§ Motion made, and question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)
The House has already shown its deep concern and regret for the severe illness of the Foreign Secretary, whose condition, though continually improving, involves his absence for several months from the office in which he has unsurpassed experience.
The Prime Minister has always to watch the course of foreign affairs with close attention, and there are many and recent precedents for his taking charge of the Foreign Office in such circumstances. My knowledge, such as it is, is not mainly derived from books and documents about foreign affairs, but from living through them for a long time. I hope, with the assistance of the Minister of State and of the two Under-Secretaries, to discharge these duties until the Secretary of State has recovered. It is only if I find the burden more than I can bear that I shall ask for relief, but, naturally, I shall be grateful for any consideration which the House will give me.
This afternoon, we have to survey a field so vast and varied that it is not possible to do more in the space which I could rightly claim than to deal with the salient features, and even for that a severe process of selection and compression is required. My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, who will speak tomorrow, will be able to supplement the account that I can give today.
Let me, first of all, touch factually upon some of the more rapidly moving scenes as they present themselves to us at this moment. Our immediate aim is, of course, the conclusion of a truce in Korea. I doubt very much whether there could be any agreement at the present time on a united Korea. Terrible injuries have been done to each other by the North and South Koreans, but, even if both sides only stood still where they are now, and ceased fire and tried to replace the foreign troops in the country by Korean forces— even if only that happened, time might 884 once more prove to be a healer, especially in ravaged countries when given a revival of prosperity and help in repairing the really fearful damage. Therefore, I should be very content with even a truce or a cease-fire for the moment.
We all desire a settlement of the prisoners of war dispute at Panmunjom. The wonder is that it has been kept alive so long. There is only one vital point, namely, that a prisoner of war cannot and should not be forcibly repatriated against his will. That issue has involved many months of wearisome discussion, but it is now no longer an obstacle. The question of the conditions governing the exchange of prisoners has really been reduced to terms which no longer involve any difference of principle. All that now remains is methods and procedure. Both sides have made numerous concessions, and the United Nations representatives have themselves suggested at least half-a-dozen alternatives.
It is obvious that, if at any time, there is a wish among the Communists to reach an agreement as between rational human beings, the matter could be instantly, or almost instantly, settled. It has also been made plain—abundantly plain—that, if there is no wish to settle, endless and inexhaustible variants can be proposed. So far as we are concerned, we readily accepted the idea that Switzerland or Sweden or India or Pakistan should take over the task of handling in an honourable manner the 40,000 or 50,000 prisoners who fear to go home.
Now, a proposal has been made by the Communists that five Powers— Poland, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Sweden and India—shall all deal together with the problem. This involves much complication, but, at the same time, the claim that all the prisoners concerned shall be moved from their present camps to other distant countries has been dropped. I must remind the House, as I have done several times, that the United States, as mandatory for the United Nations, has borne nineteen-twentieths of the burden in blood and treasure. The matter is not one which we have either the right or the responsibility to decide, but it is our duty, without separating ourselves from our great ally, to express our opinion frankly and plainly to them as occasion offers. I certainly feel that 885 this new proposal requires patient and sympathetic examination, and there is no reason known to me at present to assume that it may not form the basis of an agreement, provided always that it is put forward by the Communists in a spirit of sincerity.
During the last few weeks, we have watched with much anxiety the deterioration of the position in Indo-China. I am glad to say that, so far as my information goes, it is less serious than was at one time assumed, and that the measures taken by the French, together with the approach, or, indeed, the arrival, of the rainy season, will probably give a lull of several months. I ought to say that, in my opinion—I am venturing to offer my opinion—the sudden advance of elements of the Viet-minh forces, or their foraging parties, towards the Siamese frontier ought not to lead us to conclude that it is a Soviet-inspired move inconsistent with the new attitude of the Soviet Government. This may unhappily prove to be the case, but also it might well have arisen from local circumstances and impulses, and from plans made many months ago and now, perhaps, reversed. We should at least not be over hasty in drawing a conclusion in an adverse sense.
Now I come to Egypt, a long way nearer to our scenes of activity, and here I think it will be well to trace the recent sequence of events. Within a week of the evacuation of Abadan, the Wafd Government of Egypt announced that they would repudiate onesidedly—unilaterally, if you prefer it—the Treaty of 1936 which remains valid in its present form until at any rate 1956. It may well be that they did not realise what a weak position that put them in juridically and internationally, and, indeed, in common decency. We undoubtedly retain the legal advantages which go to a nation affronted by an act of bad faith.
When this happened 18 months ago, the then Prime Minister, now Leader of the Opposition, and the then Foreign Secretary, although in the midst of the election, gave very stiff orders to the British troops on the Canal to defend themselves and make preparations to protect British civilians from outrage and massacre. A kind of guerilla war immediately broke out, and this is what we inherited when, on 25th October, 1951, we became responsible.
886 By the end of January, 1952, these attacks upon our Forces, which had been heavily strengthened under the decision and in accordance with the decisions of the late Government, with which we were in full accord, were brought to an end by a rather rough episode in Ismailia. There were some shocking mob murders in Cairo, but there was no more fighting. At the end of July of last year an officer of the Egyptian Army, with a band of military associates, expelled King Farouk and made himself, or was made, without any electoral foundation, dictator of Egypt. Power has since rested with the military junta.
One of the disadvantages of dictatorship is that the dictator is often dictated to by others, and what he did to others may often be done back again to him. There has followed a period of tension in Egypt during which the new dictator and his comrades have found it convenient, or necessary, to gain as much popularity as possible by the well-known process of "taking it out of the British." This process was confined to wordy warfare until about the beginning of last month, April, since when a number of minor acts of violence causing the loss of several lives has taken place.
In November of last year, General Neguib and the ruling junta in Cairo asked us to begin negotiations with them on our evacuation of the Canal Zone and of the important and very costly base which has been established there wholly at our expense during and after the war. We were quite ready to talk over the whole position with General Neguib or his representatives, in a friendly manner. Naturally, we do not wish to keep indefinitely 80,000 men at a cost of, it might be, over £50 million a year discharging the duty which has largely fallen upon us, and us alone, of safeguarding the interests of the free nations in the Middle East, and also of preserving the international waterway of the Suez Canal.
If agreeable arrangements can be made to enable this latter service and also the solid maintenance of the strategic base to be discharged by agreement with Egypt, it would mean a great saving of our men and money. This, let me point out, is not an Imperialist or Colonial enterprise by the British, but it is for purposes with which every member of 887 N.A.T.O. from the North Cape to the Caucasus and also the countries of the East and Middle East are directly concerned.
It was the Egyptian monarchy which, in 1951, denounced the 1936 Treaty, and it was the Egyptian dictatorship which in November last sought the Conference. We have not accepted the repudiation of the Treaty, but we have willingly agreed to the Conference. However, before meeting the Egyptian delegates, we thought it better to come to an understanding between the United States as the leading world Power about the indispensable minimum conditions for preserving these international objects I have described.
These conditions, while fully respecting Egyptian sovereignty, must enable the base to be maintained in such a condition that in the event of a Third World War it could, if needed, function effectively in good time throughout the Middle East. After careful and thorough discussions with the American authorities, both military and civil, under the Truman Administration, we reached conclusions on the necessary conditions.
I do not propose to describe in detail this afternoon these conditions. Suffice it to say that if accepted in good faith they would render possible the reduction of the British Forces in the Canal Zone from 80,000 to a small fraction of that number. There would be left technical personnel discharging their functions with the good will of the Egyptian monarchy, republic, oligarchy, dictatorship, or whatever it may turn out to be.
It was agreed with Mr. Truman's Administration that we should act together to carry forward this policy. When, after the Presidential election, President Eisenhower came into power all his matter was reviewed. I am not authorised to state this afternoon the form of agreement which was reached. In March, however, we proposed to the Egyptians that the British and United States delegates should meet them and discuss the position. The Egyptians, however, did hot wish to meet us both together in the discussion, and the United States deferred to their wish while holding themselves ready at any time to join the discussions if invited by Neguib.
888 We, the British, therefore went into conference with the Egyptians on 27th April, a fortnight ago. We had intended some time ago to ask Field Marshal Slim to join with our Ambassador in presenting our case, which is largely military technique. His need to be in Australia made it necessary for us to substitute another military authority. In General Robertson we have found a representative of the highest professional knowledge and of varied political experience in the administration both of the Middle East and earlier of the British Zone in Germany. It was in these circumstances that negotiations began.
We did not, let me repeat, seek these negotiations. We complied with the Egyptian desire for them. They asked for them and they have now—to quote the violent outpourings of General Neguib reported in today's newspapers—washed their hands of them. Let me here say that I have hitherto had no personal communication with General Neguib, as is stated in some newspapers this morning, and nothing in the nature of an ultimatum has come from Her Majesty's Government or their delegation. It is more likely that the outburst springs from a desire to impress Mr. Foster Dulles, who has arrived in Cairo today. If, at any time, the Egyptians wish to renew the discussions we are willing, and if they would renew them both with us and with the United States, that would be still better. In the meanwhile, no action so far as I can see is called upon from us.
Of course, if the boastful and threatening speeches of which there has been a spate in the last few months, and, in some instances, even in the last few hours, were to be translated into action and our troops in the Canal Zone were to be the object of renewed attacks by saboteurs or even by the Egyptian Army, which is being aided and trained by Nazi instructors and staff officers in unusual numbers, and our soldiers were being killed, we should have no choice—I am sorry to say this to the House, but we must face facts—but to defend ourselves. I am advised that we are entirely capable of doing this without requiring any physical assistance from the United States or anyone else. Our hope is that negotiations will be resumed. In the meanwhile, we may await the development of 889 events with the composure which follows from the combination of patience with strength.
I come now to the main position in Europe. The dominating problem is, of course, Germany. If our advice had been taken by the United States after the Armistice with Germany, the Western allies would not have withdrawn from the front line which their armies had reached to the agreed occupation lines unless and until agreement had been reached with Soviet Russia on the many points of difference about the occupation of enemy territories, of which the occupation of the German Zones was, of course, only a part. Our view was not accepted and a wide area of Germany was handed over to Soviet occupation Without any general settlement among the three victorious Powers.
After the interrupted Potsdam Conference, which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition attended in two different capacities—with my entire contentment, at any rate so far as his first capacity was concerned—the Russia of Stalin took a very hostile line to the Western allies. Stalin found himself resisted from a very early stage by the firmness and tenacity of the late Ernest Bevin, who marshalled and rallied democratic sentiment strongly against this new movement of Russian Soviet ambitions. All the tragic and tremendous events of the last eight years followed in remorseless succession. As the result, the immense and formidable problem of Germany now presents itself in an entirely different aspect.
The East of Germany—more than one-quarter of her population and one-third of her territory, has fallen into great misery and depression and has a powerful and well armed, Soviet-organised, Communist German, military force of over 100,000 men. The question of the German-Polish frontier was specifically reserved at Potsdam for the general peace treaty which, to put it mildly, seems no nearer now than it was then.
We, with the United States, and France, have entered into a new and remarkable relationship with Western Germany. The policy of Her Majesty's Government is to adhere most faithfully in the spirit as well as in the letter to our agreements with Western Germany. Dr. Adenauer may well be deemed the wisest 890 German statesman since the days of Bismarck. I have greatly admired the perseverence, courage, composure and skill with which he has faced the complex, changing, uncertain and unpredictable situations with which he has been ceaselessly confronted. Strong as is our desire to see a friendly settlement with Soviet Russia, or even an improved modus vivendi, we are resolved not in any way to fail in the obligations to which we have committed ourselves about Western Germany. Dr. Adenauer is visiting us here in a few days, and we shall certainly assure him that Western Germany will in no way be sacrificed or— I pick these words with special care— cease to be master of its own fortunes within the agreements we and other N.A.T.O. countries have made with them.
Then there is France. As I have urged for several years, there is no hope for the safety and freedom of Western Europe except by the laying aside forever of the ancient feud between the Teuton and the Gaul. It is seven years since, at Zurich, I appealed to France to take Germany by the hand and lead her back into the European family. We have made great progress since then. Some of it has been due no doubt to the spur to resist the enormous military strength of Soviet Russia, but much is also due to the inspiring and unconquerable cause of United Europe. We have Strasbourg and all that it stands for, and it is our duty to fortify its vitality and authority tirelessly as the years roll on.
We have the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, which has done such beneficent work in consolidating the material strength and sense of unity of European countries; we have the European Payments Union and there is also the European Coal and Steel Community, on which I believe we have observers. Finally, we have, or rather we sincerely hope before long to have, the European Defence Community, so long delayed but also so intensely needed. This will form an essential component of a progressively developing North Atlantic Organisation.
The military position of France is one which may well, however, cause serious anxiety in the English-speaking world. This is not mainly because of its effect in Europe—since whatever our fate there we are in the line together; it is not 891 mainly because of that—it is rather because of its effect on the French position and policy in the far-reaching regions they are seeking to defend.
The Americans invite the French to bring their case in Indo-China before U.N.O. where probably a favourable vote at the moment could be found. The French, as I understand from my own observation, hesitate to do so because they know that thereafter their system in Indo-China would be brought under the continuous survey of U.N.O. As most of the members of U.N.O. have no colonies they are apt to take a rather detached view about those who have. Hence the French hesitation to invoke the machinery of U.N.O.
But surely if France wishes to preserve the authority and life of the French Union without any associations with U.N.O. she should take more effective steps herself. If, today, the French had the same military system that the Socialist Government set up in Great Britain—what I may call the Shinwell system—namely, two years' military service and the power to send National Service men or conscripts abroad beyond Europe, they would, I believe, have had much less difficulty in maintaining their positions in Indo-China and could also have developed a far stronger army in defence of their own soil in line with their allies. The fact that they have hitherto found themselves unable to take these kinds of military measures has exposed them to great difficulty.
Where do we stand? We are not members of the European Defence Community, nor do we intend to be merged in a Federal European system. We feel we have a special relation to both. This can be expressed by prepositions, by the preposition "with" but not "of"—we are with them, but not of them. We have our own Commonwealth and Empire. One of the anxieties of France is lest Germany, even partitioned as she is now, will be so strong that France will be outweighed in United Europe or in the European Defence Community. I am sure they could do a lot, if they chose to make themselves stronger. But, anyhow, I have always believed, as an active friend of France for nearly 50 years, that our fortunes lie together.
892 Certainly we have, since the end of the war, guaranteed five times under the various N.A.T.C. and E.D.C. agreements, under the Dunkirk Treaty and the Brussels Treaty, to help to the utmost of our strength defend France against aggressive attack. Quite a lot—five times; and not as a result of any party decisions, but with the general assent of the British nation. We also declared our abiding interest in building up the strength and integrity of the European Defence Community. We have offered close links with its institutions and its forces. This ought to restore the balance and remove fears that Western Germany will preponderate in the combined organisation.
Let me, if I may, go into some detail for a few moments on our part in the European Defence Community. We accept the principle that there is a specially close relationship between ourselves and the E.D.C. In anticipation of the coming into effect of the E.D.C. Treaty we are already working out with the members of the Community the measures that will be necessary, both on the military and on the political side. On the military side we will ensure effective and continuous co-operation between our forces and those of E.D.C. In the air we shall be ready when the European Air Force is fully established to exchange officers for command and training and to co-operate in many other ways. There will also be close association between the armies and the navies. On the political side we intend to consult constantly and earnestly about problems of common concern. That is our policy as it was the policy of our predecessors.
I feel bound also to place on record from another angle what we have done so far. We have stationed our largest military force with the French on the Continent. We have the strongest armoured force which exists between the Elbe and the Rhine. We have very intimately associated all our air forces. We have placed our troops in Europe under the command of General Ridgeway, the N.A.T.O. Commander-in-Chief. And should war come he can move our divisions about, after reasonable consultations such as we had in the late and preceding world wars, in accordance with strategic requirements or even tactical requirements.
893 What more is there, then, that we could give, apart from completely merging ourselves with the European military organisation? We do our best for them. We fight with them under the orders of the Supreme Commander. On the Continent we share their fate. We have not got a divisional formation in our own island. No nation has ever run such risks in times which I have read about or lived through, and no nation has ever received such little recognition for it.
We shall continue to play a full and active part in plans for the political, military and economic association of Western Europe with the North Atlantic Alliance. That is, I think, a perfectly sober and reasonable statement of our position in regard to the European Defence Community.
I cannot, however, leave French problems, about which I have perhaps spoken with a frankness which I think my long friendship entitles me to do, without reaffirming our devotion to the life and fame of France. France was our enemy for centuries but our ally in the worst struggles we have either of us endured. No one should ever forget the glorious but fearful sacrifices made by France in the First World War when, with her then static population of 39 million, she suffered the loss of two million of the flower of her race. We rejoice to see every revival of French strength and influence, and all the counsel which I venture to offer them as their oldest friend in Britain, springs from my admiration for the part they have played in the glory and the culture of Europe.
I move over these maps—because that is what one has to do in one's mind. When we consider the security of Europe we must not overlook a most important development in the last year—the new relationship between Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey. These nations are on the right flank of the front in Europe, and their agreement greatly strengthens the whole system of allied defence. It also has reactions on the defence of the Middle East which are highly beneficial.
The inclusion of Turkey among the N.A.T.O. Powers has, of course, an important influence upon the Arab States and generally with the Moslem world. We trust that the wisdom of the Arab States may lead them to ever closer association 894 with the Western allies, with whom they have so many ties of common interest and mutual security.
Another most important factor in the Middle East is the State of Israel. Ever since the Balfour Declaration of 1917 I have been a faithful supporter of the Zionist cause. I have, of course, had periods of deep pain when shocking crimes were committed against our officers and men by the extreme factions in this intense and complex Jewish community. But when I look back over the work they have done in building up a nation, in reclaiming the desert, in receiving more than half a million refugees hunted by terror from Europe alone, I feel that it is the duty of Britain to see that they get fair play and that the pledges made to them by successive British Governments are fulfilled.
Fortunately for them they have formed the best Army in the Levant and, as the House will remember, they successfully repulsed the combined attack which was made upon them by their neighbours and Egypt four years ago. It is very unfortunate that no peace has been made between them and the Arab States, with whom their fortunes are interwoven. Nothing that we shall do in the supply of aircraft to this part of the world will be allowed to place Israel at an unfair disadvantage.
We earnestly hope that the problem of Arab refugees will receive continuous attention and that the unfortunate and, particularly, peculiarly untimely, bickering which has broken out between Israel and Jordan will be brought to an end with mutual advantage to both sides. I had a lot to do with the interests and the formation of both these States more than 30 years ago, and I believe that they have both great services to render each other by living together as good neighbours.
I had hoped very much that King Abdullah and Mr. Weizmann—two men I knew and honoured greatly—might have come together, but death has removed one and assassination the other. But perseverance and good neighbourliness is not a policy with which anyone can find fault. Therefore, I hope and trust that the Arab States will come to peace with Israel, and I earnestly pray that the great Zionist conception of a home for this 895 historic people, where they live on the land of their ancestors, may eventually receive its full fruition.
The supreme event which has occurred since we last had a debate on foreign affairs is, of course, the change of attitude and, as we all hope, of mood which has taken place in the Soviet domains and particularly in the Kremlin since the death of Stalin. We, on both sides of the House, have watched this with profound attention. It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to avoid by every means in their power doing anything or saying anything which could check any favourable reaction that may be taking place and to welcome every sign of improvement in our relations with Russia.
We have been encouraged by a series of amicable gestures on the part of the new Soviet Government. These have so far taken the form of leaving off doing things which we have not been doing to them. It is, therefore, difficult to find specific cases with which to match their actions. If, however, any such cases can be cited they will certainly be examined by Her Majesty's Government with urgency and sympathy. On this subject I will now, however, venture to make some general observations which, I hope, will be studied with tolerance and indulgence.
It would, I think, be a mistake to assume that nothing can be settled with Soviet Russia unless or until everything is settled. A settlement of two or three of our difficulties would be an important gain to every peace-loving country. For instance, peace in Korea, the conclusion of an Austrian Treaty—these might lead to an easement in our relations for the next few years, which might in itself open new prospects to the security and prosperity of all nations and every continent.
Therefore, I think it would be a mistake to try to map things out too much in detail and expect that the grave, fundamental issues which divide the Communist and non-Communist parts of the world could be settled at a stroke by a single comprehensive agreement. Piecemeal solutions of individual problems should not be disdained or improvidently put aside. It certainly would do no harm if, for a while, each side looked about for things to do which would be agreeable 896 instead of being disagreeable to each other.
Above all, it would be a pity if the natural desire to reach a general settlement of international policy were to impede any spontaneous and healthy evolution which may be taking place inside Russia. I have regarded some of the internal manifestations and the apparent change of mood as far more important and significant than what has happened outside. I am anxious that nothing in the presentation of foreign policy by the N.A.T.O. Powers should, as it were, supersede or take the emphasis out of what may be a profound movement of Russian feeling.
We all desire that the Russian people should take the high place in world affairs which is their due without feeling anxiety about their own security. I do not believe that the immense problem of reconciling the security of Russia with the freedom and safety of Western Europe is insoluble. Indeed, if the United Nations organisation had the authority and character for which its creators hoped, it would be solved already.
The Locarno Treaty of 1925 has been in my mind. It was the highest point we reached between the wars. As Chancellor of the Exchequer in those days I was closely acquainted with it. It was based upon the simple provision that if Germany attacked France we should stand with the French, and if France attacked Germany we should stand with the Germans.
The scene today, its scale and its factors, is widely different, and yet I have a feeling that the master thought which animated Locarno might well play its part between Germany and Russia in the minds of those whose prime ambition it is to consolidate the peace of Europe as the key to the peace of mankind. Russia has a right to feel assured that as far as human arrangements can run the terrible events of the Hitler invasion will never be repeated, and that Poland will remain a friendly Power and a buffer, though not, I trust, a puppet State.
I venture to read to the House again some words which I wrote exactly eight years ago, 29th April, 1945, in a telegram I sent to Mr. Stalin:There is not much comfort897 I said,in looking into a future where you and the countries you dominate, plus the Communist Parties in many other States, are all drawn up on one side, and those who rally to the English speaking nations and their associates or Dominions are on the other. It is quite obvious that their quarrel would tear the world to pieces, and that all of us leading men on either side who had anything to do with that would be shamed before history. Even embarking on a long period of suspicions, of abuse and counter-abuse, and of opposing policies would be a disaster hampering the great developments of world prosperity for the masses which are attainable only by our trinity. I hope there is no word or phrase in this outpouring of my heart to you which unwittingly gives offence. If so, let me know. But do not, I beg you, my friend Stalin, underrate the divergencies which are opening about matters which you may think are small to us but which are symbolic of the way the English-speaking democracies look at life.I feel exactly the same about it today.
I must make it plain that, in spite of all the uncertainties and confusion in which world affairs are plunged, I believe that a conference on the highest level should take place between the leading Powers without long delay. This conference should not be overhung by a ponderous or rigid agenda, or led into mazes and jungles of technical details, zealously contested by hoards of experts and officials drawn up in vast, cumbrous array. The conference should be confined to the smallest number of Powers and persons possible. It should meet with a measure of informality and a still greater measure of privacy and seclusion. It might well be that no hard-faced agreements would be reached, but there might be a general feeling among those gathered together that they might do something better than tear the human race, including themselves, into bits.
For instance, they might be attracted, as President Eisenhower has shown himself to be, and as "Pravda" does not challenge, by the idea of letting the weary, toiling masses of mankind enter upon the best spell of good fortune, fair play, well-being, leisure and harmless happiness that has ever been within their reach or even within their dreams.
I only say that this might happen, and I do not see why anyone should be frightened at having a try for it. If there is not at the summit of the nations the will to win the greatest prize and the greatest honour ever offered to mankind, 898 doom-laden responsibility will fall upon those who now possess the power to decide. At the worst the participants in the meeting would have established more intimate contacts. At the best we might have a generation of peace.
I have now finished my survey of the world scene as I see it and as I feel about it today. I express my thanks to the House for the great consideration with which I have been treated. I hope I have contributed a few thoughts which may make for peace and help a gentler breeze to blow upon this weary earth. But there is one thing I have to say before I end, and without it all the hopes I have ventured to indulge would be utterly vain. Whatever differences of opinion may be between friends and allies about particular problems or the general scale of values and sense of proportion which we should adopt, there is one fact which stands out overwhelmingly in its simplicity and force. If it is made good every hope is pardonable. If it is not made good all hopes fall together.
This would be the most fatal moment for the free nations to relax their comradeship and preparations. To fail to maintain our defence effort up to the limit of our strength would be to paralyse every beneficial tendency towards peace both in Europe and in Asia. For us to become divided among ourselves because of divergencies of opinion or local interests, or to slacken our combined efforts would be to end for ever such new hope as may have broken upon mankind and lead instead to their general ruin and enslavement. Unity, vigilance and fidelity are the only foundations upon which hope can live.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Let me begin by saying how much we all regret the illness of the Foreign Secretary. It is a great loss to the nation and to the world that he is absent from our debate and from his post at this present critical time. It throws a grave extra burden on the Prime Minister, a burden that will be even more if his hopes of an early conference, which we warmly welcome, are fulfilled. Some people may say there are risks in such a conference, but there are risks in our situation now which require brave action, and we welcome the general tone of the Prime 899 Minister's speech today and many of the things that he has said.
He has dealt at length with Egypt. We shall need a special debate on that subject, I dare say, very soon. Very briefly, may I speak about it today, saying nothing, I hope, that will make it more difficult to secure a just and satisfactory settlement of the problem? We think the Government did well to settle with General Neguib about the Sudan. We hope that that difficulty is disposed of for good and all. We think that if the Egyptian Government will stand by what their spokesman, Colonel Nasser, said on 12th April, that they desire the assistance of British military staff for the efficient maintenance of the Suez Canal, and that they think regional defence is not something written on paper but would mean "strategic dispositions of advantage to our friends," I find it difficult to believe that a settlement cannot be made. I welcome warmly the fact that the Prime Minister has said today that for us the old imperialism is dead at Suez as it is elsewhere. We are only moved by our sense of responsibility for the base, which should be a great factor in the international collective security system of the Middle East and of the world.
I pay tribute to General Robertson, but if the present situation should continue— the present deadlock—I hope that a Minister will go out to meet the Egyptian Prime Minister face to face. The Minister of State's visit was very helpful the other day. I feel convinced that he could find a satisfactory international solution of the problem of the base—a scheme that would be genuinely acceptable to Egypt, for it is a harsh military fact that bases without good will are always weak.
This is the first debate on foreign affairs that we have had since the speech made by Mr. Malenkov, the reply by General Eisenhower and the answer of "Pravda" to him. We face a situation that is new. Surely the crux is this: Were Russia and China serious when they told "Pravda" to say this?—I quote the words:President Eisenhower's words:We seek, throughout Asia, as throughout the world, a peace that is true and total,' were received with sympathy, as also was his statement that: 'None of these issues, great or 900 small, is insoluble, given only the will to respect the rights of all nations.'That is what "Pravda" said. I think it wise to neglect what many people think were unfortunate glosses by Mr. Dulles on his President's speech, and to remember that, since Mr. Malenkov's first pronouncement, the Soviet leaders have said, a dozen times "There is no disputed problem that cannot be settled by peaceful means."
Do they mean it? We can only find out by practical negotiations—negotiations which must be conducted upon the principles for which we stand, but not trying for too much; getting piecemeal, as the Prime Minister said, such agreements on particular matters as we can, but remembering always that a few power-bargains on isolated points will not take us very far. May I add that if these negotiations begin about Korea and other problems, I hope that the Prime Minister, after his first conference, will see that the negotiations are conducted by responsible Ministers. If the Kremlin and Peking Governments mean business, the days for Deputies are over, and the work should be entrusted to a powerful ministerial team.
The first acid test, as the Prime Minister said, will come in Asia. The truce talks in Korea are at a crucial point. Hard words have been said of General Harrison, but I have not used them. I think that he is a General who carries out the instructions he receives. But for many months I have urged this: While, at the beginning of the Korean aggression, the system of American Command was inevitable and right, and while we owe an immense debt to the Americans for what they have done, we should now have an integrated staff and integrated political control such as we have in N.A.T.O.
The moral power behind the action in Korea is the support of the United Nations and a N.A.T.O. system would be far better for the Americans themselves. All subsequent steps towards a settlement, both in Asia and elsewhere, depend upon this truce. The Communists have now made proposals which, I understand from the Prime Minister, are pretty close to the Indian Resolution adopted by the Assembly last November. May I say how great a service India rendered, and that I deeply resent the suggestion that 901 she is a Communist stooge, which some people have made?
Some Commonwealth Governments have joined us in urging that these Communists proposals are acceptable in principle. There are still outstanding points: How the Forces of the four so-called neutral powers can control the camps; how the prisoners who do not want to go home shall be ultimately dealt with. I cannot believe that these questions should lead to a breakdown of the truce. Still less can I believe that if there is a difficulty it should be settled by the soldiers alone. I am sure that it must be dealt with by the United Nations as, indeed, the Indian Resolution itself laid down.
If we get a truce, we are confronted at once with a political conference on Korea itself. It may be, as the Prime Minister said, that that would be a matter of the greatest difficulty. But plainly the question of the political machinery which is used will be of tremendous importance. I see that the generals in Tokyo have prepared a plan, but, with all respect, this is a matter not for generals but for the collective wisdom of the Governments of the United Nations, who decided that Korea should be made a free and independent nation, and who have since decided that the aggression there must be opposed.
The nations of the Commonwealth, and first among them Britain, have great experience in Asia and great prestige. I hope that the Prime Minister will give his mind to this point and will plan, as I have said, that Ministers shall do the job of the Korean political settlement when it comes.
If we now have a reasonable hope of getting a truce and of getting an honourable settlement in Korea, it will be with Mao Tse-tung that a settlement will be made. I remember that in August, 1950, Marshal Tito told me that the attack on South Korea could never have been made without an order from the Kremlin. Marshal Tito tells us now that it would be a mistake to try to deal with Moscow over China. We have to deal with the Chinese themselves—that is, with Peking. When the Labour Government were in power, we recognised the present Government in Peking. We did not do it as a favour to them or because we approved of everything they had done; we did it 902 because they had become the effective Government of China. We wanted to avoid the catastrophic mistake made by the Western Powers when they withheld recognition from Russia 30 years ago. We are paying for that mistake still.
In 1950, we recognised the facts in China and we drew from them what we thought to be the right conclusion under established international law. I have always believed that the United States would soon have done the same, and that the Peking Government would have taken the Chinese seat in the United Nations, if the Chinese Army had not invaded Korean soil. After that, it was evidently difficult to allow Peking to shoot its way into the Councils and Assembly of the League of Nations.
Our view was stated in the Socialist International in a Resolution adopted in Paris a month ago:A real and immediate relaxation of tension would follow from the ending of the Korean war in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The restoration of peace in Asia must allow the establishment of normal relations with Communist China and the settlement of the question of its representation in the United Nations.I hope that the Prime Minister and his colleagues will urge that view. It follows, as I think logically, from the third and fourth of President Eisenhower's precepts:Any nation's right to form a Government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable. Any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of Government is indefensible.In view of these precepts, I hope that this matter of recognition, when the time comes, will not cause the difficulty between the Americans and the Commonwealth which some people now foresee.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
That is what I said. I said, "When we get the restoration of peace in Asia." I am not proposing that anybody should do anything about it now.
There are other danger points in Asia which must be dealt with if we are to get the true and total peace about which "Pravda" spoke. There is Burma. Many months ago we urged the Government to try to persuade the United States to induce—I use the word "induce"—Chiang Kai-shek to bring out the Chinese Nationalist forces. Alas, there is too much 903 reason to think that in the last 12 months those forces have been trained, armed, supplied and perhaps even reinforced from Formosa. Under the stimulus of the United Nations Assembly, action has now been taken. A resolution was unanimously adopted, with American support, and it was accepted by Burma, that the Chinese Nationalist forces must be withdrawn. I merely wish to urge the Government to use our influence to the utmost to ensure that that resolution is effectively and speedily applied.
Indo-China is in a very dangerous condition. I warmly welcome the interpretation of the events in Laos given by the Prime Minister, and we have some reason to believe it true. But those events have brought us face to face with the prospect that Indo-China might be conquered, and that the freedom and integrity of Siam and Burma, both independent self-governing members of the United Nations, might be menaced, too. What would that mean for us in Malaya? What would it mean for the United Nations? What would it mean for economic co-operation—the Mutual Aid—between Asia and the West? It is essential that we should clear our thinking about the politics and the international law of the Indo-Chinese war.
The N.A.T.O. communiqué the other day said that it isa part of the struggle against aggression.France does not yet seem to have made up her mind whether it is a colonial war or a resistance under the Charter to unprovoked attack, whether Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia are subject peoples or are independent nations with an international status of their own. I say what I have to say now with great friendship and great admiration for the French and with a great belief in the part which the French will play in times to come in world affairs. What are the basic facts of the situation in Indo-China? There is an upsurge of genuine nationalist feeling, as there has been in Indonesia, India and elsewhere. The Communists have sought to use it. Viet Minh, the Communist insurgents, have undoubtly been armed, trained and supplied from Communist sources abroad. General Salan has given us many details.
If that is true, even under the old rules of international law, before the League of Nations and the United Nations were heard of, the French would have 904 been entitled to regard it as an illegal act of intervention. It is precisely the kind of attack on an existing political regime which the famous Russian defini-nition of aggression of 1933 described and vigorously condemned. It is precisely the sort of attack which the Greek Communists made upon their country from 1946 to 1950. That was repeatedly considered and condemned by the United Nations. And, certainly, as the Prime Minister said, its continuance would seem to be inconsistent with the principle now declared by Peking and Moscow that there are no questions which cannot be settled by peaceful means.
But there is another issue in Indo-China. France has declared that Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia are self-governing States; she has given them an unlimited right of legation, so that they can send diplomatic missions anywhere they like. France has proposed them, and they are still candidates, for membership of the United Nations. We voted for them. That means that we think that they are "States who are able and willing to carry out the obligations of the Charter." They have sent their delegates already to many international conferences. There seem to be some complex negotiations going on, which I do not fully understand, under which the King of Cambodia has been given the command of his armed forces, while the French have given up their special courts, their capitulations, which we abandoned in other countries long ago. But that does not seem to me to affect the vital principle involved.
I was in Paris in 1919 when the Dominions first signed an international treaty and were admitted to the League. The foreigners objected to giving six votes to the British Empire. Mr. Lloyd George had to force it through. Some constitutional lawyers said that it made no difference to the Dominions' status and that they were still subordinate to us. Yet in six years' time Lord Balfour was signing a Commonwealth Report which declared that the Dominions had full international status and equal legal rights in every way. I believe that when the French gave these three States an unlimited right of legation, and proposed them for membership of the United Nations, they crossed the Rubicon, and that there is now no possible outcome but the full nationhood for which these peoples ask.
905 If the French would make it plain to these peoples, and to the world, that nationhood is their objective, that they have no mental reservations, and that it will rapidly be achieved when the present fighting stops; if they would now go as far as possible in that direction, I believe that the present complexities of the Indo-Chinese problem would disappear. I am certain that the French would find, as we have, that the commonwealth relationship has everything to commend it, and that French interests, French influence and French prestige would be safeguarded in the future, as they can be in no other way.
Formosa must also be dealt with, if we want peace in Asia. It is absurd to hope that we can get a settlement in Korea, in Indo-China and in Malaya, if we go on arming Formosa to fight Peking. I have no illusions that the Peking Government can be won to reason by kindly words, or that we should offer them concessions before they offer us any at all.
But some people in America have been demonstrably wrong about Formosa all through. The deneutralisation of Formosa—and I know our Government thought so—had no practical military effect; it was purely psychological warfare, and it backfired. It did great harm to the United States in Asia, and it helped the Peking Government with the Chinese people as nothing else could possibly have done. Chiang Kai-shek did good work 25 to 30 years ago. But Chiang Kai-shek is now utterly discredited, both by his own failures and by the American White Book of 1949. I hope the Prime Minister will persuade the President that no more arms shall now be sent to Formosa, and that the sending of arms there cannot possibly assist the purpose of an Asian settlement, which the President, like ourselves, has now in view.
Before we have got far with China or with Asia, we shall know whether Russia means business in Europe, too. The Prime Minister will find it out at his conference, when it happens. We are still without peace treaties with Austria and Germany, eight years after the fighting ceased. We have withdrawn, as I understand, the shortened version of the Austrian Treaty. If Russia is serious, that negotiation ought to be straightforward, as I hope the truce will be in 906 Panmunjom. In any case, I am glad the invitations have been issued, but again I say that responsible Ministers ought to be in charge.
We think that discussions about Germany ought to be begun. Germany is the most difficult, but undoubtedly one of the most important, problems in the world. Let me state, as briefly as I can, the guiding principles, on which I hope most people will agree. A German Government should be established by free elections in the East and Western zones. That Government should negotiate the peace treaty. As part of the treaty, Germany should be invited, as Russia proposed, to become a member of the United Nations. Membership must, of course, carry with it equal rights under the Charter. In particular, as the Labour Party declared at Morecambe last October:Germany must be free to contribute towards a system of collective security";and we strongly urged at Morecambe that "the construction of an international system of collective security within which German forces could serve without danger to their neighbours," should be pursued.
We always stand by what we call the four Attlee conditions. It is my conviction that those can best be fulfilled by Germany's integration in E.D.C. Germany, when united, will decide herself, under the Charter, as a member of the United Nations, what she wants to do. Is that impossible for Russia to accept? Not if she believes that the Powers in N.A.T.O. and E.D.C. will honestly abide by the obligations of the Charter.
But let us have no illusions. Neither Germany nor the Asian questions will be easily resolved. With Germany evidently in mind, M. Bidault said to N.A.T.O. the other day that no question will really be settled until armaments have been drastically reduced and internationally controlled. It is the only safe answer to the German problem. It would remove the fears which both France and Russia may legitimately feel. I urge upon the Government that President Eisenhower was evidently right when he insisted that the making of a settlement would be easier, and that the settlement would be more surely lasting, if we start concurrently with the first stages of preparing for a disarmament treaty as well.
907 I think the President was right to insist, as he did again and again throughout his speech, on the futility and the danger of the arms race, and on the horrors which we are preparing now. Lord Grey told us after the First World War that it was the immense armaments in Europe that had made that war inevitable. The President comes back to that familiar theme, with the passion of a great commander who knows and loathes all war. In 1914, at the time of which Lord Grey was writing, our armaments bill was £70 million a year. Today, it is £1,600 million.
Sometime, and it may be soon, the scientists will make a guided rocket, a long-range V.2, with an atomic head. Will there be any defence against that, except to use it first? At the most optimistic, it must take years to negotiate the kind of treaty for all-round reduction and control which the President proposed. The first essential is that the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations, to the establishment of which Vyshinsky agreed last year, should draw up the draft treaty which it was charged to make.
I want to make a personal appeal to the Prime Minister. History will know him as one of the greatest authorities in the world on armaments and war. Will he not now dedicate a part of his efforts to the great project which the President has laid before the world? Will he not look into the work of this Disarmament Commission, tell his Ministers to make a British draft founded on the proposals which we, the Americans and the French put forward last summer, and send someone of high authority to the Commission to see it through? Some day this project is going to succeed, and I hope it will be the Prime Minister who will take this first and vital step.
Just as disarmament will need very long and arduous preparatory work, so will the President's war on total poverty, ignorance and human need. People talk glibly about switching from armaments to mutual aid, and spending £3,000 million, or £5,000 million, a year on economic development in the backward countries. Some day we shall do it. But today, quite frankly, nothing on that scale could possibly be done. We have not got the experts, the engineers, the 908 scientists and the teachers who will be required. We have to train them. We have to train the backward peoples. We have to teach them to read and write.
The International Bank has made £600 million worth of loans, mostly to backward countries, for development schemes. But their very able Chairman, Mr. Eugene Black, said that they were hampered at every turn by illiteracy, disease and poverty. The people cannot participate in development schemes because they cannot read and write. That ought to mean more money for U.N.E.S.C.O.—not saving £50,000 on its budget—a fifth of a penny per annum per head of our population, as the Minister of Education did when she threw U.N.E.S.C.O. into crisis last November.
I hope the Government will make it a major object of their foreign policy to prepare for total war on poverty by building up the work of all these specialised agencies of the United Nations, by giving more resources to the Technical Assistance Board, and by promising our share, perhaps £5 million a year, to help to establish the new Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development which the Economic and Social Council proposed the other day. If they give a lead in this expansion now, we may be ready for the switch from armaments when the happy day arrives.
These are hopes—hopes for whose fulfilment we want the British Government to lead. As the Prime Minister said, in the meantime we must go on with N.A.T.O. N.A.T.O., like O.E.E.C., would have seemed quite Utopian before the war. With its integrated staff and its growing forces, it is a tremendous international fact. Its greatest strength is that it is founded on the Charter and cannot be used for aggression in any way. We must go on with N.A.T.O. until we can merge it in the world system for which we hope. I share the Prime Minister's hope that the day may come soon when Russia, by some Locarno or, as I hope, by some wider scheme, can be brought into that world system. We must go on increasing our military strength in N.A.T.O., until the day when a disarmament treaty makes it safe to cut it down.
909 But N.A.T.O. depends on O.E.E.C. Only Marshall Aid has made it possible for Europe to rearm. If that aid is drastically reduced, as I think it should be, but is not replaced by trade, then the dollar gap, with all its political and military dangers, will confront us still. The same Congress that saved Europe may, by Smoot-Hawleyism, undo the work it had so well begun. I am glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister of Canada have spoken as bluntly as they have. A healthy economy is the foundation of defence, but Europe's economy cannot be healthy if she has to go on buying in the United States and is not allowed, in return, to sell her products when they are competitive.
I should be sorry if anything I have said this afternoon were thought to be anti-Russian or anti-American. In fact, I believe that the American Government have shown unparalleled generosity and, broadly, great wisdom, since 1945. We owe them more than gratitude for what they have done in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. I have only asked today for the wise application of the principles of the United Nations Charter, for which President Eisenhower spoke—for their application in O.E.E.C., in N.A.T.O. in Germany, in Egypt, in Korea, in Burma, in China, in Formosa, and elsewhere.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition stood firm by those principles in the dark and difficult days before the war. Looking back, we believe, as the Prime Minister believes, that he was right. We believe that in those same principles now lies our real hope of settlement and peace. Long ago a great British democrat, Tom Paine, said this: "An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. It will march on the horizon of the world, and it will conquer."
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
The discussion today is bound to range far and wide over a very large field. I want to confine myself exclusively to one precise and immediate problem, that of the British base in the Suez Canal Zone. That question at the present time is officially under negotiation, and that might have been a reason for not discussing it in public. But, even if that consideration applied last week, I do not 910 think it can be said to apply after General Neguib's speech over the weekend, and I was very glad indeed to hear the forthright statement made just now by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister. Speaking for myself, I should like to voice a point of view which I hold very strongly indeed, and which I think is shared by a good many Members of this House and by a good many people outside it.
A very great deal is at stake. To my mind the future of the British Empire and the peace and security of the Middle East depend on reaching a satisfactory solution of this problem. What is a satisfactory solution? Obviously the ideal solution would be to negotiate an agreement between ourselves and the Egyptian Government which would safeguard their interests and ours. I sincerely hope that such an agreement will be reached.
But what if it is not? I must say that I do not feel very hopeful that agreement will be reached. Even if we do not take all General Neguib's statements at their face value, and even if we allow for the necessity in which he finds himself of having to play down to his own public opinion, it seems to me that it is going to be very hard to reconcile his minimum requirements with those upon which we must insist if we are to make sure of protecting our interests and the interests of world peace.
I am sure of one thing, and that is that no agreement is better than a bad agreement. Admittedly it is both disagreeable and expensive to have to maintain our forces in the Canal Zone at their present level against the wishes of the Egyptian Government. But it would be very much more disagreeable and, in the long run, very much more expensive if we were to let ourselves be thrown out. There is only one way in which we can protect our interests and the interests of world peace and of Middle East defence, and that is by staying in the Canal Zone.
I do not say that we need necessarily maintain our forces there at their present level. After all, between the wars we had no more than a couple of battalions in Egypt. But I am sure that we must keep enough British technicians to operate the great installations which we have built up there over so many years at such enormous expense. And we must also have 911 enough British fighting troops to defend that base and to guarantee our re-entering in strength in case of an emergency. Nothing less than that would meet our needs.
It is sometimes suggested that British technicians alone would be enough. I do not accept that. I think we must have fighting troops. We must be able to stand on our own feet. How otherwise are we to ensure that any agreement which we make with this or any other future Egyptian Government will be honoured? After all the Egyptian Government unilaterally denounced the current Agreement. What guarantee have we that this or any future Egyptian agreement will not be treated in the same way?
Another argument one hears is that the Canal base is no longer of any very great strategic value. I do not accept that either. Of course, its value in an atomic war is debatable. But that also applies to this Island and to all of us who live in it. We may none of us be at our best after the first atomic bomb has fallen. But what we are concerned with is not so much the hypothetical value of the Canal base in a major war as its actual value at the present time. And that, I am convinced, is immense.
In spite of all the changes that there have been, the Isthmus of Suez is still strategically vitally important. First, it remains a link with the countries of the Commonwealth, with Pakistan, India, Australia, and New Zealand; it remains a hinge between two continents. Second, the immensely valuable and important installations in the Canal Zone are bound to be the foundation of any Middle Eastern defence system. Third, the Zone remains an unrivalled jumping off place from which to reach any trouble centre in the Near or Middle East.
In times of peace and tranquillity none of these considerations might be of very great importance. But we do not live in times of peace or tranquillity. We live in a period of cold war, of a cold war that has a nasty way of suddenly hotting up. If we were to relinquish our hold, I am convinced that the effect would be disastrous. Not only would it deprive us of a valuable strategic base, not only would it disrupt our Imperial communications: it would have most calamitous 912 political and psychological repercussions. It would confirm the impression, already far too prevalent, that we are losing our grip, that we not longer have the will to play our proper part in world affairs. It would deal a deadly blow to the system of Middle Eastern defence which is beginning to take shape.
Consider the effect it would have on the French position in North Africa. Consider its effect on the position of Turkey, Greece and Yugloslavia. Consider its effect on Israel, left face to face with a relentless enemy. Consider, finally, its effect on the Sudan. I have never much liked the Sudan Agreement, and nothing that has happened since it was concluded has help to reassure me. Of one thing I am certain, however, and that is that unless we stay in the Canal Zone we have no hope whatever of seeing that that Agreement is fairly carried out, and that the Sudanese people enjoy the right of self-determination to which we have pledged ourselves.
The effect of a British withdrawal from the Canal Zone would be felt all over Africa. It would discourage our friends and it would encourage our enemies. By showing weakness, it would increase the danger of aggression and would deal a serious blow to the prospects of world peace. For all those reasons it is vital that we should stay, stay as part of an international force if we can. but stay at all costs.
I saw in "The Times" today a message from a correspondent in which he described our position in Egypt as that of "suppliants." I cannot feel that that is the right word. After all, from a legal point of view our position is unassailable. Under the Treaty of 1936 we have the absolute right to keep our troops in the Canal Zone for another three years and, after that, there is an express provision for an extension of the arrangement. In any case, however, the Egyptian Government have denounced the Agreement, and thereby they have freed our hands and enabled us, if we choose, to revert to the status quo ante under which our position was even stronger. So that, from the legal point of view, we are in a very strong position indeed.
After the statesmanlike speech of my right hon. Friend I feel confident that Her 913 Majesty's Government will use every possible endeavour to reach agreement with the Egyptian Government in spite of all the provocation we have had from that quarter. I feel equally confident that they will in no circumstances sacrifice the vital British and world interests involved. The Government can be certain that if they find it impossible to reach agreement, if they are obliged to maintain their position in the Canal Zone despite General Neguib, they will not only be supported by a majority in this House but they will have the overwhelming support of public opinion outside. There are too many people in this country who have at one time or another themselves taken some part in the defence of Egypt and the Canal Zone for them to wish to see those areas lightly surrendered.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
I wish to offer the House a few observations on the far Eastern aspect of this question, not because I underestimate the importance of Western Europe and the entire new aspect of foreign affairs which has been opened up by the change of mood, as the Prime Minister described it, on the part of Russia; it is only because I have nothing special which I could add to the remarks of my right hon. Friend or, indeed, to those of the Prime Minister on that subject.
The Prime Minister spoke about the truce negotiations in Korea. I am not one of those who blame the American negotiators who acted on behalf of ourselves and of the other United Nations during the earlier part of these negotiations. It is not true that they made no concessions; they made considerable concessions during that time. Nor am I one of those people, if there are any, who supposed that we could possibly yield on the question of principle of the forcible repatriation of prisoners; of course we could not. Therefore, I could not lay blame on the United States negotiators during the first phase of the truce negotiations. But I am bound to say that in the short but vital phase of those negotiations which has now opened I feel that we are not getting the same impression. Putting it at its lowest we, the United Nations, are running the gravest risk of 914 incurring the odium of a failure to reach a truce.
In his remarks today the Prime Minister made it clear that in his opinion—he used this phrase—there was no question of principle left. If there is no question of principle left, there remain only question of detail. It is not unfair, on his own words therefore, to say that the United Nations negotiators are doing little more than haggle over details today. I think we ought to say, and say frankly, that if in those very untowards circumstances the truce negotiations broke down again, the public opinion of the world would not place the blame for that on the Korean nor on the Chinese side; the blame would be placed on the American negotiators, fairly or unfairly, and that would be a most serious circumstance.
Therefore, it seems to me imperative that Her Majesty's Government should make clear the British view of these negotiations—the view that was expressed by the Prime Minister in the House today— that no question of principle now remains. The Government should make their view unmistakably clear in the councils of the world, and should take what steps are necessary—perhaps by a change of negotiators or by different in structions—to make that view prevail and to make clear to the world that these negotiators—who are acting on our behalf as well as on behalf of the Americans—must show a will to a truce.
A truce in Korea was well described by the Prime Minister as the preliminary to almost everything else. It is, of course, only a preliminary, and I wish to say one or two more words to supplement what my right hon. Friend said about what must arise in the next phase, granted a truce in the Far East; namely, the seating of the real Government of China on the Security Council of the United Nations. I use the phrase "the real Government of China" advisedly. It is not a question of a good or a bad Government of China but of what happens to be the real Government of China at the moment.
I proposed to the Prime Minister, in a supplementary question a short time ago, that Her Majesty's Government should say that, when a truce has been negotiated and reached in Korea, we 915 should announce now that we shall return to what was our policy of supporting the seating of the Chinese Government on the Security Council. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that this might stand in the way of securing a truce. I should have thought the opposite. But I do not want to stress that because the essence of what I am pressing is not that at this moment we should support the seating of the real Government of China on the Security Council: the real essence is that after a truce has been concluded— the Government must be the judge of timing of these things—at the appropriate moment, we should support the seating of that Government on the Security Council.
Why do I regard that as all important? It is because the seating of the real Government of China on the Security Council would be the sign, and the only conclusive sign, that the United States Government and United States opinion generally had dropped what I can only describe as their interventionist attitude in China. That really is the crux of the whole situation in the Far East. I do not, advisedly, call it an interventionist policy, because it has not been as consistently and definitely pursued as that. But I think it is fair to say that there has been an interventionist attitude, certainly on the part of particular sections of opinion in the United States, and to some extent on the part of the United States Government.
That is undoubtedly a serious thing to say and I think that I ought to substantiate it by three quotations, which I think illustrate it. One was a speech by Mr. Dulles before he became Secretary of State, a year ago, in which he said:The United States should stir up all possible trouble and inconvenience for the Communist regime in China, and should 'take the wraps' off General Chiang Kai-shek.Then there was the much more extreme statement made by a private American citizen, but one of some importance, Mr. William Bullitt. It was made the other day and reported on 2nd May. He, after all, is a former United States ambassador to France and Russia and, according to the United Press, he called for a 916 co-ordinated attack against the Communists, in Korea, Indo-China and on the Chinese mainland, and went on with the extremely alarmist statement:This is the last chance of the free world to survive. Unless we seize the initiative now we may be blotted from the earth.Thirdly, to give a balanced view—it is only fair to say that Mr. Bullitt's is the extreme view in America—I should like to call the attention of the House to the very balanced despatch which that first-rate correspondent, Mr. Reston, wrote in the "New York Times" on Sunday, 26th April. He, I think, well describes the balance of American opinion on this matter. I will read two paragraphs which appear under the heading, "Divided views on China":The first is that, in the long view of history, the Chinese Communist revolution was the most important single development of the Second World War, just as the Russian Communist revolution proved to be the most fateful event of the First World War.The second view is that the Chinese Communist revolution did not really succeed; that Mao Tse-tung's victory on the mainland was bogus; that his gains are shaky and that, by applying constant pressure to him, his regime can in time be brought down. …For example, one high official at the Pentagon remarked the other day here that we must fight for fifty years if necessary in order to defeat a Communist China, even if it were a Titoist-type of Communist Government.I think that that is a dispassionate review of American opinion, and official opinion in part, by a most responsible American correspondent. I think it fair to say that there is very widespread in the United States what we can only call an interventionist attitude to China. I believe it to be imperative that the British Government should make their position to that attitude clear, in deeds as well as in words. The Prime Minister has done so in words today, undoubtedly, but that should be followed by specific actions, of which the two I have mentioned— insistence on the truce and insistence after that on the seating of the real Chinese Government on the Security Council—are obviously the most important.
Why do we on this side of the House— and I hope hon. Members opposite also— all feel that this interventionist point of view in America is so fatal? Surely we feel it for two reasons. In the first place, it is because it is wrong and has no justification in present circumstances. It is 917 flatly contrary, obviously, to the precepts which President Eisenhower laid down in his recent speech. It is flatly contrary to that precept which my right hon. Friend has already quoted, the fourth precept, that:any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.After all we cannot doubt that the present Chinese Government is, in the rough and ready sense of civil war at any rate, the choice of the Chinese people. It was not voted into office, certainly, but the Chinese people, in that prolonged struggle voted—as the saying goes— "with their feet." They may not have voted so much for the present regime as against the previous one by abandoning it so that, in droves, it surrendered its armies. An attempt to overthrow the present Government of China in favour of that previous Government, would be naked intervention and nakedly opposed to the precept which the President has laid down.
But there is another reason why that policy and attitude of intervention is so fatal. The other reason is that it has no prospect whatever of success. Foreign intervention very seldom succeeds, at any rate in the affairs of great and large nations. The Prime Minister ought to be the first to understand that. But the interventions of which I am speaking —that against Soviet Russia at the end of the First World War, which he supported, had incomparably more prospect —more apparent prospect—of success than any American intervention in the Far East has today. There were several armies of intervention—Russian armies— on Russian soil. One got as far as Tula, which is 70 miles from Moscow.
But in spite of all that, in spite of the very real forces there were on that side at that time, that foreign intervention, as it became, largely through the efforts of the Prime Minister, failed. It failed for the obvious reason that it rallied the Russian people, many of them reluctant to be so rallied, to the Bolshevik Government of the day—
§ Mr. Strachey
—and the British people. My hon. Friend is quite right. But what prospect is there of intervention such as those quotations show many Americans 918 are thinking of possibly succeeding in the case of China? How is intervention actually even to be attempted? By the armies of Chiang Kai-shek, which are certainly a danger to no one but themselves today? By General MacArthur's precept, which is to bomb China—a very simple policy indeed, in two words?
I looked the matter up in the gazetteer today and saw that the area of China is 3,869,000 square miles, which is quite an assignment to bomb. [An HON. MEMBER: "With atom bombs?"] With atomic bombs one could, no doubt, destroy many cities in China. But it so happens that that would be an attempted intervention against one of the few Governments in the world which has maintained itself for years without the possession of a single city. Therefore, the whole social, geographical and military situation of today makes intervention—quite apart from its justification—peculiarly impracticable in the present circumstances.
There is nothing which would be more helpful to the present Government of China than the sort of ineffective, indecisive intervention which is all that American interventionist policy could possibly support. The present Chinese Government have the most formidable problems before them—the problem of collectivisation, which they have had to abandon for the time being, and the closely related problem of the attempted industrialisation of China. They are hair-raising problems and the Chinese Government will have the utmost difficulty in keeping popular support while they attempt to solve them.
But if, while they are attempting to do so, the American Government maintain a policy of ineffective intervention, that would be an ideal situation for the present Chinese Government, and one in which they could rally the, quite likely, reluctant peasants to their own support. It would seem to us, therefore, that a policy of intervention is the most disastrous one into which the West could be led at present.
One comes to the simple and common-sense conclusion that, whether we like it or not—irrespective of whether we like it or not—we must live in the same world with the present Chinese Government. They may not be an easy neighbour to live with. I do not think it is necessarily true that the present Government of 919 China will always abstain from aggression. Young revolutionary governments rarely do that, and it may be that we may have to defend ourselves—
§ Mr. Strachey
We do not know, let us hope so. That may well be, but let us take the worst hypothesis, that we have to defend ourselves in South-East Asia, because that is possible, and I do not deny it. All I wish to say about that, and about the campaign in Laos— we were glad to hear from the Prime Minister that the situation there is less acute—is that if we do have to undertake defence measures for goodness sake let us do so on a line we can hold; a line which is tenable both from the military and the political point of view.
I say with sorrow to our great friends the French—but I think it should be said—that French colonialism of the old kind, and of the kind which I am afraid is de facto if not de jure still in existence in Indo-China today, is simply not a tenable line which can be defended in the world as it is today with any hope of success. The French gesture of granting nominal independence to a country so often takes place, it would seem to us, a few weeks after they have lost control of that country. If anything is certain it is that if South-East Asia can be defended from Communist advances it can be done only by the genuine support of national forces in those areas. Without that support the job cannot be done. The taint of colonialism in that area is literally fatal to the success of any anti-Communist struggle.
The Government should assert towards the whole Far Eastern problem that approach, and that point of view, which I think is national and extends far beyond opinions expressed on this side of the House. It is exemplified in the crucial issues of the truce, and the seating of the Government of China on the Security Council. Why is it that in deeds, if not in words, the Government, so far, have not really asserted the British approach and point of view as strongly as I, at any rate, should like to see it asserted? Do not let us have any doubts about it. We all know the reason why we have not really asserted our point of view 920 forcibly, strongly, firmly and clearly. It is because we know that America would not like it if we did.
It is true that America would not like it, and that is, of course, a serious consideration. No one wishes to differ from America or from any other of our fellow Members of the United Nations just for the sake of doing so. But surely that is not the issue. It is something much more vital to this country than that.
This question of the whole approach to the Far Eastern problem is an issue of life and death to this country, and there is a broad concensus of opinion as to the proper approach to it. Moreover, the development of events over the years, and indeed over the months, confirms the fact that our approach is the right one. In those circumstances are we to refrain from asserting our national point of view because that will involve us in a difference of opinion with the United States Government and public opinion? In an issue of that magnitude and in those circumstances, we cannot so refrain. If we do we shall sink from the position of an independent nation to that of a satellite.
There is another view which the Prime Minister has voiced. I hope it is not one which he holds now. It is in contrast to the speech he made today. A few years ago he said we should not differ with the United States "at all costs." That is where hon. Members on this side of the House differ from him. We should not lightly differ from the United States. It is a very serious thing to differ from them. But we must never sink to a position where we feel we cannot differ from them "at all costs," because that would be sinking to the position of a powerless satellite.
The Prime Minister made a very eloquent speech at this year's St. George's Day dinner. He spoke of the power and might of this country, and he said we were still a great Empire. He spoke with scorn about clever people who denigrated from that power and might in any way. Today we are asking something more modest of him. We are asking of him, and of the Government, that this country should not sink from the position of an independent nation capable of putting forward in the firmest, and if need be the most forcible way, what it knows to be the right policy on this crucial issue. For never has there been a time in the history 921 of the world when British independence, moderation and steadiness has been more needed.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Sir Victor Raikes (Liverpool, Garston)
It is a long time since I had the pleasure of speaking on foreign affairs in this House, but I know that the disadvantage always of a debate on foreign affairs is that each speaker takes a rather different part of the subject from that chosen by the previous speaker. Although I intend to talk for a while upon the European situation, I think it would be only right, therefore, and in the tradition of the House, if I were for a few moments to follow the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) on the Far Eastern issue in order to try to maintain the flow of the debate.
The right hon. Gentleman said the Americans are extremely tiresome and irritating people, but while I listened to his speech I realised that it could have just the same affect on American opinion. What was the irritating feature of his speech from the American point of view? The right hon. Gentleman said that the Americans appear to be haggling over the settlement of a truce in Korea. He said that they are engaged in rather halfhearted intervention. He said if we were ever forced back to defend ourselves against China we should do it in our own way. There was no indication in his speech, whether American policy be right or wrong, that the Chinese intervention in Korea has been costing American lives for a number of years.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman assumed that we all knew it, as we do, but there was in fact no recognition of the number of casualties which America has suffered through the Chinese intervention in Korea as a reason, from the American point of view, why they should deneutralise Formosa. If they held the view that Chiang Kai-shek could be a nuisance value during a war which even now is being fought at the cost of American lives and Chinese lives—
§ Sir V. Raikes
As well as British lives—surely it would be more generous to assume that while American policy may be doubtful in its effect, in this very 922 limited intervention, it is at any rate an understandable policy and one to which they are fully entitled until there is some sign not only of a truce but of a settlement in Korea.
I do not know upon what the right hon. Gentleman based his view that somehow or another, because we are now dealing with matters of details, it is the American negotiators who are wrong and the Chinese and Korean negotiators who are right.
§ Mr. Strachey
In so far as I said that, I based myself largely on the Prime Minister's speech, for the Prime Minister said in a forthright statement that only questions of detail were left and that the principles had been agreed. I say that if it is only questions of detail, we ought to accept them.
§ Sir V. Raikes
When it comes to a question of method and detail, the Americans have been dealing with the prize past-master of haggling over a period of 18 months. We cannot go as far as to say that it is only a matter of detail and that we must, therefore, scrap anything which we regard as necessary and give way on every method and every detail to the Chinese and Koreans. I wonder how we should accept that sort of advice about Egypt if the Americans were to talk to us in those terms.
I suggest that when the truce is reached, and when there are signs that it will develop into a settlement, then is the time when we and America can consider the possible reorientation of policies concerning America and China, but let us first see some sign of a real desire for peace by those who have caused the loss of so many lives among British and American troops in the last few years.
I felt it was only right that that point of view should be stated before I turned for a few moments—and I shall be very brief—to the European aspect. On both sides of the House there is a burning desire to see the cold war end and at least some signs of a lasting settlement and peace. If there is ever a lasting settlement between the Eastern Powers and ourselves, it is my feeling that the root will be found in Europe rather than in Asia. If the European problems were solved I think our common difficulties in Asia, if not entirely settled, would very largely be eased.
923 Hon. Members may speculate upon what game the Russians are playing at present. I am glad to have the opportunity to speak in the debate because I am one of those who spoke with a very small minority eight years ago in opposing the Yalta Treaty. I opposed it on the grounds that a sign of weakness towards the Russians at that time might well lead to the dismemberment not only of Poland but of a great deal more of democratic Europe. Therefore, without much happiness, I can fortify myself with the knowledge that the views which I expressed eight years ago have come nearer the truth than many statements made by far more eminent persons on both sides of the House at that time.
The danger is always that of wishful thinking. We must not exclude the possibility that the Russian leaders have decided that it is impossible to knock out the West in a measurable period of time, and that it is worth while to try to make a fair arrangement with the West. That possibility must not be excluded. On the other hand, we must have a great deal more evidence of the real sincerity of Russia after our experience, not only of the Communist regime, but of Russian policy during the years of the Czar. We must see far more than a few mild gestures before we can have any hope.
If the Russian Government really wish for a lasting settlement, that settlement must be based upon a far-reaching scheme, including the freeing of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe so that in a measurable time and under international supervision they can decide whether they wish to link their destiny with Communism or with the Western world in the years that lie ahead. Whatever arrangements may be made about certain aspects of one small place or another, I am convinced of one thing— and this is one thing in foreign affairs about which one can speak with absolute confidence: I think the smaller nations of Europe have the right to choose what their future should be. We may have a partial settlement, but we shall not get a lasting settlement—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about Egypt."] It would be just as well if I were allowed to deal with Europe at present. I have already dealt with China, and, if I were to embark on another field, I should make myself 924 exceedingly unpopular with other hon. Members who desire to follow me in the debate.
We pledged ourselves during the war and afterwards that we would work towards the freeing of those nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and if, at this period, when there is at least some sign that Russia is anxious to be more conciliatory than she has been in the recent past, we might reach some agreement whereby, under international supervision, the Powers could withdraw their troops from the countries which were overrun since 1945, I believe that we should achieve something. Until we can do that, it is very difficult to feel confident that, at last, simply by the change of one man who has been the right hand of his predecessor, there has been a complete and absolute change of heart.
I am convinced that, if we show vigour and determination, and meet Russia, not in any offensive spirit, nor yet in one of appeasement, but showing a desire for conciliation and asking for concessions of substance which will mean something to the people, we might make some progress. If we show vigour and determination, as well as patience, where real concessions appear to be given, in that way we are more likely to reach a lasting settlement with Russia than merely by responding to the idea of a slowing down of rearmament, thereby playing into the very hands of those who would like to see Britain and Western Europe become weak, in order that new pressure might be brought to bear upon them by the Communists.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
No doubt like many other hon. Members on this side of the House, when listening to the remarkable speech of the Prime Minister, I wondered whether it would represent the feeling of the Conservative Party as a whole or whether the debate might show up very serious differences of opinion in that party. We have now had the evidence in the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Sir V. Raikes) that a very great difference of opinion does, in fact, exist. I take it that the main theme of the hon. Baronet's speech—of which I took careful note— was that, before we make any efforts towards a reconciliation with Russia, 925 Russia herself must be prepared to agree to a wide solution of many problems, including the liberation of all the satellite territories in Europe. Another comment which the hon. Member made was that Russia must show a complete and absolute change of heart.
I think that is the most complete policy of despair that one could imagine in the present situation. What is the situation most likely to be? As was fairly well explained by the Prime Minister, something dramatic is happening within Russia. There has been a great deal of speculation since the first Russian overtures were made after the death of Stalin on whether these were sincere and whether they represented a change of heart or whether they represented merely a change of tactics. I do not think we need worry very much about these things, because countries and statesmen do not have sudden changes of heart of that kind, and it is obviously only a change of tactics, but it is a change of tactics which might bode very great things for the world. I think therefore that we must meet them halfway, and give them an opportunity of developing their new policy, if such it be, along the right lines.
I have always felt, during these terrible years during which we have suffered this cold war, that something of this kind which has happened in Russia, and which is still happening there, must inevitably happen in Russia at some stage, and for this reason. The tension was becoming ever greater and the ultimate logical outcome of that tension, unless there was an accommodation offered by one side or the other, must mean a world war. Therefore, the only way of avoiding that war was by one side or the other giving way at some stage.
It was quite obvious that it could not be the Western democratic nations which could give way under this developing tension, for the simple reason that for them to do so would mean their complete subjection to a Russian-dominated Communist regime, because that is the declared purpose of Russian policy so far. Therefore, it meant obliteration for the Western democracies, but, in the case of Russia, so far from Russia having obliteration or destruction to fear at the hands of the democracies, Russia knew 926 quite well, whatever she might say in her propaganda, that she had everything to gain from eventually reaching an accommodation with the West.
Therefore, we have the situation that, if a final clash was to be avoided, one side or the other would have to give way, and that, as it could not possibly be the West, it must inevitably be Russia. What follows from that is that the rulers of Russia are not quite as stupid as to wait until they are clearly beaten and then start making overtures. During the past few years, during which they have been hoping that their policy would succeed, they have from time to time made what might be called in colloquial terms "phoney offers" for all kinds of discussions and settlements of various issues, and then imposed such hard conditions that made a settlement impossible, so that she could at some stage make a genuine offer without giving the impression of surrender.
Russia not only knows that by an accommodation with the West she has everything to gain but she has the evidence of Yugoslavia in front of her. After all, it is not so long ago that Tito was regarded as just as complete a Communist and enemy of Western democracy as was Stalin, but Tito found out that it was advantageous to him to make overtures to the West. He has found that that has worked extremely well, and I think he realises that it has been to his own advantage as well as to ours. I think that the present leaders in the Kremlin, if not the previous ones, are also thinking that there might be the possibility of an advantage for them in an accommodation with the West. I think that might even have been the situation under Stalin, and that it is much more the situation now.
After all, under any dictatorship, there are bound to be groups of powerful people who do not agree entirely with every step that is being taken, and who will agree less and less as those steps become more and more dangerous to them, but they have no opportunity of expressing their disagreement or of altering that policy under a dictatorship, except by removing the dictator himself. We remember July, 1943, in Germany, when that was the situation there. It may have been the situation in Russia a few months ago.
927 I do not want to go into the question of the cause of Stalin's death, but it seems to me that, if there were any people who were becoming more and more nervous about the developments of Western policy, the death of Stalin was the opportunity for which they must have been waiting in order to make their overtures. Therefore, I believe that a dramatic change has taken place. I agree with the Prime Minister that it is not the overtures that have been made to the Western democracies which are so important— that kind of thing has happened before— but what is happening inside Russia herself.
The most dramatic and surprising thing of all, a development which could not possibly have contributed to any tactics which they may have been pursuing to undermine the Western democracies and which could only have the effect of undermining the faith of the Russian people and of Communists all over the world in the Stalinist regime, was the release of the doctors and the admission to all the world that forced confessions were the rule in Russian prisons right back, presumably, to the original Moscow trials.
Therefore, I think there is a change going on and I believe it would be fatal to force Russia into such a position that she would be unable to make the same kind of overtures to the West as Tito has so successfully made, and would therefore have no way out except, as a last desperate resort, to try her armed strength against the West. That would be fatal to world civilisation and the most stupid tactics to adopt in dealing with the present overtures.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston also referred to the position in regard to the Panmunjom discussions. He suggested that we had not the right to complain about or to criticise in any way the American policy vis-à-vis Chiang Kai-shek and Communist China.
§ Sir V. Raikes
I did not say that it was not a question of right, but that I thought it was somewhat unfair for us to do so.
§ Mr. Hynd
The hon. Gentleman did at least suggest that America should be allowed almost a free hand in regard to policy in the Panmunjom talks and in relation to Communist China and the 928 whole situation in the Far East because of the losses she has suffered. It seems rather strange, having regard to the difficulties in Malaya, China, and the rest, that it should be suggested that, in a United Nations action in which we are committed not only to our present level of contribution, but, in the event of that policy going wrong, to taking part in a conflagration all over the Far East, we should have nothing at all to say about it, but that we should leave it entirely to the waves of emotion in American opinion, great as they must be, as a result of the day-to-day news coming to America from Korea. That seems to me a monstrous suggestion, and as partners in that operation and in the United Nations, responsible not only to ourselves, but to the other members of the United Nations, I think we must insist that our views should be heard, and heard very clearly, in the counsels of the United Nations and in the Korean discussions.
I was delighted, as I am sure were my colleagues, to hear the Prime Minister describe the position in regard to the Panmunjom discussions in the terms he did. He agreed with what many of us have said for a long time, that the differences on principle seem to have been disposed of and that it is now a matter of details. Of course, the details must be settled, and there is no question of accepting the thing without looking at the details and making sure that the operation is going to be carried out in the proper form and is likely to be successful.
But as my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said, it is not that we are fundamentally suspicious of America or of the American negotiators, but that we fail entirely to understand the aggressive tone that is being used, and which is becoming more and more aggressive, by General Harrison just at the point where the Chinese are about to make what we hope are real concessions. It seems to me that General Harrison is tending to complicate unnecessarily what appears to be an effort on the part of the Chinese to come to an accommodation in that area.
I would be the last to suggest that the American Government are not concerned about securing peace in the Far East, and I would not for a moment introduce into this debate the kind of propaganda that 929 one sometimes hears to the effect that America is concerned with maintaining the war in Korea because of the interests of her armament manufacturers and her capitalists with imperialist ambitions. But there is a certain fact which no one can ignore, which is most disturbing and which might as well be mentioned.
The fact is that there are many people in America, and even in American Government circles, who do not want the war in the Far East to be brought to an end at this stage.
§ Mr. Hynd
It is no good saying nonsense. The fact is that Chiang Kai-shek is anxious that the war should continue, and I do not think there will be any dissent from that. Chiang Kai-shek individually and the people supporting him in Formosa are anxious that this war should be continued because it is their only possible hope of salvation, let alone success. I think there is general agreement on all sides about that. I also think that hon. and right hon. Members who are honest with themselves will also agree that Chiang Kai-shek is being supported by very important elements in America, including elements in Government circles.
That is an exceedingly serious situation, because it means that there are elements in America with great influence who are anxious in the interests of the destruction of Communism in the Far East and the replacement of the Peking Government by Chiang Kai-shek, that the Panmunjom talks should not succeed.
Therefore, it is inevitable that many of us who have probably been regarded as pro-American in the past— probably too pro-American—and who were not lacking in paying tribute to the tremendous generosity and the great democratic instincts which America has shown on many occasions over the past seven years, should be very seriously disturbed at what must be accepted as an undoubted fact, which has complicated the situation and which could have the effect of holding up the efforts being made on the Chinese side— if they are genuine efforts—to reach a settlement on the question of the prisoners. I could go into a comparison of the present proposals with those of 930 India and all the rest of it, but there is no doubt that something is occurring which is not at all helpful.
One finds symptoms of that also in some of the American pronouncements. Even General Eisenhower, in the great Speech he made recently and in which he held out great hopes of world development in the event of peace being reached, made a number of statements which were not very comforting and not very helpful. He restricted co-existence to co-existence between Russia and the Western democracies. I hope that the British Government will make it clear to the American Government, and that both Governments will make it clear to the Russian Government, that what we mean by co-existence at this stage is, in the first instance, co-existence with the Communist world.
What is so immediately essential is a settlement of the war in the Far East, a settlement of the situation in Germany and Austria and the establishment of a peace so that the United Nations can get down to a real discussion about genuine world problems such as that of the imposition of Communist policies on satellite States, food conditions throughout the world, and so on. But that can only be done once the Korean war and other potential war situations are out of the way. Therefore, peace must be regarded as a first priority. It is no use talking about the liberation of the Communist controlled territories of Eastern Europe as a condition of reaching a position of peace.
In short, what we have to say to the Americans, in contradiction of what was put forward by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston, but in support of what the Prime Minister very clearly implied in his opening sentences, is that we expect in the N.A.T.O. organisation, in the discussion about the prisoners question in Panmunjom and in all these questions in which we are so inevitably linked up as democratic nations in relation to the problem which face us; that this must be an alliance, a firm and strong alliance—until the position is completely clear we cannot afford to reduce our strength)—but it must be an alliance of partners and not an alliance between a master and his satellites.
931 There have been many statements from America and elsewhere, including M. Bidault of France, upon the new Russian situation. Many of us have waited for a long time to hear an expression of British policy and to have some British initiative in this matter. The expression has come rather late, but I am satisfied that the initiative that we got from the opening part of the Prime Minister's statement was sound and was one which will be well supported throughout the British nation.
I should like to say a word about Germany and Austria. I shall 'be brief, but I ought to say what I feel. There has been a great deal of talk about conditions that may be offered by the Russians for a settlement in Germany. I do not think the position need be so complicated as some people make out. It is not so long ago since the Russians themselves made an offer to establish a Central German Government and the beginning of the discussion of a German peace treaty. We asked them, I think it was last September, if this meant that they were prepared to agree to free elections in Germany to establish a Central German Government, and we still have not had a reply.
If the change in the Russian attitude is genuine, there should be no difficulty and no loss of face or prestige on the part of the Russians for them to reply now to that letter and to tell us that of course they meant free elections and a genuine German Government, which would inevitably involve free elections; and what about having a meeting to organise those free elections?
This would be the test of Russian intentions in Europe. If that were done and the elections were held, and a German Government were established, I would not be much concerned in the meantime about the possibility that Russia might demand that Germany should become neutral or disarmed, or that the Germans might demand some adjustment to the present frontiers. Those are all matters for discussion under the Peace Treaty, as was laid down in wartime agreements. What I imagine happening if the Russians are genuine in their attempt to get a settlement is that they would invite us to consider the methods of running free elections. A 932 German Government would then emerge, elected by the German people. We would then set about discussing peace negotiations among the Allies, and the German Government then in office would be in a position to make their views known.
What will happen then? Either the four Powers will agree upon the terms of the Treaty with Germany, or they will disagree, in which case the discussion could go on for months or for years. But we would have lost nothing, and would have gained a great deal. If agreement were reached, the main problem of Germany would have been overcome; if we failed to agree on the terms of the Peace Treaty with Germany or, having agreed with our partners we failed to agree with the German Government, we would at least have reached an "Austrian" situation. We should have a Central Government while still having four-Power control, and four-Power occupation, but that would be a much more hopeful situation than anything we have in Germany at the present time.
Germany is the test. The Austrian Treaty itself is comparatively simple. The delay in the signature of that Treaty by the Russians may have something to do with lines of communication and their desire first for a settlement in Germany. It has always been a great tragedy that Russia, through Communist parties all over the world, has been assiduously organising campaigns for millions of signatures for peace but has rigidly maintained her attitude of refusing to give the one signature required for peace in Austria. If this Treaty, then, is dependent upon a settlement of the German situation we ought to go on actively to get that settlement in Germany, even if it merely means establishing for a long period something a little less than a free, independent and united Germany—an "Austrian" situation.
The Prime Minister's speech was marred in only one point so far as I am concerned, and that was in his references to our relationship with Europe generally. He talked about the vitality of the Council of Europe. I fail to see it. He talked about the need for building and strengthening a European Army, but it must be built and strengthened without us, which is the old Germany cry "Ohne mich." This part of his speech was reminiscent to me of the words used by 933 Sir Austen Chamberlain at Geneva, when he addressed the League of Nations as "Your League." We seem to have gone a long way since the present Prime Minister stood at the Box in the House of Commons and talked about united citizenship with France. He has preached the gospel of United Europe and subsequently a European Army in which Britain would play a full part.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister realises the full extent of the disastrous disillusionment caused by subsequent failure to implement these policies, and not only by the present Government; our own party is to some extent guilty. One thing that inspired Europe after the war, and above all that inspired the German youth, was the hope of building something new in Europe that would attract a wider loyalty than was ever known before and would banish the old competing national loyalties. I still do not think it is too late, and I hope the Prime Minister will think again about this matter before it is too late.
It is not impossible that we should invite our Scandinavian partners to discuss again with us their attitude towards the European Army, the Schuman Plan and Strasbourg and if we could get agreement with them we might be able to go into Europe together on the same level. I have no doubt that France in her present mood would welcome it, and that Germany would too. I would prefer to see some kind of loose association on an equal basis throughout the whole of Western Europe than a small section grouped together in a tight federation with the others standing around as observers.
I hope the Prime Minister will not reject the suggestion I make that he should give further consideration to this matter. I share the hope that he expressed that the potentialities for peace in the world generally will be realised. I feel that they can and will be realised if we pursue the right policy, and if we can persuade our American partners to view the issues as something wider and more important even than any campaign against Communism.
President Eisenhower in his great speech a few weeks ago, drew a picture of the vast resources that could be released to the world if we could end 934 the tension of war. It could be done if America, ourselves, Russia and China could act together to bring in the new era which President Eisenhower, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister today have visualised as something that is possible within our time.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I think that everyone in this House will agree that this afternoon the Prime Minister delivered himself of a great speech, based on solid grounds of hope and upon the determination that while negotiations continue, however magnanimous this country may be, we must retain the armed strength on which all parties in this House are determined. I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd). If he will permit me, I will turn to discuss in more detail the situation in the Middle East, of which the Prime Minister spoke this afternoon.
At this stage of negotiation and potential negotiation at the highest level, it is important that the House should rid itself of prejudice on various matters, as far as is possible. I think that hon. and right hon. Members opposite in the past have found their politics frustrated by their objections to General Franco. We have had other instances, and even today in certain parts of this House there is objection to and prejudice against the State of Israel. That is only natural. We have had misfortunes. We have lost people there in the most frightening and horrifying way. But at this stage, when we look at the Middle East, we must consider the facts as they are.
The chief facts, the vortex round which revolve the tensions of the Middle East today, are, first, the question of our remaining in the Suez Canal Zone, and, second, the question of the State of Israel continuing in existence. These two situations need clarification—first of all to say, as the Prime Minister said today, that our case rests, and rests upon our strength, legal and military, as regards the Suez Canal, and secondly, to make absolutely clear that Israel as a State has come to stay. I believe that the passages in the Prime Minister's speech today referring to these two matters will go far to restore a sense of stability in the Middle East. In my opinion, the destruction either of 935 the bases in the Suez Canal area or of the State of Israel would prove an unmitigated disaster for that part of the world.
We in this House must remember that should the weakness of our bases in the Canal area become apparent it is almost inevitable that there would be another flare-up of the Arab-Israeli war, and that should there be such a flare-up we, under a tripartite convention of 1950, are bound to protect the frontiers. In this debate we must consider deep and hard the whole question of stability in the Middle East and the creation eventually, on that stability, of some form of regional pact for defence. Although at the moment it may seem unthinkable, the renewal of the Arab-Israeli war is certainly considered in the Middle East a distinct possibility.
Until the tension in the Middle East is reduced the present not very easy armistice presents us with great danger. On the positive side it presents us with the danger that until these tensions can be eased the whole premise of a defence pact in that part of the world is almost certain to be nullified. It would create a situation of extreme difficulty if we were to have a defence pact in that part of the world in which we, the United States and France, were guaranteeing Israeli frontiers and, at the same time, engaging in a defence alliance with Arab States. Even if Israel were to be removed from that conjunction of forces of that pact, the so-called "infrastructure" of that defence pact would only be a matter of arrested aggression and fear. Somehow we must bring about in the Middle East an easing of this tension between the Arab States and Israel.
As the House well knows, the effect of the blockade on our own economy is considerable. As the Prime Minister said, the Jordan economy is natuarlly complementary to that of the Israel plain. Daily the Jordan economy demands more money from us to sustain it. The Haifa refinery is costing us £20 million to £40 million a year, and whilst this condition of blockade continues there will continue the impoverishment of the whole area round Israel, where there are hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the constant danger of a further depression of real living standards in the area, will remain. I appreciate the difficulties of my right hon. Friend, and of right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in office, on this 936 vexed question; but I think that in his speech today the Prime Minister made a definite contribution to the possibility of easing this tension.
I believe that we should do three things. First, we should make absolutely clear that the State of Israel will continue to exist and flourish with the other Middle Eastern States. Until that can be made perfectly clear and until at the same time the Arab States are asked to grant at least de facto recognition of the State of Israel this tension will continue. Secondly, we must make it perfectly clear where we stand with regard to the present absurdity of a blockade which hurts our interests in the Middle East, the interests of the surrounding States, and the interests of more than 500,000 refugees. Thirdly, we, with the other Powers concerned in the 1950 declaration, should make pretty forcibly an offer to negotiate and arbitrate to create conditions of peace in that part of the world. These things, I believe, must be done if we are to form a defence pact or a pact of mutual assistance; upon such a pact, to some extent, will depend our claim to remain in the area three years from now after the lapse of the conditions governing the Canal agreement.
Many things can be done. According to the latest figures, Israel will survive, at the worst, thanks to German aid and the contributions of world Jewry. The State of Israel has a two and a half years period of military service—even longer than the "Shinwell period." The Israeli State has proved itself in war. But there are certain things that we can do to help, without being unfair to the Arab States. Such a State can be helped by the Prime Minister making certain things even clearer. The late Government was generous in freeing blocked sterling balances. This Government have also taken steps which have been helpful to the new State. As the Prime Minister has made perfectly clear in his speech, in the arms race in the Middle East Israel will be given greater parity with the Arab States in the matter of the supply of aircraft. At the moment Israel gets one aeroplane for every five which are available to the Arab States.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
Instead of having parity, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be better to stop the arms race altogether?
§ Mr. Fraser
That would be better, but if the people concerned are willing buyers, it is difficult to prevent them absolutely achieving what they desire. By credits and quotas we can give this people parity and equality of treatment with other friendly powers.
With regard to the blockade, much can be achieved at a local level at least, between Jordan and Israel. The relationship which existed between Dr. Weizmann and King Abdullah pointed in that direction. Considerable things could be achieved through our intervention. Recently I saw a power station on the Jordan River which had been unused since 1948, for the simple reason that the water belongs to Israel and the power station exists in Jordan. This is surely a matter for negotiation. Some 70,000 or 80,000 kilowatts could be made available if this power station were used, instead of the rather more complex scheme of the United Nations, involving the waters of two or three territories. Progress could be made in small things like this: and our good offices would be invaluable.
A happier scheme could also be worked out in connection with refugees. The present scheme, as shown by an article in yesterday's "Economist," is not working. The Germans are already offering to make reparation to the Jews for the hardship they have suffered in the past. It is also possible that Israel would be more willing than people believe in helping to compensate some of the Arab refugees. But steps have to be taken by the three main powers.
These problems raise difficulties, but we have to face the fact that it is upon the maintenance and support of stable units in the Middle East—and I believe Israel to be such a unit—that the peace of that part of the world will depend. The Prime Minister has gone a considerable way this afternoon to reassure those who think as I do on this subject, but the essential responsibility is not effectively that of the United Nations, who have failed to achieve anything in the long and weary debates which have taken place. Responsibility rests upon those powers who have deep interests in the region— ourselves, France and America. With the weight of those three great Powers behind them the position of Israel could be made 938 perfectly clear. Great steps can, should and I hope will be taken to bring peace to the area and to bring about a better settlement of the problem of the Arab refugees.
§ 6.34 p.m.
Mr. Percy Dailies (East Ham, North)
Since 1945 I have made a practice of listening to the various debates we have had on foreign affairs and I have managed to develop a sense of modesty and proportion by never intervening in any of those debates, because I wanted to see how the prophecies made would turn out. I strongly suspect that before tomorrow night is reached we shall have several speeches that purport to interpret the intention of the Russians. If I stray into that field I shall try to put facts behind my arguments.
At this stage, when it would appear that there is some loosening in the international situation, we must be quite clear as to what are our objectives. I do not disagree with the emphasis which the Prime Minister laid on the piecemeal approach. If we can take one single problem, settle it and establish confidence, and then go on to the next problem, we may get a further easement, but we have to be quite clear and honest about our ideas of the major factors which are in the way of real world peace.
Just as I welcomed the excellent speech of the Prime Minister I also welcomed many parts of the speech of President Eisenhower. I want to refer to two sentences he used, which will form the main part of my speech. He said:Any nation's right to a form of Government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.I agree absolutely with that statement. He also said:Any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of Government is indefensible.With that statement I also agree absolutely. Unfortunately, there is sometimes an attempt—and perhaps it occurs more in my own party than in the party opposite; and the occasions are not always well chosen—to appeal to what I would call anti-Americanism. It is a natural target for a demagogic appeal.
I do not like to see American troops in the streets of this country, but if I have to choose between American troops 939 and Russian troops I shall certainly choose the Americans, although I do not particularly like them. I realise that there is a lot in the argument that we are economically dependent on them, but because somebody is doling out relief to us, it certainly does not make us love them any more. These sentiments are wrong and they should not be put over by responsible people.
The idea that is also put over, as a consequence of this emotional appeal— that in some way it is United States Governments that have prevented us from being real friends with the Russians—is distinctly dangerous, and contrary to historical facts. One of the major factors in the present strength of the Russians arose from the fact that at world conference after world conference, particularly during the last three or four years of his life, President Roosevelt fell over backwards to appease the Russians.
History has shown that the policy of appeasement of Russia, of which he was a protagonist, was completely misbegotten and has proved disastrous to the peace of the world. Is there one responsible Member of this House who does not inwardly have a feeling of shame when he looks at the history of Poland? I am not arguing that before the war Poland was a true democracy; it was not; but it has been said that we went to war in 1939 to save the integrity of Poland. We made promises time and time again, but what happened? Today, Poland is as much a part of the Russian Empire as ever she was 100 years ago.
What are the facts about Hungary? In 1945—which was the year of one of the last two free elections—the total Communist vote was 17 per cent. of those who actually voted. In 1947, it was 23.5 per cent. It is perfectly clear that the reason why the Communists were able to take over control in Hungary was that there was a Russian Army on the borders. I do not know whether anybody wants to challenge that statement, but the leading Communist in Hungary—Mr. Rakosi—as quoted in "The Social Review," said:The Communist minority nibbled its way to power like a man eating salami sausage, eating it slice by slice.Then he frankly admitted that it was made possible by Russian support. I do 940 not think that anybody who knows the facts can possibly deny that Hungary, which had a real desire for freedom, came into the Russian orbit only because of the presence of the Russian Army. Then we have the rather formidable but now demoted Anna Pauker, who said that the Communistscame to power under favourable conditions created by the presence of Soviet troops.I suppose that most of us can feel rather detached about Poland and Hungary and Roumania, and I frankly confess I do, but I hope most of us have a deep sense of shame when we remember what has happened during this last generation in Czechoslovakia. I am amazed sometimes how people of my own party burk this issue and give vent to emotions and expressions that they condemned in Members on the other side when they were supporting Chamberlain during the Munich era. We in this country and the Western civilised world owe a lot to Czechoslovakia and we should have a bad conscience about that country.
Between the wars it was a democracy very much the same as ours, and twice in a decade we betrayed her. I remember that when I was in Prague, just a few months before the Russians came in and took over, leading Social Democratic Czechs said to me time and time again how difficult their position had become because the American Army was withheld from Prague, presumably by agreement with the Russians, so that Russians could go in. Czechoslovakia is a clear case of how the intervention, potential or actual, of the Red Army threatened and destroyed democracy. I quote now a few words by Professor Madriaga that express my sentiments better than I can express them myself. He wrote them in a memorable letter to the "Manchester Guardian." He said:It is the intervention of the Red Army, actual or threatened, that has compelled so many European nations to accept a system that abolishes free trade unionism, the right to strike, freedom of the Press, freedom of religious expression and freedom of association.Have we nothing to say to those people? Have we no responsible comment to make to them? Will this debate continue and end without our saying anything to them? Are we to signify to them, by our silence, that they must remain for ever in slavery, their countries reduced to colonies of Russian economic 941 imperialism? I have recited all these facts to show to some of my own comrades that to say that Communism comes only where social discontent exists is an understatement of the actual facts.
This is the grim story, and I believe it should be on the conscience of every one of us that there are millions of people similar to ourselves living under slave conditions today, in which a man is afraid to say a word to a neighbour, even to a member of his family, lest, because of it, the State police get him. I wish that some of those who look upon the Czechs, the Poles and Hungarians as expendable would live a little closer to a police State, to see what that really means.
Let us look for a moment at the other side of the story, because we have to see clearly not only what we want and what the Russians want, but what the Russians have actually got. I do not believe that Russian policy is a hand-to-mouth policy. The idea that a conference, or the removal of Stalin, will bring a dramatic change in Russian policy, that will bring us to a new era, is contrary to the facts. In terms of military strength and strategic gains Russia has moved forward to a position that she never dreamt she would be able to obtain.
Russia learned a lesson from the war itself. After the Hitler attack the one thing she sought to get for herself was defence in depth in case of another war. She sought it even before that, because the episode in Finland was not an isolated episode. She pursued it by agreement with Hitler, and she has consistently pursued it ever since, the same policy of establishing all around her frontiers substantial defence in depth. Let us not underrate the advances she has made in terms of economic strength. She is obviously aiming at the position that Russian industry plus Western European industry —I repeat, Western Europe industry— may possibly equal all the rest.
I want to see an Austrian treaty. I think we all do, but we shall be making a profound mistake if we look upon the question of Austria in isolation. Russia's Austrian zone means no great accretion of substantial economic strength to Russia. Obviously, it does not, but if Russia loses her grip on Austria her grip on Czechoslovakia and Hungary will be weakened, and the key to her defence in 942 depth in that part of Europe is the continuation of her control in Austria.
We come up against the same problem when we talk so freely as we do about a united democratic Germany. It is interesting to note that while Russian propaganda has softened in many respects it has not softened in Eastern Germany. If Russia loses her grip on Eastern Germany she has to be prepared to loosen her grip on Poland as well. The condition of her holding Poland down is the maintenance of her held upon Eastern Germany. Russia cannot agree to a free Germany unless she is prepared for a free Poland and Czechoslovakia.
I therefore say frankly to the House that, much as I should like to see the obstacles which stand in the way of peace removed, I do not believe that Russia will agree to a free Germany until she is in a position in which she stands a reasonable chance of controlling all Germany herself. This is true if my interpretation of Russian policy, not only in 1945 but ever since, is correct. That, I believe is the danger. I beg the House to realise that we cannot keep these problems in isolation. They all form parts of a very large and intricate pattern.
History shows, and has shown particularly in the last few years, that the greatest human sentiment to move men and women, even the men and women in the satellite countries—and I have had intimate contact with them—is the sense of nationhood. The national feeling is the predominant one of all the human feelings. It is far stronger than the appeal of Communism itself. I am a Socialist and I have been a Socialist ever since I wore long pants and could think for myself, but it is no good deluding ourselves. When the call comes it is our demand and our right to preserve for ourselves that which we know and love. I am not advocating that we should, by speedy propaganda, encourage these people to sacrifice their lives when there is no chance of a successful revolt. But I do say that we must recognise the potency of nationhood in a people such as the Czechs and the Poles who have known freedom, and that the light of freedom is always in their hearts.
Let me make it plain that I am not arguing that either we or the Americans jointly, or the United Nations as a whole, 943 should try to put back in the satellite countries the type of Governments which they had before the war. That day is gone and can never come back. The social and economic revolution that occurred in all those countries was a continuation of the national revolutions that went on during the war. The capitalists too often collaborated with the Germans. The national patriotic resolution of which we are now seeing the later developments in Yugoslavia was part and parcel of that pattern.
I think, too, that we should be very guarded in our approach to this problem. I believe that one of the great dangers that we face in this situation is that we shall get a false sense of timing and try to reach solutions too quickly. I think that history will show that the great mistake which Hitler made was his bad timing. He was evil, but he was also dynamic and he came very close to world power. But it was his complete lack of timing and lack of being prepared to buy time that caused his failure.
Here again I submit to the House that we cannot understand the so-called Russian Communism unless we understand Russia herself. To imagine that an entirely new approach to life comes with communism is, I believe, a complete misreading of the facts. The Russians have a deep sense of time and they were prepared to wait and go on waiting believing that, eventually, time would be on their side.
Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with what the Prime Minister said to-day in what I believe will rank as one of his greatest speeches. By all means let us go forward. Let us try to get the problem of Korea out of the way. Let us also make an another attempt to get the Austrian problem settled. I do not debar, in spite of what I have said, a further attempt being made in the case of Germany. Let me make it perfectly plain that I do not believe that the death of Stalin has made any fundamental change. I believe that the main factor now causing a possible easement in the situation is the unity and strength that has grown from the West. I believe that a great disservice would come to the cause of peace if any of us took steps which would destroy that unity and strength upon which the ultimate hopes of peace rest.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Brigadier Terence Clarke (Portsmouth, West)
I am sure that the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his remarks, because this debate is ranging over such a large area that if we tried to follow up each other's points we should never get to the point which each of us wishes to express. I am particularly anxious to talk about Egypt and the Middle East generally.
I speak as a soldier rather than as a politician, and I think that the Prime Minister was right when he took a firm line on Egypt today. We would have hoped that the Egyptians would have seen their way to collaborate with us so that we could defend the Suez Canal jointly. If we ever went to war again, which pray Heaven, we shall not, a hostile Egypt would be a very dangerous and unpleasant country to have in that area. Collaboration with Egypt would be something which we would all welcome. But if Egypt takes the line that we shall surrender unconditionally and that she will not talk about anything except that Britain must get out, we should stay firmly there and show them that that is not the way to negotiate.
We have a Treaty with Egypt and we are allowed to stay there by that Treaty. If this Treaty is to be torn up, I would be the first to say, "Egypt has torn up the Treaty and we would be very foolish to go even in 1956." Egypt ought to think deeply on that matter. But we hope that Egypt will see sense and once more talk with us, so that, jointly, we can find a way of getting round this problem. I am quite certain that the problem is capable of solution if they do not take the line of our getting out unconditionally. I think that the Prime Minister made a most statesmanlike speech which will be accepted throughout the free world and even, I hope, behind the Iron Curtain, as something which will benefit the whole world in the future.
There are one or two things which I should like to say on the Israel-Arab problem. During my recent tour of the Middle East, Britain was blamed by the Arabs for nearly everything. Apparently the Secretary of State had done something terrible at the United Nations which none of us in England knew anything about, but it was described in those 945 parts as being completely hostile to the Arab world. What, in point of fact, he had done was to vote with the French about the problem of Morocco and Tunisia. That was considered to be a thoroughly hostile act to the Arabs. Over here it received no publicity at all and most of us did not know that the problem existed until we were told of this "terrible, hostile act," which had been perpetrated.
That sort of act can be built up to something which appears enormous in the eyes of the Arab world. We were told that Britain was pro-Israel and had never done anything to help the Arabs. In my view, Britain is no more pro-Israel than pro-Arab. We are all for a free world and we recognise and remember those who have helped us in the past. We have received immense assistance from the Arab world in two world wars and are grateful. So far as I am concerned, I am neither hostile to Israel nor am I hostile to the Arab world. If anything, I think that we owe a debt to the Arabs, and I would be the last to do anything that they would consider hostile.
We should remember that there are many Arab refugees who are living in tents and in the most filthy conditions that anyone could imagine. I know that there were many Jewish people living in equally terrible conditions in Germany and throughout Europe. We are glad that they have found a new home, but in finding or making that new home I do not see why hundreds and thousands of Arabs should be left in misery without a home at all.
I am sure that when this country conceived the Jewish national home in Israel it believed it would be possible for Israel to find a home there and for the Arab still to retain his land, property and factories in Israel, and that both could live side by side. But many of the Arabs are now stateless; in some places they are not allowed to work and elsewhere they are given menial jobs. The British are blamed for that. It is said, "We know the Americans must take a certain amount of the blame, but, after all, they are mere children as regards the Arab problem and do not understand it. The British have dealt with the Arabs all their lives and know the Arab problems. We expected some assistance from the 946 British in the matter, but we have got very little."
My right hon. Friend definitely gave Israel a kiss and the rest of the Arab world a bit of a kick in the pants. I see no reason why we should kiss one and kick the other. I would far rather he gave a metaphorical kiss to both and expressed the hope that they would get together and solve their problems. I know it has been said that the Arabs refused to negotiate with Israel and that it is thus the fault of the Arabs. But when one's house is burgled and one is thrown out by the burglar, one does not feel inclined to go along and negotiate with the burglar. It will take a long time for the wounds inflicted on the Arabs to heal and before the Arabs feel inclined to negotiate with Israel about their future.
I am sure that what my right hon. Friend said will be interpreted differently in the Middle East from what he intended. I am certain he had no wish to antagonise the Arab world. After all, if we are getting ourselves at cross-purposes with the Egyptians, we certainly do not want, at the same time, to throw the rest of the Arab world into Egypt's arms. I had hoped that we would at least keep friendly with the rest of the Arab world while the Egyptians themselves are, to say the least of it, hostile. [Interruption.] I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman who is interrupting knows anything about the problem. If he does, he will no doubt catch Mr. Speaker's eye and have an opportunity of saying what he wants to say. On racing matters, I will follow him anywhere.
§ Brigadier Clarke
Whenever I speak I get interruptions like that. If I were to give the hon. Gentleman the winner of the 2.30 tomorrow he would not interrupt at all. It is too serious a matter for there to be interruptions like that.
It is a great mistake to antagonise the Arab world which, after all, has been friendly to Britain for many years, and most of us on both sides of the House must hope that it will be our friend for many years to come.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
It is a matter of some interest that three out of the four back-bench speeches from the Government side of the House have dealt with Egypt. Hon. Members opposite have selected that part of the Prime Minister's speech for expressing their pleasure. During the Prime Minister's speech they were probably not quite sure what to make of it. They did not like very much the glowing tributes to Israel, they were not quite certain whether the Prime Minister was being friendly to the Russians or too friendly to the Russians, and at some moments they were not quite certain whether or not he was being critical of the Americans. Therefore, they were somewhat doubtful about the speech.
Consequently, three out of the four speeches from the Government back benches have dealt with Egypt because there is no doubt that on Egypt the Prime Minister was his old familiar self, was not making an attempt to embark on a new policy and was standing his ground firmly, and therefore, that was something which could be cheered from the Government side of the House without any qualms whatsoever. So we have had a series of speeches applauding the Prime Minister's speech on the Egyptian aspect. I hope that the Prime Minister will get no applause from this side of the House for what he said, because I believe that he made a provocative statement, a statement which can only make the possibility of a real agreement with Egypt more difficult.
The Prime Minister has not begun to recognise the first fact about the Egyptian situation. In a debate in this House in February of last year my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. J. Freeman) made a speech on this subject soon after the massacre at Ismailia, to which the Prime Minister referred today in, I thought, somewhat flippant terms. Soon after that terrible event my hon. Friend made a speech in which he suggested, even before there had been the proposals for immediate negotiations, that we should state the date when we proposed to evacuate the British forces from the Suez Canal area, just as we stated a date in the case of the settlement made by the Labour Government with India. If the British Government had adopted that 948 course at the time it was suggested by my hon. Friend, we should be in a much better situation in the Middle East at present.
What will happen under the present Government is that they will eventually be forced out of Egypt in the most undignified circumstances. The speech of the Prime Minister today has contributed to the lack of dignity with which we shall be forced out of Egypt. I start from the principle—I hope all hon. Members on this side of the House start from the principle—that we really have no right to be on Egyptian soil. Strangely enough, the Prime Minister ought to be among those who agree with that proposition.
When we first went into Egypt in about the year 1880 the chief opponent in the House of Commons of the expedition was the Prime Minister's father. It was Lord Randolph Churchill who denounced the attack on Egypt and the bombardment of Alexandria as a monstrous piece of Imperialism. He denounced the war which followed as a bond-holders' war, and he denounced the whole course of British policy at that time. That was how we got into Egypt, and since that date one British Government after another have promised that we would get out. But no British Government have taken positive steps to carry the promise into effect. It is time that we had a British Government which would carry out the promise which has been made to the Egyptian people ever since that first attack was made on Egypt.
That is the only wise course, and the only course of principle which the Government and the country can follow in respect of Egypt. Therefore, what the Prime Minister has today forecast for us in relation to Egypt is a miserable series of episodes. There may be fighting, there may be bloodshed, and some people may be killed, episodes such as we have known many times in the history of the British Empire. But in the end we shall have to go; and it would have been much wiser if, instead of making the statement which he did today, the Prime Minister had declared that we recognise Egypt's sovereignty and recognise it in the terms of President Eisenhower's speech. Have not the Egyptians the right to sovereignty, along with the other nations, as stated by President Eisenhower in his speech? President Eisenhower said that countries 949 should be allowed to run and govern their affairs. The Egyptians have that right, and we ought to have been prepared to recognise it. It was because of the Prime Minister's remarks, and the references which have been made to them by speakers on the other side of the House, that I began by discussing Egypt.
I now want to turn to some other aspects of the Prime Minister's speech. It seemed to me that his speech was made on two different planes. He was sometimes warm, and even forthcoming, in the tone which he employed in referring to the changes which have taken place in the Soviet Union. But when it came down to the details of the application of a policy of negotiation he was much less clear and much less forthright. He gave me the impression of an aircraft which would be able to manoeuvre very successfully in the stratosphere once it got there, but there was not any sure indication that it would get off the ground. How he dealt with the detailed aspect of his policy bore out that contention.
Take first the question of the armistice negotiations in Korea. The Prime Minister did not say very much about it, and that may be for very good reasons. But we have the right to point out the contradictions in the present situation. Last Monday we had a statement from the Prime Minister saying that the Korean armistice negotiations were very near to a solution—a successful outcome, I think, were his words. On the same day, however, General Harrison, at Pan-munjom, was making a statement about what was happening and it was in quite different terms. General Harrison was saying that time was running out, and he attributed the worst possible motives to the Chinese negotiators. He said that they were guilty of evasion, and he said more in that manner. Whatever one may say about those remarks as to their content, they were entirely contradictory to the terms employed by the Prime Minister in this House.
We have had the same thing today. The Prime Minister, as was emphasised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), said that the matter of principle had been removed and we were left with an argument about details and methods. But what is the statement from General Harrison? He dealt with the latest proposals from the 950 Communists in a broadcast which was relayed in the United States over the weekend. I hardly think it is the best way of conducting negotiations for General Harrison to walk out from a conference with the Chinese and deliver a broadcast which is sent all over the United States.
What does he say? In regard to the latest terms put forward by the Communists, which were described by the Prime Minister as almost acceptable, what was said by General Harrison? According to today's report in the "Manchester Guardian," in General Harrison's view, the latest proposals of the Communists marked no advance upon the proposals put forward by the Chinese in previous armistice negotiations. There we have a complete contradiction between the statement made by the Prime Minister and the statement made by General Harrison.
Something must be done to bring this situation to an end, because we cannot continue to have a position in which quite contradictory impressions and statements are made on this matter, so that we are given a quite different impression by those conducting the negotiations at that end from that given by those who presumably are having some say in the negotiations from this end. I hope that the Prime Minister is having some say in the negotiations, but he ought to take some steps to ensure that these contradictions are ended.
If it is not possible for an immediate statement to be made on behalf of the Western Powers and the United Nations that these latest proposals are acceptable, then I would suggest that the whole matter should be transferred to the United Nations. The question should be dealt with as was done in the case of the Indian Resolution, so that each country will have to come forward on these proposals, which are very near to the Indian proposals, and state to the world exactly where they stand. That would be the only proper course to follow if it is not possible to say that these latest proposals should be accepted. That is one issue on which the Prime Minister's statement is not in very helpful terms, and on the immediate matter of these negotiations he has not. given us much enlightenment.
On another matter he was somewhat more helpful. At least, he did not make the position any worse. I refer to the question of Indo-China. Some people 951 have been saying, and in the United States they have been strongly advocating, that the settlement in Korea must be made interdependent on the settlement in Indo-China. I hope that the Prime Minister is going to withstand any proposal of that kind, which would hold up the Korean negotiations on account of what has happened in Indo-China. The two cases are entirely different. Any prospect of peace in the world would become impossible if we are going to say that such cases as the Indo-Chinese colonial war should be made a proper subject for action by the United Nations. If we are going to say that every civil war and every colonial war can be transformed into a war in which the United Nations have got to act, then that is going to be a recipe for perpetual war.
It means to say that those who in their own country might not have other means of forcing a change of Government should not be allowed to do it by force. Certainly in Indo-China they have not got a ballot box by which they can change their Government. Nor can they settle by the ballot box the issue whether the French have got to go. The French have decided that the issue must be settled by force, and the responsibility for saying that the issue in Indo-China must be settled by force rests upon those who maintain an Imperialist Government in Indo-China. Then some people urge that it is a proper step to bring in the Charter of the United Nations. I say that that would be a gross misuse of the Charter. If the Government lend any support to the holding up of the Korean negotiations because of the happenings in Indo-China, then we should make it impossible for a proper settlement to be reached in Korea.
I believe the worst example in the Prime Minister's speech of his failure to translate his general principles into practice was in his references to Germany. Quite clearly everybody must understand —and I think everybody does—that the biggest issue of difference in the cold war and the difference between East and West has been the difference over Germany. Therefore, if we are going to get a real settlement, as we all desire, it must be a settlement which includes some negotiation about Germany.
What has the Prime Minister to say about Germany today? I am not quite 952 sure what was the diplomatic motive for saying it, but he paid a great tribute to Dr. Adenauer. He welcomed him to this country, and I do not know whether this was said in order to appeal to France, but he added that Dr. Adenauer was the greatest German statesman since Bismarck. It seems a most extraordinary utterance. I seem to remember that even the British Governments of those days had some quarrels with Bismarck, and looking at the matter now we should certainly have some quarrels today about the action he took.
I do not know how the Prime Minister expected this statement to be received in France, but I think he ought to brush up some of his history. We know that some of his history about the last war, and particularly about Rommel, is going a little wide of the mark, but we thought that when he went back later into history he would get better. Apparently that is not the process at all, and now the right hon. Gentleman is throwing the mantle of apology not merely over the shoulders of Rommel but over those of Bismarck as well. Before we know where we are we shall be going back to great democratic heroes like Frederick the Great.
But there is another point of view in connection with the Prime Minister dealing with these matters in this way. There is to be a general election in Germany fairly soon, and perhaps the Prime Minister might like to read what some German people think of Dr. Adenauer. He will see it in today's "The Times." Perhaps those Germans might think that the comparison with Bismarck is very appropriate, because the charge made by Herr Ollenhauer over the week-end was that Dr. Adenauer is overriding a basic law of the Republic, and establishing a system or seeking to establish a system more bureaucratic than democratic. That would be very Bismarckian.
§ Mr. Foot
If the hon. Gentleman would study Bismarck he will see that the bureaucracy which he established was slightly different from the bureaucracy which others have sometimes established in their countries. I do not think that that was a very relevant interruption in any case.
953 The statement of Herr Ollenhauer in Germany over the week-end dealt with exactly the same point with which the Prime Minister dealt in his speech today; because the Prime Minister, in his references to Dr. Adenauer, was not merely going out of his way to pay a tribute to him, but was also saying that the whole plan for E.D.C., the whole plan for building Western defence, should go ahead in precisely the same terms that had been laid down before we had any of these latest developments in the Soviet Union.
The Prime Minister could have made the statements that he made about Germany today six months ago—indeed, he did make them six months ago. Apparently nothing is to be altered in our attitude to Germany by the changes which have taken place in Russia in recent weeks. That is the view of the Prime Minister. Let us take the view of Herr Ollenhauer, the leader of a great party in Germany today, maybe the Prime Minister of Germany in the not distant future. He said:… a four-Power conference on Germany … could not come a day too soon.He went on:It was irresponsible at such a moment that efforts should be made finally to ratify the treaties—an act which could only have a crippling effect on bringing about four-Power negotiations.That is the opinion of a responsible leader of Germany in which he says that the kind of proposals which the Prime Minister has advocated here today could have a crippling effect on bringing about a four-Power conference. Herr Ollenhauer went on to say:No government of a part of Germany has the right to bind, by treaty commitments, a future all-German government. …This is what I understand is the proposal of Her Majesty's Government, that despite the new possibilities of a four-Power conference, we are to go ahead with the E.D.C. Treaties, go ahead with the plans for Western defence as if nothing had changed or altered. This is a hopeless proposition.
If anybody thinks that we can have successful four-Power negotiations with the Russians regarding Europe and the future of Germany on the basis of saying to the Russians, "Now you must agree to free elections in East Germany, 954 but we are going ahead with the proposal that the whole of that Germany, when it is united, shall still remain incorporated in the Western defence system," which is what Dr. Adenauer wants and insists upon; if anybody thinks that is a reasonable basis for negotiation with the Russians, he must be living in a mad world.
Therefore there is a direct contradiction between the moving appeal of the Prime Minister for a four-Power conference, or some conference at a high level and the proposals that he himself was making only a few minutes earlier in his own speech. Altogether we should not merely seek by every means in our power to secure a Korean armistice; not merely should we wish to see this country taking the lead to prepare the ground for the inclusion of China on the Security Council; not merely should we take steps to prevent the Americans from pushing us into a counter-revolutionary war in Indo-China; but this country should also take the lead in putting forward sane proposals for negotiations about Germany, recognising that if we are to take full advantage of the changes that have taken place in Russia we shall also have to make some changes in our policy too, and that we shall have to recognise that some concessions will have to come from our side.
I believe that it is of vital importance for us to do this because this change has taken place, possibly because of discussions which have occurred inside the ruling circle of the Kremlin. Possibly they have said, "We cannot risk going on with the courses that we were pursuing before. That might push the world into a world war. Therefore we have to draw back and seek out new courses." And possibly they have been encouraged in that change of policy by discussions they have had with the Chinese Government. The Chinese Government may have said, "Whatever we may have thought about the Korean war before, the bloodshed has been so great and our desire to rebuild our country and to industrialise it is so urgent, that we must end this war."
Therefore, perhaps as a result of discussions between the Chinese and the Russians, there has been a change in Soviet policy. If that is so. we must do 955 everything in our power to make use of it because, if such a change of policy in the Kremlin met with a rebuff, if it met with a solid refusal to consider any possibility of changes of policy on our part, then who again inside the Kremlin would get up and raise a voice on behalf of a policy favouring some form of sane negotiation and co-operation?
Therefore, I believe that the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government at this hour cannot be exaggerated. I approve the warm terms of some of the general statements of the Prime Minister, but what he has now to do is to apply those general statements to the detailed policies that are to be followed in Korea, in Germany and elsewhere. If he will do that he can help to lead the world at this hour, but if he thinks we can go on with the old policies unchanged, then he will have missed one of the greatest opportunities in history.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
It would not have required much intelligent anticipation to guess beforehand most of the points in the speech to which we have just listened. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) was, of course, pro-Egyptian so far as the Canal Zone negotiations were concerned. He was anti-French so far as the troubles in Indo-China were concerned. He was anti-American so far as the peace negotiations in Korea were concerned. Moving to Germany he was naturally anti-Adenauer. I was not quite certain where he stood in relation to the French and I cannot honestly say from listening to his speech, much as I enjoyed it, that anything very constructive came out of it.
We all welcomed the speech of the Prime Minister and particularly the good news he gave us of the improved situation in Indo-China. Of course it is anybody's guess as to whether it was coincidence that the temperature dropped in Korea at the same time as it rose and then fell again in Indo-China. But the threat was serious. We all hope that the improvement in Indo-China will be maintained, for although the war in Indo-China is at the moment purely a French responsibility, if French resistance in Indo-China were to collapse, the threat to Siam, to Burma and to Malaya would be only too obvious.
956 So also would be the results. Siam is the rice bowl of South-East Asia and upon the rice produced by Siam the standard of living and the economic level of millions of human beings depends. Also, supposing the events in Indo-China were part of a plan organised by the Kremlin —that is not certain—and if Burma were to be overrun, then even remote control of Rangoon would give the men in the Kremlin a warm-water port which the Czars often longed for but never achieved. I agreed also with what the Prime Minister said with reference to some of the difficulties in which the French find themselves. If they had had two years' National Service they could send some of their conscripts to the Far East. As it is, the drain on their regular officers and N.C.Os. is all the more severe and serious from the point of view of their capacity to maintain defence forces either in Indo-China or in Western Europe.
Turning briefly to the Canal Zone, I am not the least surprised that the negotiations have been suspended. We all appreciate General Neguib's political position. It may well be that he has been pushed into saying things which he really does not want to say. At the same time, however, he does seem to have gone out of his way, by inflammatory speeches, to create an atmosphere in which satisfactory negotiations are not possible at all. How could we conceivably accept unconditional evacuation as a starting point, unless we were to abandon all our responsibilities for the defence of the Middle East—responsibilities both to the Commonwealth and to N.A.T.O.?
I very much hope that the American Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, will emphasise that point in his visit to Egypt, where I think he arrives today. If South-East Asia is important both strategically and economically because of its rubber and rice, it is hardly necessary to remind the House that the Middle East is doubly important because of its oil.
I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Devonport say that we have no right to be in Egypt. I thought hon. Members opposite at least paid lip service to the sanctity of treaties. The hon. Member knows perfeotly well that the Treaty, freely negotiated in 1936 does not run out until 1956, and we are standing on our Treaty rights. Merely because 957 the Egyptians, for reasons best known to themselves, have abrogated unilaterally their part of the bargain, that does not put us out of court in the eyes of the world, or in the interpretation of international law.
I am not an international lawyer, but I have looked up the 1936 Treaty, and I would remind the hon. Member of two points in it. First, Article 8 in effect says that if the ability of the Egyptians to maintain the defence of the Suez Canal is in question, the dispute should be referred to the League. The League of Nations now, would presumably be taken to mean the United Nations. Then, we turn to the final part of the Treaty, Article 16, which specifically says:It is agreed that any revision of this Treaty will provide for the continuation of the alliance between the High Contracting Parties in accordance with the principles contained in Articles 4, 5, 6, and 7.I think that Article 7 is particularly relevant. Article 7 of the 1936 Treaty, which. I repeat, is still in force, says:The aid of His Majesty the King of Egypt in the event of war, imminent menace of war, or apprehended international emergency, will consist in furnishing His Majesty the King and Emperor on Egyptian territory in accordance with the Egyptian system of administration and legislation all the facilities and assistance in his power …and so on. I should have thought that on moral grounds and, although I am only a layman in these matters, on legal grounds also, we have every conceivable right to take the firm action which my right hon. Friend announced to the House in relation to the negotiations over the Canal Zone.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
In his study of the Treaty, has the hon. Member found any conditions as to the number of troops we can maintain in Egypt or in the Suez Canal area or under the associated areas?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I think I am quoting correctly; under the 1936 Treaty which is still in force, I think the number is 10,000. We all know it is now many times more, but I must remind hon. Members opposite that the 10,000 became 80,000 at the request of the Egyptians. That was originally due to the onslaught of Hitler and the Afrika Korps and, to a lesser extent, the onslaught of the Italians in the early days 958 of the desert campaign. That resulted in the Egyptians not only waiving all the clauses of the 1936 Treaty, but asking us to come and defend their territory. But for the British and the Commonwealth troops defending Egyptian territory, there would be no Egypt now to negotiate with anybody.
I should like to say a word or two about the so-called peace offensive. Of course we all welcome any leaves from an olive branch; it would be foolish not to do so. But I think that before we grasp the olive branch with both hands, we should make quite certain whether it is growing from a trunk or whether it is a windfall blown across by a violent internal squall which blew the Jewish doctors into prison and out again. We have had the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war, the release of internees and the release of one Embassy official. All those are steps in the right direction and are very welcome. They are small beginnings, and we hope that from them great things may come, but we do not know.
One ought to add a caveat that this is by no means the first time in the history of Russia and still less in the history of the Soviet Union, that a part of the machine has gone full speed in reverse. It happened in 1939, when the Germans were anxious to buy time and the Russians were anxious to sell it. The tactics suddenly altered. What we do not yet know is whether the objective has altered, and until we are quite certain we should be most unwise to abandon our joint defence schemes or other precautions.
I believe there is one quite simple test by which the sincerity or otherwise of this cooler breeze can be judged. That is whether or not the Austrian Treaty can be successfully concluded. The Austrian Treaty has this interesting point about it. So far as I am aware—my right hon. Friend in his reply tomorrow will no doubt correct me if I am wrong— during the long-drawn-out treaty negotiations which took place in the year before last, there was no really substantial point outstanding which ought to have wrecked the negotiations at all. There were a lot of extraneous points introduced by the Soviet representative, such as Trieste and so on, which were dragged in, but no substantial point was outstanding, save that 959 if and when an Austrian Treaty is concluded, the Soviet Union will be obliged to withdraw Soviet occupation forces from the Soviet Zone of Austria, as will the other occupying Powers.
One further step ought to follow an Austrian Treaty. The only valid reason why there are still Soviet occupation forces in either Hungary or Rumania is that under the original Agreement, the Soviet were allowed to keep troops in Hungary and Rumania to guard the line of communications to Austria. If the Austrian Treaty is settled, Soviet troops ought to go, not only from Austria, but from Rumania and Hungary as well.
If no Austrian Treaty is forthcoming, it would seem that the Soviet Union are themselves once again trying to buy time, and trying to buy it by postponing Western German rearmament, thus challenging Western unity, not perhaps at the weakest, but at the most controversial, point. I believe that a Western German contribution is essential. I thing it crazy, since we have for reasons of strategy to defend Western German territory, not to have a Western German contribution. I know that others think differently, and we understand the view taken by the French. The recent history of West German rearmament is one of the most controversial points in the structure of N.A.T.O.
If the whole question of the Western German contribution to N.A.T.O. within the E.D.C. is one of the most controversial, and, therefore, one of the weakest points in Western unity, I wish that some hon. Gentleman opposite would occasionally refrain from attacking Western unity at what ought to be the strongest point, namely, Anglo-American relations. This continual sniping at America does a great deal of harm, and the obvious reaction is that the Americans start to snipe back.
Of course, I agree that it is better to speak frankly. That is the best way to make friends. But with certain hon. Gentlemen opposite it is not just a case of speaking frankly. They never lose an opportunity of making rather acid or cynical comments, or imputing the worst motives to our American allies. I should have thought General Harrison might have been left alone for a little while trying to discover whether or not the Chinese are genuinely seeking a settlement.
960 Let us put ourselves in the position of the Americans. They have suffered more than 130,000 casualties. If it had not been for the United States there would have been no resistance in Korea at all. Had it not been for America, I do not know what sort of economic position Europe would be in today. Hon. Members opposite should know this, for when they were in office they received a lot of American assistance, and I do not know that they spent it all wisely.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
The relations between one country and another are not the sole concern of their Governments at any particular time. They are the concern of that well-known character "The man in the street." It is the duty of all of us to do our best to help the "man in the street" on both sides of the Atlantic to understand each other, because upon such mutual understanding depends the peace and the prosperity of the free world.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
This afternoon there has been fairly general agreement with the broad approach of the Prime Minister to the world scene; although, of course, there are items, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) with which everyone is not in entire agreement. I gathered from what was said by the Prime Minister that his approach was one of watchful hopefulness. He desired to proceed with a policy of firmness but, nevertheless, of conciliation, and I hope he may be right in that approach.
There are two possible interpretations of the recent happenings from the Kremlin which we have all been discussing in one form or another. One is a favourable interpretation and the other a partly unfavourable one. The favourable interpretation would be that the Russians had decided to abandon their aim to make the entire world Communist, because they thought it was incapable of fulfilment, and that, therefore, they had abandoned what I think was a genuinely held belief, that a war between the Communist and the non-Communist world was inevitable.
961 The partly unfavourable interpretation would be that their policy has not, in fact, changed at all, but only some of their methods have changed. The partly unfavourable interpretation would be that a decision had been taken in the Kremlin that the methods and practice followed in Europe during the past few years had not been achieving the desired results. Such a decision would be a tribute to our rearmament programme and the lead we gave to Europe in this whole matter.
From that it would follow that the Kremlin, in their policy of disintegrating, disuniting and destroying the countries of Europe one by one, as they had begun to do immediately after the end of the war, had run up against a growing solidity and unity of Western Europe; that they are, therefore, attempting to make a change in that policy; are trying to create disunity instead of the unity which had been created as a result of their policy over the past few years.
If that were the correct interpretation I think that the immediate result of the new overtures from Moscow have not been unsatisfactory to the men in the Kremlin. N.A.T.O. is already to some degree in danger. The Western European countries are only too anxious to reduce their armament programmes. We have already, I am afraid, lost the European Defence Community. That happened almost immediately after the first Russian moves were made.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I see that the Undersecretary is shaking his head, but I do not think he is very sanguine about the attitude of the French Parliament towards the present European Defence Community Treaty under present circumstances—certainly not until after there has been a four-Power or five-Power conference.
It may be that the partly unfavourable interpretation would lead us to suppose that the policy in Moscow was to lull us into a feeling of false security in Europe while they went on with the job of expanding the Communist Empire in Asia. But if the favourable interpretation is the correct one, all our problems are over and we need merely proceed evenly towards 962 a situation in which we shall all live in harmony together. I hope that may be the correct interpretation, but I think it would be unwise for us to do more than hope for the best while preparing for the worst, and that is the job of any Government. They should not take risks in a matter of this kind.
I wish to turn to the situation in Asia, which has not yet been discussed at great length today. I would begin by referring to a passage in that remarkable reply in "Pravda" to the speech made by President Eisenhower. This passage makes clear the Russian and Chinese intentions in Asia. It states:At the same time, the President sins against the well-known historical truth when he calls upon the leaders of the Soviet Union to use their decisive influence "—They admit it is decisive, it is their own word—in the Communist world to impede the liberation movement of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples of Asia against oppression and enslavement. It is difficult to achieve a proper understanding of international problems when national-liberation movements are regarded as the result of inspiration by some evil-thinking persons.It is clear from this passage that they have every intention of proceeding with their expansionist aims in Asia, if they feel they can get away with it, and I should like to look for a moment at the particular problem of Indo-China which has been little considered here, and, I think, little understood.
In my view, the invasion of Laos was quite a new departure altogether and not merely an extension of the war in Indo-China. There were two new features in the fighting in Laos. The first was that although Russia and China had recognised the Viet Minh forces as the Government of Viet Nam they had never recognised them as being the Government either of Laos or Cambodia. The recognition given by Russia and China was only accorded so far as Viet Nam was concerned.
The second new feature in the invasion of Laos was that it was accompanied by a growing and swelling of the Free Thai movement which has been in preparation for some time. This Free Thai liberation movement appeals to the sentiments of the Thais living in those parts of the world and is a convenient method for the Communists to use in trying to get guerrillas and others to fight in Laos. 963 Not only are there Thais in Laos and in Cambodia but they have set up a That autonomous Government under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party in Yunnan. There are also a large number of Thais in Burma. In fact, the entire population of the Shan States are Thais. There are Thais in the northern States of Malaya; and the population of Thailand —which will be no surprise even to hon. Members who take no interest in South-East Asia—is largely Thai. The ominous feature is clearly that the movement need not be confined to liberating Laos, should the occasion warrant a little later. The appeal to Thai racial sentiment generally is very considerable.
We do not know what their intentions are for the immediate future in that part of the world, but although they have withdrawn from the approaches to the capital of Laos, that does not mean that the intended invasion of Laos has been abandoned. It may be that the Chinese thought is was an inauspicious moment to press on with an invasion which has caused a good deal of comment and alarm in the rest of the world while truce negotiations were going on in Korea. It may be that the rainy season drove them back. But in either event I think the Prime Minister adopted a very airy and optimistic attitude towards this problem; he glanced off it and behaved as if we need not bother to consider it at all.
When he came to consider the central issue of the problem of Indo-Cina, which is one which has always been dodged in this House, he merely advised the French to have two years' conscription and to send their conscripts to Indo-China, which would not be a very helpful way of ending the dispute in Indo-China.
In the first place, it must be understood that if the Communists conquered the whole of Indo-China it would not be very long before Siam changed her form of government. After all, Nai Pridi, who is the alternative to the present Prime Minister, now in his place in Bangkok, is in hiding. For all we know he may be with the Chinese Communists, taking part in the preparations for this Free Thai movement which is now beginning to come into the open in South-East Asia. He may be using the prestige which he acquired as leader of the genuine Free Thai movement during 964 the war he led—not very vigorously, perhaps, but in some degree—against the Japanese occupation and there may in that way be a deliberate confusion of the two sorts of Free Thai movement.
If Siam goes, it may well be that Burma would not for very long be able to withstand the pressure which might be brought by Communist China, because the ingredients for Chinese intervention in Burma are all there. We should remember that the Communists always like to follow a ritual before they intervene in any country. There has to be some national liberation movement, and they make a play of forming some sort of so-called democratic People's Government or something like that.
The ingredients are suitable in Burma. First of all, we have the Chinese Nationalist troops there, about which we have done shamefully little. We have never succeeded in getting the Americans to persuade Chiang Kai-Ssek to withdraw them or even to stop sending them supplies. It is a fearful thing for a small country like Burma to have sitting in it some 12,000 or 20,000 heavily armed Chinese Nationalist troops, being supplied from Formosa, getting their supplies in turn from America, without Britain or America apparently being able to do anything about it.
It is impossible to expect people in the East to believe that if we wanted to get rid of these troops we could not do so. It may be that there are difficulties, but I do not believe that very much vigour has been applied to this problem. Here is a first-class excuse for the intervention of the Chinese Communists in Burma at any time they want to intervene. All they have to have is a so-called People's Government of Burma setting up its flag in a village in Northern Burma, in the Shan States, and to have a few disaffected Shans, all making an appeal for help for liberation against the Anglo-American imperialists who they would say were dominating Burma; for they could say, "Here is the proof; there are the Chinese Nationalist troops sitting in Burma as their agents." That is all that needs to happen, and we shall have lost Burma.
At the same time, if Indo-China is conquered undoubtedly the feeling among the Chinese in Malaya, which has of late been moving towards support of the recognised Government of Malaya, 965 will begin to move away once more. The Chinese in Malaya will feel that if Indo-China is lost, it will certainly be the turn of Malaya next and that nothing can be done to stop the fall of Malaya. If they feel that, they will not be prepared to put themselves in the rather dangerous position of having openly supported the forces of authority in trying to deal with the Communist bandits there.
The picture for us all in that part of the world is grim if Indo-China falls to the Communists. It is a grim picture for India, too, because infiltration from Burma into India would be very simple and disaffection could easily be stirred up and could lead to enormous trouble inside India. We cannot ignore the fact that while we want a truce in Korea, and peace in Korea, for obvious reasons, the Chinese may have equally valid reasons for wanting a truce. After all, peace in Korea would release many hundreds of thousands of their troops who could be used to apply pressure in other parts of South-East Asia, in areas, from their point of view, more profitable. It may well be that that is part of the reason why there are so keen on getting a truce in Korea.
Another factor which counts against us is that once the American troops have left Korea—whatever we may say about the rashness and fool-hardiness of some American actions—I do not believe it will be possible for the American Administration, in the present climate in America, to get troops, once brought home from Korea, sent to any other part of South-East Asia in a hurry. There would be tremendous feeling among the American public. There was great feeling during the Presidential election, as I saw when I was there; there was a tremendous welling up of feeling to get the soldiers home and not sent abroad again.
This, I think, is our problem: if Indo-China goes completely over to the Communists, the whole position in South-East Asia will be completely changed. How can we prevent Indo-China from going over to the Communists? Indo-China is the greatest tragedy which has occurred since the end of the war—eight years of tragedy. It arose from the French following exactly the policy which the present Prime Minister wanted us to follow in Burma and in India. It arose 966 from a refusal on the part of the French to hand over power in time to people who were capable of administering a Government at the time. They have delayed until they have made such a tangle of the situation that they have put us all into an extremely difficult position.
Lately, the French have made genuine advances towards self-government in the three principal countries of Indo-China, but they are only advances towards self-government; they have not yet gone as far as self-government itself. They still have a Commissioner-General in charge of the Associated States in Indo-China and French authority is the final word in every important matter of administration throughout the whole of Indo-China today. I can understand the feeling of the French in that they have lost many lives in Indo-China fighting what has now in a sense become a common war of all of us, but they have not yet gone anywhere near as far as they should have gone in granting self-government.
In Viet Nam today the tendency is for those who count themselves patriotic to believe that they will be more effective in fighting for the independence of their country if they fight the French than if they fight Ho Chi Minh, who is aided by the Chinese. That is the general feeling in Viet Nam today. It is true that the Viet Namese Army has some 200,000 trained troops, which, I believe, are quite efficient, but in the main the French do not allow those troops to be used in the front line. They do not entrust them with the conduct of campaigns. In fact, they use them very much as line of communication troops.
This is not simply my own opinion of French policy in Indo-China. When M. Reynaud came back from a visit to Indo-China the other day he said exactly the same thing; he said that the French must create a situation in Indo-China in which the Viet Namese took over the fighting from the French, but they have not been allowed to do so. even though the Viet Namese Government have asked to be allowed to take it over.
What we have to do in Indo-China is to reverse the present situation. We have to create conditions in which the Viet Namese will feel that they are fighting for their independence—not against the French, because the French are a failing factor in South-East Asia, and 967 must inevitably go out at some point— but against Ho Chi Minh, aided by the Chinese Communists, because that is really the ultimate threat to their independence. It does not come from the French at all, but from the Chinese Communists. The Chinese and the Indo-Chinese have been fighting for about 2,500 years, and the Indo-Chinese have maintained independence against the Chinese, roughly speaking, except for a short interval since 1862, when the French went there.
What we have to try to persuade the Viet Namese to recognise is that the real enemy are the Chinese Communists. How can we do that? We can only do it if the French are willing progressively to hand over the administration of the country to the Viet Namese Government, and also to hand over to them the conduct of the war, and if they themselves should actually withdraw their own troops. It may be said that it would be dangerous for the French to withdraw their own troops, and that, if they did, the whole front would collapse. I think that if they withdrew all their troops at once and immediately, that would be true, but I believe that they can afford to withdraw them over a period of up to two years and replace them by Viet-Namese troops.
As far as the actual military power of Viet Nam is concerned, the Viet Namese army will have 450,000 troops by the end of 1954. Ho Chi Minh has only 300,000, and if Viet Nam has obtained a clear moral victory against the French, so that they have withdrawn their troops, the prestige of Viet Nam would go up very much, so that the effect on the whole military situation would be really very considerable. Indeed, I think it might make all the difference. I think we have the right to say to the French that we think they should now leave Indo-China and make up their minds to follow a practical course of this kind, because it would not only be in the interests of the French themselves—because the French are getting nothing out of this, but merely losing lives and money. The settlers are now leaving Indo-China, and there is no possibility of reconstituting the old French dominion in Indo-China.
I think we have to persuade the French that they should do as we did in India, 968 that it will be to their own benefit as well as to ours, and we have a right to say that. We can sympathise with the French and their feelings about being a Pacific Power and all the honour and glory of that position, but we should tell them that it is not such a bad thing to have a relationship with a country like India such as we have today, and that they might well find themselves far better off to have Indo-China in a voluntary Commonwealth with them rather than in this rigid strait-jacket of the French Union, which does not, in fact, give genuine independence.
Meanwhile, we have to continue to supply the Viet Namese forces and the French with arms, because we cannot allow Indo-China to be taken over by the Communists, and we have to continue to do that until such time as we have a Far Eastern conference at which all these matters can be settled, or until such time as the Viet Namese are themselves able to carry on their own defence because one of the courses such as I have indicated has been followed.
I do not agree that this is a matter which should be taken to U.N.O. I think the Prime Minister is living in a fantasy if he believes that we could get a favourable vote in U.N.O. today on the Indo-Chinese question, when all the countries of Asia, the Arab States and many Eupropean countries are feeling extremely uneasy about what is happening there. I should not have thought that it was a very happy issue to take to U.N.O., from our point of view, and I should not have thought, either, that the French would very much care for it, because of the difficulty of defining what the issue is about. They would have to complain about the intervention of a country which they say does not exist—Viet Minh— against another country which more than half the world has not recognised, anyway, so that there would be two nonexistent countries having a dispute in U.N.O., which would be one of the strangest issues ever debated even in that remarkable institution.
If we can get the situation reversed in Viet Nam, we shall have a hope that India might recognise the Viet Namese Government. This is of crucial importance for South-East Asia. Our policy for South-East Asia must largely be based on what India feels are her own interests, 969 because what are India's interests are also our interests. India will not recognise Viet Nam today, because she does not believe that it is a genuinely independent Government. If the course which I have described were followed, India would be able to feel that it was an independent Government and would be able to recognise it.
South-East Asia can only be saved from Chinese Communist domination if India takes the lead in that area and induces the countries in South-Asia to adopt, in their own self-defence, the same sort of policy which we have had to adopt for our self-protection in Europe. What is needed is a conference of the South-East Asian countries, which I hope will be called by India, and from which might go forth a non-aggressive statement which would warn China that, should the integrity of Burma, Siam or any other country of South-East Asia be threatened by China, then each country in South-East Asia would feel itself to be involved.
If that were to happen, there would be a lessening of the rather depressing compartmentalism which exists in South-East Asia today, in which the members of one country do not always take very much interest in the affairs of another. It would make it possible for Britain, America and U.N.O. to back up any country which was attacked in this way—and at once. It would serve as a warning to Communist China that local adventures, such as the extension of the Free Thai movement into Burma, would be regarded as in the nature of an act of war and bring the whole world in, and that would mean that the Chinese would then not do anything of the kind.
We cannot expect India to take this kind of lead in South-East Asia so long as people in India and Pakistan and the other countries of South-East Asia feel that the West has not yet done everything that it should have done, and reasonably could have done, to make sure that the Chinese do not have any reasonable grievances. One of the difficulties of persuading the South-East Asian countries to get together in their own interests and for their own protection is that they have, at the moment, an uneasy feeling that the West, and parti- 970 cularly the Americans, have not behaved as fairly as they ought to have done by China. I know that the Chinese have behaved very badly, and I do not think that anyone would accuse me of trying to make concessions to them in Korea, but, nevertheless, we have to see that in South-East Asia there is no trace of colonialism in our approach to the countries of that area. If we address ourselves to that problem, perhaps we shall get somewhere.
It would mean that, after we had got a truce in Korea, we should have to see that China gets her seat on the Security Council, because our claim has been that the Chinese should not have a seat on the Security Council so long as Chinese forces were fighting against us and against the forces of the United Nations. After a truce, they will not be, and therefore, the factor which, quite rightly, prevented us from continuing canvassing for China having a seat on the Security Council will have gone, and we shall be able to start again.
Again, we have to see that Formosa is dealt with reasonably and sensibly. I do not know what the exact form of the solution should be, but it certainly cannot be one in which the Americans continue to sponsor this idiotic Government of Chiang Kai-shek, to supply it with arms and to use it themselves as a kind of auxiliary military base. Those are two major questions which we must get rid of before we can expect India and the countries of South-East Asia to take coherent action for their own self-protection.
One of the troubles is that American public opinion is vehemently against and will remain vehemently against the admission of China to the Security Council for some time to come, even after a truce in Korea has been reached. I do not think that many American politicians would dare stand up after a truce and advocate the admission of China to the Security Council. This is one of the reasons which makes America, in some ways, almost as great a danger to peace as Russia can be. Of course, this is so in a very small way compared with the vast number of ways in which Russia and China menace peace. It is a situation which means that just when we are on the point of getting some toning down of asperities, this rather insensitive and un- 971 comprehending view of the world is taken an America which puts up everybody's back and loses support in the area where one needs it most.
If America continues to take this view, we should assert ourselves with the other countries of the Commonwealth and of Europe and be prepared to vote down the Americans at U.N.O., because that is the only way that we shall then get China on to the Security Council. We should say to the Americans after the truce that we want to create such conditions in South-East Asia as will make people want to be on the Western side, and that we cannot do that if they remain adamant.
We understand the U.S. Administration's difficulties about the admission of China to the Security Council, but the rest of the world matters just as much as Republican opinion in America, and, therefore, if necessary, we shall have to take this step of voting them down. If the Americans wished to apply the veto that would be a very grave responsibility for them to take and would put them in much the same position as the Russians. I think it perfectly possible for Britain to take the lead in this matter and to secure the admission of China to the Security Council.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
The hon. Gentleman keeps on using the word "truce." Does he not think that it would be necessary to have a final peace settlement in Korea, and that a truce would not do?
§ Mr. Wyatt
I follow the hon. Gentleman's point, but the difficulty about waiting for a final peace is that it may take a very long time to obtain. There are so many problems associated with the future of Korea, the unification of Korea and so on, that I do not think we could wait for the peace. It might be four or five years before we got it. That is why I say that the conditions which prevented us from going on supporting the claim of Communist China to a seat on the Security Council, which was that she was fighting against the United Nations, will have been fulfilled when the truce is achieved.
I believe that in Asia we are in terrible peril, indeed, that the whole of the 972 free world is in terrible peril there, and that people in this country and we in this House are taking very little notice of it. I am sorry to say this to the Undersecretary of State, who, I think, is a very efficient and amiable Member of his Government, but it is extremely unfortunate that we have the present Government in office at the moment because this is one area which they do not understand at all.
The Prime Minister, through trying to hold up the independence of India, Pakistan and Burma, has really not done any good and has made it exceedingly difficult for us to get their support in activities of the kind I have mentioned. In my view, the right hon. Gentleman is quite unable to distinguish between a Nationalist and a Communist in South-East Asia, and certainly his attitude towards Asia at Question time occasionally reaches the point of flippancy and makes one think that he is prepared to write off the whole area.
I am afraid I have spoken rather longer than I intended and have kept only to the problems of South-East Asia. Before I conclude, however. I wish to say a couple of words about a problem which I think is related. We have the responsibility of urging the French to do the right thing in Indo-China. In return, we ought at least to help them in Europe, which we have consistently not done either under the present Government or, I regret to say, even under my own Government. The time has now come when the European Army concept will collapse altogether unless Britain does something about it.
We should say to the French that if they do not like the present European Defence Community scheme—and I can see why they do not like it—we are prepared to take the initiative in putting forward proposals for something which would be halfway between the E.D.C. setup, as at present envisaged, and the present N.A.T.O. arrangement—something on which we could all compromise— which would enable the French, the Germans and ourselves to come in on it.
I think this is important in the context of world peace. It would not be inconsistent with the Commonwealth for us to be strong in Europe and to take a leading part in the making of policy in 973 Europe. The stronger we can make ourselves in Europe and the stronger and more coherent we can make the Commonwealth, the better it is going to be for all the countries of the free world. We must build up our Commonwealth and European connections in order to be in a position, not only to resist any aggression which might come from China or Russia, but so as to be able to make joint, emphatic and effective representations to America when we wish to do so instead of being brushed aside as has so often been the case in the past. If we can have our representation backed by most of the other countries of the free world, then it is much more likely that we shall achieve what we want, and if the Americans are reluctant to provide conciliation when it is needed we can see that it is provided.
The Prime Minister spoke very eloquently and movingly this afternoon about the possibility of peace which might arise from a Four-Power Conference. He said that at worst the four countries would have made intimate contact with each other, and that at best we might get lasting conditions of peace. But what are we waiting for now? Are we waiting for the Americans to say that they are willing to have it, because I thought that the omission of any reference to America in certain parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was very significant. If the Americans are holding up the arrangements for this conference, cannot the right hon. Gentleman take the initiative, on behalf of this country and of the Commonwealth, and see that the arrangements for the conference are made; when the Americans will have the choice of either accepting the invitation or of not attending.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
For the most part the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) dealt in detail with the problems in South-East Asia and, in particular, in French Indo-China. I wondered what particular Department in France the hon. Gentleman represented, because it was such an excellent speech that it might have been delivered in the Chamber of Deputies, but it did not appear to have a very close relationship to the matters which concern the House today.
I have listened over the years to a great many speeches delivered by the Prime 974 Minister, but I regard the speech that he delivered this afternoon as one of the greatest that he has ever delivered, and that is saying a very great deal. He is such a master of English and a master of phrase, and he has such a wide knowledge of the world and its affairs, that his speech, in its approach, in its matter, and in its sentiment left nothing to be desired. What is the great matter which concerns us all? I know that the Prime Minister sensed the desire for peace which is in the heart and mind of everyone, and that he expressed that wish in regard to it. He dealt with the one and only matter that overrides everything else: how can we best and most quickly put an end to the cold war?
Such speeches as I have listened to since he spoke seemed to be pin-pricking in regard to certain aspects of affairs in certain parts of the world. They are not going to help to bring the leaders of the great countries of the world together, which is what we are so anxious to do. I remember only too well the breakdown of the Conference of Foreign Ministers, the final breakdown in November, 1947. Two or three of us ventured to write immediately afterwards to "The Times," in December, 1947, expressing the hope that that was not the end of negotiations.
We realised that what had so often happened was that those negotiations between Foreign Ministers, important as they were, and represented as we were so excellently by Mr. Ernest Bevin, broke down because of the attempts that were being made all the time to fall back upon legal arguments—what was agreed at Yalta, at Berlin—and thereupon the disputes just went on. We thought at that time that the only way in which the world could be saved from this bickering was by putting all those things on one side and for the leaders themselves to come together, that they should brush all that has happened in the past on one side and say, "Here are the great problems facing humanity. Let us settle them once for all."
How often have we, and especially my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), put the Question to the Prime Minister, "When does the Prime Minister consider that the moment has arrived to repeat the offer which he made at Edinburgh in November, 1950, to make 975 a move to bring together the great leaders?" To my regret, on all occasions the Prime Minister has rather brushed that Question on one side and has said, "The time is not yet." The great thing that has happened today is that the Prime Minister has come down definitely, and has said, "I agree that this is the right way. Let us meet, and only a few of us." How right he is. He says in effect, "Do not be hampered by too many experts around you, each one raising one little point and another expert meeting it with another little point."
What is obviously wanted is for the big statesmen, the really big men who have the fate of humanity in their hands, to come together. Let the leading representatives of the Kremlin—I do not know who they are today—let the President of the United States and let our own Prime Minister meet. Let our Prime Minister speak not only in the name of this country but in the even greater name of the Commonwealth itself, carrying with him the assent of all the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth. Then there will be a new hope arising, such a hope that I do not think the peoples of the world would allow it to be disappointed.
Therefore, this is not the moment to enter into details, to stress this or that matter, to call attention to difficulties which may arise in one country or another. How will that help? Would it help if the Kremlin should be told now, "Be careful; there may be somebody or some body of opinion in America that will strongly oppose that. It is not worth your while going. Don't enter into conference. It will break down before you start." That is not the right way to bring about what we all desire—a meeting which will bring about peace.
May I emphasise another appeal which the Prime Minister made today in really moving terms? He obviously had great difficulty in controlling his emotions at times. One of his points was his reference to Russia. As he was speaking today I recalled that famous broadcast of his that was made to Russia when Russia was attacked by Hitler. How readily he now says, "I understand. You are a part of the human race. You are just ordinary people as we are. You 976 have fears and it is very necessary in any agreement that will be made that those fears shall be abolished once and for all. I will approach this conference with that in my mind." That is the greatest advance that has yet been made by the free countries towards the Communists.
Let me say another thing. It has been pointed out, especially by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), what differences there are at the present time in Germany. If the conference comes about, and if perchance it can agree upon the main general principles, can there be any doubt whatsoever what the future of Germany will be, or the future of Poland, Czechoslovakia or any one of those countries? A new situation will at once arise. Therefore, is it helpful in the slightest degree to call attention now to the difficulties of the present time in our present circumstances and conditions, and to call attention to what is happening in Germany or elsewhere?
The true attitude with regard to Germany and France was the one in which the Prime Minister referred in such moving terms to the desire for France and Germany to work together. How often has it been remarked what a different world it would have been if those countries had worked together, instead of being at war with terrible sacrifices made on both sides, and if those two countries, powerful as they are, had been able to co-operate together instead of fighting one another in 1870, 1914 and 1939. What a future, with their co-operation, lies before the new Europe where, instead of divisions and boundaries keeping people apart, an effort is made to throw those boundaries on one side and to treat the people of Europe as one people, as Europeans, rather than as separate races. Those are the matters which seem to me to deserve the attention and support of this House.
If I may refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Aston, whom I am sorry to see is not now in his place, I would say that it is perfectly possible that the people of Asia must work out their own destinies, and we, more than anybody, have shown an example to all in our treatment of India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma. It is an example which stands before the world. What more can we do except, by our example, suggest to 977 other countries that they might follow it with advantage, not only to the people of Asia but to themselves as well?
The time for Imperialism has gone. The French approached colonial matters in a different way from us. Their idea was to make all the people within French territories into good Frenchmen, and they accomplished one thing which we did not achieve—they abolished the colour bar. But I wish that they would also realise that the matter does not rest there, and that all these people have ambitions for their countries and for their own lives. However, we can do no more than set an example.
I turn now to the Middle East. That is an area which has had a tremendous influence, an influence far greater than its size would suggest, upon the history of the world for hundreds of years. It is situated between the three mighty continents, Asia, Africa and Europe. Great as has been its influence on all three in the past, I believe that with proper guidance and a proper spirit it can have a greater influence in the future. But, to say the least, the position there is insecure; and if the people there go on as they have gone on during past centuries, and are going on at the moment, then, instead of helping themselves and other peoples, they will merely be a hindrance.
I do not want to ascribe blame to any one. The hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke) spoke of the antagonism of the Arabs towards us. It seems to me that the only unity that exists among them today is their unity in expressing antagonism towards us and their hatred of Israel. I ask them to remember that this old country, this amazing people, made tremendous sacrifices in 1914–18 which brought independence to the Arabs for the first time for centuries. We, more than anybody else, are responsible for creating eight new Arab States that had not known independence for centuries.
Until 1918 and throughout the period from 1914 they were practically the slaves of the Turks and were governed from Constantinople by the Sultan. So was Egypt. We, also, more than anybody else, by our influence on France, created Syria and the Lebanon. There are also Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, the Yemen and Jordan; and, in North Africa, Libya and 978 Cyrenaica, which, as far as I know, had never known independence. They owe pretty nearly everything to the amazing people of this country.
And where would the Egyptians have been but for the sacrifices made by this country? It is all very well for the hon. Member for Devonport to talk about the 1882 war being fought on behalf of bondholders. We saved Egypt and brought to her all that has helped to maintain even the standard of life that she has today. My only regret is that we did not interfere more, so as to do away with the situation where there was enormous wealth in the hands of the few and terrible poverty in the hands of the many.
Where would have been the irrigation, but for what this country has done? What would have happened to Egypt in the First World War if the Kaiser had succeeded, or if either Hitler or Mussolini had won the last war? Does Egypt think she would have been free today? There would have been no independent Egypt. I would ask the leaders of all these countries to remember those things.
There is one country which is grateful to us—and again the Prime Minister mentioned it with deep emotion—and that is Israel. Her people have done extraordinary work. With a land of only about 800,000 acres—about twice the size of my own county of Montgomery—Israel has, in four years, taken in a million refugees from all parts of the world and has given them work on the land. She has built houses, made about 400 miles of new roads in four years, widened another 400 miles and brought water hundreds of miles. That is a measure of her energy and drive.
It is said, "Look at the refugees in the Arab countries." Our deepest sympathies go out to them, but what have the Arab countries done to assist in solving that problem compared with what Israel has done in solving her problem of a million refugees coming from North Africa, Yemen and other places, and getting them to work? The hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West said that Israel broke into Arab territory. What happened? The Arabs made an attack, north-east and south, upon Israel. They were defeated and, as they were defeated, they went away. The need in that part of the world is for complete peace and understanding, and then co-operation. I 979 know that the Israel Government need it more than anybody else and are anxious for it.
Do not let us go through all these matters again. Let us begin from here and now. If we do, I know that the people of Israel, with all their tremendous energy and drive, will be of great assistance to the Arab countries, not only economically but in giving them the scientific assistance which will make a world of difference. Those are only matters which the Prime Minister rightly emphasised—and for what purpose?—the need for all the world to try to forget the injuries and sacrifices of the past; to bring us all together so that we may cooperate and establish what everybody needs—peace on earth, permanently.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Wakefield (Derbyshire, West)
The range of this debate can be summed up in the words of Dr. Johnson:Let observation, with extensive view,Survey mankind from China to Peru.The Prime Minister, in fact, conducted us on a tour around the earth, and the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has also covered a very wide field. I hope he will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail in his excursus but concentrate upon a part of the world which is approximately midway between China and Peru.
I want to refer particularly to the Sudan, which was the subject of an Agreement between Britain and Egypt about three months ago. Since that Agreement was signed there has been no opportunity of discussing it in this House. In my view the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement on the Sudan represents a very considerable diplomatic achievement, because it reconciles, at least on paper, two objectives in regard to the future of the Sudan which are really in direct conflict —the British objective and the Egyptian objective. When I say that it reconciles on paper those objectives what I mean is that by a number of ingenious formulae it conceals the essential differences in British and Egyptian policies for the Sudan.
The agreed objective is self-government by the Sudanese, followed by the right to exercise self-determination. But those 980 are mere words—self-government, self-determination. What matters is the content of those words. The British desire is that self-government in the Sudan should be not merely nominal but effective. We desire that the Sudanese political leaders should themselves control the destinies of their country. Self-government means control of the internal administration. We desire that the control of that administration should be held firmly in Sudanese hands, and that the administration should continue to be peaceful, orderly and effective.
We know that such administration is not possible without a continuation of the services of British officials in the Sudan. It is not possible, if the services of British judges, British police, British engineers, British doctors, etc., are lost, for anything like the present level of administrative efficiency to be maintained. We can be absolutely certain that a continuance of sound administration in the Sudan is possible only if British administrative personnel are retained there.
Self-determination means the right of a country to choose its external relationships, and British policy again is that the Sudanese right to self-determination should be not merely nominal but effective, for there is all the difference in the world between achieving technical independence and maintaining actual independence. In August, 1947, for example, the State of Hyderabad in India achieved what was theoretically independence, but within a very short period of time it had been absorbed in a neighbouring country. It was not able to maintain its independence. There is a real distinction between nominal and effective independence; and it is the British policy and objective that Sudanese independence should be effective and not merely nominal.
I think that British policy is in marked contrast with Egyptian objectives in the Sudan. In the past Egypt has claimed to control the Sudan. That claim was based on three grounds. The first was historic right. One need not attach great importance to that. In 1821 Mohammed Ali, who was then the Governor-General of Egypt, conquered a large part of the Sudan, and for 63 years there was Egyptian domination of the Sudan, but misrule was such that the wretched Sudanese eventually revolted, with consequences that we all know. That 981 "historic" right, in the eyes of anyone unprejudiced, does not confer much right on Egypt now.
The second ground on which Egypt has claimed the right to dominate the Sudan is that of racial unity. That again is a wholly illusory ground. Anyone who has travelled down the Valley of the Nile from the Mediterranean to the lakes of Central Africa knows how fantastic it is to suggest that there is any kind of racial unity there.
The third ground has substance, and it is the importance to Egypt of the upper waters of the Nile Valley. Egypt has a legitimate interest in the disposition of those waters. I do not think that that interest gives Egypt a claim to domination of the Sudan, but it does give Egypt a genuine interest in the future status of the Sudan.
British policy, as I have said, looks forward to a strong and independent Sudan. But because Egypt would be frightened of a strong Sudan, which might be so strong that it could use its control of the upper waters of the Nile as a bargaining counter, Egypt's policy is directed to weakening the Sudan both internally and externally. I do not make that assertion without some evidence. To indicate that I am not exaggerating I want to draw the attention of the House to the proposals made by Egypt in their note of 2nd November, 1952. This is in relation to the particular question of the Sudanese right to self-determination.
This was the Egyptian proposal:Deciding the future of The Sudan shall be made: (a) either by the Constituent Assembly choosing to link up The Sudan with Egypt in any form: or (b) by the Assembly choosing a Sudan completely independent of the United Kingdom, Egypt or any other country.In other words, Egypt proposed that there should be two alternatives before the Sudan: either it should link up with Egypt, or else it should be, not independent, but isolated, which is something very different from independence.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
The hon. Gentleman will remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary did not agree with that interpretation.
§ Mr. Wakefield
If the right hon. Gentleman will wait for a moment, I am coming to that point. The quotation I 982 made was from the Egyptian proposal of 2nd November, 1952. The Foreign Secretary declined to accept those words, which would have severely limited the Sudanese right to exercise self-determination.
In the final Agreement, the phrase used is quite different. It says:The future of the Sudan shall be decided either: (a) by the Constituent Assembly choosing to link the Sudan with Egypt in any form, or (b) by the Constituent Assembly choosing complete independence.In other words, the British Government have refused to accept the limitations that Egypt would have placed on the exercise by the Sudanese of their right to self-determination.
That, I suggest, is indicative of the different way in which Britain and Egypt approach the future of the Sudan. The difference is not only in relation to the exercise of self-determination. It exists also in relation to the Sudanese right to self-government. As I have said before, we know that Sudanese self-government cannot be effective without the help of British administrative personnel. The Egyptian Government also know that. It is for that reason that they have attempted to secure in the Agreement with Britain that all British personnel should be withdrawn within three years.
The actual wording of the Agreement which was signed is that:The duties of the Sudanisation Committee shall be to complete the Sudanisation of the Administration, the Police, the Sudan Defence Force, and any other Government post that may affect the freedom of the Sudanese at the time of Self-Determination.It goes on:The Sudanisation Committee shall complete its duties within a period not exceeding three years.I do not know how literally those words are to be taken, nor am I quite certain whether the Sudanisation Committee is to have absolute power in deciding the pace and the quantum of Sudanisation, or whether the Sudanese Cabinet will decide it.
There is obviously some uncertainty in interpreting the words, and that uncertainty is perhaps unfortunate for the British officials who are still serving in the Sudan and who hope to continue to give their services to the Sudan but do not know whether they will be allowed 983 to do so. That feeling of uncertainty and distress is one which I can appreciate, because I was in a somewhat similar position in India five or six years ago. I am glad to say that the visit of the Minister of State to Khartoum a few weeks ago has done much to encourage British officials in the Sudan to do their duty patiently and in the confidence that their own individual rights will not be forgotten.
It is true that this formal Agreement with Egypt has been reached, but, essentially, the conflict of objective remains, the British objective being that the Sudan should be strong and independent and the Egyptian objective that the Sudan should be weak and isolated. It remains for the Sudanese to choose what their future shall be.
In presenting its case to the Sudanese, Britain enjoys certain advantages compared with Egypt. In the first place, historically, we have a certain continuity of foreign policy; when one Government succeeds another, generally speaking, a similar line of policy is followed. There is always a respect for international agreements into which we have entered, and that is something of which Egypt cannot boast. Again, we can legitimately take pride in the stability of our Constitution and—again, something which Egypt cannot boast—our Monarchy.Not Amurath an Amurath succeeds, but Harry Harry.Also, there exists in the Sudan itself the evidence of our good will to the people. There have been 50 years of devoted administrative work and there is the evidence of roads, bridges and colleges. Finally—and this may ultimately be the deciding factor—there is the relationship of mutual confidence and good will which has grown up between the leading Sudanese politicians and the members of the British administrative service. That relationship of confidence and good will is much deeper, for historical reasons, than the similar relationship which existed in India.
There is a general tolerance towards each other's views, and genuine good will, and a level of mutual confidence which will help the Sudanese to trust the British and help the British to continue to serve the Sudanese. It is because of those 984 assets that, in spite of some of the provisions of the Agreement about which I am not entirely happy, I am on the whole optimistic about the future of the Sudan.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
It is always a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. E. Wakefield), but I think it is a pity that he did not try to sketch on rather a broader canvas and apply to the problem of foreign affairs as a whole the matters which he dealt with in the Sudan. What I have in mind is, how is it possible, for example, in the Sudan to develop these excellent relations between Africans and British, and yet. in other parts of Africa, find a situation in which it seems impossible, as in South Africa, to achieve any co-operation between the races at all? That is the sort of general broad problem which seems to affect foreign affairs.
I think the hon. Member is also fortunate in speaking after, and not before, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), because had he done so he would have received. I am sure, the same rebuke as my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt), and the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have advised him to go and make his speech in the Egyptian Parliament. It seems to me that speeches such as we have had from the hon. Gentleman and from my hon. Friend are the sort of speeches which I say, with all respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, are the sort of speeches which should be made in this House, quite irrespective of whether one agrees entirely with what is said or not.
It seems to me that what we should attempt to contribute towards this debate is, above all, a sense of reality, and one of the difficulties about it is that when we come to discuss foreign affairs they are regarded as a series of complexing and worrying events which have no communicating link between them whatsoever. One listens to hon. Members opposite and one sees them tackling each problem as if it were something separate which had suddenly arrived and had to be solved by some process or other.
Perhaps I am going a little too far there, because the hon. and gallant 985 Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke) thinks differently. He thinks that all problems in foreign affairs are due to foreigners, and that if there were no foreigners we would not have any foreign affairs so that the simple solution to the problem is to get rid of the foreigners. One also tries to analyse the other speeches that were made. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) advanced the argument that we ought to stick to the strict letter of our Treaty with the Egyptians. made in 1936.
Then the hon. Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) offered the solution that all treaties made were not good ones, and that we should get away as fast as we could from the arrangements made at Yalta. Those two contradictions, that we should stick to the Egyptian Treaty, and that we should depart from the Yalta Treaty, gave us no general principle as to which kind of Treaty we ought to disregard and which one we ought to stick to firmly.
The hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West suggested we ought to support the Arab peoples because they had stood by us in the war and we had all fought together. I agree that we all fought against the Turks, but the form of support that was suggested was that they should join with the Turks in some form of defensive alliance. It may be right that they should do so, but surely the argument for it cannot be that they should form a defensive alliance with the Turks because they happen to have fought against the Turks with us.
It seems to me that there are certain broad principles which should command the support of both sides of the House and which should be the basis of our foreign policy. The first, I should have thought, was not to get this country involved in a war, and the second, which I think is equally important, is that our foreign policy should be directed towards holding together the Commonwealth. That is a matter on which one would have expected some comment from hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are, after all, and always were, the party of Empire, but we have not had one word about the relationship of foreign affairs to the Commonwealth as a whole.
986 We ought to keep together the sterling area. The lives of every one of the work people in this country depend upon dollars being earned in certain parts of the Commonwealth, and those dollars being available for buying raw materials for use here, with the things made here sold for pounds in some other part of the sterling area. Incidentally, I do not know whether I should call it the sterling area in view of the warning given by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) because, if he reads the leading book on exchange control he will find that the learned solicitor who wrote it pointed out that these should now be referred to as the scheduled territories, to avoid giving offence to the United States. However, the sterling area is a term sufficiently well-known to be understood.
We ought to look at our policy for a moment in its relationship to the Commonwealth as a whole. We ought, therefore, to look at and to consider our relations with the United States, and in any case, where the action of the United States threatens the unity of the Commonwealth, we ought to say to the United States quite plainly what is our attitude towards it. That is why I want to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, when he replies to the debate to deal specifically with the speech made by Mr. Dulles to the American Society of News-pare Editors on 18th April.
It seems to be one of the principal pronouncements of American policy and we ought to have set out clearly our attitude towards it. Was Mr. Dulles expressing our policy or was it a purely personal policy in which we have no part? It is not sufficient to say, "Let nothing divide us from the United States." The Secretary of State of the United States said this:The free peoples are susceptible to Soviet guile because they so passionately want peace that they can readily be attracted by illusions of peace. One such illusion is a settlement based on the status quo.What Mr. Dulles was saying was that it was an illusion to suppose that we could have peace and leave things as they are, but is that the attitude of Her Majesty's Government? He went on:This present status involves the captivity of hundreds of millions of persons of distinctive nationality, race, religion and culture.987 And then, going on to deal with China, he said:We have vastly improved our relations with the National Government of China. We now have an Ambassador at Taipei, Formosa, the provisional capital. We are speeding the delivery of military assistance, which was woefully in arrears. President Eisenhower has changed the instructions to the Seventh Fleet so that, while it is still instructed to protect Formosa, it is no longer instructed to protect the Chinese Communists on the mainland.That was not the policy as we heard it last from the Prime Minister. As we understood it, it was that the American Fleet was withdrawn altogether. Mr. Dulles is saying that the American Fleet has now entered the Chinese Civil War. It is to protect one side and not the other.
Anything more dangerous for Commonwealth unity than that, it is hard to imagine, and we ought to say quite firmly in this House that we will not be a party to any arrangement by which, for instance, ships going from Ceylon and trading with China are subject to an interference which is protected by the American Fleet. It is quite wrong in my view.
The danger really is, however, that while we are looking at each of these individual problems our minds are distracted and are taken away from what is in my view the really central problem of the world today. The people of one-third of the countries of the world are living at the moment in comparative wealth, some poorer, some richer than others. The people of two-thirds of the world live in the greatest poverty, and it is a poverty which is continually increasing because their numbers increase more rapidly than their ability to produce food.
That is the central problem with which we are faced. Of course, these people have always lived in a state of poverty and misery. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery said was quite right. They have had great assistance, the standard of living in those countries has greatly been raised by European intervention. That is quite true, but it is worth while to note the gift, in a sense, made by ourselves to that. In the years before the First World War—from 1907 to 1913— we were exporting to undeveloped countries about 7 per cent. of our national income for railways, roads, docks and 988 installations of that sort. Although that was done in a haphazard way, the world is that much richer through our intervention.
But perhaps the greatest gift we have made to these countries was the knowledge that their poverty is not inevitable, that there is an escape from it and the conscious belief that they need no longer live under it. They are struggling all the time to attain better standards and are not prepared to live any longer in their present circumstances. That is why I believe that the idea that we can solve all this by having another world war is not very practical.
Suppose that Lord Cherwell were to invent a powder which could be placed in the tea of every Russian soldier and, through the activities of the Secret Service it was put into the tea of every Russian soldier. Suppose that, as a result of this, every weapon rusted in their hands, every aeroplane was grounded and every tank put out of action. At the end, there would still be two-thirds of the people of the world under-nourished and getting poorer, one-third getting richer, and the two-thirds would be determined not to put up with it any longer. We cannot solve the problem in that way.
What is the result, even after the intervention of the chief magician of the Government and his utmost activities, from the scientific point of view, for the best possible solution? A war would not solve the problem at all. The essence of the problem is the inability of the poor countries to save. Saving is essential to increased production. If a man cannot save enough to buy a pump he cannot make his fields that much more profitable the next year. Why cannot he save? He cannot save because of the social system which exists in many of these countries.
If one looks at a United Nations report published in 1951 one sees that the experts calculated that to increase the productions in the under-developed parts of the world by a minimum of 2 per cent. per annum—a very low increase—we would need a capital investment of about 19,000 million dollars a year. In all those parts of the world the total amount of saving is about 4,000 million to 5,000 million dollars a year. So there is a gap of 14,000 million to 15,000 million dollars to be filled. Of course, in theory, all the 989 Western nations could put up that sum. It would involve about 3 per cent. of the national income of all Western countries. But it is not really practicable at present to suppose that everyone would do that.
Therefore, as the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said, the solution to these questions is to let these countries work out their destinies for themselves. How do they set about it? They have not a voting system or a means by which they can vote a Government in or out. They can only change their social system by a social revolution. In order to save they have to have a social revolution. The reason why, in China, there was so little saving was that all over South-East Asia there was a landlord system by which, if a farmer improved his land up went his rent. No tenant farmer living in very poor conditions will put aside any money to buy a pump to improve his land or to do anything of that sort if the only result is that the rent goes up next year. Therefore, the existence of a landlord system of this sort prevents saving.
The real difficulty we are up against is that the Western countries have, generally speaking, in the view of the underdeveloped countries, become allied with the landlord class itself. I say that not on the strength of my own observations, but on the strength of a very interesting study of those regions by the Carnegie Institute of International Peace. When President Eisenhower left the Army he became President of Colombia University. In the second year of his presidency the University saw fit to publish some studies which I commend to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
There is an excellent one dealing with agrarian unrest in South-East Asia and over and over again the author makes the point that the trouble in South-East Asia is the alliance of the colonial Powers with the landlord class, and that, therefore, any struggle or social change has also become a struggle against the Power that is, in fact, in occupation of the country. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West to say, and it is quite right to say, that for the development in a country there should be partnership as in the case of the Sudan there was partnership between the British officials and the Sudanese. But how can there be such a partnership if it is poisoned at the start by the belief among the peasants that the 990 occupying Power is supporting and being supported by the landlord class which oppresses them?
Hon. Gentlemen have spoken of Siam and the danger of an invasion there. There is the utmost danger in Siam, but it is a danger which springs not so much from any outside pressure, but the whole hopelessness and rottenness of the situation in the country itself. Let me read a word or two of what is said by Mr. Jacoby, in the Colombia University publication.The tenant districts of Siam are marked by an atmosphere of hopelessness. This situation offers proof that stimulus to improvements is lacking under a system of landlordism, even where fertile lands are available. Conditions in some districts illustrate the fact that the mere existence of landlordism is detrimental to agricultural development in general and tends to lower the social and cultural standards of the people—a social factor far more influential than the political status of the area or the race of the landlord.Of course, exactly the same problem exists in Indo-China. Mr. Jacoby says himself, dealing with the whole colonial position throughout this area:The colonial administration, confronted with ever-growing native opposition and fearing the political vacuum, finally found the badly needed political hold in the cooperating landlord class. Economic cooperation thus developed into political alliance, and has frequently replaced cooperation with the native princes, who, all over South-East Asia, are losing their glamor….That is the actual situation which faces us there, and it is useless to talk as if the revolt now taking place in French Indo-China was something inspired from outside and which would be subject to United Nations intervention.
If we try to make this into the subject of United Nations intervention we shall attempt to line up United Nations with the landlord class over two-thirds of the world. We shall not be able to do it, and, therefore, the policy openly announced, which the Prime Minister mentioned in his speech, that in a general way the United States Government wish to refer the whole thing to the United Nations is a policy fraught with the most terrible risks, particularly for this country. Nothing would split the Commonwealth more fatally than if we were engaged in an attempt to force through the United Nations, in support of the United States, a policy by which we were to come to the aid of colonial 991 Powers in wars regarded in India and Indonesia as wars of liberation.
If hon. Gentlemen opposite will look at "The Times" of today they will see how it reports that even the most anti-Communist newspapers of Indonesia refer to the present Viet Nam war as a war of liberation, a war which, whether rightly or wrongly, is regarded throughout Asia as an attempt to overthrow colonialism and effect a social revolution; as an attempt, in the words of the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery to work out their own destiny. How can Asia work out her own destiny if the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery and others like him stand by idly while others interfere?
We cannot have two standards in international affairs. Let me read again the key phrase used by Mr. Dulles in the passage which I quoted:This present status"—speaking, presumably, of China and the countries of the East—involves the captivity of hundreds of millions of persons of distinctive nationality, race, religion and culture.When we look at the military organisation of the free world, we find that South Africa has a place in it. What are the people of South Africa going to say about that speech? Is it a call by Mr. Dulles to set free the people of South Africa? Or is there to be a different standard of life when we deal with problems of race, religion and nationality in South Africa from when we deal with the problems in China or Eastern Europe?
Our difficulty is that when two-thirds of the world live in the state which I have described, there are immense movements of all sorts to alter the situation. Where members of the landlord class are in charge they are not by any means our best allies. That is why naive surprise is so often found in the speeches of hon. Members opposite; they say, "Look! We helped these people and now they have turned against us. Look at the conduct of the Egyptians." But if there is not to be a social revolution, if there is not to be a change so as to relieve the poverty, how else can a leader maintain himself in power in those countries unless it is by a fanatically anti-foreign 992 attitude? That is the only excuse by which he can maintain himself in power. The policy of allying ourselves with the landlord class is not only wrong, it is also stupid, because it does not work out in practice. If we look around we find that the only people who have made territorial claims against us since the war are General Franco, who wanted Gibraltar, and Chiang Kai-shek, who said that we must give up Hong Kong.
It seems to me, therefore, that we cannot possibly maintain a foreign policy unless it is related to a social policy. It is useless to talk in terms of the unity of the whole House on foreign policy, because such unity can only spring from an identity of social ideas and a belief that the conditions of other people must be guided by the same social ideals as those which guide us here. It is only by a social change and by assisting social changes in the nations of the world that we shall secure a real and lasting peace.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) spoke of a certain naive surprise which was sometimes felt on this side of the House. Whether my surprise is naive or not does not matter; I can only say that my surprise at his last speech was very great indeed. It was certainly much more academic than most of the speeches which I have heard from him. For instance, his examination of the evils of the brewers has been much more practical than his examination of foreign affairs, and I can only hope that at some time in the future he will extend the principle which he has devoted to the examination of public houses to a more careful and practical examination of foreign affairs.
I want to refer to two points which have arisen in the debate before I come to the single salient point with which I wish principally to deal. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) referred to a comment made by the Prime Minister in his great speech this afternoon. He picked out the one point about the truce negotiations in Korea, and said that, if these negotiations broke down, we in this country and the United Nations will be blamed, because, as the Prime Minister has said, all points of principle had been settled.
993 I think the right hon. Gentleman quite misunderstood what had been said by the Prime Minister, who, I think, made it perfectly clear that all points of principle had been settled, and that, if there was a willingness to agree, there would now be nothing in the way to stop agreement and stop a truce. It was not my impression that the Prime Minister was suggesting for a moment that, because all points of principle had been settled, we should, from that moment, say "The rest is yours," and offer them any points of detail over which they care to haggle. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman was either misunderstanding the Prime Minister or was wilfully misconstruing what he had said, and I can only believe that it was the former.
§ Mr. Strachey
Will the hon. Gentleman permit me? The Prime Minister will, no doubt, explain what he meant, but my view, for what it is worth, is this. If it is agreed—and it is—that all points of principle have been settled, I certainly do not think that it is worth while going on with this war for the differences of detail and of method, and they are quite narrow, that now separate the negotiators.
§ Mr. Peyton
I quite concede that to the right hon. Gentleman. Surely, the point is that, whereas the Prime Minister said that all points of principle have been settled, it is yet for the Communists to make the same generous admission.
There is one other point to which I wish to refer. Another hon. Gentleman opposite, the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), faced with the necessity of replying to the speech of the Prime Minister, was concerned to say that the Conservative Party were not anxious to support and go the whole way with the Prime Minister. I would say that everyone on this side of the House would agree and would unite in denying any such suggestion. There could be no question that, on the sentiments which were so generously and clearly expressed by the Prime Minister, we on this side of the House were only too willing to give him our very full support. I would add that, though the circumstances might have been embarrassing for the hon. Gentleman, that sort of allegation is both mean and ungenerous.
994 Now I come to the one serious point with which I wish to deal. I am certainly, in my views, sincerely and honestly pro-American. I believe that the American people have a great record of service to the free world. During the very troubled years of the post-war period, they may have made mistakes and may have gone wrong from time to time, but, on balance, their record is one of immense generosity, and I do not believe that there would be serious difference on the other side of the House with that view.
But, having said that, I want to go a little further and say that, if the Americans or those who speak officially for the American people, as opposed to American individuals, who are so often much more generous than their leaders, could be a little more generous, not in material aid, but in terms—[Interruption.] One of the real things we need all over the world, whether we face East or West, is harmony and agreement. I cannot understand why hon. Members opposite should repeatedly seize opportunities to manufacture disharmony and disunity in one direction when, at the same time, and on the most flimsy foundations, they are looking for a harmony which does not exist.
I am concerned at the present time about those who are responsible for American policy being so grudging in their recognition of the burden shouldered by their Allies. I refer particularly to the burden shouldered by this country in Malaya and the Canal Zone. I refer also to the great burden which has been thrust upon the entire Western world by the dollar problem alone. If ever the Western world, the whole civilised world, is to know peace and prosperity, it will only be because the American people have really faced, digested and acted upon the necessity of adopting the sensible, sane policies required of the world's greatest creditor nation.
Their action over the Chief Joseph Dam project the other day was to my mind something which shook confidence more than anything else that has happened in recent years. I think that will be agreed by hon. Members in all parts of the House. It was narrow-minded and, to my mind, quite unacceptable that in a free market a great English firm 995 which had tendered well below its American rivals should have been rejected solely on the ground that it was a British firm.
I stress the fact that I am speaking as one who has American friends, and great admiration and sympathy for the American people. But I say the more strongly for that reason that I hope such a terrible and tragic upset will not be often repeated. There is also the unhappy upset over the Comets. It may well be that these two incidents are isolated and will not be repeated, but I was very glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his own view so frankly, and said that it was vitally necessary that the Americans, with so many advantages in their hands, should realise and be conscious of their own immense responsibilities.
I have already referred briefly to Malaya and the Canal Zone, in regard to which we in this country have shouldered heavy responsibility. This afternoon the Prime Minister indicated with, I believe, the agreement of the whole House, that in the Canal Zone we would stand firm and would not surrender to bullying. He referred to the tactics of General Neguib. I believe it is a fact that only 24 hours ago General Neguib was stigmatising this country as the enemy.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman; I am just coming to that.
It is a terrible irony, to put it no worse than that, that Mr. Dulles, the American Secretary of State, should have seen fit, on arrival in Cairo today, to refer to General Neguib, who so far has revealed an entire innocence of political manners or diplomatic commonsense—or is reported to have referred to him, and I hope the report is wrong—as "one of the great leaders of the free world of the post-war period." The expression of such sentiments from such a source is most unfortunate, do not put it any higher than that.
It is useless to make such a person a matter of party politics, but we can say with a united voice from this House that the expression of those sentiments from 996 the man who is the leading representative of his country's foreign policy in the circumstances of our present dispute with Egypt is most unfortunate, accepting always the fact that we are the foremost ally of United States, and probably the only one upon whom 100 per cent. reliance can be placed. It would not be unfair or unreasonable to ask those who are responsible for the formulation of American policy at least to have the understanding, sympathy and generosity to consider the views of their allies, in order that the one rock upon which the hopes of peace are founded shall be consolidated and not split.
In all the great forces which may make for world peace there are bound to be contrary movements, but if we are to achieve anything of worth or value we shall need now, and for a long time in the future, in Anglo-American relations a constant effort to build and not to destroy, to help and not to criticise, and to attempt to co-operate and win agreement and understanding instead of making it appear that the motives are those of jealousy, anger and willingness to detract from the achievement of others.
In view of the foundations laid toy the speech of the Prime Minister this afternoon, that speech may, if we are to achieve anything, be a basis for a wide understanding beyond the dreams of man at the moment. If those dreams are to be realised it will be by a measure of generosity between friends or allies which will convert allies into friends. Thus we shall have served in our time better than those who have gone before.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn, East)
I am fortified in making the remarks which I intend to make in the course of my speech about United States foreign policy by the assurance from the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) that to criticise details of American foreign policy is no longer to rank as anti-American. Indeed, I doubt whether I shall be as violent in my criticism as the hon. Member has just been in his. When I saw a report of Mr. Dulles's statement to which the hon. Member referred I rather thought that there would be some reactions from hon. Members opposite.
It is significant that the reactions to and criticisms of this speech should have 997 come so quickly and so vigorously from hon. Members opposite, after a long period in which we have been told that to criticise our great ally is more or less to break up the Atlantic Pact. In other words hon. Members opposite object because Mr. Dulles has criticised the policy with which they agree. Therefore, I think we can assume that when in the past some of us have criticised the details of American policy in China, Korea and other parts of the world, hon. Members opposite have protested we were anti-American merely because they were themselves in agreement with those American actions.
Before I come to my own criticisms of United States policy I must refer to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke), who described the visit he made recently to the Middle East with a number of other hon. Members. As I was one of the party, I hasten to dissociate myself from the umbrella of ignorance which the hon. and gallant Member tried to cast over the whole of that party. I cannot allow to pass unchallenged his comments on the situation in the Middle East, and his suggestion that all of us who went there were entirely ignorant of the problems which are disturbing the Arab world.
I think I am speaking for other colleagues in the party when I say that we had heard of the Moroccan and Tunisian disputes which were discussed at the United Nations last year, and were aware that the Arabs had not been satisfied with the attitude taken by the United Kingdom Delegation. Nor could I blame them for being dissatisfied. Therefore, to discover that Britain was considerably criticised, not to say unpopular, in the Middle East was not as startling to some of us as it was to the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West.
I had informed the hon. and gallant Member that I intended to refer to his speech and I am sorry that he has not been able to keep his place in the House. After he had talked in a vague and general way about his desire to be friends with Israel and with the Arabs, without ever getting down to concrete cases as to how friendship is to be achieved, one realised why Britain's name is not very high in the Arab world at the present time, particularly as the hon. and gallant Member capped it all by congratulating 998 the Prime Minister on taking a strong line over Egypt today.
I do not intend to go into detail about the problems of the Middle East tonight. That is not the theme of my speech. But I must make it clear that, whereas no one could accept all the demands of the Arab States, particularly vis-à-vis Israel, nevertheless they have legitimate grievances against Britain's policy. They have good cause to believe that our approach to the Middle East has been one of self-interest, that we have always looked upon that area as a source of strategic advantage and a source of valuable materials, such as oil, and that we have had very little regard for the economic needs or the legitimate nationalist claims of the Arab people. On the one issue on which the Arab world is united in staking its claim, the issue of Egypt, we are now standing out against a legitimate demand in a way which is bound to give us a still worse name in the Middle East and to forfeit a friendship which we could and ought to cultivate.
There were many things in the Prime Minister's speech which probably everyone in this House welcomed. We all welcomed his very wise statement that it is a mistake to imagine that nothing in the international scene can be settled until everything is settled—his suggestion that we must proceed step by step, building painstakingly and patiently on whatever opportunities offers. I think we all welcomed, too, his statement—I thought it was a wise statement—that in this crucial moment we must not do anything to impede any favourable changes that may be taking place inside the Soviet Union and that, above all, we must attempt to give the Soviet Union a sense of security that an international war is not being plotted against them. I also agree with most of what he said of Korea. Finally, we all welcomed his proposal that a conference of the leading Powers ought to take place in the near future.
It is because his speech had so much wisdom in it that one was distressed to notice that on the concrete points—apart from Korea—the practical policy he advocated was in direct conflict with the principles which he was enunciating, and which we all welcomed. All those very wise words made nonsense of the proposals that he was putting forward in 999 other parts of his speech. We shall not, for instance, convince the Soviet Union that the Western world has turned its back on imperialism so long as provocative references are made to Egypt which almost amount to a declaration of war.
Then again the remarks he made on Germany, although they were admittedly rather contradictory, none the less made obvious nonsense of the suggestion that we are now ready to go into a four-Power conference, or any other conference of leading Powers, with the determination that it shall produce concrete results. As far as I could follow his remarks on Germany, the most significant phrase was that, despite our desire for friendship with the Soviet Union, we were resolved not to waver in any way in our commitments to Dr. Adenauer, and that Western Germany will in no way be sacrificed or cease to be master of its own fortune.
That is a formula which makes the unification of Germany impossible. The Social Democratic Party of Germany does not believe that if we had a unified Germany with free elections the head of the Government which emerged from those elections would be Dr. Adenauer. Much as we should like to see reflected in the Prime Minister's words a real beginning of constructive statesmanship in international affairs, we cannot hope for that to come about when statements of that kind are made about the problem of Germany.
When we hope for a fruitful international conference we must surely recognise two things; first, that it is no good having a conference and raising the hopes of a weary and anxious world unless we are determined to do everything on our side to achieve a successful outcome. That means that we must go in on the basis that we are going to negotiate— and to negotiate means to concede. Second, I would suggest quite seriously to the Minister of State that before we start to negotiate with the Soviet Union we have to negotiate with the United States of America, because we cannot and ought not to go into such four-Power talks— which will be covering the problems of Europe, Asia, the Far East and everything else that is dividing the world—unless we in the West have cleared up our own policy between ourselves.
1000 The situation which we must face, for unless we do we shall drift to disaster, is that there is a fundamental divergence between this country and the United States of America in our attitude to Communism and its place in the world. Our attitude—it is the attitude of this side of the House and I should hope it is the attitude on the other side of the House—is that we want to live with Communism. We want to get back the spirit that prevailed at San Francisco, which underlay the Charter of the United Nations, the spirit of live and let live, the spirit of agreement. That is the principle behind the veto given to the big Powers, because we knew that, if the big Powers did not agree, there could not be peace; there must be war.
If I am now going to be attacked as anti-American I would call in aid here the hon. Member for Yeovil. We must face the fact that in the United States of America there is a Government whose foreign policy is avowedly to destroy Communism; not to come to terms with it, not to seek peaceful co-operation, and not to live and let live.
§ Mr. Peyton
The hon. Lady says she is calling me in aid, so I should like her to say what evidence she has to support her suggestion that the United States foreign policy is avowedly to destroy Communism. I do not believe that that is the United States policy. I have never heard it expressed.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman is a little impatient. That is the subject of my speech, and I have not finished it yet.
I repeat that the foreign policy of the United States of America is to destroy Communism. If I am asked for evidence of that I refer to the foreign policy of the Republican Government as outlined very clearly for us all to see by Mr. Dulles himself in that classic speech which he made on 26th February before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. He made it in discussing a joint resolution of both Houses of the Congress on the enslaved peoples.
The resolution calls on the United States Government to pursue, not a policy of containing Communism, but a new policy of liberating the enslaved peoples of Europe and Asia, and Mr. Dulles himself recognised that this was 1001 no casual speech of his but a profound change of policy. He declared that this joint Resolution was comparable in importance with the Monroe Doctrine and the Declaration of Independence.
The Resolution had three major points. The first was that the United States would not countenance violations by whichthe Soviet leadership has perverted past agreements and understandings with chains of bondage.The second one said that:The United States will never be a party to any international 'deal' or ' trade ' confirming the rule of Soviet despotism over the alien peoples it dominates in Europe and Asia.The third was that:The United States seeks, as one of its peaceful goals, that these enslaved groups of Europe and Asia shall recover genuine independence.That is a policy which does two things. First, it says that the nationalist movements in Asia are all Moscow-inspired. Kremlin-financed, part of a great Russian plot. It fails completely to understand what is happening in Asia, the revolution that is taking place over large parts of the earth's surface, which, as hon. Members on this side of the House have shown quite clearly, springs from the natural needs and indigenous demands of the peoples themselves. Responsible organs of opinion in this country, discussing the problem of Indo-China, are complaining that the trouble is that we cannot get the people of Indo-China to resist the Communist movement, because the desire to resist is not there. That is one of the difficulties with which we are faced. That is because the resistance movement does reflect needs which are local and national.
What Mr. Dulles has also said is that the goal of the United States foreign policy is now, and is solemnly pledged to be, the liberation of the enslaved peoples of Europe and Asia. Included in that category is the liberation of the people of China from what he would describe as the yoke of Communist despotism. In other words, the United States has moved far beyond the policy of the United Nations to which this country has always pledged itself.
The United States has moved in the direction of a policy of counter-revolutionary activity which it is financing, 1002 encouraging, organising, advising and stirring up through its instruments, General Chiang Kai-shek, Singhman Rhee and other leaders. We are all hopeful that we shall get an armistice in Korea. Indeed, if there is any attempt at this stage of the proceedings to prevent agreement—if we now say that the last remaining detail is going to be sufficiently large for agreement to break down—then there will be such an outcry in his country that Britain will have to protest against such a decision being made in our name.
Assuming that we do get an armistice in Korea, and there is no reason why we should not, then the United States is at once faced with a very real dilemma, because an armistice, as we all know, is merely the end of the fighting. It is merely the beginning of the real, hard constructive diplomatic work. It is not peace in the Far East; it is merely the opportunity to make peace while the killing stops. It is at that point that the big divergence of view between us and the United States is going to come.
Certain very important consequences will immediately flow from that armistice —consequences which, if we face them, as we should, are bound to bring us into direct conflict with the United States. One of the immediate consequences, for example, was discussed in the House only the other night—the consequences that our ban on trade with China of strategic materials will come to an end. We had the promise of that when we debated the China trade order in the House on 28th April.
I quote the Junior Under-Secretary of State when he gave us a solemn assurance that if an armistice should prove possible in Korea,…the situation under which the United Nations Resolution arose would be altered and, therefore, the policy of all the nations concerned would naturally and immediately come under review."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 2111.]This country is bound only by the United Nations Resolution of June, 1951, on the question of trade with China. That Resolution arose out of the branding of China as an aggressor in Korea. If China is no longer the aggressor in Korea, the Resolution at once lapses.
But let us remember that at this moment Senator McCarthy has turned his restless activities and the work of his 1003 investigating committee on to the question of trade with China. He was protesting only the other day, not that Britain was sending strategic goods to China, but that we were trading with China at all. He was complaining of the growth of our trade in textiles and non-strategic goods, saying that it was intolerable. So there would be conflict there.
The second consequence which would flow from an armistice is that the question of giving to the Chinese people's Government their rightful place in the Security Council would be, and ought at once to be, raised in the United Nations. If that happened, and if the Peking Government recognised as the Government which should speak for China in the community of nations, unless the policy of the United States towards Chiang Kai-shek was altered quickly, we should have Chiang Kai-shek in the position of being an aggressor and the United States of America also in the position of being an aggressor in that it would be organising and financing attacks upon a member of the United Nations.
That is an urgent question, because as recently as 30th April Major-General Chase, the United States Adviser in Formosa to Chiang Kai-shek's Government, was promising that Government increased United States help todouble our joint efforts to build up the fighting potential of the Armed Forces of Free China.That language is being used in the middle of negotiations for an armistice in Korea, and at a time when we are supposed to be thinking of a peace settlement.
I suggest to the Minister of State that no time should be lost in discussing these differences with the United States. I profoundly believe that we are laying up nothing but trouble for the Western World unless these divergences of opinion are brought into the open and the British view is strongly pressed. Throughout the troubled situation in the Far East this House has lent its support to United Nations activities. The United Nations is 1004 not concerned with the internal affairs of any country, with revolution or with counter-revolution; it is merely concerned with the ending of aggressive action between sovereign States.
Consequently, the policy of the United States of America, which has diverged widely from the ideologically neutral attitude of the United Nations, confronts us with an extremely important situation. To speak about four-Power talks and any hope of getting a settlement between the Powers of the world while there is this deep conflict between two of the major Western Powers is totally unrealistic. I hope we shall have from the Minister of State a promise that the British view on these matters will now begin to be stated with clarity and force.
We cannot allow the advantages of an armistice in Korea, when it comes, to be lost in a welter of political disagreements in the Far East. The time for facing this problem will shortly be here. That is the great challenge which faces the Prime Minister when he speaks to us of hopes of peace. Talk is not enough; we must have deeds to match.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
Every hon. Member who has listened to today's debate will agree that it will go down in history as an outstanding one on account of the remarkable and great speech which was delivered by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I thought it might go down in history as an outstanding one on account of the speech made by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle), because when she started I thought we were to hear her in full agreement with the Prime Minister for the first time in her life.
Unfortunately, having said that she agreed with one or two things that the Prime Minister had said, the hon. Lady went on to give a whole catalogue of disagreements—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed. without Question put.