occupation of Egypt with the American use of military forces here. I hope he will not draw that parallel too far.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.