§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [28th October]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 2.51 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The paragraphs in the Queen's Speech dealing with foreign affairs set out a comprehensive doctrine in the international field. If I may try to put it in rather simple terms, it is that our national interest is to take the heat out of dangerous situations so that they do not end up in fighting. We have to create a feeling of stability without which there cannot be that confidence upon which permanent peace depends. We intend to be loyal to our alliances and while we are not prepared to be pushed about by those who disagree with us, nevertheless we are ready to discuss our differences with the sincere intention of trying to resolve them. That is our philosophy and I do not believe that any other makes sense in the modern world. We have to do all this against a background of world interdependence or common interest.
In matters of science and of health, that interdependence is widely recognised and to some extent practised. In the field of economics, I think it is realised that the world is interdependent, although we have a long way still to go to develop satisfactory techniques for carrying it out. When we come to the political relationships between nations, however, we have to admit that in many cases they are conducted with the maximum of suspicion and the minimum of confidence. That is the background to the present international situation against which our policies have to be judged.
321 The House rose for the Summer Recess under the shadow of the serious events in the Middle East. In the last debate before we rose, I outlined to the House our efforts to secure a meeting of the Security Council at Heads of Government level to discuss the situation in the Middle East. I think there is no doubt that that proposal received general approval in all quarters of the House. Unfortunately, Mr. Khrushchev, after first seeming to accept, later declined. I think it was a pity: I think an opportunity was missed.
Therefore, the proposal for a special General Assembly of the United Nations was put forward by the United States and supported by us. At that special meeting of the General Assembly in August, which I attended, efforts were made by one or two countries to stir up controversy and make it a cold war exercise. Our action in sending troops to Jordan was denounced by one delegate as aggression, but I do not think that that kind of comment had very much effect. The Soviet representative, with one or two others, tried to concentrate the whole debate upon the withdrawal of the United States and British troops, but that attempt also failed, for the reason, I think, that there was a widespread desire, which became obvious almost at once, for a constructive approach to the problems arising between the Arab States.
We did everything we could to encourage the attempts which were made by the Arab States to get together and we gave warm support to their resolution setting out the good neighbour policy between them. In accepting this resolution on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, I pointed out that the need was to translate the admirable sentiments of the resolution about good neighbourliness into deeds effecting all the countries of the Middle East. In accordance with the resolution, the Secretary-General visited the area and made his report on 30th September. He detailed the arrangements which he was making and which he proposed to make to give effect to the resolution, and that report of his was accepted without debate.
We immediately, the following day, announced that our withdrawal would begin on 20th October, and that is what happened. Meanwhile, a United Nations representative has established his headquarters in Amman and the Secretary-General has retained the right to go himself or send his representative to any 322 capital in the area in regard to the implementation of the resolution.
This is an experimental procedure. It is a new process in the supervision of the carrying out of a resolution of the General Assembly. I think it should be watched with the greatest interest. I think it offers great hope. We know the difficulty which the United Nations has in being effective when there is a sharp disagreement between its members. The strength of the position in this case is that the present United Nations action is based upon a resolution carried unanimously.
The Leader of the Opposition in his speech on Tuesday doubted whether our intervention had achieved anything. He doubted whether the internal security of Jordan was any greater than in July. In the week beginning 14th July there was a sense of impending disaster, incitement to murder and insurrection was loud and sustained from agencies outside the frontiers of Jordan, there were armed incursions and arms-running into Jordan. I think without doubt there was a situation of dire emergency. The State of Jordan might easily have ceased to exist and there might have been bitter fighting between her neighbours.
Whilst no one can prophesy as to the future, particularly the future in the Middle East, I disagree with the Leader of the Opposition entirely as to the present position, because all the information in my possession shows that the atmosphere today is quite different from that on 17th July and very much calmer; and in all this, if I may say so, I think great credit is due to King Hussein for his courage and tenacity.
Our action won time, and, in my view, good use has been made of that time and it is not a contribution to peace and stability in the area for anyone to pretend otherwise.
About the long-term future of Jordan, that is a different matter. We did not go into Jordan to use it as a base for other operations. We did not go in in order to occupy it or to interfere in its internal affairs. Our only wish was to give Jordan herself the chance to work out her own future with her neighbours acting in the spirit of the Arab Resolution. But for our action I do not believe that Jordan would have the chance to try to do that.
During the debate in the House in July on the situation in the Lebanon. I spoke 323 of the dangers of indirect aggression and of the manifestations of this that there had been in the Arab States over the past few years. It was because what I said was true that the Arab States came together in New York, with, I am told, some very plain speaking, and there has been another example of similar plain speaking at a recent meeting of the Arab League. But the danger is there, the danger of indirect aggression. It was recognised in the resolutions of 1949 and 1950 which were supported by the Opposition when they were in Government. Of course, it is not confined to the Arab States, but I believe that the international community will have to work out ways and means of meeting that threat.
One of the suggestions which were put forward, in which, I think, there is great merit, is that there should be some kind of monitoring of the broadcasting which goes on from one country about affairs in another. I am not saying this aiming at a particular group of countries. I think it is a standard to which we should all endeavour to subscribe.
The resolution of 21st August looked a little further, however, than the immediate problem in the Middle East because it invited the Secretary-General to continue his studies and consult the Arab countries with a view to possible assistance regarding an Arab development institution. President Eisenhower had referred to this in his speech at the opening of the Special Assembly.
We have for a long time been giving thought to this matter and I myself have had several discussions with Mr. Hammarskjöld about it. I think two important factors are now emerging which may make the launching of such a plan at long last more feasible. The first is the indication of American willingness to contribute large sums to an international fund, rather than bilaterally, provided the Arab countries themselves take the initiative to set it up. Secondly, I think the attitude of other possible contributors is more favourable. I shall not be more specific than that. The Secretary-General has been having consultations with the Middle Eastern Governments about it and has had indicated to them in what way the United Nations might help.
324 It is now for the Arab countries themselves to decide. We are prepared to assist in Middle Eastern development to the best of our ability, but the decision as to a new institution must be made by the Arab countries themselves. It cannot be imposed upon them from the outside, but I believe that there may be an increasing realisation in the Arab world that the future lies in co-operation for constructive development and not in arguments about supremacy, and this is a trend which we should strongly welcome.
One small postscript to this chapter is that the arrangements for the flying out of the British Parachute Battalions from Jordan were made by the United Nations. It was not necessary, but, to my mind, it was highly desirable that the United Nations rôle should be emphasised in that way. The arrangements were made with great efficiency by General Bull, representing the United Nations, and members of his staff; and, so far as I am informed, there was complete co-operation in a rather complicated operation on the part of the authorities of the United Arab Republic and the arrangements were scrupulously observed on both sides. I say that that little piece of practical co-operation may be a good omen for the future.
In regard to the situation in Cyprus, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House last Tuesday about the recent series of discussions in the North Atlantic Council. There was a further meeting in Paris yesterday. I regret, however, that I have no progress to report as a result of that meeting.
The Secretary-General of N.A.T.O. has been making great efforts to arrange for a conference. He had circulated to the Council a draft minute setting out the basis for a conference and two alternatives for its composition. He had also circulated the draft of a letter to the Permanent Representatives.
We had notified our acceptance of the documents and of whichever proposal for composition was most acceptable to the others. The Turks had similarly agreed, and we were under the impression that the Greek Government had certainly accepted the basis for the conference and were very near agreement on composition. These documents will be published. 325 I think for the convenience of the House they should be published as a White Paper as speedily as possible.
We have tried very hard to make this conference possible. It seems to me that for it really three things are necessary. First, there should be agreement about the agenda, that is to say, what the conference is to be about; secondly, there should be agreement as to the composition, in other words, as to who is to attend it; and thirdly, there should be agreement about the timing of the conference.
So far as the agenda was concerned, as I have said, there was agreement. It was agreed that the conference should discuss our interim seven-year plan. It was agreed that amendments to that plan could be put forward and discussed. It was agreed that certain proposals which M. Spaak had put forward himself should be discussed. It was agreed that the discussion of a final solution might also take place, and we made it quite clear that we thought it would be appropriate to assess the elements of a provisional settlement in relation to their effect upon any final solution.
So far as composition was concerned, agreement had virtually been reached as to the place and composition of the conference. We had made it quite clear, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said an Tuesday, that we would make no attempt to exclude Archbishop Makarios from participation should it be wished that he should come as a representative of the Greek Cypriots. We have sought in every possible way to accommodate ourselves to the views of the others concerned.
We understand the difficulties of the Greek Government. We have no wish to add to them. The third element is the timing of the conference. The Greek Government have said finally that they cannot agree to attend. They feel that so much is at stake that if the conference were to fail the situation would be worse than if no conference at all had been held. That is a point of view. We do not agree with it, but we understand it. We hope there will be further thought given to this matter, and we are quite prepared to take up the idea of a conference at any time. We prefer to regard this round of discussions as adjourned rather than concluded.
326 I see, however, that we have been accused of "incomprehensible and unacceptable intransigence." I would repeat again our position. We stated that the conference should discuss not only our plan but any amendments and M. Spaak's proposals. We agreed that the discussion of a final solution should also take place. We agreed that a provisional solution should be discussed to see if it would prejudice any particular final settlement. We agreed that M. Spaak should be invited to take the chair at the conference. We agreed in addition that, if desired, representatives of two other N.A.T.O. Governments should attend. We agreed that Archbishop Makarios could come. I do not think that that attitude can fairly be described as incomprehensible and unacceptable intransigence, and I do not propose to comment further at this stage upon the statements published in Athens today.
Another outstanding event during the Parliamentary Recess was the agreement at Geneva between the scientists about control and suspension of nuclear testing. Although there was some last minute alarm as to whether the conference would meet, it did meet, and a spirit of workmanlike co-operation was speedily established between the two sides. I pay tribute to the work of the leader of the Western Delegation, Dr. Fisk of the United States, and to Sir William Penney and Sir John Cockcroft.
There is now agreement that control is technically possible, and we have to seek further agreement on the political and administrative points which arise. Those points are the membership of the control organ, its method of work, its method of taking decisions, the provision of reliable communications for it, the provision of transit facilities, the staffing of the control posts and of what nationalities they are to be, the speedy analysis and processing of the data provided, and the ensuring that the national Governments will give the facilities which will be needed to make the control processes set out in the report really work.
As the House will remember, the report was published on 21st August, and the following day the American and British Governments announced that they would suspend tests for a year from 31st October provided the Soviet Union would come to the conference and did not have tests over 327 that period. Well, I believe that the Russians are coming to the conference, which opens tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Soviet representative at the United Nations said that his Government categorically declined to suspend tests for one year. That statement has, I think, been modified since, and although we would be disappointed if that were the attitude of the Soviet Union, we hope they will in fact refrain from nuclear tests after 31st October.
Our attitude remains unchanged. We intend to do our utmost to make the conference a success and we hope that the result will be that the termination of all test explosions of nuclear weapons will ultimately be achieved.
Another hopeful development is, I think, the conference of experts which is to meet in Geneva on 10th November to devise a system of measures against surprise attack by one country on another. We trust that the experts' technical talks on this subject will again lead to agreed conclusions and so make possible a political agreement on a second important facet of disarmament. I do, however, want to make absolutely clear that our objective is still a comprehensive disarmament agreement. The question is how we arrive at it. There is not agreement yet on a comprehensive plan. There is not agreement yet even on the group of partial measures which we put forward in the summer of 1957, but my belief is that the success of these two conferences coming off in Geneva will change the atmosphere and thus contribute to a much more fundamental agreement. If these political discussions can be conducted in the same spirit as the technical discussions of last August, I think we have good reason to be hopeful.
I should like to say a few words on the Far East. I gather that there was complaint made from time to time that I had not made sufficiently clear the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. In my speech in the General Assembly of the United Nations on 25th September I stated our position precisely. Our objective is to secure general international approval of the contention that the status of these islands and of Formosa should not be settled by force. I know that there are some who say that because the conflict between the Chinese Communists 328 and the Chinese Nationalists is of the nature of a civil war, we are not entitled to try to prevent these matters being resolved by force. I think that is a very dangerous argument, particularly when we remember that one participant in the civil war is closely allied to the Soviet Union and the other participant has a defence treaty with the United States of America. Those are facts, and they make the idea of settling this matter by force extremely dangerous.
There are several countries in the world which are divided. There are other areas in the world whose status is not agreed, and I believe that it should be our endeavour to prevent solutions of that kind of problem by force of arms. Of course, one way of preventing the use of force is to give in to the other side. That kind of appeasement can be very dangerous. That could lead to the overthrow of our friends and the withering away of independence in the area. The House should reflect upon the consequences in the smaller countries of South-East Asia and the Far East of the United States giving in to the use of force over Formosa and the off-shore islands. This is not a view which I expect some hon. Members opposite to endorse, but one ultimate consequence might be the withdrawal of the United States from the great responsibilities she has undertaken in the Far East.
§ Mr. Davies
I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way to me. I had the privilege of listening to him in the United Nations in New York and I should like him to tell us and the British nation clearly and exactly where we stand over the off-shore islands of Matsu and Quemoy, because that has not been clearly stated. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman now today linking Quemoy and Matsu with Taiwan or not?
§ Mr. Lloyd
Our position with regard to the off-shore islands of Quemoy and Matsu has been stated. It was stated in 1955 quite clearly, but what is not often quoted from Sir Anthony Eden's statement at that time is the complete repudiation of the use of force for altering that 329 status, that is the de facto status, the present physical position. As far as the linking of the off-shore islands with Formosa is concerned, that is precisely what the Chinese Communists insist on doing.
We, therefore, have to try to produce an atmosphere in which some agreed modus vivendi is possible, whether by direct or indirect negotiation or by practical action. Two things seem to me to be necessary—first, an international climate of opinion against the use of force and, secondly, some flexibility of approach by those concerned. So far, there is complete inflexibility on the part of the Peking Government. They continue the use of force and they say that the only answer is for the United States to withdraw completely from Formosa and the Formosa area; they link the whole time absolutely the off-shore islands and Formosa itself.
So far as the Government of the United States are concerned, I am absolutely satisfied that they want to deal with this matter peacefully. Furthermore, President Eisenhower, in his speech of 12th September in the United States, said that there were measures that could be taken to ensure that the off-shore islands, in his phrase, would not be a thorn in the side of peace. And Mr. Dulles, in his speech to the General Assembly a few days later, said that the United States were seeking to promote a cease-fire and equitable conditions which would eliminate provocations and leave for peaceful resolution the various claims and counter-claims that are involved.
I believe that that was a conciliatory and flexible approach, and there has been some indication of results from it because, as far as General Chiang Kai-shek is concerned, after Mr. Dulles' recent visit to Formosa, the General said that the Nationalists believed that the principal means of achieving their aims lay in the application of the "three peoples' principles" and not in the use of force. He was referring to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's three principles of nationalism, democracy and social well-being. That, in view of previous statements was an important contribution of which I do not think sufficient notice has been taken in this country. It is not a complete renunciation of the use of force, but it 330 is a statement that the principal means should not lie in the use of force.
We have done everything in our power to create an opinion against the use of force and to try to encourage the prospects of negotiation, and it is a situation in which negotiation may be direct or indirect, or indeed it may be a process of action by either side, action and reaction which will have the effect of reducing tension, and that is what I believe we have to work for.
Before I end with my most constant preoccupation, which is the question of our relations with the Soviet bloc and how they can be improved, I should like to say a word about Yugoslavia. Her Majesty's Government are honoured at the present time to be entertaining M. Koca Popovic, the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia, and other representatives of that country. This is a return visit for one which I paid in September last year, during which I received a very warm and friendly welcome. We are delighted to have him here. We remember our comradeship in the last two wars and we view with satisfaction our present friendly relations. We have very different views on most internal and external problems but we discuss these views from time to time with complete frankness and in the most friendly way. We frequently differ publicly but we are able to differ without rancour or ill feeling and I really do believe that there is a feeling of warm friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
I believe that our relations are a model for two countries with very different conceptions of how to organise their societies and a very different approach to certain world problems. I only wish that the same spirit could animate our relations with the Soviet Union with which we have again great differences on how to organise our internal society and also about certain world problems.
At one time in 1955 to 1956 I thought it was becoming possible that there could be an improvement in the spirit in which we could discuss our differences, but during the past year I think there has been little or no improvement. Mr. Gromyko, as I have already said, made a bitter speech in the United Nations at the Special Assembly and I said in my 331 reply that his speech put me in a quandary: if one did not reply then it was said that his accusations were therefore proved to be true, and if one did reply one was accused of engaging in polemics, in carrying on the cold war.
I turn again to the technical discussions in Geneva. I profoundly hope that the spirit of those discussions will be reflected in the political talks which will begin tomorrow. I have said repeatedly that I believe the Soviet Union will keep agreements which are negotiated with sufficient care and precision. We should like to see our trade with the Soviet Union increased. We have succeeded in arranging greater opportunities for trade between this country and the Soviet Union, and we have done it without quarrelling with our Allies.
I should like to see the exchange of information, of newspapers and periodicals, the unjamming of wireless broadcasts, personal contacts of every sort and kind. I should like to see them greatly increased, because I think we want to create a public opinion which demands a more friendly relationship. The difficulty is this. Specific agreements, trade and personal contacts cannot achieve that end unless they are accompanied by a determination not to seek to do harm to one another. That is the difficulty which I have about so many Soviet actions. But there are in the world today such infinite possibilities of peaceful co-operation that I would much rather not have to look at these matters in terms of a conflict. Mankind has within its range enormous potentialities for economic, scientific and cultural development. Western Europe has torn itself apart in two world wars this century. Our mission must be to see that mankind does not tear itself apart, for that would be the consequence of another world war whatever the weapons used. In that spirit we shall seek to carry out the policies outlined in the Gracious Speech.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was able to say that the adventure of Great Britain in Jordan has now been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. This is the second occasion on which this country has been extricated from its embarrassments by the United Nations and by the 332 unflagging energies of the Secretary-General.
It is the common line now for the party opposite to say that they break the rules merely in order to call attention to them; that all along, of course, it was the United Nations they were thinking about. They said it over Suez. They say it again. It is a very curious line of argument. The usual argument proceeds by opposites: after all, if there were not sin we would not be able to recognise virtue. So they themselves continually offend against international comity merely, apparently, in order to reinforce it.
Let us, if we can, look at the Jordan issue a little more objectively than we were able to do before. What really has happened? It is said by the Government that our intervention in the affairs of Jordan on the invitation of King Hussein had nothing at all to do with what was happening in Bagdad. Nobody in Bagdad believes that, and very few people in this country believe it.
§ Mr. Bevan
Well, the association of the British expedition to Jordan with events in Bagdad was obviously realised throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. It is quite correct that the Prime Minister used very careful language about it when he was asked in the House whether it was intended either that we should cover a Jordanian attack on Iraq or whether we were poised for an attack on Iraq. He called our attention to the logistics of the situation, because at that time the Government were quite uncertain as to how developments were going to mature in Bagdad. It was believed in some quarters that the rebellion, or the revolution, would prove either abortive or would give rise to civil war. So uncertain were we about the situation in Iraq, so ill-informed were we, that we did not realise that the insurrectionaries there commanded the overwhelming support of the population. Indeed, it is a fact, and we might as well face it, that our association with Nuri es-Said as the champion of the Western Powers in Bagdad undermined his position with the Iraqi people. We destroyed him. All I hope is that we shall not seek to destroy by the same methods the existing Government in Bagdad.
333 It really must be realised, humiliating though it might be to some people, that the association of the Western Powers with the leader of an Arab State does not reinforce his position with his own people, and that it would be a very great mistake for us to try to induce, cajole, seduce—or use whatever adjective you like—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sorry, verb—the present Government in Bagdad to follow the same line as was adopted by Nuri es-Said.
Now we are out of Jordan and, apparently, we were not there because we feared any general uprising in the Middle East. That being the case, the question which then arises is: what do we do if we are invited back? If I may say so, with all respect, the difficulty with the Prime Minister is that he sometimes overstates his case. The right hon. Gentleman said that we were there in Jordan as a result of international morality and honour. The Prime Minister reminds me of some writing of my friend Miloran Djilas in a recent book, where he describes another highlander, a Montenegrin, as one—…who held a high line of talk as if he were always on horseback.What does the Prime Minister do if King Hussein invites him back? What happens to the promptings of international morality and honour? Do we go back in again? And if we do not go back in again, are we unfaithful to the promptings of international morality and honour? Really, we must have some reply about this, because if we are going to rush in as a bodyguard for King Hussein every time he gets into difficulties, it is putting us in rather a ridiculous position. We ought to be told—we were not told today—what are the circumstances in which we would again come to the rescue of King Hussein, because the situation inside Jordan is precisely what it was before.
The King has no general support among the people of Jordan. The other day there was a meeting, I believe, of the very much curtailed Chamber. At that meeting, Dr. Khalifah, the President of the Chamber, announced that the Chamber had never approved the calling in of British troops. This mild criticism from even a purged Chamber apparently frightened the Jordan Government. No further debate has been held. So it was necessary even for people of mild, liberal 334 opinion to dissociate themselves from King Hussein's invitation.
The King again rules by martial law. The political parties were dissolved and their leaders are in exile and, being in exile, they will do what leaders always do in exile; they will try to get back home again. If they attempt to do that, because they will be doing it from a foreign nation, it will once more look like intervention in Jordan's affairs, another example, of course, of "indirect aggression". But they cannot do it from anywhere else; they cannot fall off the earth. What they are really attempting to do in Jordan is what every exiled Government or party tries to do; it tries to get back home. If, as a result of that attempt, there may be some reciprocal sympathy in Jordan itself and some disorders and King Hussein again asks us for help, do we go back in? Or will it be the fact that the prompting of international morality and honour will no longer apply because there will be no trouble in Bagdad? Really, it is necessary that we should get rid of this high-falutin' nonsense and come to the practical facts.
There is only one way in which, I hope, the Government have been attempting to influence King Hussein in this direction. There is only one way in which we can get something approaching stability in Jordan. That would be for the King to invite the exiled leaders to go back home again, to allow the political parties to emerge into the open, to permit of political liberty being once more established, and to allow a general election. Unless he does that, this danger will recur.
British troops ought not to be expected to risk their lives in order to maintain unpopular kings on their thrones. Whatever may have been the reasons which led the Government to their adventure in the first instance, I believe I am expressing the point of view of hon. Members in all parts of the House when I say that, if this situation again occurs in Jordan, there will be no justification, even if King Hussein requests it, for British troops to be sent in. We ought to make it quite clear to the King now, because unless we make it clear he will not be influenced to take the steps that he should take in order to rehabilitate himself with his own people.
I should also like to know whether we are going to provide Jordan with more 335 subventions. The difficulty about Jordan is that it is a piece of fruit that nobody wants to pick up, for it is not a viable country. But arrangements may be made, and could be made, for the future of Jordan if the King could reconcile himself to his people. If he could establish some form of democratic Government. it might be possible to fit Jordan into the context of the Middle East, but so long as there is a monarchical dictatorship in the country, it is bound to become a thorn in our flesh all the time. So I hope the Government will use what influence they can to bring about an improvement in the situation in Jordan itself.
Before I leave the subject of the Middle East, I wish to make one or two references to the discussions which took place in the House before the Recess. We had, I thought, a very useful discussion about the Middle East, and I had the honour, on behalf of the Opposition, of putting forward certain proposals for the future of the area.
I believe it is true to say that the Arab League is undergoing a certain transformation. The Egyptian influence inside the Arab League is not as powerful as it was, for the very simple reason that there are two currents running there concurrently. First, there is Pan-Arabism, and second, there is Arab nationalism; and I tried to say on that occasion that they are not the same thing. The Arab nations are not prepared to substitute the hegemony of Egypt for that of the West. They are perfectly prepared to enter into a loose confederation with Egypt, but they are not prepared to accept the domination of Egypt. This is a very important development, because if we recognise that Arab nationalism is not necessarily a pillar for Egypt but can give rise to loose confederations, we ourselves, it seems to me, ought to be sympathising with and encouraging that development.
In my view, it would be a very great mistake for us to repeat our former policy of trying to divide the Arab nations one against the other, because those Arab leaders who express sympathy with the West or appear in the eyes of their fellow countrymen to be instruments of Western diplomacy lose influence with their own people. Therefore, what we should be doing is trying to promote Pan- 336 Arabism as much as possible in the form of a loose confederation so that the desires of the Arab masses to be one with each other could be realised, at the same time satisfying their aspirations for national independence.
Therefore, if we support these two things, it seems to me that we should not only be doing our best to promote peace in the area, but should at the same time be promoting our own interests. For example, I should like to know what we are doing in Kuwait. We have there a very special position, not only because it is a place from which we get a very large amount of oil and a very considerable reinforcement of our dollar balances, but because we are in treaty with Kuwait on very special terms. In 1899, we signed the treaty, which read:The said Sheikh of his own free will and desire does hereby pledge and bind himself, his heirs and successors not to receive the Agent or Representative of any Power or Government at Kuwait, or at any place within the limits of his territory, without the previous sanction of the British Government; and he further binds himself, his heirs and successors not to cede, sell, lease, mortgage or give for occupation or for any other purpose any portion of his territory to the Government or subjects of any other Power without the previous consent of Her Majesty's Government.No one can say that he did not tie himself up. He cannot move hand or foot without the permission of the British Government.
At the same time—this is a very serious matter, because we do not want to have another difficulty in Kuwait—those living in Kuwait include a very large number of ardent Pan-Arabs; very large numbers of those now living there have come from adjacent territories and nations, for the development of the oil resources of Kuwait far exceeded the population there and people had to be brought in from outside. Has the head of the State asked us for our advice in the event of his wishing to join the Arab Republic, and if so, what have we said? Would it not be desirable for him to do so, provided, of course, that all the while it can be done without prejudice to the interests of other people? It will be a moderating influence inside the confederation. It would satisfy the aspirations of his own people, to which he himself has shown himself sensitive recently, and it might prevent in Kuwait trouble, which would be exceedingly dangerous for us.
337 Is it not far better for us to take the initiative in this direction, rather than having to meet conflict when it arises? I know that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is angry about these things; he calls it chucking things away. He still thinks that we can get oil from the Middle East with gunboats. I thought we had resolved in this House—though not with the consent of the noble Lord, I know, and I should have been astonished if he had done so—that we would only be able to get oil from the Middle East safely and smoothly by commercial methods and by wise diplomacy, and not by strong-arm methods. If anything has been established, that has been. It is also established in the Middle East, as I have said earlier, that there is a desire on the part of the Arabs to move more closely together, and that desire is not inimical to our interests if we anticipate these developments before they become too intransigent.
Therefore, I should have thought myself, though maybe I cannot get the answer today, that the advice we should give to the head of the Government of Kuwait now is certainly to enter into such relations as he thinks wise with the Arab Republic, provided, of course, like the Government of Iraq, he maintains inside that federation independence for Kuwait. This is the position taken up by Iraq. It was feared on the Government side of the House—a fear which I did not share at the time, and I said so—that the insurrection in Iraq was inspired from Egypt and was really an Egyptian coup d'état. It proved not to be the case, and there is no reason at all, I repeat, why we cannot reconcile all these movements in the Middle East.
I most especially welcome the decision of the Arab nations to set up their own development fund. I hope we shall give it every kind of encouragement we can, because I am satisfied, not only that the peace of the Middle East depends upon that, but I believe that if only we can make the Arab nations outward-looking and give them more prospects of economic development, the ancient feud between Israeli and Arab will slowly die down. That is all I want to say about that subject.
I now want to say a few words about the Far East, and I hope the right hon. 338 and learned Gentleman the Foreign Secretary will pardon me if I address most of my reply to the Prime Minister. In fact, we shall have to do that more and more, because there is hardly anybody else in the Government except the Prime Minister. Even "Macleod" has had to give way to "MacWonder". On Tuesday, the Prime Minister chided my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in the most remarkable way for wanting to have some declaration of Government policy about the Far East. I must con-fess—
§ Mr. Bevan
No; the right hon. Gentleman chided him for wanting the right hon. Gentleman to make a declaration. Certainly, that is precisely what the right hon. Gentleman said. I have got the quotation here. He said:Nothing will persuade me that public recrimination is the best method of diplomacy between friends and Allies."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th October, 1958; Vol. 594, c. 36.]This is a new line for him. I do not mind the Prime Minister becoming a reformed character, but why should he be so unctuous about it?
It is only about a year ago that the Prime Minister was a member of Sir Anthony Eden's Government. He was regarded by us as the third man in it. He proved to be the second man in it. On that occasion, he did not take the same line. In fact, President Eisenhower was very angry with him. Do hon. Members remember President Eisenhower's broadcast of 31st October, 1956? This is what he said:On October 30th, the British and French Governments delivered a 12-hour ultimatum to Egypt, now followed up by armed attack against Egypt. The United States was not consulted in any way about any phase of this action. Nor were we informed of them in advance.That, of course, is not recrimination; it is deceit. Apparently, open disagreement with our friends and allies is not justified, but if we from this side of the House suggest that the Government's policy should be made known, that is terrible. President Eisenhower went on to say:As it is the manifest right of any of these nations to take such decisions and actions, it is likewise our right, if our judgment so dictates, to dissent.339 If this claim is made by the President of the United States, why cannot we make the same claim?
The alternative to deceit is not necessarily subservience. There is no reason why this nation should not have made its position known to the whole world, and to the American people in particular, about what we thought of events in the Far East. Is there any reason why we should not say what we believe about the offshore islands of China? I do not understand the Prime Minister's point of view here at all. After all, we are entitled to know what advice he gave the American President, and what the Foreign Secretary said to Mr. Dulles. What have we come to when we seem to be on the edge of war and our own leaders cannot tell the nation what our point of view is?
The Foreign Secretary makes his visits to Washington. He has told us what he said to the United Nations. Is that all he said to Mr. Dulles? If it was all he said to Mr. Dulles, why could not the right hon. and learned Gentleman have said the same thing? But, apparently, that was not all, because if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had said what was the Government's policy, it would have been recrimination. Why should it be recrimination, unless they disagreed with the Americans? It is a very strange line of reasoning. What are we coming to when we are told that for us to ask that our national policy should be made known is brash, amateurish and clumsy? These are the skilled diplomatists, going almost secretly to the United States to say what they want to say. We do not know. The right hon. and learned Gentleman takes his suitcase and his portfolio, and we are not told what instructions he had from the Government. We do not know: it is all secret.
It reminds me of the old chestnut about the Hollywood actress who was wheeling a perambulator down the street one day and, when someone looked into the perambulator, it was found that there was nothing in it. People asked, "Where is the baby?" and the reply was, "The father is the invisible man." It is an old chestnut, I know, but one worth recalling on this occasion. We do not know what is in the perambulator, what is in the suitcase, or what advice we gave to the United States.
340 The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the view of the Government was that the status of these islands should not be determined by force. They have been determined by force. The position of Formosa, Matsu and Quemoy has been decided, ever since the Chinese revolution, by the force of the United States. What is this one-eyed way of looking at the thing? One would have thought that the United States and Chiang Kai-shek had held the position of these islands in doubt for all these years.
It has been our view, expressed by Sir Anthony Eden, that these offshore islands are part of the territory of the mainland of China. However, during all these years our Government and the United States have done nothing. There has been no shooting and no firing, and Chiang Kai-shek has remained in possession. There has been no attempt whatever to meet the Chinese case. No concessions have been made, but when China takes the action she has taken, it becomes impossible to make concessions for fear it will be seen as concessions to force. If force is not used, no concessions are made.
It is an impossible position and one about which we have complained over and over again. It is not good enough to try to put out the flames of conflict when they arise but to do nothing at all in between. Decisions should have been made about the offshore islands long ago.
When the British Labour delegation went to Moscow in 1954, we did our very best to prevail upon Mr. Malenkov, the then Russian Prime Minister, to influence the Chinese Government not to raise too many difficulties about Formosa at that time. [An HON. MEMBER: "And look what happened to him."] Do not be so silly. We do not want to discuss the fate of politicians, because there is a whole row of them over there. It is quite true that they are made, not managers of power stations, but directors of banks.
What we then said—and we were perfectly serious—was that it was unwise to press the claims of China upon Formosa at that time because the prestige of the United States was too deeply involved and the United States would not be able to make a concession at that time without losing face. It was therefore undesirable to allow the Chinese to press their claims to the point of a show-down.
341 The Chinese did not press their claims. They continued to hold them, and if we were Chinese we would do the same thing. After all, Formosa was taken from China by the Japanese as long ago as 1896, and it was a very natural ambition of the Chinese patriot to consummate the defeat of Japan. We would do exactly the same thing. It is absurd to say that the Chinese are being unreasonable. However, we believed that it would be unwise for the Chinese Communists to press the position of Formosa at that time.
These offshore islands are in an entirely different category. We are told by hon. Members opposite and by some American publicists that to make these concessions to China now would undermine the whole of the Western Powers' position in the Far East. We get into a difficulty which arises as a result of not permitting China to join the United Nations, not allowing her to join the family of nations and thus being unable to make arrangements with the Chinese without appearing to do so as a surrender to force.
We have got into a terrible situation. When we are attacked by hon. Members opposite for taking this apparently pro-Communist line, I must say that our view that the Chinese should be represented in the United Nations is shared by the vast majority of the American people themselves. The American Democratic Party takes our view, and a very large number of Republicans take our view. I have not been able to understand how it is that the policies of the White House have not more closely adjusted themselves in the circumstances to what is known to be the point of view of large numbers of American people.
How long can that continue, because international relationships are being poisoned by this situation? How can we continue to keep 650 million people outside the comity of nations? How can we hope to get peace in the world when we behave in that way? We are supposed to recognise Communist China, but in the United Nations itself we do not assist in the recognition of China. On the contrary, the other day we gave our vote to postponing consideration of the matter for another year. This is not peace-making, and I am certain that it does not accord with the wishes of the British people.
342 The overwhelming majority of the people of this country would prefer to see Great Britain speaking more clearly and independently to the United States of America on this and other questions. That would not affect our friendship at all, for the Americans would understand it. It is certainly not consistent with our dignity that not only should we not press these policies on America but should be conniving at their opposite in the United Nations. If there is any cessation of the firing against these islands, I hope that we shall do our best to make use of the interlude to try to bring about a settlement.
The right hon. Gentleman has quoted Mr. Foster Dulles. Anybody can quote Mr. Foster Dulles. We can say things on this side of the House which it would be undiplomatic to say on the other side. It would be a real triumph if the right hon. Gentleman could bring one success from his next visit to America, that Mr. Dulles should not make a speech for at least one week. I have quotation after quotation of a most mischievous kind, in which, for example, Mr. Dulles says that he regards the Communist régime in China as temporary. We used to say the same thing about the Russian Revolution.
§ Mr. Bevan
I beg hon. Members opposite to consider the lessons of recent history. Since I became a Member, I have heard debate after debate about Russia. I am sure that many of the excesses of the Stalin régime were the consequences of the fact that we drove the Russians into complete isolation for so many years. Many of the excesses which are taking place in China may be due to the same thing.
What folly it is to compel the Chinese to learn Russian. What folly it is when all the artifacts—to use the American expression—of the Western world could be made available to the Chinese, when they could be sending their technicians to us and we could be sending our technicians there to teach them how to use Western machines. In the last six or seven years, we have compelled them to have Russian technicians and to learn Russian and to bind themselves more and more closely to Russia, although there were very many traditional influences in 343 Chinese society inimical to a closer relationship with China's northern neighbour.
We neglected it and followed the United States too closely in this matter. The result is that the world is torn into halves and we are not making any progress in this matter. If there were a Labour Government, we should insist upon using all our influence in the United Nations to bring in Communist China as quickly as possible. We should try to repair the mischief that has been done and try, if we could, to hold back some of the consequences that will inevitably follow if the Chinese are kept in isolation much longer. We would do it even though we, were met with some hostility from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, because we accept the point of view of President Eisenhower that when nations differ from each other, even though they are great friend and allies, it is best, in the interests of all, that they should make their point of view known.
I am sorry to have occupied so much time. I want to say a word or two about the situation in Cyprus. I want to call the Prime Minister's attention to what he said on Tuesday. It is not good enough for him to say that the proposals of the Government about Cyprus had the general approval of this House. He said:It was generously responded to by the Opposition …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th October, 1958; Vol. 594, c. 37.]That is not true. It is quite incorrrect. It is not quite right to speak in this way simply because we did not divide against the Government. It has been a long-established convention of this House that on foreign affairs the Opposition does not divide the House except where it is at great issue with the Government.
If every time we do not divide the House on foreign affairs it is to be assumed that we support the Government of the day, it will make it very difficult for us to continue that convention. We do not want to divide the House every time on foreign affairs, but if we do not divide we do not want the Prime Minister to say that we support his policies.
In fact, we criticised his proposals in three very important particulars. We said, first, that the proposal to have Greek and Turkish representatives on the Governor's Council was a mistake. We 344 said, further, that it was a mistake to go on with the proposal about dual nationality, and, thirdly and most important, we said that we thought it was a great mistake to go on with communal representation without at the same time making provision for an all-Cypriot legislative assembly.
Then the Prime Minister paid his visits to Ankara and Athens. and after those visits he modified the British plan—the so-called partnership plan—in two particulars. First, he decided that the representatives of the Greeks and the Turks should not be full members of the Governor's Council, but should act in an advisory capacity. He further decided to drop the proposal for dual nationality. In these two respects, he conceded the Opposition's case. But on the third one he was ambiguous and, to some extent. provocative. He said:The establishment of this system of communal assemblies charged with certain specific functions, and of the Governor's Council, charged with other more general duties does not exclude, and should, with general good will, facilitate the development of some form of representative institution serving the interests of the island as a whole.It is the Greek case, and it is our view, that the establishment of a central national assembly should go on pari passu with the communal councils, because it is the Greek fear that unless that happens the establishment of the communal councils would not facilitate the establishment of a national institution but would lead rather to the permanent partition of the island. There we accept the Cypriot view. Why do not the Government say so? Why do they use all this ambiguous language?
If it is the view of the Government—and I hope that they have been brought to it now—that Cyprus should look forward in future to independence and self-government, inside the Commonwealth, as we hope, why do not they say so? Would it not be very much better if they said, "In our view, Enosis is out, and partition is out"? The Greeks have said that they eventually look forward to self-government for Cyprus, in the Commonwealth. Even after all this bloodshed and terror, and these very regrettable happenings, the Greeks still say that they would rather have Cyprus independent and inside the Commonwealth, and Greece inside N.A.T.O.—and it may be Cyprus also 345 inside N..A.T.O., with a N.A.T.O. base on Cyprus.
What is wrong with that? Why did not we say so? Is it because the Turks would not like it? It is time that we stopped sacrificing British lives in Cyprus in order to meet the Turkish point of view. It is nonsense to suggest that 18 per cent, of the island should frustrate the wishes of 80 per cent. Why are we not stronger about this matter? The more time goes by the more difficult the problem is. We on this side repeat that we have implored the Cypriots to desist from violence. We are deeply angry and moved by some of the murders committed in Cyprus recently.
We do not like to see British troops in circumstances of this kind. I have said before, and I repeat, that it has always been a very proud tradition with us that whenever British troops have been in different parts of the world, in the most difficult circumstances, they have been messengers of peace and good will. It happened after the 1914–18 War. When the British troops were occupying Germany, they actually broke the blockade; they insisted on sharing their rations with German civilians. It happened after the last war, when non-fraternisation broke down because the British Tommy would not support it. It is not right to put decent human beings in intolerable positions.
Some of the events which have taken place through the actions of both sides in Cyprus have caused anxieties on both sides of this House. We should not allow our troops to be put into a context where their normal discipline is liable to break down. We therefore seek a political solution of this matter. Truce after truce has been held in the island—three of them—and the opportunity has been lost. That is our accusation against the Government. When there is no violence, they believe that there is no need to act; when there is violence, they cannot act because of the violence. By not acting when there is no violence, they put a premium on violence.
We are democrats in this House. Let us face it; there is no moral argument against violence if people are denied liberty. We would not accept the argument. When people demand liberty and national independence, if they are unable to frame the policies of their country 346 willingly and freely, there is no moral argument against violence. The Declaration of Independence of America goes even further than that. Therefore, if we are to stop violence in the island, we should create conditions in which the Cypriot people can freely discharge their responsibilities and lead their own lives.
We want to bring British troops home from Cyprus as quickly as possible. We do not like this hideous story of murder, assassination, ambush and cruelty. It is not a soldier's solution that must be found; it must be a political solution. I beg and pray, even at this last moment, that some concession may be made to enable the Greeks to join this conference.
I think that M. Spaak made the suggestion that other representatives should be present at the conference. What is wrong with accepting the Spaak proposal? He would be chairman.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I said in my speech that we had accepted that the representatives of two other N.A.T.O. Governments should be present.
§ Mr. Bevan
Is this a recent decision? This is not my information. I was going to say this: I do most earnestly hope, on behalf of the Opposition, that the Greek Government will participate at the conference, but I say it would facilitate that very much if the Government could be more forthcoming on the question of Enosis and partition. It is very difficult for the Greeks. The right hon. Gentleman should really consider this. If he wants somebody to deliver the goods, he must not make it too difficult for him to do so.
Already Archbishop Makarios has had difficulty among his own followers by his rejection of Enosis. His position would be made much easier—and we want it to be made easier if we want a settlement—if we could say at the same time that the Turks must abandon partition. I hope, therefore, that the Greek Government will participate in the conference and that we shall be able to make that statement so as to facilitate the conference.
I apologise to the House for keeping it so long, but I want to end with just one thing. We on this side of the House 347 deeply deplore the fact that it was impossible for the British Government and the American Government, or so they thought, to accept the Russian proposal for the suspension of tests last March. If that suspension had taken place, something in the region of forty to fifty nuclear test explosions would have been avoided.
The Russians found that their invitation met with no response and they resumed their tests. Now we do not know what is going to happen. Do I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that if the Russians continue their tests we shall continue ours? Is that the intention, because he left that rather ambiguous? May I have a reply? When the conference meets tomorrow, if the Russian tests continue, do we continue ours? I should like to know. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] We shall have a reply at the end of the debate, I understand. Really, it will be a shocking situation if these talks are being held with the tests going on all the time.
I hope sincerely that we shall be able to respond to what the Russians did by saying, "We are stopping our tests. If you go on with your tests, that is your responsibility." as the Russians said earlier. "We will stop our tests, and if you go on with yours that is your responsibility." Surely the time has come for someone to take the initiative to put an end to this hideous round.
Are Her Majesty's Government quite satisfied that their proposal for suspension for a period of one year is altogether satisfactory? Have they considered the psychological situation created by them? After all, a year is just about enough time to digest the results of the last series of tests and to prepare a new series. It is exactly that period. By having the period of a year, if no effective progress is made—I do beg of them to consider this—that is to say, if there is a great deal of discussion and no agreement has actually been reached and the tests have been stopped for a year, the resumption of tests at the end of that period will create an appalling impression throughout the whole world. Everybody will be dismayed.
One year is too short. The Russians have said that they want the tests to be abolished entirely. We say one year. Is there no possibility of some half-way 348 ground there? Can we have a longer period? Can we have concessions from both sides, because what we have said here is that we believe that the actual suspension of tests themselves, if that suspension continues long enough, will create conditions favourable to progress in other directions. Therefore, we hope that the Government will move from there, because if at the end of this year tests are resumed, this will send a shudder of disappointment and dismay throughout the whole world.
We are starting another Session of Parliament, maybe the last Session before a General Election. I can see nothing at all in the world at the present time, except that these two conferences are going to take place, that gives rise to optimism. I think that all the factors in the world are making for disaster. These technical conferences, important though they are, and these political conferences following them, would be successful only if we could get hold of a new vision, if we could really start taking a few risks for peace, if we really could realise that the old attitudes, passions and instincts of man are no longer any guides in the world today.
We have created a situation without precedent in the history of mankind, and the old dispositions are no longer an effective equipment to deal with them. We require to have from statesmen not only vision but courage; not only courage but persistence; and not only persistence but patience. We have not had enough of that so far. We have had too easy a disposition to fall back on old ways and not face the new situation with a new vision. It is time that we had it.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
I want to comment upon the opening and very mischievous part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) which related to Jordan. The right hon. Gentleman said, for example, that in relation to Jordan we had broken rules in order to call attention to them. I do not know what rules the right hon. Gentleman had in mind. We did not break any rules in going into Jordan.
It was never said on this side of the House that we had broken any rules, 349 and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman, who showed himself a little bit out of date on the Cyprus negotiations, could have really read the debate which took place in this House about the despatch of British troops to Jordan, because it was virtually conceded from his own Front Bench that the despatch of British troops to Jordan, in response to the request of the Government of that country, was in accordance with international law.
Therefore, I wonder just what the right hon. Gentleman meant, if he wanted to mean anything at all, in saying that we broke the rules in order to call attention to them. I am afraid that this was characteristic of what he had to say about Jordan and the British action in Jordan. It left me with the impression of being said for effect rather than having been thought out and verified and said with knowledge.
§ Mr. Bell
I do not begin to understand what the right hon. Gentleman means by that reply. The right hon. Gentleman said that we broke the rules in order to call attention to them. I asked him which rules were broken and he has not given me any answer to that, except a rather misleading reference to Iraq.
Then the right hon. Gentleman said that we had been extracted by the United Nations from an awkward situation. This is in relation to Jordan. If ever there was a part of the world where the existing mess is the product of the United Nations it is Jordan. I will concede this much, that the party opposite, by its action in 1948, has to share the responsibility for the situation in the Middle East with the United Nations, but, nevertheless, the primary responsibility for the situation there rests squarely upon that international body, which by its evasion and avoidance for ten years of its main duty, created a situation from which so many damaging incidents have arisen. Our despatch of troops to Jordan was a very timely and necessary action to alleviate a very special situation. We were absolutely 350 right, not just in international law but in expediency and wisdom, in sending troops to Jordan.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and the Leader of the Opposition asked what we had gained by that operation. There is a very simple answer. We gained time, and time was invaluable in the situation. Our action certainly linked up with events in Iraq; I am sure that if we had not sent troops when we did the impetus of revolution would have been irresistible. There was a feeling abroad in the Middle East and in the world that the régime in Jordan came next. After Nuri es-Said went, anything could happen and nothing could stay the same. In any country, and especially in the Middle East, a belief of that kind is halfway to achieving a revolution, but by sending British troops we gained King Hussein a breathing space which has allowed time for thought.
We have allowed just that necessary time for the other nations of the Middle East to think where they were going and perhaps to do some arithmetic about the financial liability. It allowed time for the situation in Iraq to settle down, and it certainly allowed time for Nasser to assess much more sensibly the consequences if Jordan should fall into his hands and Israel be presented with a vexatious and difficult dilemma. All these matters fell into shape while British troops were stationed in Jordan. Though we are withdrawing them now we must remember that all the problems in that part of the world are not solved. Indeed, they are not; but, on the other hand, the situation in October, 1958, is very different from the situation in July. It has been the presence of British troops in Jordan which has allowed that change to take place.
Nobody could honestly doubt or deny that Jordan has been the object of intense subversion, which weakens a country in many ways. The first way is by direct attack upon its rulers. Jordan has had a very bitter experience of that, in attempt after attempt made upon the life of its King. Those attempts were undoubtedly mounted from outside and were only circumvented by the splendid efficiency of the Jordan intelligence service, which has intercepted all these assassins without a single failure.
§ Mr. Bell
That is precisely the problem in that part of the world. I say to the hon. Member who interrupted that it is not a laughing matter but a very serious and sad one that the prosperity and peace of that part of the world should depend upon the preservation of the life of one man, although a very courageous and able young man.
The second way in which subversion weakens a country like Jordan is by distracting the attention of its people from the positive work which remains to he done there. The third example, and in some ways the worst, of the ways in which subversion works, is by spreading suspicion and making it necessary to have precautionary purges in the government of the country, which deprive the country, as Jordan has been deprived, of the services of some of its best and most valuable citizens.
That is not to say that I do not think King Hussein has been absolutely right in making these purges; for without them he would not be alive today and his country would not be independent. When these things happen, the innocent sometimes suffer with the guilty and the number of able men who can be used in the country's government becomes very limited.
§ Mr. Silverman
If there is a good deal of misunderstanding about the internal situation in Jordan, does not the hon. Gentleman think that it is only increased when the King, whose position is maintained, as the hon. Gentleman has said, only by British troops, exercises a personal right of discrimination among Members of the British House of Commons so that he allows into his country members of the Conservative Party but keeps out members' of the Labour Party?
§ Mr. Bell
I am well aware that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has not visited that country recently, and has no authority to talk about it. His exclusion from there had nothing whatever to do with his being a member of the Opposition side of the House. I visited Jordan recently, as he knows. I did so also in January of this 352 year, with two of his Opposition colleagues. We had a very profitable visit and were most courteously welcomed. We were shown round the country by the Government of Jordan. The politics of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne have nothing whatever to do with his exclusion from that country.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Gentleman seems to know a great deal more about it than anybody else. If he really knows what it was, I wonder whether he will be courteous and tell the House what it was.
§ Mr. Bell
The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what the position is. Jordan and Israel are at war. Israel is explicitly a religious State and by its laws every Jew throughout the world is a citizen of Israel. Jordan is bound to take account of that fact. I am not here to justify or explain the rules which govern the armistice between the countries of the Middle East, but to make a speech about what I think Government policy should be. [Interruption.] I hope that the hon. Member will allow me to go on. All that I have just been saying is familiar to every hon. Member, including the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne.
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Member who has the Floor does not give way, it is disorderly for any other hon. Member to remain standing.
§ Mr. Silverman
I would have yielded to the hon. Gentleman's request not to interrupt him if he had refrained from making a personal accusation which is quite untrue and which he ought to withdraw.
§ Mr. Silverman
The accusation was that I knew perfectly well before I asked my question the explanation and justification of the permission given by the Jordan Government to the hon. Member to go to that country and their refusal 353 to me to go. I know no such thing. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw it.
§ Mr. Bell
I gladly accept that explanation, but it appears to me to be very much worse than the explanation which I ascribed to the hon. Gentleman. He ought to know something which has been common knowledge in the world for at least ten years, as The Times commented at the time.
Why is Jordan vulnerable to this subversion? That is a matter about which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale had a great deal to say. I think there is no doubt at all that die King and Government of Jordan are vulnerable to subversion primarily because of the collapse of the policy of the League of Nations Mandate which, of course, is rightly associated with Great Britain. We are the country that made the Balfour Declaration, we are the country which administered the Mandate and we are the country which, in 1948, turned on our heels, dropped the Mandate on the floor and walked out. I support the Balfour Declaration. I think it was a wise act of statesmanship. I think that we administered the Declaration policy wisely and well. I could make criticisms of the way in which we walked out in 1948, but I understand why that decision was reached in principle.
The fact remains that we, more than anyone else, are regarded as responsible for the 600,000 refugees sitting in the camps around the border. We are regarded as responsible for having introduced the problem of Israel into that part of the world and, of course, the Hashemite Kings of Jordan are known to have been friendly to Great Britain. What is more, they are known to be and to have been moderate and realistic men.
Everyone knows that Abdullah was quite willing to recognise the existence of Israel and to make a working agreement. That was why he was killed. Everyone knows that his successor, King Hussein, is also a moderate and realistic man, who, again, does not talk about driving Israel into the sea. He has maintained his contacts with the West and would welcome a sensible settlement of the Middle Eastern situation. For that reason, and for no other, he is vulnerable to subversion.
354 King Hussein could arm himself against these attacks and against this subversion quite easily if he liked to play the rôle of a Nasser, to be a bitter enemy of the colonialist, imperialist Powers, to be the leader of the Arab world in denouncing Israel, to break all his ties with the West, and so on. If, in fact, he abandoned all that is good in himself and what he stands for, if he abandoned everything we believe in in the Middle East, he would be secure from subversion. He is exposed to it, in fact, because he stands in the Middle East for those things for which we stand in the Middle East, for moderation and realism and acceptance of the idea that Israel is a country which is to remain in the Middle East and build itself up, the belief that these countries must live together and reach agreement.
Those are the policies which the Hashemite Kings, both in Jordan and in Iraq, have stood for and have been associated with in Arab minds. That is why one of them has been murdered and one is in constant danger of being murdered like his great uncle, who was, in fact, killed beside him as they walked into a temple in Jerusalem. I would tell the right hon. Member that that is why, as the Prime Minister rightly said, it is a debt of honour for the British people to go to his aid at his request when his life is threatened by subversion fostered from outside and based upon those grounds.
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Member calls it subversion, but he is confirming everything I said about this question. I said that if any leader in the Middle East came to be regarded by the Arab masses as an instrument of the Western Powers he destroyed his support among the Arab people. That is entirely what the hon. Member is saying and I agree with him.
§ Mr. Bell
The right hon. Member has not said the same thing at all. The trouble about the right hon. Member is that sometimes he is at the mercy of his own phrases. He used one phrase, "the instrument of the Western Powers", which, of course, gives a twist and meaning to everything he says and which completely subverts it.
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Member must do justice to me. I did not say they were instruments of the Western Powers. I said, "if they came to be regarded as 355 instruments of the Western Powers". I think that the hon. Member is far more confused by his own failure to understand than I am at the mercy of my own phrases.
§ Mr. Bell
I always try to understand the right hon. Member, because I find it a very profitable exercise, as it usually clarifies my mind as to why I disagree with him. I hope that he is not now trying to say that if, in fact, any leader of an Arab country, through pursuing policies which, shall we say, for the sake of argument, coincide with those of the West, and which reasonable people outside the area should approve, is wrongly regarded as an instrument of the Western Powers, the Western Powers should abandon him to his fate. Is that what he is saying?
§ Mr. Bell
That is what the argument of the right hon. Member amounts to. I want to make clear that that is not an argument with which I agree and I do not know of any hon. Member on this side of the House who would agree with it either.
The right hon. Member said some most offensive and untrue things about the present King of Jordan. He described him as an unpopular King, who received no support from his people. That just is not true. I have never met a Jordanian who had anything to say against the King. I have met plenty of Jordanians who had plenty to say against their Government and Prime Minister, and so on. That is not unusual in any country, but I have not found anywhere in Jordan, even in the refugee camps, anything but personal admiration for the King, both for his courage and for his ability. If the right hon. Member carefully read that report of the meeting of the Jordanian Parliament from which he quoted a short extract, he must have been struck by seeing how, in speech after speech, members sometimes criticised the Government, but always praised the King.
§ Mr. Bell
The right hon. Member says that that happens everywhere, but it does not look as if there is an unpopular King there who enjoys no support from his own people. The exact reverse is the case.
356 The right hon. Member has not said it today, but it has been widely said, that Jordan and its Government are open to subversion because Jordan is a backward and feudal country and we are wrong to prop up the rotten monarchies of decaying States. That is absolute nonsense. Jordan is one of the advanced countries of the Middle East. Eighty per cent. of the children there receive secondary education. The biggest export is of technicians to other parts of the Middle East. It is absurd to compare that country with backward countries like Saudi Arabia. Egypt, Syria, or even Iraq.
Israel and Jordan are the two countries of the Middle East where there is a dynamism which is capable of opposing Nasserism. In my belief one can only beat Nasserism by opposing it by an equal dynamism. There is a great difference in degree between Israel and Jordan; I am not pretending that there is not. On the one hand, there is the tremendous vitality of people building up a new State, which will become one of the most powerful units of the Middle East, but, let us make no mistake about it, on the other hand, in a city like Amman there has seen an increase from 300 to to nearly 300,000 population in thirty-five years, and there is certainly dynamism there, too.
In my opinion, Jordan has in itself all the requisites for growth and independence without British troops. Jordan has an enlightened and courageous leader. It is a desert country with plenty of water—which sounds a contradiction in terms, but is not—an educated young population—and no oil. Oil is morally the football pools of the Middle East. It is the possession of oil which has held back countries like Iraq, because the wealth which comes from it comes in an unrelated and irrelevant way and has nothing to do with the efforts of the people in the country.
It often seems to me that these great controversies are almost won or lost by a battle of phrases at the beginning, and Nasser has half won this battle by capturing the phrase "Arab nationalism". He captured it from the Hashemite Kings, of all people. It seems to me that in the Middle East there are two opposing forces. On the side of one we must be, and the other must go down in failure. The true Arab nationalism has descended 357 from the revolt in the desert and the King Hussein who led it, through the Hashemite dynasty and to the present King of Jordan.
On the other hand, we have Abdul Nasser, who preaches throughout the Middle East something called Arab nationalism which, in fact, is nothing but xenophobia. It is a complete contrast. I gather that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale does not think that Nasserism is a form of xenophobia. I am truly astonished. What Nasser preaches day by day and week by week is the regeneration of the Arabs by turning out the imperialists who have tricked them of their greatness.
At no time has Nasser ever concentrated on building up his country from the bottom. He may have considered that for a few weeks when Neguib was President, but he speedily turned his back on it and reverted to xenophobia—the old feeling of the Arabs that their greatness would come back to them without any labour on their part and by simply turning out the imperialists. His speeches are full of it. When he seized the Suez Canal he said, "Now we have laid the foundations of freedom, of independence and of grandeur", when all he had done was to seize somebody else's property.
The other kind of nationalism is that of Ataturk, which consisted of building up a country from the bottom. We shall not see Nasser going round the Egyptian villages with a piece of chalk teaching the children the Roman letters, as Ataturk did, building up his country slowly and painfully by hard work, abandoning all external expansion and even giving away the territories which he had.
§ Mr. Bell
Perhaps the hon. Member is not an impartial judge of the remarkable regeneration of Turkey.
That sort is the true Arab nationalism, which aims to restore the greatness of the Arab countries by hard work, building them up from the bottom.
358 Perhaps I may make two suggestions on how we can preserve the independence of Jordan, now that British troops have been withdrawn, not just from year to year by subsidy or by any palliative but by a permanent policy. I think that the whole propaganda presentation of the case in the Middle East has been wrong and has been simply acting as a long-stop to the propaganda of the Voice of Cairo. There is a living theme to be put over that Nasser's brand of Arab nationalism is pure xenophobia which appeals to the worst in everybody; it is the dream of Cairo, while nothing goes on except a few grandiose projects. True Arab nationalism is to be found in Jordan under the Hashemites, and it is the painstaking and slow way upwards. If that theme is consistently presented to the people of the Middle East, they will begin to see things in their true proportion.
The power of propaganda is formidable. When I visited British troops at Amman airfield I found that the parachute regiment there were unable to persuade the friendly Jordan Army that they were, in fact, units of the Parachute Brigade, because the Jordanians said that the Parachute Brigade had been destroyed in the fighting at Port Said. They had heard this so often on the wireless that they believed it, even though they were friendly towards us. I am sure that if we present this thesis consistently to the Middle East we shall achieve a positive result there.
The second suggestion I make is that we must clothe it with reality, and that is best done through the Arab Development Agency which may be coming into being. There are so many things which could be set under way in Jordan to make that country independent and prosperous and which are held up. There is, for example, the Johnson plan, which is held up because part of the scheme is in Syrian territory. This is an almost irrelevant objection, but it has held up a great project for years.
These difficulties can be overcome only by co-operation between the Arab countries and, of course, by a Western initiative—economic and political—to help the projects forward so that this great progress in Jordan can be triggered off. I am sure that if this is done we shall have defeated Nasserism at the source. It is the only way in 359 which we can preserve the Kingdom of Jordan without subventions from outside, making it the focal point of true Arab nationalism and the centre of a dynamism comparable with that of Israel and infinitely greater than that of Nasser.
I say these things, at the risk of speaking for a long time and possibly not even interesting the House in them, because I feel that we have been far too much on the defensive about our rôle in the Middle East. I feel that the Kingdom of Jordan has been too much on the defensive about even the possibilities of its existence. I say them, too, because the presentation of the situation in the Middle East from July onwards which reached our people through the British Press has been very one-sided and, I believe, inaccurate. Jordan has been represented as a tottering régime which we have propped up with British troops for a few months, but which is inevitably destined to be turned over by the tide of events as soon as we have gone.
I have heard that said time and time again. It was said today in the House. I have read it in the most respectable newspapers. But I do not believe that it is true. The only way to make it true would be if everyone went on saying it until people began to believe it. It is not true. On the contrary, Jordan is not a rump end, an irrelevance. It should be the main line of Arab development in the Middle East, and we can make it so. Very little is needed to trigger off a great future for that country.
I hope that we shall apologise for nothing that we have done and that we shall do a great deal more. I hope that King Hussein's life will not soon again be in danger, but if it is, I hope that we shall send troops there. It is only two years since we had British troops stationed permanently in Jordan under a treaty made by the Labour Party. I think that our action in July has been amply justified by its results, that we shall never regret it and that we have good friends of the West in the Middle East who will remain good friends and good Arabs if only we have the decency and the courage not to be ashamed to support them for being good Arabs. It is my belief that we should lend all the 360 moral support of the British nation to the constructive focus that exists in the Middle East at the present time.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
It will take somebody more talented than the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) to reply effectively to the criticisms levelled against the Government's Middle East policy by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). I cannot understand how anybody can defend the Government's Middle East policy since 1951. It has been a rake's progress.
The hon. Member spoke about the nationalism inspired by Nasser, but Nasser owes much of his present position to the military strength injected by the Tory Government into Egypt since 1951. The same comment applies to Iraq and Jordan; there have been subventions and military aid all along the line. That was the Government's Middle East policy. On the other hand, they declined to provide arms to Israel except on a very modified and limited scale. To a substantial extent that is the cause of the tension in the past few years.
If anybody regards the prospects in the Middle East in an optimistic vein he is gravely mistaken. I see no prospect whatever at present of a speedy disappearance of Middle East tension. Of course, we can alleviate the situation temporarily by the provision of subventions and economic aid, but whether that economic aid would percolate down to the peasantry, to the working classes, in the Arab countries is quite a different matter. In any event, such aid would have only a temporary effect. We might deal with the refugee problem, and that would be to our advantage and the advantage of the Middle East, but in present circumstances I do not believe there is the slightest ground for optimism about permanent peace in the Middle East. I am satisfied that to a very considerable extent that is due to the Government's Middle East policy.
But it is not my intention today to engage in the familiar polemics about the various aspects of foreign policy. I leave that to the experts, of whom there are so many in this Chamber. However, I have a deep suspicion of the experts when I reflect upon the fact that we have had in 361 this century two great world wars, disastrous and calamitous in their effect, in spite of all the efforts of the Foreign Office in our country and the Foreign Offices and diplomats throughout the world. I repeat, I am deeply suspicious of foreign policy experts, and all I propose to do is to approach this subject in an empirical fashion and to face the facts.
I noted one serious omission, however, from the Foreign Secretary's statement. This applies also to the speech which the Prime Minister made the other day. We heard not a single word about the Summit Conference. Why? Have the Government abandoned the concept of a Summit Conference? Before the Recess, in the course of our debates, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and other members of the Government shielded themselves behind this facade of a projected Summit Conference. We were told over and over again how they wished for a Summit Conference. Have they forgotten their declarations and their pious hopes? I ask the question categorically—and I think it merits a reply: have the Tory Government abandoned the idea of a Summit Conference, and if so, why? We are entitled to an answer.
Of course, there may be valid reasons for it—the intransigence of Soviet Russia, or it may be the disinclination of the United States of America to participate in a Summit Conference. Here I would make this observation. To my mind, the Foreign Secretary is a most amiable person, certainly in private, and I have a very high regard for him. But with the best will in the world, I cannot help thinking that he is pretty much in the pocket of Mr. Foster Dulles. He never strikes out on a line of his own. If we read the speeches of the Foreign Secretary and then turn to the speeches of the American Secretary of State we find hardly a comma of difference.
Of course, the Foreign Secretary may say hard things to Mr. Foster Dulles in the privacy of Mr. Foster Dulles' sanctum sanctorum—I do not know. But why all this secrecy? If, for example, the Foreign Secretary has lambasted Mr. Foster Dulles on occasion would it not add to the interest of our debates to know what the observations were? Therefore —and I say this with the highest regard for the right hon. and learned Gentleman 362 personally—I dismiss the Foreign Secretary as a substantial element in the foreign policy of this and other countries that now distracts and disturbs the world. I am sorry to have to say it, but it ought to be said.
I wish to turn briefly to the subject of Cyprus. It is obvious to everybody that there is a deadlock in Cyprus. I do not regard Makarios as blameless—far from it—and when people say, as they do say, that Makarios is in the hands of E.O.K.A. and is afraid to express himself in renouncing violence and the like, my answer is this: if the man has any courage at all he ought to have the courage to be unpopular, even if it means taking risks. No one has the right to claim to be a leader unless he is prepared to take risks. If he believes in denouncing violence he ought to say so. He is not blameless in the matter.
Whether it is the fault of Makarios, whether it is the fault of our somewhat meandering and temporising policy, whether it is because of the intransigence of the Greeks or the intervention of the Turks I am unable to say. Probably it is a combination of all those elements. But one thing seems obvious. Before I mention it, I should like to say this: I refuse to believe, not if the whole of the members of the Government stood on their heads—even if they are capable of such an exercise—that Cyprus is of any strategic value. I never did believe it when I was Secretary of State for War. I never heard a single general claim that it had strategic value at that time. Nor did I hear it when I was Minister of Defence.
What they did say at the time was that we could not afford to abandon the Canal base. That had strategic value. But they never talked about Cyprus. What they did talk about was the possibility of constructing a base at Mackinnon Road in Kenya. Indeed, we spent about £5 million on the project, and then it was abandoned because we thought that everything was lovely in the garden in Egypt. The Canal base, they said, would be useful to us not temporarily but permanently. But it was never suggested that Cyprus had any strategic value. I was amazed when Field Marshal Harding talked about its high strategic value. In a major nuclear war it would not last five minutes. In a conventional war with 363 manned bomber aircraft it would be highly vulnerable. Therefore, I dismiss the strategic argument.
There may be an argument about saving face, or about what has been done for the Cypriots; it might be said that we ought to be rewarded by loyalty and the like. There may be an economic argument that can be adduced, but no strategic argument can be used in this connection.
Therefore, my view is that if there is a deadlock and we cannot resolve it, it is far better to get out. I have made that observation elsewhere, and it has been described as cowardly. It has been said that we ought not to get out because it would be cowardly. What is the use of remaining if we cannot solve the problem? I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale that there is no possibility of a military solution. We had the same problem in Malaya; we tried a military solution and we failed. Eventually a political solution was found. This is a modern world, and political solutions are more likely to reap advantage than an attempt to solve problems militarily.
But if the Government do not feel disposed to evacuate Cyprus, at least they can do one thing. Our men in Cyprus are on active service. I do not know that that has been said before, but they are on active service. They are engaged in war—not a major war; it is not a police operation; they are intervening in what might become a civil war. Wives and children at least ought to be evacuated. We are imposing an intolerable, harsh burden on our troops in Cyprus by permitting wives and children to remain. I understand, having had some association with the troops, how they feel about the need for some domestic life, some comforts, someone to go home to. I understand it and I applaud the sentiment, but that is not the sort of thing that one can tolerate in Cyprus.
For example, the other day General Darling, the general now in charge of military operations, used language of the most violent character about the operations in Cyprus. He did not want terrorists brought in alive. He wanted them all dead. That is the language of war. If we use the language of war, do rot associate women and children with it.
364 I ask the Government to do that, and if they refuse to do it, we must have an answer why, and it ought to be a satisfactory one.
I want to say something about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the smashing indictment against not only that Organisation but this Government by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery—[Interruption.] Oh yes, against this Government. I will develop the theme all right. I have got all the facts here. I know them all without reading them, but if they are challenged I can produce them.
Before I embark on this particular adventure, let me make two observations about Field Marshal Lord Montgomery. I have a great affection for him. He is a great character, an outstanding personality, a very kindly person when one gets to know him—a very talkative one undoubtedly. I do not take exception to retired generals or retired admirals or retired air marshals, whoever they be, being a little garrulous. After all, we should be the last to complain. There is no reason why they should not talk; but neither is there any reason why we should not reply to them. They must not be touchy about it; they must not be sensitive, any more than we should be.
When the field marshal said in the course of his recent speech that the Labour Government were largely responsible for the present plight of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, that we had concentrated all our efforts on domestic affairs and did not look outward on the world, he was inaccurate. That is putting it very mildly. He had apparently forgotten that when he was Chief of the Imperial General Staff at the War Office when I was Secretary of State for War we had brought into operation National Service in this country for the first time, and we became frightfully unpopular among Labour people in the country. We took a great risk, but we did what we thought was wise and in the interests of the country and in order to make an approach to peace as we thought at the time.
Moreover, we committed two divisions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for the defence of the West.
§ Mr. Shinwell
To begin with, under the Brussels Treaty we committed ourselves to two divisions when Field Marshal Lord Montgomery was Chairman of the Military Committee of the Brussels Treaty Organisation. Subsequently we increased it to four divisions. In quality, apart from quantity, in fire power capacity, that was a most valuable and substantial contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Moreover, we subsequently increased the period of National Service from eighteen months to two years, largely on the submissions made by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery and because of mounting tension. Then we were engaged in the Malaya affair and afterwards in Korea and we met every one of our military commitments. I defy contradiction. If anybody doubts it, let him ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who praised what we had done in the military sphere. But it was done at great risk; we became very unpopular. As a result of my unpopularity among my own folk, some of them on these benches, for whom I have very great affection, I was dismissed summarily from the National Executive of the Labour Party. But that is past and out of the way. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the Front Bench."] I vacated the Front Bench voluntarily. I thought it was more enjoyable on this bench and, besides, the air is much fresher.
The last person in the world who should complain about the Labour Government's achievements in the military sphere is Lord Montgomery. But what has he to say about N.A.T.O.? This ought to be made clear. It has been suggested that Lord Montgomery should have made known to his colleagues in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, when he was Deputy Supreme Commander, what he thought about the Organisation, and that he should then have indulged in the criticisms which we have just heard. The fact is that he has been indulging in criticisms of that Organisation from the beginning.
On 29th July, 1953, we had a debate in this House—I have the report all here —and, in the course of it, I quoted several of the statements made by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. 366 Perhaps the House would be interested to hear some of them. He said that we mustcut the whole thing in half".N.A.T.O. wasswamped in a morass of committees, conferences and talk".He also said:There is a great lack of clear…political aims. There is no grand design or master plan…there is an enormous dissipation of effort and strength".There was an occasion when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, was on that Front Bench and we interrogated him about some of the declarations and observations of the Field Marshal. We quoted what he had said. What had the right hon. Gentleman to say in reply? He turned it aside and said, "We have no responsibility for him. He belongs to N.A.T.O., to S.H.A.P.E. But the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten something. We pay the Field Marshal. We paid him full pay and we still pay him full pay. Let that not be forgotten.
§ Mr. Birch
When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was pressing me about there being too much paper work and so on, quoting a speech which the Field Marshal had made in America, I said that I had no doubt that, when the Field Marshal returned to his headquarters, he would take the matter in hand and put it right.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Yes, of course; but that was not the kind of answer the right hon. Gentleman should have given. He should have accepted the responsibility. The Field Marshal was not definitely under the Government's control, but the Government had their representatives at S.H.A.P.E., on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and if there were charges of gross waste, extravagance and disorganisation, what was their representative doing? That is an indictment against the Government.
If Lord Montgomery's present strictures are correct, or even only 50 per cent. correct, it is an indictment against the present Government. All the more is this so because we have been spending millions and millions of pounds since this Government came in. What value have we got for it if N.A.T.O. is as weak 367 as the Field Marshal suggests? The Government must answer that, and they will have to go on answering that until the next General Election. After that, it will not matter so much because, I have not the least doubt, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale will be Foreign Secretary. [Interruption.] Oh, yes. Let there be no mistake about that. Hon. Gentlemen should not trouble about the Gallup Poll or having more motor cars at their disposal. I have been a long time at this game, fifty years or so, and I know all the tricks. I also know the tricks that they are up to. I do not pay any attention to those things; it is sentiment and feeling which count, and the people are tired of this Government. I am not so tired of some hon. Gentlemen opposite; I have a great liking for them, but I should prefer to see them on this side. They would look much better on this side, I think, than on that. We shall then be able to deal with this situation, and we need not worry about what is going to happen to N.A.T.O.
Lord Montgomery is not the only person who has criticised N.A.T.O. In April, 1953, there was a debate in another place. Many strictures were passed upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, particularly by Lord Tedder. Lord Tedder said some very harsh things about the Organisation. Indeed, he said that it was no organisation at all; there were a number of elements jumbled together, bickering among themselves. What was the answer given in the other place by the Minister in charge? It was the same answer that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West gave, that it was none of their business. So it went on.
To bring the matter right up to date—I shall not quote extensively from what happened in another place yesterday, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—I read in The Timesthis morning and in the OFFICIAL REPORT from the other place what was said in the course of a debate there yesterday. My right hon. Friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough asked one or two questions about what Lord Montgomery had said. What did the Lord President of the Council say in reply?—"Do not bother about that. It is not important". Of course, the Government say it is not 368 important because they are trying to shelve it, but they must give an answer. Either Lord Montgomery is right or he is wrong. If he is right, it is a very serious indictment. We cannot go on wasting our money and our forces. If, on the other hand, he is wrong, the Government should say so. What are they afraid of —Lord Montgomery? We are not afraid of him. The country will want to know.
That is not all. I do not know what truth there is in it, but there have been suggestions about a recent statement of General de Gaulle's on the intention of the French to produce nuclear weapons irrespective of the suspension of tests by the United Kingdom, the United States and the U.S.S.R., and the intention to have, if at all possible, control of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Paris instead of Washington. It has been suggested that that looks very much like collusion, that they must have been talking about it.
So long as N.A.T.O. is necessary, as I believe it to be—that was the Labour Government's point of view and it is still the Labour Party's point of view, as has been said from the Opposition Front Bench many times—one of the worst things which could happen, from the standpoint of military strength in the West, would be to transfer the standing control from Washington to Paris. It would mean that we should have a kind of provincial control, and the strength injected into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation both from the American forces and the backing of the American Government would disappear. We cannot afford that. I am really amazed that the Field Marshal should have made that suggestion. I know nothing about the military strategy, of course, but one uses one's judgment in these matters. I believe that this is the worst time to effect a change of that kind.
General Ely, who is the Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, has just made a statement which appeared in The Times this week, I think, in which he repeats, to some extent, what the field marshal said about lack of organisation and the need of widening the scope of N.A.T.O., not troubling so much about Europe and the West but looking to Asia and Africa. There may be some substance in that. Indeed, I believe that there is. If that is to be discussed and 369 argued out, the Government ought to wake a statement about it.
We are very concerned, and I will tell the House why. The Minister of Defence is not here. I did, by the way, warn him that I would talk about these matters, but I have no doubt that he has good reason for not being here—probably because he would not have anything to say. I understand that the Minister of Defence, under pressure, in spite of being ruthless, determined, hard, severe and all the rest —very fine qualities in a Minister of Defence; I had them all—has now agreed to retain 55,000 troops in Germany. How he will manage to keep 55,000 troops in Germany out of 165,000 all told, with our various commitments, I do not know, and he may even not have his 165,000. Besides, Lord Montgomery has presented him with another difficulty. In his speech at the Royal United Service Institution last week the field marshal said that for the next five or even ten years we must rely on the manned bomber. That is a departure from the policy enunciated in the White Paper which was presented to us only a few months ago.
It is no wonder that there is all this chopping and changing in policy when we have had seven Ministers of Defence since 1951. Far better to have retained me. At any rate there would have been permanence, even if other qualities were lacking.
If we are to have manned bombers—if this opinion of Field Marshal Lord Montgomery is acceptable to the Government —what does that mean? It means that there will be a demand for the recruitment of more airmen and, to that extent, it will make it more difficult for the Secretary of State for War to recruit the numbers required for the Army.
The whole business is becoming terribly confused. The Government have made such a mess of this defence business. I am bound to say that I am very surprised that everyone appears to believe that the only people who can run defence are the Tories. They are the experts. Most of them are very gallant, I know. They have served in the Armed Forces and we know that what they did they did in the interests of the nation. Everyone thinks that they know more about defence.
The fact is that the Tories do not seem to know very much about defence at all, 370 or to be interested in what is going on. If they really want to show their interest they should address themselves to the criticism in which the field marshal has been indulging. What is to happen about that criticism? I suggest that there ought to be an inquiry. I should like to see a Select Committee of the House set up to deal with the matter, and I should like to be a member of that Committee, too. I should like to ask the field marshal, or the Minister of Defence, a few questions. After all, why should we not? In the privacy of a Select Committee we might be able to extract more sensible answers than we get across the Floor of the House.
I suggest that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs might convey these views either to the Minister of Defence or to his chief, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and, perhaps, to the Prime Minister. If he fails to do so, I can tell him that we shall return to the charge and shall convey to the people of this country the fact that in the sphere of defence the present Government have failed miserably. They have squandered the nation's money.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)
The great kindness and courtesy which I have received from hon. Members on both sides of the House since I was elected to it at the end of the last Session give me some confidence in asking for the traditional indulgence of the House to a Member making his maiden speech.
It may seem a little odd that someone who, like myself, has spent most of the last twelve years among the hills of Argyllshire should be speaking to the House today on foreign affairs. I should like to say that I also welcome the words in the Gracious Speech which refer to the Government's proposals for agriculture, and I hope that if I have the fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in future debates I shall be able to speak on that matter, too.
I think it is within the knowledge of the House that we from Argyllshire and from Scotland as a whole have played a very big part in building up many of our Dominions and Colonies and that we have not been backward in seeking our fortunes in foreign lands. When I was younger I also had the opportunity of spending 371 many months at the International Labour Office in Geneva and watching the great work of that organisation and the efforts of the nations in those days to achieve success through the League of Nations. I therefore welcome the phrase in the Gracious Speech which refers to the Government's determination to play a constructive part in support of the United Nations in an effort to procure peace, because I think we are all aware that the great purpose of all these international organisations is to try to prevent trouble from occurring.
When we have a young organisation such as the United Nations, it is not playing a constructive part to sit back and say that we need do nothing about it. I welcome the suggestions made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that we must have some independence of action and must maintain it if we are to keep our position in the world until some such time in the future when, perhaps, an international police force of some sort can take over this often difficult and invidious task. But we have to remember that, even if that were to happen, that force, too, would have to have a certain degree of independence of action if the speed which is so often necessary to prevent trouble from arising, or, if it has arisen, to prevent it from spreading, is to be successful.
I do not on this occasion wish to raise any matter of controversy, and I hope that hon. Members will realise that I am trying to speak in general and not in particular of any specific event. But one of the inherent difficulties in any policy which sets out to prevent trouble is to be sure, if trouble does not arise, that we have, in fact, prevented it.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House probably, like myself, occasionally feel that they have some symptoms which presage the arrival of the common cold. We usually rush with great speed to our favourite medicine, sometimes a liquid in a bottle and sometimes a pill, and the next morning, if we happen to awake feeling strong and well, we may feel inclined to recommend the remedy to our friends. On the other hand, we may sometimes wonder whether we were going to catch a cold at all.
The other thing about which I should like to say a word or two is that, since 372 I have been in the House, I have listened with great interest to some very skilful and wise debates on the subject of the size of the Armed Forces we should maintain or can afford to maintain. Being a Scotsman, it is not unnatural that I should want to obtain the best possible value for money. I have not the necessary information to enable me to enter into a debate on this problem, but I feel that if we are to make the best use of whatever resources we can afford, one of the most essential things is that we should spend all that is necessary on our intelligence services—our intelligence services in the widest sense—because we know that it is only by getting the best possible information about the nature of the trouble, the place and the possible time when it may arise that we can deploy our forces most usefully.
This is not entirely a military operation. There is a big element of civilian help in intelligence, too, and I cannot help wondering whether it is wise to close our consulates in different parts of the world for reasons of economy, perhaps, or whether it is wise that we should make it difficult for our citizens, through reasons of foreign exchange control, who, perhaps, have earned their living abroad and who would like to retire in the countries in which they have worked. Very often, those people are most useful in interpreting the feelings of those countries to us here.
Lastly, there is the other battle which is going on continually by radio and Press and other methods called "The battle of the mind." I know that we are coming to the season when peace is rather naturally associated with the phrase "good will amongst men". I feel that there is a great deal that we in this country can do towards that end. I know that the Government have been carrying out exhaustive inquiries into the best methods of using the radio and the Press, and so on, to get our case across. I do, however, believe that there are things which we can do here at home.
So many of our people overseas, in the Dominions and the Colonies, come to this country every year, perhaps as delegations, perhaps to take part in sporting events, or perhaps simply as tourists. I do feel that if we can help by accepting them as good hosts, by 373 showing them the traditions of this great country, by showing them the progress that we have made and by introducing them to a wide section of our country, any money that we can afford to spend in helping to do this will be well spent, because those people will then go back to their own lands as the best ambassadors of ours.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I have the very pleasant opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. M. Noble) on a most excellent maiden speech. All of us on both sides of the House realise the immense difficulty one is under when making a maiden speech. I think all of us appreciated the calm sangfroid with which the hon. Member spoke as though the occasion was just an every day occurrence, no doubt hiding great trepidation. As an Englishman, I should like to welcome him among a very large number of able Scottish Members on both sides.
I should like to say a word about the Prime Minister's speech, even although he is going out of the House, because I was unable to refer to it when he was speaking. I should have liked to have interrupted him, but we all know it is dangerous to interrupt the Prime Minister. We know it is something which cannot be done with impunity. Even with your protection, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I dared not take the risk. I would have interrupted him with regard to a question which has not yet so far been discussed, and that is the question of the Commonwealth. In a speech which was, I think, described by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) as "a high horse speech", he showed great satisfaction with everything. I wonder whether in his heart of hearts he has great satisfaction about the position in our Commonwealth today. Is he satisfied that there are millions of people today in the Commonwealth who are not only just poor but are suffering acute poverty such as we in this country cannot possibly understand. There are poor people among us certainly today, but not as poor as many people, for example, in India.
I had the privilege of going to India earlier this year, when I saw something of the poverty of Indian villages and something of what they were doing to try to relieve their poverty. There are villages without the most elementary 374 things we consider a village in this country should have. They have not even a piped water supply, no form of agricultural machinery and certainly no tractors, but those people are doing their best to improve their conditions. What are we doing to help them, because there is a great deal to be done?
Mr. Nehru made a very frank speech when he spoke at the International Monetary Fund Conference in Delhi recently. He said:Not only is it not going to he a question of our country improving its standard of living so that we get nearer to the West and nearer to the industrial countries. In fact, at the present moment the non-industrial countries are going steadily away from the industrial countries. The difference between the standard of living is not decreasing but increasing.That is a very serious matter of which all of us ought to take cognisance.
Let us compare that position with the position in China. In China, Mr. Chou En-lai has made a very remarkable statement. He said that China intends and expects within fifteen years to be able to produce as much industrially as is produced by Britain today; not per head—certainly he would not be so foolish as to say that—but to produce as much as we produce in this smaller country. That in itself would be a remarkable achievement if accomplished. I do not know whether it will be accomplished, but I know that if it is it will be accomplished, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said, with Russian help. For the Russians are behind this great drive for raising the standard of living in China.
Can we be behind a drive for similarly raising the standard of living, not only in India but in other countries for which we are definitely responsible, smaller, out-of-the-way countries of which one never hears, such as the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and the Seychelles, of which one hears only when Archbishop Makarios goes there. These countries are in a very bad position economically and they need a great deal of help. I want to know whether the Government are prepared to give it to them.
Like others here, I welcome the arrival of the Prime Minister of Canada in this country. It is a remarkable thing that he should have undertaken this great tour around the world and should have started in this country. It is a remarkable thing 375 for this reason. As far as I know, it is the first time that Canada has taken the lead in a great Commonwealth movement, and, although the Prime Minister may welcome Canada's lead, does he not realise that in the past this country has taken the lead? It is the first time that Canada has taken it and not this country, under a Government which say that they do so much for building up the Commonwealth. I should like to know what the Prime Minister is doing to help the Prime Minister of Canada in his task.
What is the position today? We give about £70 million a year to the underdeveloped countries. That is the sum total of what the United Kingdom gives in the way of grants, loans and Government investments. The Labour Party has recently published a statement in which it says that it intends to give, not £70 million, but rather over £170 million, or 1 per cent. of the national income, each year. That is a remarkable proposal which, like other proposals made by the Labour Party when out of office, will be carried into effect when it comes into office. People throughout the Commonwealth should take note of this.
For what purposes will this money be used? It is no good talking only about general sums like £170 million or 1 per cent. We want to know the purposes for which the money will be used. I should like to suggest one or two purposes for which it might be used. First, it should be used for technical help to assist people who have not the technicians they need if they are to build up their industries.
Again, if I might refer to India, I was taken, as many others have been taken, to see the great Bakra Nangal Dam, something that in India represents what the Dnieprostroi Dam represented to Russia many years ago. Why is it so important? It is not only because it will produce a vast amount of irrigated land; it is not only because it will produce a vast amount of electricity. It is because the overwhelming part of it is being built by Indians, not only in the lower positions but in the higher positions, too.
It is true that technical experts are there. There are American experts. I wish they could have been British experts. At least, we are glad that they have American experts there now. The whole 376 attitude of these American experts, however, is to teach the population enough so that eventually, and the sooner the better, they can themselves move out—as they are, in fact, doing—so that Indians may take their place.
If we could start a great technical service in that spirit, we should do a very great deal for the Commonwealth. It would be an excellent thing if this were to be an inter-Commonwealth service to which all members of the Commonwealth could belong, a service in which there was interchangeability of pension and security generally and one into which people could go who had the urge to do this kind of work. Today, we have no Indian Civil or Political Service and, let us face it, fewer people who can now be employed in the Colonial Service abroad. It could be a service that would attract people who would be willing to go out and do that kind of work. We would, I think, too, find people in other parts of the Commonwealth and I hope that we can set up such a technical service as this.
I welcome what has been done in Montreal by the proposal that we should have a big increase in scholarships. It is badly needed. Today, in this country, we have a large number of students from the Commonwealth. Every one of them, if they are properly received, as, I think, most of them are, will go back with a warm feeling for this country in their hearts. They are an asset to the Commonwealth, but we certainly need more. We do not have anything like enough of them.
I have mentioned students and technical help first. The next thing that we should do is to see what can be done to bring the surplus food that exists in the Commonwealth from those countries where it is surplus to the countries which need it so desperately. Today, there is a great deal of surplus food in the Commonwealth. I do not suggest that it exists here in these islands. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of surplus food throughout the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth experts who met in London in June said that there was a wheat surplus of double one year's exports from all Commonwealth countries. That is a surprising amount. Again, in the case of maize, there was a carry-over of 30 million tons from the 1956 to the 377 1957 crop. There are people who are dying and who need this wheat and maize but cannot get it. There is also a surplus of cocoa, rice, barley and oats.
Where do we come into all this? It may be said that it is all very well, but we do not have a surplus of food. We have, however, a surplus of something else. We have at the moment a surplus of shipping and there is already talk that there may be a lay-off, not only among seamen and ships, but also in the shipbuilding yards—there is, in fact, a lay-off already; and yet there is need for the ships to be built. Can we not build them and. if the other countries which produce the food are willing to send it cheaply to those countries which need it, can we not play our part by producing cheap shipping to send it? If we did that, we would be making a big contribution towards the dispersal of food among those countries who need it the most.
The third point which we should remember is the need for planned investment. I read with great misgiving a document published last year by the Government entitled "The United Kingdom's Rôle in Commonwealth Development" (Cmd. 237) which said that private enterprise was better qualified to undertake risk investment in the Commonwealth, or, in other words, that it should be left to private enterprise to undertake risk investment.
Where is private enterprise investing in the Commonwealth today? Is it in India, where there is great need and risk, or is it in Canada, where there is less need and less risk? I am delighted that people should be investing in Canada or in any part of the Commonwealth, but it would be very much better if there were some kind of plan by which they would invest also in those countries which need it the most. Today, that is not done and, apparently, it is the intention of the Government that it shall not be done.
The same White Paper states:A Commonwealth Development Agency which would lay down priorities for the Commonwealth as a whole would present insuperable difficulties for many Commonwealth Governments.…I would like to know, from whoever replies to this debate, since when has the word "insuperable" been in the Government's vocabulary? It certainly is not a word used by the right hon. Member for 378 Woodford (Sir W. Churchill); he would not approve of such a word. If we decide that there should be overall planning of general economic development in the Commonwealth, the difficulties would not be insuperable. Once we have decided that we must find a way by which to master them.
The only other point I wish to raise is the need to buy more from the Commonwealth. Today, to quote only two examples, we are still buying enormous quantities of tobacco and cotton from the United States of America. They are bought with hard-earned dollars, so that every time we buy additional quantities, we get our sterling reserves in a worse state. Should we not consider whether we could not buy these necessary imports from the Commonwealth? When I was at the Colonial Office, great strides were being made towards producing cotton of the American type in Nigeria. I hope that that development is continuing and that eventually we may find it possible so to develop the production of cotton in Nigeria that it will enable us to dispense with a quarter, or even a half, of our American imports.
There are, I know, people who say that if we do that, the Americans will not buy our cars. I would rather be more self-contained within the Commonwealth and not liable to the ups and downs of the American market. If the Americans decide that they want to stop buying our cars, they will do so whether we buy our tobacco from them or not. It would be much better if we were to increase our imports from those countries which need a market and which are in the Commonwealth.
If, however, we are to do it successfully, we must do it with guaranteed prices and, better still, by bulk purchase. That is a method that the Labour Government tried out with immense success. We know what has happened now, however, in the case of New Zealand and of Australia, countries which have been disgusted by the Government's failure to buy from them since it has turned away from a policy of bulk buying at guaranteed prices. This kind of thing has happened not only in those countries.
One of the best things done by the Labour Government during its tenure of office was the decision to buy sugar from the West Indies in bulk at guaranteed 379 prices over a long period. It completely revolutionised the economy of the West Indies. As a result, a country that was desperately poor was at least able to relieve some of its worst poverty and to get from a state of unemployment to a state considerably nearer full employment. There is not full employment there now, but at least the situation is much better than before.
Those are some of the things which, I suggest, might be done by the Government. I do not think that they are likely to do them, however, because in spite of all the talk about how much the party opposite knows about the Commonwealth and its great interest in it, when it comes to the point the main interest of the Conservative Party is in whether a business will be profitable, regardless of whether it is in the Commonwealth or outside. The clear words which I have quoted from the White Paper show that this is the case. There is to be no planning; it is to be left to private business to go wherever it is most profitable.
During the first half of this century, we in this country managed to do one great thing. We managed to eliminate acute poverty. Heaven knows, there is poverty today—among the old-age pensioners and the unemployed—and there would be more poverty if we had more unemployment; but it is not the acute poverty that is known in many countries of the Commonwealth. Our task during the second half of this century might well be to give to the people of the Commonwealth the same freedom from acute poverty that we in these islands enjoy today.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton, Pavilion)
I know that the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dug-dale) will not expect me to follow him in the various points he has raised. No doubt the reply will come eventually from the Government spokesman who winds up the debate. Before referring to the one topic which I wish to discuss, however, I should like first to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. M. Noble) on his excellent speech. As a maiden speech—and I have heard many maiden speeches in this House—certainly it was as good as any. It was to me a particular pleasure as I have known my hon. 380 Friend since he was a small boy and his family since I was one. It was, I feel sure, a good deal of the Irish that is in him that brought out some of the rather lighter points that he made during his speech.
What I am particularly tempted to talk about tonight is the Far East. The question was raised by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and, therefore, answered by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who, presumably, if one is to follow the line taken recently by the Leader of the Opposition, might well have preferred to have left it out. However, in recent weeks, at Scarborough and elsewhere, we have heard a good deal both from the Leader of the Opposition and from other Members on the Opposition side about their feelings concerning the Formosa and Quemoy position.
During the fifteen years that I have been a Member of this House, what has interested me most about the Labour Party is its waffling attitude with regard to the Far East. I think it almost fair to say that the party opposite knows particularly little about it. I remember going with Members of the Labour Party to China as far back as 1947. We went at the suggestion of the then Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, to see Chiang Kai-shek and to make great friends with him. It would be extremely interesting today to refer to the files of newspapers to see all the nice things that we were told by Lord Attlee to tell Chiang Kai-shek at that time. Among them, of course, we were told to remind him how happy we were at what he did during the war and at the way he held the fort in China. It is true that the Communists were with him, but they were with him only to a minor extent and because they were so instructed by Russia.
As soon as the war was over, as soon as Japan collapsed, the Russians saw to it that the Communists who were in the north of China got the Japanese arms and equipment and let them go their own way in fighting and continuing a civil war which had been going on, not only up to the time of the Japanese invasion, but all through the late 'twenties and 'thirties.
After our visit in 1947, the collapse of Chiang Kai-shek's régime began. He came down to Canton and, in 1949, to 381 Taiwan, a province of China. Taiwan and Fukien are both provinces, with Quemoy and Matsu in Fukien. Why, therefore, do we keep on saying that Quemoy and Matsu should be handed back to Red China, to whom they never at any time belonged? They are the unconquered parts of Fukien.
All that happened in 1949 was that Chiang Kai-shek's forces gave way and went over to the other side when they saw that there was better equipment provided by the Communists, but Chiang and about 600,000 of his troops, plus a large number of the more intellectual elements in the country, flew to Taipeh. The Chiang Kai-shek elements had and still have a navy, which Red China did not have, and they had the air force such as it was; and it was largely because of that that the Red Chinese were not able to follow them.
Red China did its best in 1949 to try to invade Quemoy. At that time there were only 10,000 of Chiang Kai-shek's forces on Quemoy. Later, after the Red Chinese were heavily defeated, very strong attempts were made over the years to take all those islands and the numbers of the troops there were increased to about 20,000 or 30,000.
Why I am going into these figures is that one of the attacks made in the last few weeks has been that Chiang Kai-shek should never have been allowed to arm those two offshore islands. He kept them with 20,000 or 30,000 troops, and the numbers remained at about 30,000 until it was seen in the middle 'fifties that the Red Chinese were vastly increasing their forces in Fukien exactly opposite those two islands. All that the Nationalists have done to this day is to put forces into those islands to defend them, and those forces were never more than about one-quarter of the size of the forces known to be on the Red Chinese coast.
One can also say that the Americans must have known about all this happening at the time, so I cannot understand why they allowed it to happen, since they could have stopped it, and then switched round the other day to say that there were too many troops there. I think that puts Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters in a rather invidious position. There he is with largish forces which are obviously not meant for going to the mainland, for 382 they are not in places whence China could be invaded. Look at those two islands from the geographical point of view. One is slap opposite Amoy; the other is slap opposite Fuchow. Those are two ports from which any invasion of Taiwan must take place. That is why they are so anxious to keep the control of those islands, and they have been successful in so doing.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale told us that in 1954 when he and Lord Attlee went to China they persuaded the Red Chinese to call off for the time being any suggestion of attacking Chiang Kai-shek's forces. Yet in spite of this it was at that time, in September, 1954, that they made their second big attempt to attack Quemoy, and failed, and it was after that that the Tachen Islands were given over to the Reds.
I think there is another point we ought to remember when we are talking about what may happen in the future. What do the people of those islands themselves want? Why is it that the Socialist Party seems to have become so anxious that the Red Chinese Communists should have all those places? I do not think the Socialist Party is particularly anxious that Russia should have any more areas around her in Europe, or that it is particularly happy at countries like Hungary being under the Communists. Why, then, does the Socialist Party want the Communists to get Formosa? Why does it want them to get Quemoy and Matsu?
Let it be remembered that when the Tachen Islands were handed over to the Red Chinese the civilians were asked what they would like to do. Would they like to go to Red China and presumably become Communists, or would they like to go to Formosa? Nineteen inhabitants decided to go to Red China, whereas more than 18,000 decided to go to Taiwan. Surely, that is a convincing answer for at any rate part of the people along those coasts.
We should not forget what happened at the end of the Korean War. After the Korean War the Red Chinese prisoners were given the option whether they would like to go back to Red China or go to Taiwan. The large majority decided they would go to Taiwan—quite a large majority. That is a point which I think 383 should be remembered, because we hear so little of what is going on behind the Iron Curtain in Red China, and these people came from there. We know so very little of the interior. I know certain Members of Parliament visit Peking and Shanghai and Canton and such big towns, but we do not know what is going on inside central China or in Tibet and areas like that. There is immense secrecy about it.
On the other hand, we know very well what is going on in Formosa. The Americans have been there for ten or eleven years, and they have spent immense amounts of money there. People scoff at them for doing that and say that the Formosan Government is nothing more than a puppet Government, but the amount of American money which has been spent in Taiwan, taking into account the size of the country and the number of people, is no more than, and in many cases less than, the Americans have spent in this country and the rest of Europe. Indeed, the number of American troops is far smaller than people realise.
The free Chinese have been trained now for many years, not only in military matters but in a form of democracy which the United States thinks is a good one and which the people in Taiwan also consider worth while. The result is that we have got, as many people will admit who have been to both Red China and Nationalist China, a model province and one in many ways far better than any in Red China. The standard of living of the people is better, the conditions are better. The people there have never at any time been under Communism. They were under Japan, before being under Chiang and there has never been any Communism for them, although they had a severe time under the Japanese.
We are often told what Sir Anthony Eden said in 1954 about Quemoy and the offshore islands, but we are not reminded what he also said with regard to Formosa; that it would be a terrible thing to think 10 million people—because that is the number of people there, more than the population of Belgium or Holland—should be allowed to be handed over to the Red Communists, particularly when they were never Communists themselves. It would be a fatal thing.
384 If one is going to discuss these things in the British Parliament we must remember that we have very little equipment and arms in the Far East ourselves, so that our voice there is not a particularly strong one, and, if we are going to talk about these things, surely we should be practical and realise the position. Formosa cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of Red China. The Formosans themselves are, in turn, convinced that Quemoy and Matsu are essential for the defence of their country.
In the old days under Japan—I was there, too; it was before the Japanese stopped allowing Europeans to go into the country—and just before that time, they started their defences. Of course, the Japanese preparations were for war, and it was from Taiwan that they fell on Hong Kong, on the Philippines, and eventually on Singapore. If that could be done in those days, then now with more modern weapons and more modern means Red China, backed by Russia, would probably be able to do as well or better, and the Formosans do not forget that. It cannot be forgotten either by the people specially on the Western coast of the United States who have nothing between them and the Red Chinese unless they keep this line of which Formosa is more or less the base and centre; or by the Australians.
Finally, I would suggest to hon. Members that they should read the New York Times of Monday, in which they will see a letter from several very prominent Americans, including Mr. Grew, the former American Ambassador in Tokio. There he says that if we must have a different settlement from that which exists at present the people of Quemoy and Matsu and the people of mainland Fukien should be allowed to have a ballot to find out for themselves whether they would like to be under the Communists or would like to be free people, Those are suggestions being made now in the United States. I do not think that Formosa would object because I am sure they would feel that the answer would be in their favour. Their ideas will spread, and it will be seen that they in their model province have a much happier and far better existence now than have the people living in Red China. We should not interfere.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling) indulged in some rather questionable and controversial versions of what has happened in the Far East. He spoke as though the Chinese Eighth Route Army, to whom the Russians handed over arms surrendered by the Japanese, was not a regular army. It was a regular army, and was recognised as such, cooperating with Chiang Kai-shek, although it happened also to be a Communist army, because the Communists were co-operating with Chiang Kai-shek, although not as far as Stalin would have liked them to do, because Mao Tse-tung disregarded Stalin's advice, as the hon. Member will discover if he reads "Tito Speaks."
His other point was focussed upon the Chinese prisoners taken in the Korea War and the inhabitants of the Tachen Islands choosing Taiwan. They were under very great pressure, the Korean prisoners, and great propaganda, and there was quite a scandal about what was done. The same thing applies to the Tachens.
As for Formosa or Taiwan being part of the American defence system, I would remind the hon. Gentleman and the House that Secretary of State Dean Acheson and President Truman, as late as January, 1950, declared that Taiwan was not part of the American defence system and not necessary to the United States for defence. They also declared that they would not interfere in a Chinese civil war by preventing the Chinese Army from defeating Chiang Kai-shek. It was the propaganda of the China lobby. General MacArthur and Mr. Dulles, who reversed that policy and adopted a policy which is not a defensive policy. The policy of treating South Korea, Southern Viet-Nam and Taiwan as part of the American defence system is in fact an aggressive and interventionist policy, for preparing those territories as a springboard for attacking China.
§ Mr. Teeling
All those statements made in the United States and to which the hon. Gentleman has referred were made before the Americans realised how dangerous Red China was going to be over the question of Korea. Then came the Korean War. It was after that that the Democratic Party became far stronger in the defence of Taiwan than even the Republicans are now.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
If the hon. Gentleman reads Mr. I. F. Stone's "Hidden History of the Korean War" he will see these things in a very different light. I am not going into them now because I have not time, but I profoundly disagree with the hon. Gentleman.
When he pleads his zeal for plebiscites on Chinese territory to decide whether to secede from that country, I wonder if he will be equally anxious to espouse the policy put forward from this side of the House that there should be a plebiscite in Formosa, and that we should try to get this Government to carry out their obligations, their international obligations, to hold a free election in Viet-Nam. Would he agree—I think it would be a good idea if he did—with the proposal frequently put forward in the last couple of years by the North Korean Government and the Soviet Government for free elections under international supervision throughout Korea? Would he not like a plebiscite in Cyprus while he is about it? His selective and one-sided zeal for plebiscites makes a beautiful and touching spectacle.
Before dealing, as I want to do, with something even more fundamental than that, I would observe that the reason why Quemoy and Matsu should be restored to China is that even this Government recognise that the islands are part of China, of the Government of China we recognise, who are the Government of the People's Republic of China, that there is such a thing as international law and international morality, and that it is quite indefensible that the Americans should be using force to prevent China from exercising its sovereign right to occupy its own territory. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) pointed out, the Chinese Government tried a very long time in vain to get the Americans to listen to reason, so that this might be done by peaceful means, before China eventually resorted to more drastic action to try to recover its own territory.
I agree again with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale that the more moderate the Chinese can be the better, because they have time as well as right on their side and it is no use brusqueing things. But this Government are in no position to exercise any influence on the Chinese, because they do not recognise the elementary rights of the Chinese in 387 this matter and have gone back on our own undertakings.
As to Formosa, there is the Cairo Declaration of 1943 in which we recognised that all the territories which Japan had stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China, that is the Republic which we now recognise. We also said in the Berlin Declaration that this undertaking shall be carried out. I agree that this is not the time to press this issue and that there is a case for attaching safeguards to the transition to full Chinese sovereignty, so as to show regard for the wishes and interests of the inhabitants, allowing those who will to depart and take their property with them, for instance. But there is absolutely no case for a policy of keeping Formosa as a kind of political Whipsnade for the defeated Chinese counter-revolution—because that is what this policy amounts to—and as a running sore in the flank of China.
Nor is there any sense in not allowing the Chinese Government to take their seal on the Security Council of the United Nations. As long as the Government go on behaving in this way, voting against the admission of China to her place on the Security Council and backing Mr. Dulles in his exercise of brinkmanship at the expense of the prospects of survival of the human race, when all rights and morality are against him, the Government's policy in the Far East is one that cannot possibly lead to peace. It is one that is directly facilitating a transition to war. It is a most abominable and infamous policy.
What is the Government's foreign policy, what do they stand for? They have made it clear on many occasions that they will not agree to any substantial disarmament until agreement has been reached on outstanding political issues in Europe and Asia. They have also made clear in the 1955 Defence White Paper and have repeated it since that:The consciences of civilised nations must naturally recoil from the prospect of using nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, in the last resort, most of us must feel that determination to face the threat of physical devastation, even on the immense scale which must now be foreseen, is manifestly preferable to an attitude of subservience to militant Communism…What does this mean? In other words, for what policies and purposes do the 388 Government think it worth risking the extinction of the human race? For that is what nuclear war would mean, and not merely devastation. To put it the other way round, what kind of political settlements do the Government think would constitute a fate manifestly worse than atomic death?
We know the position in the Far East. The Prime Minister put it in a nutshell when he said that he preferred to be wrong with the United States than to be right and stand alone. That is a politically cowardly and thoroughly immoral position, and one which jeopardises world peace.
Ever since the Bermuda Conference in 1953 the Government have stuck obstinately to the position that they will not agree to any settlement in Europe with the Soviet Government which does not permit the Western Powers to recruit a united Germany into N.A.T.O. Everyone knows that that position will never be reached and that the Soviet Government will never agree to that any more than we would agree to a solution in the opposite sense.
The obvious compromise put forward by the Opposition is that there should be an all-European Treaty within which Germany would be united, outside the rival alliances, but based on the United Nations Charter. This policy the Government reject flatly. They will have nothing to do with it. They will not look at any variant of the Rapacki Plan. They will have nothing to do with any form of disengagement in Europe. They stick blindly and stubbornly to a policy that condemns us to continue the nuclear weapons race until the bombs come home.
Why do they do it? They know as well as anyone else that there is no possible settlement on that basis. If they do not know, then their brains need examining. Why do they do it? Various explanations have been advanced. One very curious one was put forward by the present Prime Minister as early as 23rd March, 1949, when he warned the House that there was a very serious danger that the Russians would propose a treaty with Germany involving the ending of joint occupation by all the Powers. He added that on the face of it this proposition was very attractive to British, American and German opinion alike. But it was "a fatal snare", it 389 was the "kiss of death" he said, because what had happened in Czechoslovakia would happen in Germany andAt one single blow the Communist menace, military and propaganda, would be on the Rhine."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd March, 1949; Vol. 463, c. 384]Do the Government still believe that there is any grain of truth in that?
The suggestion is that the Federal German Republic needs the presence of allied troops to prevent the German Communist Party carrying out a putsch, which is just about as sensible as saying that it is only the American atomic bombers in this country that prevent Harry Pollitt and Palme Dutt from marching on Downing Street. It is so completely ludicrous that if it had not been uttered by a responsible source we should dismiss it as stupid nonsense.
Very much the same point of view was put forward by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden, on 17th November, 1954, when he said:The real choice lies between anchoring Germany to the West or leaving her to drift in the centre of Europe with the certainty that she would be sucked into the Soviet system sooner or later and almost certainly sooner."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1954: Vol. 533. c. 400.]I asked on 4th December, 1957, whether this was still the Government's view. The present Foreign Secretary said it was. But he had no answer when I asked him why it was that little Austria, with only 6 million people, was able quite happily to stand on her own feet without being anchored to the West and without falling under Soviet influence. I asked why 60 million Germans could not manage that.
All he could think of to say was that that was different, which was not a very convincing reply. But on 10th October at the Blackpool Conference he repeated this view when, according to The Times, he said that the Socialist plan for disengagement in Europe was utterly unrealistic andwould result in an area in the middle of Europe where responsibilities and positions would be quite undetermined and where anything might happen.In the light of Sir Anthony Eden's similar statement that Germany would be adrift if not anchored to the West, it is apparent that in the Government's 390 mind any international arrangements based on the obligations of the Charter are quite unrealistic. They regard the Charter as so much waste-paper. I have never known a Tory Government take a different view of the Charter, or of the Covenant for that matter. They have never understood or believed in a collective peace system, although they pay lip-service to it, because they are anarchists and power-politicians to the marrow of their bones.
I believe that the truth is that if Germany were united on the basis of an all-European treaty, as proposed by the Opposition, accompanied by measures of disarmament and the withdrawal of forces under joint control, by agreement with the Soviet Government, that would mean the triumph of the policy which the German Social Democrats and the trade unions have been advocating for a long time. In those circumstances, and unification taking place in that situation, Dr. Adenauer's policy of simply taking over Eastern Germany and putting the economic clock back there would fail and the policy advocated by the German Socialists would succeed. We would have a united Germany with a one-third publicly-owned economy, with the German Social Democrats in a much stronger position than they are now.
I am not suggesting that this has been thought out clearly. These things never are, they are more like conditioned reflexes. Yet the plain truth is that a European settlement on the terms advocated by the Opposition—and they are the only terms on which we can get a settlement, subject to variations in detail but, broadly speaking, it is the only basis for a settlement—would be good for peace, but it would be bad for the old order in Europe. That, I think, is the main reason why the Government consider that the risks and drawbacks of such a policy are greater than its possible advantages.
In the Middle East the Government cling to the Bagdad Pact, which is a dead failure. Its object was to rally the Arab States to the Western Alliance system. Its object, furthermore, was to keep the Soviet Union out of the Middle East. It has failed in both respects. Militarily it does not amount to a row of pins. But that is the policy to which the Government stick. We had a back bench version of that—trying to pin the 391 future of Arab Nationalism to King Hussein, who can only subsist in his own country thanks to British Forces and will not last for six months after we leave the country.
This whole policy is so completely unreal that it is difficult to understand how the Government can take themselves seriously in carrying it out. But when one reflects that the Prime Minister as recently as last June, when he was in the United States, said in an interview that the Suez adventure wassound, honourable and justified; the only pity was it did not succeed,then one understands that we are dealing with a mentality which does not live in this world, does not recognise the realities of the twentieth century and does not even recognise the unpleasant facts of what has happened in the recent past.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
To define those realities I would use the phrase of Lawrence of Arabia in his "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", referring to the Turks:War upon revolution is a messy and slow business, like eating soup with a knife.Eating soup with a knife just about sums up the Government's Middle Eastern policy. After the Bagdad Pact Council meeting of November, 1955, when the present Prime Minister was there as Foreign Secretary, a communiqué was issued in which we pledged ourselves, with the other Bagdad Pact Powers, to defend each other's territories against infiltration or subversion. After a lot of trouble I finally got a Question through to the Minister of Defence on 27th February, 1957, supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). We got the right hon. Gentleman to come out quite openly and say that this meant that British Forces were to be used in support of any Middle Eastern ruler covered by these arrangements who called for help against any popular rising in his own country which he chose to describe as "Communist subversion". That was also in accordance with the 1956 Defence White Paper, which stated that our Forces are to be used against subversion, whether overtly Communist or masquerading as nationalism. We have seen that policy in action in Lebanon and Jordan.
392 In connection with Lebanon and Jordan the Prime Minister on 17th July made the fantastic claim that under the Charter there exists an unlimited right of intervention in the name of self-defence, whenever a Government chooses to call in foreign troops to help them against their own people. This under the plea that so-called subversion must also be due to indirect aggression by the Soviet Union.
Last August the Spectator had a very good article on this, pointing out to begin with that only a dictatorship would invoke this kind of aid, because a democratic Government would have disappeared at the hands of its own people long before it got so unpopular with its own people that it had to call in foreign aid. Moreover, it would of necessity not only be confined to dictatorships but to dictators so unpopular at home that they could not rely even on their own Army. Those are the kind of régimes we are pledging British Forces to support. Again, in the Middle East as elsewhere, this Government's policy is one of propping up the forces of the old order, even to the extent of military intervention.
If this view of what is permitted under the Charter were correct then we would have absolutely nothing to say against what the Soviet Government did in Hungary at the request of the then Hungarian Government. A lot of us had plenty to say at the time. I spoke my mind on it on 19th December, 1956, in this House. But I also protest against this monstrous perversion of the Charter, because the basic principle of the Charter is that the States Members must observe a certain code of conduct. The Charter can only work, being a treaty between sovereign States, if it is interpreted in good faith; that is, with the desire to make this code of conduct work and to respect it in the spirit and the letter.
What the Government have done is to expand immeasurably the self-defence reservation, which ought to be narrowly interpreted, as it is a derogation from the main principle of the Charter, which is that threats to peace and breaches of the peace should be dealt with through the Security Council, not by States taking the law into their own hands and not in disregard of the prohibition against interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Instead, the Government have widened this self-defence reservation, 393 which is meant to apply only to action against an armed attack, to cover armed intervention whenever the Government fancy that they would like to intervene in the internal affairs of some other country, or whenever the ruler of one of those countries is in such harsh straits, so hard pressed and in such difficulties with his own armed forces, and so dead to any sense of patriotism or feeling for national independence, that he is prepared to call in foreign troops to save him from his own people.
Of course that interpretation of the Charter is not permissible. Nor is it permissible under international law because, by Article 103 of the Charter, all other international obligations that are not consistent with the obligations of the Charter are null and void in the relations between members of the United Nations. Therefore the only interpretation of international law that is permissible in these circumstances is an interpretation that is consistent with the Charter. That is the modern interpretation of international law. It is the one to which Sir Hartley Shawcross drew attention in The Times of 13th March, 1957, in connection with Hungary. He pointed out that the modern conception of international law is that sovereignty is vested in the people and not in any ruler or Government, and therefore in the case of civil strife in a country even the Government of that country does not have the right to invoke foreign aid against its own people. To do that, to engage in a policy of intervention, is an interference in the internal affairs of a country which is forbidden by the Charter. It is only permissible to meet aggression by a third State, and neither in the case of Jordan nor Lebanon was there any pretence that there had been any such aggression.
As for King Hussein, as everyone knows he had destroyed the political parties and trade unions in his own country, flung most of their leaders into prison and proclaimed a military dictatorship. According to The Times corresspondent on the spot he was supported by less than one-third of his people. As to President Chamoun, who was illegally trying to prolong his own term of office as President, by calling for foreign aid he was disregarding the Constitution of Lebanon which says that the President may not appeal for foreign aid without 394 the consent of his Parliament, which, of course, was never asked for, let alone obtained.
The whole of this policy, whether in Europe, the Middle East or the Far East, is one which under the guise of fighting Communism is one of trying to meet the forces of social change and anti-colonial nationalism by force of arms. It is a hopeless policy. It is one that cannot possibly give us peace. If it is continued long enough it will most certainly land us in another world war or some other terrible mess.
The Government try to conceal this fact and to set aside their utter incapacity to put forward any policy that holds out any hope for peace or settlement in Europe, the Middle East or the Far East, by, first of all, claiming, as in the 1958 White Paper, that we can go on indefinitely with the arms' race and, barring accidents, shall not have a war; but even they point out that there might be accidents. I remember the other argument, being used by the Prime Minister at the end of March. He claims that the balance of power prevents war and that the hydrogen bomb is a deterrent against war. The best comment I can make is to read what the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden, said in the debate on 17th November, 1954, in the debate about including Germany in N.A.T.O. He said:It seems to me that we are here engaged upon what has been for many of us, certainly for my generation in the House, a continuing task virtually all our lives. It is an effort to build an effective deterrent in Europe to any aggression. That was attempted before the 1914 War by the Entente, an act of statesmanship which, however, failed to prevent the First World War…Again, after the First World War…by what I suppose it would be right to describe as a revival of the Anglo-French Alliance…we tried again to create a deterrent and once again we failed…This is yet another attempt to bring about the same result…"—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 17th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 397.]I am afraid that it will bring about the same result, but this time with fatal consequences.
In the meantime, we have heard Lord Montgomery on the subject. He has said, in effect, that N.A.T.O. in its present form, in spite of the thousands of millions of pounds and time, ingenuity and effort spent upon it, is a flop and is in danger of falling to pieces. In order to salvage it and wage cold war on a 395 global scale against what he calls international Communism led by Russia—really the forces of social change and colonial emancipation everywhere in the world—he says we must have a three-power directorate based not only on unified military command but also on unity of political aims and unity of economic policies.
The Prime Minister when in the United States last June took exactly the same line, except that he wanted a two-power arrangement. He called for interdependence, political and economic as well as military, with the United States in order to save our way of life and to cause the threat to our way of life to recede. On this, Walter Lippman long ago anticipated what the consequences of such a policy would be when he wrote to the New York Herald Tribune on 28th September, 1948, that Anglo-American economic unity, let alone unity of military command and policy as well, would inevitably and inexorably reduce the United Kingdom to "an American dependency in which we, who would be paying the piper, would be calling the tune." He observed:The British nation is not, we may be confident, prepared to resign and to retire as a great power in the world, and to be pensioned off by the United States. For this conception of their future is the nadir of defeatism, of appeasement and of moral surrender, and it is an economic monstrosity as well.The United States depression and the vagaries of Mr. Dulles' brinkmanship have rather underlined the monstrosity of that conception. But such as it is, that is the keystone, the sheet anchor, of the Government's foreign policy, because they look upon the American alliance, not as an equal partnership in working for peace within the United Nations, but as the last refuge of the defenders of the old order against the menace of socialism at home and abroad.
At long last the Opposition have evolved a fairly complete alternative to this policy, based on an alternative view of what is happening in the world, a view which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale has expressed so many times with such eloquence: that it is an entire misreading of the situation in the Soviet Union to imagine that the Soviet Government are plotting or planning an attack on the West or thinking in terms of imposing Communism by military means on other countries. Com- 396 munism, says my right hon. Friend, is a social challenge and not a military threat. Starting with that common sense and realistic view of what is happening, the Labour Party at Scarborough finally committed itself to a policy of basing our relations with the Soviet Union and China on the Charter of the United Nations. And the Charter is founded on the assumption, as the Secretary-General pointed out in his first annual report to the General Assembly, that the permanent members of the Security Council have a common interest in avoiding war with each other and, therefore, in keeping the peace together and dealing co-operatively and not competitively with threats to the peace. Therefore, what is needed is political arrangements to embody this need for co-operation to preserve the peace, in the shape of regional agreements including both sides and based on the Charter. That, in effect, is the policy which the Labour Party is putting forward with regard to Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.
During my visit to the Soviet Union in September I took the opportunity to have some discussions with members of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Soviet Parliament. I discussed the Soviet Government's declared views and proposals in relation to these matters and also the policies of the Labour Party in some detail, and found that there is so much common ground that I can assert with confidence that if the policy of the Opposition were put forward by the Government of this country it would be accepted by the Soviet Union as a basis of negotiation and there would be every hope of reaching a settlement on that basis.
Furthermore, there is such strong support in American public opinion and by such responsible Americans—as, for instance, George F. Kennan, Walter Lippmann and Senator Humphreys—for views on very much the same lines, that if there were a strong, steady, sustained, clear-headed and courageous lead by the Government of this country for making peace on those lines, we should most certainly get the United States to come in on this basis as well as the Soviet Union. What is needed is a will to peace and courage on the part of the Government of the country.
§ 6.3.8 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The views of the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) are well known to those of us who have been in the House for some years. I could not agree with them, nor do I think that any hon. Member on this side of the House could. The hon. Gentleman repeated his views again this evening, and I listened very carefully. We all know his complex. Broadly speaking, he says the Soviet Union is much misunderstood and much maligned, that it does not constitute a threat to anybody and that all we have to do in order to make the world peaceful and secure is to give way to the maximum Soviet demands.
Nor do I agree with the hon. Gentleman in what he says about the situation in Jordan and the Lebanon. His line of argument follows very closely the line of argument which we heard from the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) today. I simply do not believe that it is true that the position in Jordan and the Lebanon following the withdrawal of the British and American troops is exactly the same as it was before. I believe the general position to be infinitely better. No one who visited the Middle East while the troops were there could fail to notice a very marked drop in the temperature, a marked easing of the tension.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Let me put it like this for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman. Anybody who went to the Middle East with a completely open and impartial mind could not fail to notice a marked lessening of tension and a marked drop in the temperature, following the intervention of the Americans in the, Lebanon and of British troops in Jordan. Indeed, if we and the United States had not intervened, I believe that, in a matter not so much of months or weeks, but of days, both these régimes would have been overthrown by internal subversion in one form or another, and that, very likely, the whole area would by now be under the control of Nasser.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
We went in as a fire brigade operation, because this form of internal subversion is in a sense fairly new. It is an extremely effective 398 technique anywhere, and it is particularly effective in the Middle East, because the United Nations, by its very nature, composition and machinery, is completely unable to deal with a threat of subversion when the threat is sudden. It cannot do it, and everybody knows it.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I am sorry that I cannot be as objective and impartial as he notoriously is, but, looking at it as objectively as one can, and seeing what the present situation is in the Lebanon. American troops having withdrawn, is it not exactly what was about to take place before the Americans went there? In what way was the subversion defeated?
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
The hon. Gentleman will not agree with me, but it was by the intervention. at the request of King Hussein, of British troops in Jordan, and by the intervention, at the request of the President of the Lebanon, of American troops there, that we bought sufficient time to enable the United Nations to have some chance—I will not put it higher than that—of acting. I believe that our position is just this. We have presented, if you like, the United Nations in general and Mr. Hammarskjöld in particular with a great challenge and a great opportunity—to show whether or not the United Nations is capable of solving a particular form of danger in a very highly charged area within a reasonable time, and the next few weeks and months will prove whether they can do so. Up till the present, I would agree, the propaganda campaign from Radio Cairo and Radio Damascus has not abated at all, in spite of the resolution of the United Nations, which I think all the Arab States and even Israel supported.
Then, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale criticised King Hussein for not having held elections. It is not any good trying to compare conditions in the Middle East with conditions as we know them here or in Western Europe. There is really no common yardstick. The situation in the Middle East is absolutely different. Let us be quite frank about it. There is no country in the Middle East today where there could be held what we in this country call free elections. There are no free elections in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Yemen, Jordan or Syria. Of 399 course not, but I do not see why the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, for all his complex about kings—and let it be said at once that King Hussein is a very brave man—should level the criticism at him because he has not at the moment allowed free elections. I have never heard any criticism in this debate, or in the debate we had before the Recess, against Nasser because no elections were held in Egypt. If criticisms are to be levelled at the one, then let them be levelled at the other.
Next, the right hon. Gentleman aired his views about the Pan-Arab movement. He said that the desire of the Arabs was to be at one with each other. But the desire of the Arabs to be at one with each other is more or less confined to a desire to be at one in conflict with Israel. That is the cement which binds them together, and there is not much else. We cannot support the United Arab Republic's policy of annihilating Israel, and that is one of the difficulties in the Middle East. At least the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will agree with me here.
I also want to say a few words about Cyprus, because I was interested in what the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said, and still more so in what the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shin-well) said. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not in his place. As I understood him, the right hon. Member for Easington said that when the Labour Government were in power—and he was first Secretary of State for War and then Minister of Defence—he never heard any Chief of Staff saying that Cyprus had any strategic value. That seemed to me to be a very strange statement. If so, I wonder why, when the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Labour Cabinet and when the Labour Government made a constitutional offer to Cyprus in 1948 or 1949—I forget which—the question of any change of sovereignty was specifically excluded. If they believe in the policy they put forward now it is surprising that they did not take the opportunity to carry it out when they were in power and had the chance of doing so. Why did they not give Cyprus to the Greeks?
I believe that the Government are taking the right course in regard to Cyprus. Let me say frankly that they have had to face a great many handicaps, by no means all of their own making. 400 I do not wish to belabour the point, but one tremendous handicap has been the attitude of the Labour Party, who, whatever they meant to say, have certainly given the impression that if they were once again elected as the Government, they would concede almost 100 per cent. of the Greek demands.
The second handicap under which the Government have been labouring is the difficulty that too many people for too long—not confined to any political party—have held the illusion, that, somehow or other, locked up in some cupboard to which nobody has yet found the key, there is the real basis of agreement between the Greeks and the Turks about Cyprus. At the moment, I do not believe there is. The other illusion is that, because the Greeks are the descendants of an ancient classical tradition, therefore there must be somewhere in Greek public opinion, and if not there then in the Greek Government, and if not there, then somewhere else, a great solid block of moderate, liberal—not in the political sense—opinion which is only too anxious to have a reasonable settlement about Cyprus, without getting excited about it. I do not believe that to be true either, and if there is such a block of public opinion in Athens, it is singularly unvocal.
I believe the situation to be quite different. I think that Archbishop Makarios is taking the Greek Government for a ride. The Makarios line—perhaps a rather curious one for a bishop—is that if you murder enough people over a long enough period, not excluding women now, ultimately the British Government will give in. That I believe to be the principle, and it is a very dangerous principle indeed.
Amid all these difficulties, I think the Government have been right in trying to steer a middle course—in trying to get the Greeks to drop Enosis and the Turks to drop partition. That is the right thing to do. I do not think that if we take any alternative course it could result in anything other than a great deal of blood being shed. No fair-minded person who has read the newspapers or listened to debates during the last eighteen months, especially the last few months, or who has today listened to the Foreign Secretary's account of the more recent events in N.A.T.O., could accuse the British Government of being 401 stubborn or unreasonable. That accusation will not hold water.
I want now to refer to the British troops in Cyprus. They deserve the maximum support and the maximum amount of congratulations which hon. Members, from either side of the House, can give. They should be a source of pride to us. We should scorn scurrilous allegations. No other troops in the world would behave with such restraint, such good discipline and such good humour in circumstances of extreme provocation.
I sometimes wonder whether it is fully realised that the outrageous allegations made in certain quarters and the smears cast from time to time, however absurd and ridiculous they may be, are taken up in the Middle East Press, which is not always very friendly, and are thus much more effective than the subsequent denial two or three days later, a denial which does not receive anything like the same circulation. We should be proud of the way our troops are behaving. In the tranquillity of this Chamber, it is not easy to capture the tension in Cyprus and perhaps we take too much for granted.
Let us suppose that when we were going home tonight we saw a woman foully murdered in the Palace Yard, or in Bridge Street. Let us suppose that the assailant was known to be among a crowd of people trying to get away. I wonder whether even in London we could be sure that nobody would get hurt in the ensuing scuffle. When ghastly atrocities and murders are committed and troops are asked to throw a quick cordon around an area to contain it before the police arrive, and when it is known that several people trying to get out before the net is drawn too tightly are almost certain to be the culprits, what are soldiers supposed to do? Is the soldier supposed to invite four or five Cypriots to sit down and have a cup of coffee while waiting for the police to arrive? We have to be a little more realistic about the difficulties and the restraint and the good discipline of the troops in this very difficult situation.
If good temper, good discipline and high morale are to continue, as I am sure they will, two ingredients are necessary, The first is that the security forces should have absolute confidence in the Government, and the second is that the Government should have absolute confidence in 402 the efficiency of the security forces, and should ensure that they are not being hampered in any way. It is also extremely important that security forces should know what the plan for Cyprus is.
The Governor of Cyprus, Sir Hugh Foot, is performing a very valuable task in going round as many units as possible and explaining in the officers' messes and in the sergeants' messes and elsewhere the political situation. We cannot continue to change the plan. We cannot continue to accept truces with E.O.K.A. just when the net is about to close. To go on changing the plan on the one hand and accepting truces on the other puts a tremendous strain on the security forces, who are doing a magnificent job.
I do not believe that there will be a settlement in Cyprus so long as the Greek Government or Makarios or both—I do not know how to apportion responsibility or blame—having failed to get their way at the conference table, use the assassin's bullet to achieve the same end. I hope that the Greek Government will realise this and will come to the conference with N.A.T.O. and renounce terrorism. Then we can get somewhere.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins (Birmingham, Stechford)
The hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) began by saying that no one who had been in the Middle East since British and American troops were moved in could fail to believe that they had achieved a good deal and greatly helped in the relaxation of tension. Like him, I was in the Middle East during this period, in Iraq, Jordan and the Lebanon, and that is the only reason why I am forsaking my normal simpler subject of economics and venturing into this much more complicated and dangerous subject.
I am bound to say that when the hon. Member dismissed my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) as not being fair-minded, he would have to dismiss me and other people in that category who would not accept his conclusions about what has been happening. The Prime Minister was at pains yesterday to justify our intervention in Jordan. About the best thing that one can say for his justification was that at least it was in reasonably pessimistic terms.
There are a number of differences between Suez and Jordan, but not the least 403 significant is the fact that Sir Anthony Eden at the time of Suez believed, hopelessly mistakenly, that he was about to achieve a great victory, whereas the Prime Minister has never pretended anything about Jordan. He has put it in much more fatalistic terms and has increasingly got into the position of having to say that there was nothing else which we could have done in the circumstances.
That is extremely arguable, but, even if it is accepted, let us make the deduction that we must certainly not get ourselves in the same circumstances again. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), who spoke at some length this afternoon, was anxious that we should be in the position of having to do this over and over again, but even the Government Front Bench realise that that would be an impossible and hopeless prospect.
How are we to avoid getting into a position where, on the Prime Minister's assumption, there would be nothing else we could do? I want to consider this first from the narrow viewpoint of Jordan and, secondly, from the somewhat wider viewpoint of policy in the Middle East as a whole.
It may be that in Jordan the régime will survive for some time after our troops have departed. I do not know, but it is at least perfectly possible. However, I am sure that that will not be because of any inherent stability in the régime itself. It will be, broadly, for two reasons. One is that the Jordan Government has used the interval provided by our troops being there to lock up and exile a great number of its opponents, and to that extent is in a somewhat more secure position, and the other is that the balance of conflicting forces in the Middle East is such that it may very likely be in the interests of nobody to exterminate Jordan at the moment.
I do not think that Iraq wants Jordan, because Jordan would be an enormous financial liability to Iraq and the Iraq Government are very anxious to conserve their resources for use within Iraq. The U.A.R. may also be very doubtful about provoking an upheaval in Jordan because of the possibility of the Israelis coming on to the west bank with a very difficult general situation thus precipitated.
Jordan is not in the position which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South 404 tried to portray, a great spearhead in the Middle East, but something which nobody wants, and it may achieve a certain spurious stability for a short period as a result of that. However, we must leave it to those conflicting forces to maintain Jordan's independence and not try to add to them ourselves.
If we accept a continuing liability, what is the position in which we will find ourselves? First, are we going to go in and out at the request of King Hussein whenever he likes to ask us to do so? Although the King may be an extremely courageous man, he has not treated us particularly well in the past, and he is not one to whom we are particularly beholden. But even more important than being put into this impossible position of moving in and out at the request of King Hussein is that if we decide to give continuing support to the Jordan régime we shall be erecting that régime into a unique position amongst Middle East régimes and, whether we like it or not, Jordan will appear as the chosen instrument of British policy in the Arab world. What an instrument to choose!
It is not the fault of Jordan, but it is completely unviable economically. It is also the case that of all Middle East régimes it is almost certainly the one which has the least popular support. It is true that all over the Arab world we do not have conditions of highly civilised Western Parliamentary democracy. We do not have free elections in Egypt and similar countries, as the hon. Member for Windsor pointed out; but that does not mean that there is no distinction between Governments which enjoy genuine popular support, in a rather rough and ready way, and Governments which do not. That is a very important distinction which we should be wise to make.
Therefore, our chosen instrument is an economically unviable régime, an extremely unpopular régime, and one which has a capital city—Amman—which of all places in the Middle East has the most unrealistic atmosphere at present. Compared with the rest of the Middle East Amman is a dream world, where people just do not know what is going on elsewhere, and where they keep themselves going by believing all sorts of unconvincing stories and rumours about what is happening in the rest of the world. One constantly hears stories of people coming over the Syrian border and saying that 405 the régime there is very unpopular, and that the U.A.R. is going to break up. They speak with a conviction similar to those coming out of Germany just before the war who said that the Nazis were bankrupt and that the régime would soon collapse.
There is the belief in Jordan, and in some other highly placed quarters, of the possibility of a counter-coup in Iraq, and a belief that what has happened in the Lebanon has been a resounding defeat for Nasser. How that can be thought I do not know. All these things are adding up to create a most unrealistic atmosphere in a country which has a most unpopular régime and a most unviable economic position. Whatever else we may do, do not let us have that country as our chosen instrument in the region. It will be difficult enough to have a secure and reasonable basis for British policy in the Middle East in future without having this needless impediment round our necks.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I assume that what the hon. Member has been visualising is the possibilitiy of Jordan being threatened by another Arab State. What impact does he mean his remarks to have upon the guarantees made, under the Tripartite Declaration, as between Israel and Jordan?
§ Mr. Jenkins
We should be extremely wise to guarantee that position really effectively in regard to the frontier between Israel and the Arab world. We should guarantee it both ways. But British troops did not go into Jordan in July to meet an Israeli threat; they went there to meet an entirely different one.
I hope that the Government will now recognise that what happened in Bagdad in July has destroyed two major and, on the whole, extremely unsuccessful assumptions of British policy in the Middle East. The first was that there is any advantage in having client régimes in that part of the world. This reinforces the point that I have been making about Jordan. There is no doubt that the new Iraqi régime is a popular one, although it may be a long time before genuine free elections are held there, if they ever are. But it is sharply distinguished from the old régime, in the sense that as far as one can judge it has genuine popular support behind it —and nobody believes that the old régime had that. It would have been a great advantage if the British Government 406 could have seen that before the event and not afterwards.
If these events cannot be foreseen it is undesirable for the Government to put themselves in such a position that when an internal upheaval takes place—and the Prime Minister said that what happened in Iraq was an entirely internal upheaval—a grave blow is delivered at the prestige of Her Majesty's Government. It is not desirable to get mixed up with a régime to that extent. The other assumption which has been destroyed is that it is either tenable or desirable to build up one bloc of Arab States against another. This is the continuing temptation of British policy in the Middle East. I must agree that the Government have been extremely quick and flexible in accepting the new régime in Iraq. But the danger is that it has been accepted in the hope that Bagdad will emerge as a counter-centre of attraction to Cairo in the Arab world.
I suspect that inside the Foreign Office every indication that Bagdad is going in this direction is seized on with a feeling of pleasure. So much has that become a part of British policy in the Middle East that when one talks to Iraqi politicians it is difficult oneself to resist the temptation of seizing on every such indication. I am convinced that it is a mistake on the part of British foreign policy.
A curious situation has arisen in connection with the régime in Iraq. When Colonel Aref lost his battle with Brigadier Kassim and was exiled to Bonn it was thought that this was a blow against close Iraqi relations with Egypt. But there is an element of paradox in the situation. British thinking has assumed that to move closer to Cairo was to move closer to Moscow. Brigadier Kassim, however, in his struggle against Colonel Aref, has leant heavily on the Communists and it may be that in moving away from Cairo, he has moved, not as British thinking would lead us to believe, away from Moscow, but towards it. I am certain that the continuing British temptation to build up an alternative bloc to Cairo in the Arab world is a completely mistaken policy.
It may be that there are great obstacles to Arab unity, quite independent of Western policy. That is more likely than not, although I do not agree with one hon. Member opposite who 407 thought that anti-Israeli feeling was the only uniting force in the Arab world. It certainly is one, but independently of that there are a great many other forces working in the same area. It may be that there are also forces working against too close an Arab unity, but if that is so we should allow the Arabs to find it out for themselves and not put ourselves in the position of encouraging it, because to the extent that we encourage Arab disunity so, because of the history of the Middle East, we encourage Arab unity.
If we believe that there are forces which will make a close union under Cairo impossible the best thing that we can do is to look as though we were encouraging union under Cairo, and allow the Arabs to find out the difficulties for themselves. I believe that the pull of Cairo in the Arab world is extremely strong. It is something which exists independently of Nasser and his policy. Cairo is a tremendous metropolis and cultural centre for the Middle East, and nothing will easily destroy it. Therefore, if we are to open a new chapter of relations in the Middle East we must get on better terms with Cairo as soon as we can.
I am glad that Sir Humphrey Trevelyan is going as Ambassador to Bagdad, because his predecessor, Sir Michael Wright, was in a very unhappy position under the new régime. I would sooner Sir Humphrey went to Cairo as Ambassador at the present time, because I do not believe we can solve this problem or get the basis for a reasonable relationship with the Arab world until, in fact, there is a British Ambassador in Cairo. One has to realise, whether one likes it or not, that Cairo is the centre of the Arab world now and for a long time to come.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
The hon. Member for Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), who has been on a trip to the Middle East, criticised some refugees from Syria for bringing back tales of what was quite untrue but which they wished to see themselves. Other hon. Members in this House may have fallen into the same error. Some hon. Members on this side who went to the Middle East came back with one impression and some hon. Members opposite who went to the Middle East came back with an entirely 408 different one. Exactly the same events had been viewed through different eyes.
The hon. Gentleman was a little harsh on the Government in saying that they had tried to build up a bloc in negotiating with Arab States. Surely all that a Government can do is to negotiate and to make alliances with existing Governments; and he pointed the difficulty of doing anything else by saying how difficult it was to know whether a Government in the Middle East not popularly elected enjoyed the confidence of the population or not. I do not think any Government can be catechised for seeking to negotiate with an existing Government.
I wish rather to refer to Europe, and I am sorry that the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) has left the Chamber because I wanted to say one thing about his speech. We are used to the sort of speech which the hon. Gentleman makes, but it always sounds strange to my ears. I cannot understand why he equates two things which are completely different. He equates Socialism and Russia together. He said that Communism should be looked at as a social challenge and not as a military threat. The words Communism and Socialism he uses to mean the same thing.
Socialism is, of course, a social challenge, but Russian imperialism is nothing of the sort. That is a military threat. By throwing the two things together he seems to me to deceive himself, and we cannot in this country be indifferent to the challenge of Russian imperialism. Whatever we think of the challenge of international Socialism, and with the example of Hungary before our eyes, we must take precautions against Russia which, in the ideological field, we would never dream of taking against international Socialism.
I want to refer briefly to one particular aspect of our affairs today. In Western Europe, in spite of its shortcomings, to which attention has been drawn by hon. Members today, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), the policy of N.A.T.O. has been, I would have said, broadly successful. It has been successful in this way. As a military policy, it has contained Russia for the last ten years. We have reached all that a military policy, unless we use the arms, can do. We have reached a stage of deadlock in Western 409 Europe. That is the most that military arms can be expected to do unless we use them, which, of course, we do not want to do.
A deadlock is not a permanently satisfactory situation, certainly if we contemplate the conditions of people an the other side of the Iron Curtain and also contemplate the financial, military and psychological effort which it will be for this country to maintain a front against Russian imperialism for ever and ever; for, as we see at the moment, there is very little sign of any dawn coming in the future.
I think that the present Government will be staunch, but how long the country will stand over the years a policy costing so much money and determination it is difficult to say. Our history between the two wars makes us wonder whether we shall be able to stick the pace. We have our allies also to take into consideration. The United States is a country which is anxious to see quick results. They are not a patient people, and if they do not get any results in Europe, will they stop here and continue to put their shoulders to the wheel? In Russia, internal stresses may be set up which will make it possible that they may engage in some adventure even in Europe.
How do we break through this deadlock? Reference was made in the Gracious Speech to the atomic test talks which are about to start at Geneva tomorrow, which this country will welcome, and the objective of disarmament which is before us is another thing which the country actively wants, but about which it is difficult to see what progress can be made.
Nevertheless, I think that we can commend the invincible patience of the Ministers of this Government and of the Labour Government as well, who have tried to work towards these things for so many years since the war. The important point which I wish to make tonight is that there is something more that we can do to break this deadlock in Europe, and I suggest that we should make greater use of the facilities of radio and television to explain our policies to Eastern Europe and to our friends in Western Europe.
At the present time, the radio time we spend on Eastern Europe is very restricted. It is not many hours a day that we broadcast to that part of the 410 world, and the money which we spend on it is very small indeed. I know that the problem of the people who live on the other side of the Iron Curtain is not simple. The population in Eastern Europe are living rather like people at war. They have the same pressures put upon them, the same shortages, the same appeals to their work and patriotism to which we were accustomed in the dark days of the last two wars. We should not underestimate the effect of this continuous propaganda upon them.
We believe that they dislike their own Governments, but we would be wrong if we assumed that they loved ours. They have been too long remote from the principles of democracy, if indeed they ever practised them at all. Even Western Germany wears her democratic clothes more or less to see if they fit and not necessarily to buy them and keep them. Nevertheless, I believe that this population living, as I say, in rather an atmosphere of war are receptive to the type of broadcast which the B.B.C. puts over, a type of factual information broadcast which we know gained such a prestige for the B.B.C. during the war in Europe and which still maintains its reputation. By and large, although they may not agree with the B.B.C. on what is says, they do trust it. It is amazing, considering the short time we do broadcast, what an enormous audience the B.B.C. has in Eastern Europe.
I think that if we redoubled our efforts in this way we might bring an end to this deadlock and create a new situation in Europe. The Russian empire is subject to far greater stresses than Western Europe. It has on its fringes satellite countries which are very anxious to be free from it. All empires which are held down by force of arms have their difficulties. It is quite certain that if we can inject a new mental attitude into those populations in Eastern Europe we shall bring about a new situation over there.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)
I wonder whether the hon. Member would say what sort of a new situation would be brought about.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I am not suggesting for one moment that we should seek to bring about another Hungarian rising—certainly not. That would be absolutely wrong and 411 fatal, and it would be immoral to try to do that. What we want to do is to make them aware of the sort of life which we lead over here and the sort of standards that we have and bring about a mental climate in which they are prepared to think for themselves and question the validity of the disciplines under which they live and demand that they should have a better life for themselves.
This sort of propaganda—I do not like to use that word because it has a nasty smell, but it is the easiest word—will not be created in a few months. It is a question of years. To begin with, we must build up the skilled staff, and that takes time, especially with foreign languages. It was unfortunate that about twelve months ago we had to cut expenditure on the B.B.C. foreign broadcasts and to disperse some of the skilled people then employed.
Large sums of money are not required. Quite a small expenditure, compared with expenditure on some other things, such as some of the proposals mentioned in the Queen's Speech, which will require a lot of money, would be sufficient. A mere fraction of some of that projected expenditure would make a radio-programme manager's mouth absolutely water. The broadcasting should not be confined to Eastern Europe; our own friends in Western Europe should get to know us better than they do. Then they would not be so disappointed as they have been on certain occasions when misunderstandings have arisen, or when we do not cheer their Presidents in our streets as loudly as they hoped.
We should tell the world the sort of people we are. I sometimes wonder whether we ourselves know the sort of people we are. We like to think that we are a friendly, open-hearted and sentimental people. I do not believe that that is so at all. I believe we are friendly with those whose friendship we want. I do not think we are open-hearted at all. I think that we dislike foreigners all over the world. We are not sentimental; we are indeed one of the most ruthless and determined nations in the world. Our determination in the last war, when we preferred to see our country laid in dust and ashes rather than succumb, was a measure of the ruthlessness that we have. I think that is still true today.
412 I do not say these things in order to decry our value as an ally, or to try to discourage our European friends who are in alliance with us. I say it for the exactly contrary reason, to encourage them. Our friendship is based solidly on common interest, which we have with our Western European allies. They should know us as allies whose word can be relied on. They will then not be disappointed if the crunch comes. They will know that we are not allied with them because of their beautiful eyes, or they with us because of our beautiful eyes, but because we want an alliance based upon solid terms that can be relied upon.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to look at this matter of broadcasts to Eastern Europe and to Europe in general, and that they will not neglect the very fruitful field of television that will shortly be opened up. Nothing has been done in that line yet, but something ought to be done in order to put our case over to Europe generally. In that way, we shall have the possibility of altering the military deadlock in Europe, which otherwise will apparently face us for many years to come.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. William Stones (Consett)
If I do not deal specifically with the arguments that have already been adduced by hon. Members from the Government benches, it is not that I regard them as unimportant, but rather because my time is limited and I wish to express my point of view. I would, however, refer to one thing that was said by a Government supporter about the conduct of our troops in Cyprus.
We are all aware that violence begets violence and that when violence occurs the baser qualities come to the top rather than the best side of our human nature. We must recognise the force of the argument that if our troops were responsible for brutality in Cyprus it was under extreme provocation and that it was a pity that they were ever placed in such a situation.
I do not wish to enter into the complexities of our foreign policy, particularly about the Far East or the Middle East, but I would refer to a statement that was made, if I heard aright, by a Government supporter to the effect that Formosa could not be handed over to the 413 Chinese Communists. That is a very dangerous statement, because the Chinese people—the Communists, if you like—are very definitely of the opinion that, sooner or later and by some means or other, Formosa must be handed back to the Republic of China. We are hoping that if and when Formosa becomes part of the Chinese Republic it will be by peaceful means and not by violence.
Now I will say something about our relations with the Commonwealth, and I would refer to the first paragraph of the Gracious Speech in which Her Majesty referred to her forthcoming visit to Canada. She said:The peoples of Canada and the United Kingdom have long shared a common destiny. It is our hope that the friendship and understanding between them will be strengthened still further by our visit.I share that hope. Only by friendship and understanding can we expect the Commonwealth to continue to exist and to play what ought to be an admirable part in world affairs. There was a time when, as children, we were taught in school that the sun never set on our imperial possessions and that the British flag flew over a quarter of the land masses of the world. Many people, not all of them on the Government benches, deplore that that is no longer true.
I can readily understand the feelings of people whose family fortunes were to some extent created by the exploitation of our imperial possessions, when they look upon the granting of independence to India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon as acts which were lacking in foresight and were not to the advantage of our people here at home. Probably their conception of advantage to the people at home was coloured by their own selfish interest, disregarding entirely the moral, human and legal rights of the native peoples of the territories over which the Union Jack proudly flew in the old days.
It was very good that independence was granted to the people of the territories to which I have referred. I hope that other territories in the Commonwealth will be granted independence, for, despite all our military power, we could never have withstood the advancement and the realisation by the colonial peoples of their aspirations for independence. To have attempted to defeat those aims and aspirations would have meant not only the end of the British Empire but the end 414 of the British Commonwealth as we had known it. Rather than attempt to resist the advance of the colonial peoples, we must assist the process. That is why I welcome the sentence which I have just read from the Gracious Speech. We are told:New legislation to maintain the provision of financial assistance for Colonial development and welfare will be laid before you.Then we are told:My Government will neglect no opportunity to promote the advance of the Colonial territories and the increasing association of their peoples with the management of their own affairs.I believe that to be a good thing. Much concern has been widely expressed in the country about immigration of people from various parts of our Commonwealth. I do not doubt for a moment that, although diverse opinions have been expressed, they have been expressed with equal sincerity. I am sure that the more we can give in the way of assistance to colonial development the less likely are we to be inundated by immigrants who, no doubt, would prefer to stay in their own lands if economic and social conditions there were improved. The more help we can give to the development of our Colonies and the greater the improvement there, the better it will be not only for the people of the Colonies but of this country, because, by our example, we shall increase our status in the world. That is very important.
That brings me to the situation in Cyprus. I think what I have said already about the rest of the Commonwealth can be said about Cyprus. In the fourth paragraph of the Gracious Speech, we are told that the Government:are deeply concerned at the situation in Cyprus and the tragic loss of life involved. They will persevere in their efforts to secure a settlement ensuring tranquillity and progress in the Island.Not only are Her Majesty's Government concerned, but people all over the world—no one more than myself—are concerned at the needless and tragic loss of life in Cyprus. As a humble back bencher, I appeal, as I know millions of people all over the world are mutely appealing, for the reign of terror to come to an end. There must be a sincere effort by all Governments concerned to bring about an amicable settlement and peace in that unhappy island. Any loss of prestige envisaged by any Government, any person or 415 people, should not be considered. The all-important thing is to bring this tragic period in the history of Cyprus to an end.
I welcome the statements in the Gracious Speech, but words must be backed by deeds. We have had statements from influential spokesmen of the party opposite on more than one occasion—it is not necessary to quote them—and we know that not always have promises been fulfilled or that which was predicted come about. I respectfully appeal to the integrity and sincerity of responsible statesmen all over the world not to be lacking in any way in negotiations which may be entered with the object of securing peace, not only in Cyprus, but in the world as a whole.
In what I considered a most admirable speech, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) expressed the hope that the conferences to be entered into within a few days would bring what we think is the desired result. I believe all concerned with world affairs should have due regard to what was said by my right hon. Friend. If tension is reduced as a result of the conferences to be held and that eliminates the fear of war, the fear of the H-bomb and all the consequences of war and devastation of property and human life, I believe the whole world will give a sigh of relief and he grateful to anyone who brings about such a situation.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
Inevitably, the debate on the Address is very "bitty" because it is very wide-ranging. I thought I should have to apologise for introducing a totally extraneous subject into the discussion until, fortunately, the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) gave me a lead in by referring to the difficulties of immigration into this country of British citizens from the Commonwealth.
I had not intended to intervene in this debate until I read in HANSARD this morning the speech on this subject by my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) who, I am glad to see, has just returned to the Chamber. That speech was answered promptly—indeed, impromptu—in an effective intervention by the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King), who rose immediately after my hon. Friend, but I think it needs answering from this side of the House also. We all know that, although speeches made in 416 this House may achieve only a couple of lines in The Times, they can become headline news in the Press of the Colonies. It would cause misunderstanding in the Commonwealth, especially in the West Indies in which I am interested, if it were thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Louth represented in this matter the views either of the Government or of the Conservative Party, which I am quite sure he does not.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
May I add that after my broadcast on the T.V. I received hundreds and hundreds of letters from all over the country and not one was against me, but all for me?
§ Mr. Fisher
That might be so; one generally, after that sort of thing, receives only complimentary letters and not letters of opposition. My hon. Friend advocatedrestriction upon immigration into this country, particularly of coloured immigrants."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1958; Vol. 594, c. 195.]Those were his actual words. That is a proposition to which I and I believe the vast majority of my hon. Friends are completely opposed, and I know we have the support of hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Fisher
I hope I am right in saying that probably 99 per cent. of the House of Commons would be opposed to discrimination on grounds of colour as such. I think it rather important to say that, because otherwise, if the speech of my hon. Friend had been left unanswered from this side of the House, it might have seemed to our friends and fellow-British citizens overseas that perhaps there was a large element in our Parliament in Westminster which shared the views of my hon. Friend, and I really do not think there is.
We all know that there are two main causes for immigration here, particularly from the West Indies. The first is the very high birthrate; and the second is the knowledge that, however large the amount we spend on economic and industrial development, it still will not be capable of curing the great problem of poverty and unemployment among the mass of those people as a whole. So, inevitably and naturally, they look to this 417 country to help them here if we cannot help them there. My hon. Friend said that that raises for us acute domestic difficulties in this country. He may be perfectly right, but I think he misses the point. What really is the Commonwealth worth to us?
Are domestic difficulties an excuse for abandoning what I believe to be the whole concept of the British Commonwealth? I think we ought to he prepared to pay a certain price to retain the reality of the Commonwealth for the coloured British citizens who so largely compose it. In any case, I am sure that if we are not prepared to pay that price we shall imperil our whole idea and ideal of Commonwealth and our whole colonial and Commonwealth policy under successive Governments.
I think that the race riots in Nottingham and Notting Hill were a shock to this nation. Until a few months ago we in Britain could have been contemptuous of the problem and certainly of the attitude of mind of the people of Little Rock, Arkansas, but today we find the same volcanic issue on our own doorstep in London.
I believe that it has been a source of great pride to us that in our Caribbean Colonies, which I know particularly well, there has evolved a multi-racial society which works extremely well. Yet here, at the heart and centre of the whole Commonwealth, it now seems—and my hon. Friend rather appears to encourage it—that we have failed to absorb and integrate harmoniously a relatively small number, about 200,000, of coloured British citizens, less than one half of l per cent. of our population, who have migrated to Britain in search of the employment which we were unable to provide for them in their own beautiful island homes in the Caribbean and elsewhere.
§ Mr. Osborne
May I make one point clear? I pleaded that the unfit, the idle and the criminal should be excluded and I was challenged by the Leader of the Liberal Party to say whether I included the Irish, the white people, as well. I said that of course I would include them in respect of those three categories.
§ Mr. Osborne
I said that I would include the Irish. To pin on to me the suggestion that I was making a colour question of it is therefore quite unfair and quite wrong.
§ Mr. Fisher
Let us be quite honest about this. When we talk about restrictions on immigration—and my hon. Friend said this in his opening remarks—we are talking about discrimination particularly against coloured immigrants He said:particularly of coloured immigrants."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1958; Vol 594, c. 195.]In those circumstances I think we can no longer point the finger of scorn at South Africa and the United States, and I am rather ashamed that we cannot.
Suddenly, on a small scale, we are faced with these same ugly, frightening, primitive emotions—I think they are primitive emotions—in Britain, which has hitherto always been regarded as the very cradle of liberty and tolerance, the most law-abiding country in the world. It goes without saying—we should all agree about this—that violence must cease and respect for the law must be upheld. Justice and order as between man and man and race and race must be impartially and, I hope, severely enforced. That aspect can be left with confidence to the police and to the courts, and I thought that the exemplary sentences of Mr. Justice Salmon were entirely helpful in discouraging any future outbreaks.
But the deeper side of it, the twisted, distorted racial hatred and bitterness which sparked off these breaches of the peace, is deeper rooted and immensely complicated in source and character and needs careful consideration, wise handling and informed explanations in this country and in the Colonies. I think the "nigger haters"—of course, I do not include my hon. Friend among those—are not normally people of very high intelligence or very high education. They are generally the least secure economically and socially—the sort of man whose jealous animosity is directed against the coloured immigrant, it may be because the immigrant has a house or a job or a girl the white man covets.
Those are generally not the best of our own citizens. I think it cuts both ways. It is true that the coloured immigrant has 419 a different background and in some ways probably lower social standards than we have, and it is hard for him to become aclimatised quickly and without friction in his new surroundings. Nevertheless, in some areas and in many industries, notably in the nursing profession, as the right hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill) pointed out in an intervention yesterday, the coloured immigrant has been very helpful to us, has remedied a serious labour shortage and has certainly not been the cause of unemployment in those cases.
The principal cause of the trouble arises from the concentration of coloured people in certain parts of our large cities. That, again, is natural, because new arrivals tend quite reasonably—as no doubt we should ourselves—to go where their friends and fellow countrymen have already become established. It is necessary in those districts that some special efforts should be made to educate not only the coloured people but also the white people to live in an atmosphere of good neighbourliness one with another. I believe that magistrates, trade union branches, employers, local clubs and local newspapers, and even local Members of Parliament, could help in that work, and I must honestly say, with respect, that I do not believe that my hon. Friend's speech yesterday was very helpful in that context.
I do not think that legislation substantially to restrict immigration ought to be introduced. We have a responsibility to the Colonies which we govern and the great self-governing Dominions which we still aspire to lead. We are in the position—we must admit it—that hitherto we have failed to provide adequate employment for large numbers of our colonial people, especially in the West Indies. It is not altogether our fault. It is a terrible problem. We are spending a lot of money there, as we have done for many years, but the problem is not easily solved.
Those people who cross the seas, leaving in many cases their friends and relatives, their homes and sunshine and beauty, come here only for one reason, and that is to better their own prospects and those of their children, and to find the employment which they lack at home. At home, speaking certainly of the Caribbean, they are a warm-hearted, gay, hos- 420 pitable people; and here, in a strange land, I should have thought that we ought, in common humanity and hospitality, to afford them some sort of welcome instead of the terrible things which happened in the streets of Notting Hill.
I recognise, as we must all recognise, that there are bound to be faults on both sides in these matters. There are bad coloured immigrants just as there are vicious Teddy boys and violent youth gangs. The troublemakers of both races ought to be ruthlessly dealt with and severely punished.
There is probably a perfectly good case to be made out for deporting proved criminals and, by agreement with colonial Governments, I dare say we could even restrict immigration to this country of people with a known criminal record in their country of origin. These things are always better done by agreement with the Colony concerned. A lot has already been done with Pakistan, and I think that in the West Indies, certainly in Jamaica, there is a general trend to help us in these matters. I believe that that will continue if we approach them in that spirit; but in my opinion there is not a good case for discriminatory restrictions on coloured people as such. In my view the traditional right of British citizens to come to the Mother Country should be maintained as at present.
If at any time we had a situation of acute unemployment, that might give rise to further thoughts on this subject and possibly to the need, and justification, for some limitation and restriction upon immigration in those circumstances; but, I hasten to add, only if it applied to the Commonwealth as a whole and not merely to the coloured citizens of it. I think that is most important: it must be applied to the whole Commonwealth or to no one.
§ Mr. Fisher
My hon. Friend said…particularly of coloured immigrants.It ought to be remembered that we allow totally unrestricted access for the Southern Irish. I have nothing against the Southern Irish and am indeed very 421 fond of them, but they are not British citizens, and if we attempted to prevent them from coming in they would slip over the border into Ulster and would come into the country in that way. It would he inconsistent to discriminate against British citizens while allowing the Irish to come in without restriction or winking at it when they came in through Ulster.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I was Home Secretary when the Irish Republic left the Commonwealth. There were serious discussions about this matter. Will the hon. Member or his hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) help me in this? How can we discriminate between Murphy born in Liverpool and Murphy born a mile outside the Ulster boundary who can slip across any day he likes?
§ Mr. Fisher
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not believe we can discriminate. I think it is an impossible task to assume, and that tends to reinforce my argument that it cannot be done. Obviously if it cannot be done in respect of people from Eire, we have no justification for doing it in respect of our own citizens from the Commonwealth.
In my view, discriminatory restrictions against British Commonwealth citizens as such are an evasion and not a solution of one of the gravest problems of the twentieth century—the problem of race relations. We can make no contribution to that problem if we try to run away from it by imposing restrictions. The world, to which we have often given a lead on great moral issues, is watching us on this matter today, and I sincerely hope that the Government and the House of Commons will accept and not avoid this challenge.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I think that the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) made a noble speech. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) needed to be answered from that side of the House to prove that whatever differences we may have here, at least we enshrine some of the great democratic principles about which we talk so much in the free and Christian world. Although I may fundamentally disagree with him and attack him on other occasions, I am grateful for his speech.
422 The world certainly asks this question. I was on a tour of the United States when this trouble took place, and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was in America at the time, because they told me that he was in Chicago two days before I arrived there.
§ Mr. Davies
My right hon. Friend can confirm that the Americans were much concerned with this. In radio and television interviews from San Diego right up to Chicago, Victoria, Vancouver and New York, the first question I was asked every evening was, "What about the race riots in Britain, which previously had not these riots? Now you understand our difficulties." I do not want to expand that, because the hon. Member for Surbiton clearly pointed out these difficulties and clearly stated that if ever we limit immigration to this country because of unemployment, it must apply to the white and to the coloured from all over the Commonwealth in the transition period.
I do not wish to detain the House for long, but I want to make three points based on my recent experiences over the last two or three months overseas. I want to bring out what I feel is the situation in the United States. The Briton must not assume that the American supports the Dulles policy in the Far East. He does not. Let me give a concrete example. In Minneapolis I was asked to participate in a programme called "Night Beat" on which one is asked questions over the telephone by the public who are listening to the programme. The programme was planned to last for half an hour. The questions finished at 3 o'clock in the morning, having started at 10 o'clock in the evening. That was not due to the genius of the hon. Member for Leek. Any other Member, had lie been on that programme, would have had the same experience because the people were interested in what we in Britain have to say and in our attitude to the problems of the Pacific, Quemoy and Matsu.
The telephones were jammed, but I heard no abusive remarks from anyone. Scores of letters came the next day from Americans thanking me for putting forward a point of view which did not agree 423 wholeheartedly with the British Government's policy. I made it crystal clear that in Britain the Labour Opposition opposed any military action over Quemoy and Matsu and that no Government of this country or in any other really democratic country could go to war without the support of the Opposition.
Neither the Americans nor the British public know exactly what is British foreign policy over the two offshore islands. Reference has been made this evening to Taiwan and taking a plebiscite in Fukien. Last year I was in those areas. To ask for a plebiscite to be taken in that province to decide whether the people will live under the Government of the Chinese People's Republic or whether they want to go to Formosa is pure romanticism.
To pretend that there is no force in the Formosa Straits is a complete misstatement of the facts. What is the truth about the Formosa Straits? The Americans have what they call flat-tops. We call them aircraft carriers. While I was in the United States I heard Madame Chiang Kai-shek—and I broadcast after her on television—suggest that we should use the atom bomb on the mainland of China and get the war over quickly. At the same time that old gentleman by the name of Syngman Rhee was asking for atom bombs, as though they were cricket balls, to hurl over the Yalu River.
We want to know what is the policy of this Government. These old men in uniform who strut across the Pacific could bring London down in ruins through their idiocy and their romantic far-fetched foreign policy. Let the British public be clear about this. If we are involved in a war under the Sino-Soviet Treaty, the U.S.S.R. will be in that war too, by the guarantee that she has given to the Chinese People's Republic. If she is in that war, the missile bases in East Anglia will be used, and a button will be pressed in Oklahoma to tell the British when to use them.
Ninety per cent. of this debate has been completely unreal. We have been talking in terms of foreign policy as though we were living in 1920 and 1938. Those days have gone. These atom bombs in these pentomic divisions are four and a half times more powerful than the atom bombs—let alone the hydrogen bomb—which 424 were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The American Fleet was moving up and down the Straits of Formosa. They said, "We have six flat-tops in the Straits of Formosa" and they then told the American public what firing power they were carrying in terms of pentomic divisions. Each aircraft carrier carried ten times the firing power that was dropped on Europe during the whole of the Second World War. There were six of those aircraft carriers, so they carried sixty times the firing power that was dropped on Europe, and they were moving up and down the Straits of Formosa. When people say that there is no force there, I wonder what kind of world we are living in.
I went into the United Nations in New York and I saw our Foreign Secretary in dynamic action. I do not know who gives the advice these days, but I watched the Assembly in action. What did I see? The debate was not about whether China should be allowed to be a member of the Security Council. It was about whether there should be a debate to see whether China should be allowed to be a member. We were so courageous and we gave such a dynamic lead to the world that we said "Nay". As one foreign delegate said to me, "At least your permanent representative had the decency to blush at the speech."
We are following the tail of Mr. Dulles. I am delighted that my party at Scarborough told the world exactly how we stand over the islands of Quemoy and Matsu. It is time that we spoke for Britain, for the people of London, Coventry and Liverpool. The only problem that we should have would be what we should do with 9 million dead if we became involved in a hydrogen bomb war. We should last about two hours on these islands. Therefore, for goodness sake, let us make this debate real; let us realise that this lovely little island of ours is the most vulnerable in the world. What kind of foreign policy are we getting?—one that talks in military terms, of pentomic divisions, as though we were playing cricket on the fields of Eton.
Whether we like it or whether we lump it, history will roll along and, whatever happens, the Chinese people have changed their system of Government. One can call it whatever "ism" or "wasm" one likes. Every time the world sees a 425 change in government people yell "Communism". To us Communism was anathema. But when we thought that Tito was on the side of Britain and that he would give us bases in Yugoslavia he was able to dine with the Queen. Let us not be so completely unethical and amoral about this question.
In this age we have to face realities. The realities are that the coloured men—the yellow and the brown men, and those who have been subject races for centuries—have seen so many films and have seen so much of the wealth of the white man plastered across the screen that they are now beginning to ask for some of these things themselves. Had Britain the courage to follow its destiny democratically instead of creeping behind the brinksmanship of Mr. Dulles, if it 111d the courage to speak up in the United Nations for Britain, it would have brought a breath of fresh air to the Americans.
I travelled thousands of miles through the States and I made scores of broadcasts and met many people. I tried to give a balanced statement, because a man has a responsibility to do so when he is abroad. I put what I considered to be my Socialist point of view. The people to whom I spoke were pleased to learn that this point of view is still held by 12 million or 13 million people in Britain who have the opportunity of voting at a General Election.
That point of view is not represented at the United Nations. The Americans are asking for a lead because they do not know how to break through their system of society at the moment. I am not implying that they are not democratic. I am quite sure that I would not have been allowed by the B.B.C. to say without script what I said quite openly in criticism of the American system of society. I think I ought to pay that tribute to the American broadcasting system, and whether people believe me or not, that is the truth. I was never asked what I was going to say, and some of the things I said with vigour. I wanted to shake people and let them understand that there was another point of view in Britain.
American men and women want peace as much as anybody does in the world. I object to accusing American troops in various parts of the world of being 426 militaristic. Those boys are there, like our boys in Cyprus, because they have to be there and they have to accept the orders of their officers.
Reference has been made on both sides of the House to the Commonwealth. I was on the other side of the Atlantic when the Montreal Conference was being held. Everybody is sticking his head in the sand in this debate. Let us have some reality about this matter. The Colombo Plan is useless if the prices of raw materials drop. The Conservative Party talks about the terms of trade, about buying cocoa, zinc, tin and all the rest of it. Some of these commodities are already cheaper than they were, and the Commonwealth areas are being landed in greater economic difficulties.
The fundamental fact about economic aid to the Commonwealth is this. The Government and, indeed, the House must learn that it is no good glibly writing astute or so-called profound books on the economics of aid to backward areas unless we all bear in mind at the same time the axiom that there must be stability of prices for the raw materials those areas produce. It was Professor Macmahon Ball in Australia who was one of the first to point this out to the world.
This is our problem. It is not a problem for Socialism, for Conservatism, for any "ism". It is the simple problem of survival for the backward areas. The white areas of the world must realise that we can no longer exploit the single-product areas of the Colonies. The great need is for economic aid plus stability of prices.
My final word is this. Unless we have a sane moment when we suspend hydrogen bomb tests and cease poisoning the world, there will be little hope for the future of man.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)
The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) always speaks with great vehemence and sincerity. With much of what he says, I disagree. He asked what was the policy of the Government with regard to the offshore islands. I will quote to him what the Prime Minister said only the day before yesterday:Our attitude towards the situation in the Formosa Strait was, and is, quite clear. We have no military commitments in regard to either Formosa or the off-shore islands. We 427 deplore the use of force for the purpose of effecting changes in the present situation in that area. We believe that any solution must be a political solution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th October, 1958; Vol. 594, c. 36.]I should have thought it was clear from what has been said from both sides today that the Peking Government are quite uncompromising in their refusal to negotiate in any way. Their standpoint has always been that the offshore islands and Taiwan are completely a matter for them and them only. That degree of inflexibility has made it quite impossible to find any solution in that troubled area.
I have not before sought to intervene in a foreign affairs debate, and I do so now only because chance has given me a glimpse from several sides of this very difficult Far Eastern problem. In 1956, I went through Communist China, with friends from both sides of this House. My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Mathew) and I made a fairly extensive journey into the west of China. In the next year, he and I visited what one might call the free Far East, and we saw something of Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Formosa and, indeed, Quemoy itself. Then, by chance, this summer I had the privilege to be asked to America on a study tour. Curiously enough, one of the subjects I asked that I might look into was the China policy and America's attitude to it—not only at high level but also on low levels, at universities and various places, of which there are many, where the subject is being studied. Shortly after I returned, the guns began to fire.
I should like to be able to tell the House that it was easy to see the all-correct solution, but I cannot. I found the problem extraordinarily baffling. I must say that I found the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) this afternoon equally baffling. He seemed to me to dismay our friends and encourage our opponents. He seemed to suggest that the Communist Chinese Government have been driven into the hands of Russia by the action or inaction of the British and the Americans. Surely, the fact is that that Government, the members of it, have been convinced and ardent Marxists for up to thirty years, and it is no chance that they are working so closely with the Russians.
428 The right hon. Gentleman seemed to counsel the unilateral surrender of the offshore islands, with or without Taiwan itself—I was not quite certain—as a gesture. I should have thought that one thing the world had learned was that gestures to a determined Communist Power are absolutely meaningless. The Communists are inflexible in their determination. We wish it were otherwise; but it is not. The curious thing about the right hon. Gentleman's speech is that he seemed to omit any detailed reference to the Labour Party's official solution, including the putting of Taiwan under United Nations trusteeship for a probationary period. I thought that that solution was the official policy of the party opposite: since his speech I do not know whether it still is.
It is an old solution, first having been mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in India when the Commonwealth delegation met there. It may seem all right as an examination answer, but it is quite out of touch and out of tune with the realities of the situation. Not merely is the United Nations in its present state of development quite incapable of mounting that sort of undertaking in trusteeship, but the vital point, which it completely misses, is that the people on Formosa, all of them, are firmly anti-Communist and wish to remain so. Indeed, I am confirmed in my rejection of that Labour Party policy, if I may call it that, because it has achieved the unlikely distinction of producing the only unanimity between the parties most concerned. The only thing that the United States, Taiwan and mainland China have in common agreement is that the Labour Party policy is anathema to them. Since any solution or any move in this area can come only from agreement, it seems to me that that suggestion is completely unrealistic.
The other thing that I felt reasonably certain about was that the off-shore island question, critical though it is, is really but a minor aspect of the much wider problem with which we shall probably have to live for many years, another part of the attempt by the Communist bloc to extend their influence over the globe.
I do not want to indulge in too many polemics today, because I should like to 429 use my time, putting aside the immediate difficulties for the moment—this is one of the few days on which we ever mention the Far East in the House—in looking at some of the long-term implications which will remain after our present attention has passed. There are certain basic factors in the American position.
Stripped of all the disappointment and emotion which they feel, the Americans believe, first, that the Chinese Communists are implacably and inflexibly opposed to Western influence and power in Asia; they are not interested in any negotiated settlement. I should have thought that the facts amply prove the truth of that. Secondly, they believe that the Communists will exploit every opportunity to increase their power and influence by physical force. Again, I should have thought that that was abundantly clear. I think that the present difficulty over Quemoy arose at this time precisely because the Communists at last had some guns which would cover the beaches. When we were there, only part of the island was in range, and one could go on and off the beaches in safety. That situation changed during the last 12 months.
The third proposition on which the Americans rest their attitude is that any yielding to physical force will have catastrophic results, first, among Asian nations who actively opposed Communism—Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and so on—and will greatly affect also the attitude of the uncommitted peoples of Asia. I should have thought that that also is virtually certain. Incidentally, it is worth remembering that, but for American and Commonwealth strength in the Far East, no nation could long indulge in the luxury of being uncommitted.
Therefore, seeing matters as objectively as I can, I believe that we must have a policy of firm military defence to resist any further Communist encroachment upon the anti-Communist nations in Asia. Those who oppose United States power in the Far East are really playing the Communists' game for them. The rôle should be defensive. It should avoid provocation. But the strength should be there, as a deterrent, just as the deterrent is effective in Europe Military strength is not an end; it is a beginning, to enable more constructive 430 policies to be developed and put into effect. Without the strength, there will be no chance of building the policies.
It is commonly agreed that, if we want to defeat the spread of Communism, we must first be strong enough to deter any Communist attempt at military conquest. After doing that, we must show that we have a way of life superior and preferable to Communism. If we cannot do that, perhaps we do not deserve to win. That may be platitudinous, but it is as true for Asia as it is for Europe. Indeed, in Asia the blandishments of Communism are greater because of the widespread poverty, disease and ignorance there.
China herself, with a strong centralised Government, freed at last from the distractions of war, has been able by a concentration of effort and by ruthless discipline to make some spectacular material progress. There is no doubt about that. That progress was waiting to be made once war had passed at last and allowed modern technology to be given a chance in that great sub-continent. The price paid was a rigid Communism, more Marxist than Marx in many respects. The question that Asia will have to ask herself over these years is: is it necessary to pay that price? Is there for Asia a prospect of a better, a non-Communist future?
We in the West always assent with confidence that our peace-loving free democracy, based on the canons of our liberal Christian civilisation, is infinitely superior, but the vocabulary of politics has become so debased by dialectical materialism, that the Communists themselves pay lip-service to those words. "Peace-loving democracy" is a frequent Communist phrase, and amid the poverty and squalor of the Far East the word "freedom" loses much of its immense value that it carries in our minds. Thus, there are millions of Asians befogged by propaganda with no clear conception of what we mean.
Either the free world has or it has not the better way of life to offer Asia and the Far East than Communism. I believe it has but that it needs to be made much more explicit and practical and expressed in terms that make an impact upon the emotions and the minds of masses of these long-suffering, illiterate people, mostly living on the soil, not in industry. Because whatever industrial development 431 there may be in Asia in the next twenty years, it will still remain overwhelmingly agricultural.
Her material problem is basically a struggle, a race between population growth and food production, and it is precisely in this agrarian field that Communism is most vulnerable and that the free world has something concrete to offer. To date, I believe that not nearly enough has been made of that. Few parts of Asia can advance without widespread agrarian reform. Two quite distinct systems, the Communist and the free reforms, can be seen. The difference between them is greater than that between rival religions in the Middle Ages, between Roman Catholic States and Protestant States, because it comprehends everything—all one's daily life as well as one's beliefs.
The Communist system of peasant collectivisation in China, repeating many of the harshnesses of Russia, has two aims: one by imposing new methods of production, organisation, distribution, hopes to increase the supply of food. Secondly, and vital to the revolution, the Communist method aims to gain complete political control of the rural population. That a voluntary response has been solicited, and to some extent achieved, is a tribute to the skill of the Communist Government and not a relaxation of the objectives.
The further organisation of the "advanced collectives" which was largely completed in 1957, into agricultural "people's communes" is now in progress. We in the West have no conception of what that is, but it is further evidence of the Communists' apparently urgent desire and need to compress China's 500 million rural population into a monolithic, paramilitary discipline, albeit with limited opportunities for the faithful within the ambit of that discipline.
The peasant has been deprived of private property and land and of all but a few small, personal chattels—indeed, of much of the fruit of his labour. However, it is not merely property but real freedom, privacy and personal loyalties which these communes are going to submerge. A system disruptive of family life is being fastened upon the peasant. In return, admittedly, he gets certain collective benefits; for example, medical and 432 educational services and various others that will make him more useful as a producer. Some of them, formerly destitute, may be slightly better off in terms of food, grain and cotton cloths, but they all live in fear. We over here, and even going among them, cannot tell how far the peasants support these changes. They have little choice and very scant means of communication. In any event, it is clear that the Communists, if need be, are prepared to sacrifice one or two peasant generations to consolidate their political and economic power throughout the mainland.
In contrast to that formidable and sombre scene, there is the other system of the free Far East. It has developed since the war, on earlier origins, into a system of agrarian reform which is based upon family farms, private ownership or tenancy, of a size big enough to be economically viable but no more. New technical methods which are vital anywhere in Asia have been fostered by advisory services of the respective Governments. The Commonwealth, America and other Western Powers have given technical and financial help.
With local variations, that theme can be seen at work in Japan and also in the Philippines, where it proved a most effective counter to the Communist-inspired Huq movement, and also in Formosa. In our own Colony of Hong Kong there have been brilliant achievements in this respect.
§ Mr. Hill
If hon. Members go there and see refugees working on small plots of their own land they will have a very much better impression of what the Hong Kong Government are doing for the Chinese people there than if they merely read reports which are not particularly accurate.
On this free agrarian structure can be mounted institutions of local government, and that is being done. It is significant that one of the best examples of this free reform movement has become well established in Formosa itself. Those of us who recognise that the Communists have used the last eight years extremely effectively on the mainland must also recognise that great progress has also been made on Taiwan. The "Land to the Tiller" movement is humane and progressive, and I think that, technically, it 433 is superior to that of the mainland. Certainly the standard of living there is higher, and that is why the Formosan population, both original and refugee, did not want to be handed over to the Communists.
It may be that this is one reason why Peking refuses to budge on its claim, because if Taiwan is surrendered to Peking China may be able to obliterate any alternative way of life that the Chinese in the world could see as a choice. But the free system is not easy to establish. It needs a tenurial reform, which is difficult. One has to relieve the occupiers of the burden of accrued debt, and compensate the landowners and so on. It all costs money. Also, new methods need personnel, and there is a grave shortage of efficient, skilled personnel for this work. The Communists have the great advantage, in developing their quite different system of agricultural people's communities, of centralised discipline—
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in order for hon. Members to read their speeches?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
Hon. Members are normally entitled to use fairly copious notes, but they are not entitled to read speeches.
§ Mr. Hill
I have taken trouble over this because I have tried to describe to the House these two very different systems which are in being and which offer a choice to the Asian people, a choice which perhaps we are failing to make as clear as we might. Our Colombo Plan and the American foreign aid programme have done a great deal to foster its development. The trouble is that very often the expert who is a very good bridge builder does not realise the political implications of the work he is doing. He misses gaining the credit that should be his. Likewise, any detailed talk about agrarian systems and so on is, as I fully realise—the hon. Lady has made it clear to me—very boring to politicians, but this is staple to the life of Asia and it is a vital choice that Asia must make in the coming years.
I want ourselves, the Commonwealth and Allies to focus attention on that choice, to make it more clear, and to assist the free system, and that is where, I think, we and our American allies can 434 profitably make an exercise in interdependence, in the kind of approach that we make to this problem. Much of the expertise required is not to be found in the Foreign Office or the State Department. Many of the people who could help are not in Government service, but the experience, the skill and the knowledge could be gathered together and pooled, and I believe that from joint study of the problem we should evolve a more effective common approach.
I believe that Britain and America should set up special machinery to keep this great subject under continual review. That is the contrast and the choice which runs through Asia. If the tremendous Communist agricultural targets — they are pitched very high — fail, then it is possible that, certainly in the uncommitted countries, there may be a gradual realisation of and preference for the free system of living. Thus, the millions of families which are on the soil of Asia will realise that there is open to them a choice other than Communism, and that in the long run, I suggest, is the best hope we have of blurring, blunting and eventually softening the cutting edge of Communism which threatens the peace of Asia.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mrs, Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to follow the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) in his discussion of China and the Far Eastern problem, because I myself have visited China and have studied this problem at first hand, but I refrain from doing so for two reasons. In the first place, if the very balanced and lucid speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) can be described by the hon. Gentleman as baffling, I feel that I have no hopes of enlightening him with my lesser talents. Secondly, I want to concentrate on the question of Cyprus.
Our debate this afternoon has been very quiet and very restrained, and hon. Members on both sides have been careful not to bring any sensation into it, but I think it would be wrong for any impression to go out from this House that there are not very serious differences between us on foreign policy, not least on the question of Cyprus. I think the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe), in that part of his speech dealing with Cyprus, 435 gave us a perfect summing up of the differences that exist between the two sides of the House on almost every item of international affairs.
I have been shocked this afternoon by the Government's complacency on the question of Cyprus. It is time we asked ourselves what it is that we intend to do about this problem. By the measured way in which the Prime Minister talked about it on Tuesday, and the Foreign Secretary again today, one would not have thought that men, and, alas, women, are dying on that island. One would not have thought that we were in the middle of an urgent crisis, and that, indeed, before this House meets again tomorrow, somebody else may have died there.
Therefore, we ought to have seized the opportunity this afternoon to ask the Government to give some indication of what they think is the way out of this problem. It really is not good enough for the Government to say, "The door is still open for negotiation; we are going to sit back and wait." How many lives are to be lost before a step forward is taken? I suggest that the Government's attitude today has been one of total, and, in my view, unnecessary defeatism.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Lady can listen to my speech. I have hardly begun to explain my argument.
It would be legitimate for the Government to sit back and wait for action to come from the other side if they had done everything possible to find a solution to this problem. I must say that I was astonished by the statement of the hon. Member for Windsor that he approved of the Government's actions because they were taking a middle course and trying to get the Greeks to abandon Enosis on the one hand and the Turks to abandon partition on the other. I should have thought that that would have brought a bit of a smile to the Government Front Bench, for if that is what the Government were trying to do, not only would there be no disagreement between us, but I 436 believe that at this moment the crisis would have been arrested and that we would have been on the high road to successful negotiation.
But it really does not give a correct picture at all. Nor did the Prime Minister's statement on Tuesday give a correct estimate of the situation. He talked to us in honeyed words about the British Government being open to further negotiation, as if the one thing they want is negotiation. If only four weeks ago he had used the tone which he used on Tuesday, there would not be violence in Cyprus at this moment. The people concerned with this problem would now be sitting at the conference table and we would not have this tragic impasse which we now face.
Why are we in this mess today, in which the immediate hopes of a conference have been abandoned and there is no prospect before us but continuing violence and counter violence? Why do we face an endless tragic roll-call of violence? On Tuesday the Prime Minister gave us a summary of the developments which led to the breakdown. However, it was far more notable for its omissions than for its facts.
I could hardly believe my ears when I heard the Prime Minister say that when he visited Greece, Turkey and Cyprus in August, he…did everything I could to persuade our Allies of the sincerity of our purpose."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th October, 1958; Vol. 594, c. 37.]As I think the House may be aware, I have recently been to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, and that was not the version of the story given to me in Athens—and I am now talking not of Greek or Greek-Cypriot sources, but of other diplomatic sources. The impression I was given was of a very different picture, that of a whirlwind visit by the Prime Minister, the slapping down of terms on the table, a "take it or leave it" attitude.
In my talks in Athens—and again I am not referring to Greek or Greek-Cypriot commentators—the one question I was asked everywhere was, "What is the hurry about 1st October? What is biting the British Government? Why have they gone so 'blinding mad' to go ahead with the introduction of this plan on 1st October?" It was said that it was quite wrong to say that all possible sources of 437 negotiation about the plan had been exhausted and all possible compromises riled out.
The Prime Minister now says in most reasonable terms that the British Government are blameless for the breakdown of negotiations, because they were willing to agree to everything and every reasonable proposal put forward had been accepted. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had agreed to include in the agenda the question of a final solution and that they intended the discussion of a final solution to be "sincere and thorough". Nobody could object to that.
However, that is not what the Prime Minister or the British Government said when Archbishop Makarios first put forward his compromise proposal for a final solution in an interview with me. I got the impression very strongly that the Archbishop was deeply concerned about the developments which would result from this hurry to get on with the Government plan, introducing it unilaterally over the head of four-fifths of the population and against their will. He gave me the impression of being a deeply worried man, both from his own point of view and from the point of view of others.
In that interview with me, he foresaw that the result of the imposition of the plan would be a very dangerous situation…with far-reaching repercussions affecting not only Cyprus, but the N.A.T.O. alliance and the security of the whole area.That is what has resulted. When a compromise solution was put forward by the Archbishop the Government's reaction was entirely negative. There was no talk then from them about our agreeing to any item on the agenda, and no talk about our eagerness for a conference and for discussing this solution among other solutions. If that response had been forthcoming we might be in a very different situation today. When the Government argue that they are all for negotiation we must reply that they never initiated these negotiations. They have been pushed into them by M. Spaak, the Secretary-General of N.A.T.O.
I have been accused of being biased and naïve, and of being taken in by Archbishop Makarios—but what was the reaction of M. Spaak to the proposals that were put forward by the Archbishop in that interview with me? His reactions were instinctively and immediately the 438 same as mine, and he went on record at once as saying that the Archbishop's new proopsals were an "important event". That was his first and immediate statement of 24th September. He at once tried to get N.A.T.O. into action, in order to seize this opportunity of ending the bloodshed and getting a settlement to this endless strife.
A few days later, on 29th September, it was reported in The Times that the Secretary-General had hurried to N.A.T.O. to make his report. That report was described in The Times as suggesting two steps: first, the postponement of the implementation of the British plan—the Secretary-General reported to N.A.T.O. that so important was the Archbishop's proposal that the Government's plan ought to be postponed in order that the new offer could be examined—and, secondly, the calling of a conference of representatives of Britain, Greece, Turkey, the Turkish-Cypriots and the Greek-Cypriots, in Rome, Geneva or elsewhere, to consider modifications of the British plan to make it generally acceptable.
He went further; he spelt out his suggestions in detail—just the sort of suggestions that hon. Members on this side of the House have been urging. The first was that the invitation to the Greek and Turkish Governments to send representatives to advise the Governor should be cancelled and that, instead, one Greek-Cypriot and one Turkish-Cypriot should be elected by their own communities to protect the interests of those communities and make representations vis-à-vis the Governor. This was the whole essence of what the Greeks were asking, and this was what M. Spaak himself, with all his impartiality, strongly recommended in the light of this new development.
His second suggestion was that the jurisdiction of the two communal Parliaments provided for in the Government plan should be restricted to communal affairs only, by the establishment of an inter-communal assembly to legislate for the island as a whole. That proposal has also been pressed from hon. Members on this side of the House.
The Timescorrespondent went on:Authoritative Greek sources stated today that the Greek Government and Archbishop Makarios were ready to take part in the proposed conference if Britain and Turkey agreed in advance to discuss those two amendments.439 What does that mean? It means that if only the overtures of M. Spaak had been listened to, none of the tragedies of 1st October and onwards need ever have taken place.
I read in a statement issued by the Greek Government today that the proposals of M. Spaak were supported by a large majority of our allies in N.A.T.O., but that the British and Turkish Governments turned them down. The Foreign Secretary said this afternoon that a White Paper will be issued on the discussions. Will that White Paper cover all the discussions? Is it true that these proposals were put forward by M. Spaak and were supported by a majority of our allies in N.A.T.O., and is it true that Britain and Turkey turned them down? Let us have that question answered in the White Paper, because if it is true the Government have a very heavy degree of guilt on their hands in respect of all the lives needlessly lost since 1st October.
When the Archbishop made his proposals he knew that he was taking a tremendous risk vis-à-vis his own supporters. He as good as told me that he would be told, "Will you never learn that the British Government never listen to compromise but only regard it as a sign of weakness?" All the events that have taken place in the last few years have proved the fairness of that remark. Indeed, the hon. Member for Windsor proved it this afternoon. On the tape there is at this moment a report that E.O.K.A. is now distributing leaflets saying that they will call a truce provided that on their side the British Government, if such a truce is called, will refrain from violence.
The Government must give us an answer tonight. It is imperative. Lives of men are being lost while we delay. The hon. Member for Windsor, to my horror, said earlier tonight, "If there is another truce offer, then I hope we shall ignore it. Why should we accept a truce just as the net is beginning to close?"
Anyone who has driven, as I have, through the heart of E.O.K.A.-land and through the mountainous territory there must realise what an impossible terrain it is for our troops to round up hidden terrorists, and realise the folly of it and wonder how many soldiers' lives are to 440 be lost because of that obtuse and shortsighted policy.
The Government ignored the Archbishop's plea. The first of October came with all the relentless inevitability of a Greek tragedy, and violence started again. Still M. Spaak went on making proposals. He said, "Let us discuss the British plan including the modification that I suggest". The British said, "No, our plan has got to go on, or nothing at all".
The only contribution the Government made to the solution of this problem was the tragically irresponsible speech of the Colonial Secretary himself at Blackpool when he talked about Cyprus being "Turkey's offshore island", and said that he would not be diverted from pursuing our immediate solution by trying to get a long-term solution when we knew that one was not possible. Never have those words been repudiated by the Government.
If hope of a conference has died, the responsibility must lie overwhelmingly upon the British Government. All that they have done and all that the Press have done is to pour scorn continuously upon the sincerity of the Archbishop's proposal. I do not know—and it is not my job to find out—how far the Archbishop could be made to stand by this proposal around a conference table, but the Government have not shown the slightest interest in getting round a conference table. It is remarkable that despite the rebuff he has had from the Government, the Archbishop has gone on giving details of what he was prepared to do. He has said, "We will accept an interim period of self-government." He told me he would accept a "fixed" period. Later he said that he would make it a seven-year period. Later still he told Stephen Barber of the News Chronicle that if Turkey wanted further guarantees, the Greek and Turkish Governments should enter into formal and binding guarantees with the United Nations and with each other to renounce all their claims on Cyprus for ever.
The Greek Government have said that they were willing to do this and enter into an international treaty with Turkey on these lines if Turkey would do the same. The Archbishop told Stephen Barber that, if they would do that, he would publicly endorse their agreement. The Archbishop 441 cannot go on endlessly offering compromise after compromise only to get snub after snub and insult after insult. He has been completely cold-shouldered by the British Government.
He then came to the point when he dared not go into a conference unless he had some positive proof that the British Government were going into it also in good faith. Eventually the conference proposals broke down not because of some disagreement about the composition, but on the fundamental point as to whether the British Government would state openly that partition was ruled out as well as Enosis. Why will not the Government do this? The Turkish Cypriots themselves told me they had accepted the partnership plan only as the first step to partition and indeed the Government's plan was welcomed in Ankara as not being "irreconcilable" with partition. No wonder the Greeks have doubts, and those doubts have been encouraged by what the Colonial Secretary has said. There is nothing that Archbishop Makarios can offer his people in exchange for giving up Enosis. That is why he can only go into a conference if he gets a generous response first by he British Government.
I therefore beg the Government to say that if there is a truce by E.O.K.A. they will respond by calling off the security round-up; secondly, I ask them, even at this late hour, to say that if the Archbishop and the Greek Government will go into conference, they will pledge that, if Enosis is ruled out, we will rule out partition. Those two gestures could stop bloodshed tomorrow. I beg the British Government to show some sense of the seriousness of the loss of British lives that is taking place. One crying need in Cyprus today is the restoration of confidence. That has broken down. When I saw Archbishop Makarios I said that someone had to break through the vicious circle. It is like the H-bomb tests; who will start by giving them up? Somebody has to be big enough to make a start. He did so.
Everything now depends upon a generous response from this country if confidence Ls to be restored. Responsibility for taking the next step to restore confidence now lies with the British Government. The step must consist of two things. First, the British Government 442 must do something soon to stop the mounting hysteria of hatred in this country against the Greek Cypriot people. Of course we are all 'horrified by violence. On this side of the House we have begged and prayed for a cessation of violence. I have written articles and made speeches in favour of a truce. It is on the tape; we can have it. Are we going to take it up? Let us not forget that by the refusal of the British Government to heed the pleas that have been made in brave papers like the Observer, the Spectator, the New Statesman and the Manchester Guardian, they have condoned an atmosphere of toughness in Cyprus.
There is a mounting hatred in Cyprus which is leading to things which we all ought to deplore, such as the Famagusta incident which nobody in this country can be proud of. I say this knowing all the political risks involved, but say it I must. Someone in this House of Commons has got to have as much courage as some of our leading British newspapers—to say what the Manchester Guardian said in its leading article on Monday:Faced with the evidence about the Famagusta reprisals, has the British Government no word of explanation to offer?Archbishop Makarios did express regret at the death of Mrs. Cutliffe and so did the Greek Government and the Bishop of Kitiurn. Let us also at least express regret for the loss of the life of a Cypriot girl of twelve who cannot possibly have been a terrorist. If we did I think it would help to find that confidence again. Secondly, I say this. If the Government will not resurrect and save this conference, as they can by a statement now that they will give up partition, this matter will go to the United Nations. The plea will be put forward by many nations supporting the Cypriots' demand for independence. What is Britain's attitude going to be at the United Nations? Let us have an answer. For if they do not give us something more concrete tonight than we have had so far, the responsibility for the lives that will be lost will be on the shoulders of this Government.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I want very briefly to join the Government in offering a welcome to the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia. We are very glad he has come and hope that his mission 443 will be successful in relieving the pressure from which his Government have been suffering in recent times. We express our friendship for the most gallant and gifted people for whom he speaks.
I want to add only a few words to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said so admirably about Cyprus this afternoon and to the moving and constructive speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). The Cyprus problem can only be solved by political, and never by military, means. There was a time last month when M. Spaak begged the Government to postpone its so-called plan and to discuss his new proposals when an international conference might have been successful. The British and Turkish Governments rejected his proposals and, since then, the whole approach to negotiations has been sadly bungled. Yet I believe the elements of a solution are still there.
Since Archbishop Makarios offered to discuss independence, only one obstacle to real conference remains—the policy of partition. Some day we must negotiate. It is not now too late. If the British and Turkish Governments will match the spirit of compromise of the Archbishop by discarding partition, I believe they will find the Cypriot people very anxious to play their part in reaching a settlement soon. As my hon. Friend said, E.O.K.A. has offered another truce today. I beg the Government not to miss the opportunity this time. If they do, the further bitterness and the further tragedies there will be in Cyprus will be on their heads.
I want to follow my right hon. Friend and make some comments on the Prime Minister's strange account on Tuesday of recent happenings in the Middle East. The Lebanon and Jordan, the Prime Minister said, had been threatened in the summer by "indirect aggression", by rebellions stimulated and nourished from without. We put in our troops, he said, to save their independence and did so at the request of the constitutional Governments in concert with the United States. By our action we gave the United Nations time to take control. Now we have withdrawn, our operation having been—in the cautious phrase of the Prime Minister—"not unsuccessful". As for Iraq, of course that had nothing to do with what we did. No one had ever suggested— 444 the Prime Minister said that he looked up the records—that the Iraq revolution was indirect aggression; it was a purely internal affair.
What really happened? In May a revolt began in the Lebanon as the result of well-known political causes. It is now universally agreed that it was conducted by Lebanese who believed that President Chamoun was tearing up their Parliamentary constitution. President Chamoun made every effort to call in foreign help. While the Prime Minister was in Washington at the beginning of June there was a lot of talk about Anglo-American armed intervention, but on 1lth June the Security Council sent a corps of United Nations observers there instead. After some hesitation, the Foreign Secretary said, on 25th June, that we should give this U.N. measure our full support.
At the end of June it was freely said in Washington that the idea of military intervention had been dropped. On 4th July, the U.N. observers reported that there had been no massive infiltration from outside, as had been alleged—and of course there is not the slightest doubt that that was true. Shortly afterwards, the Secretary-General reported that the observer corps was fully able to carry out the task with which it had been charged. He used most emphatic language. In the meantime, President Chamoun announced on 9th July that he would resign his office, and he pledged himself not to stand again. The main cause of the rebellion was thus removed, and there seemed good ground for hope that peace and order would shortly be restored.
But then, on 14th July, the Iraq revolt occurred. Within a matter of hours American troops were landing on Lebanese soil. The next day our paratroopers were sent to camp on the burning sands outside Amman. The Americans landed 14,000 ground troops, with 50-ton tanks and heavy guns. They assembled 70 warships along the coast. They brought hundreds of aircraft from Germany and elsewhere. And the Commander-in-Chief announced that every unit, by land and sea and air, was armed with nuclear bombs. We sent 3,000 of our finest troops, with many aircraft and wonderfully equipped.
Was all this required to deal with infiltration from Syria and to supervise a 445 frontier which the Secretary-General asserted that his observer corps could adequately control? The Prime Minister asks too much if he expects us to credit that. When he spoke of "searching records" he forgot to look at HANSARD for the day on which our paratroopers were sent into Jordan, for on that day, l6th July, the Foreign Secretary said this:The House must face up to…this question of indirect aggression.…What happens?" he asked. "A foreign Government determines to use a dissident element within another State to overthrow the legitimate Government by force. The technique is the smuggling of arms and explosives, the infiltration of agents…incitement to insurrection and…finally, a plot against the lives of the constitutional leaders.He then went on to give a list of earlier plots which were frustrated and he said,In the present case, there was also the same kind of plot taking place in Jordan. During the last week it was foiled. Unfortunately"—I repeat, "unfortunately"—the plot was not found out in time in Irak."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 16th July, 1958; Vol. 591, c. 1254.]Who, seeing what has happened, the full sequence of events since May, hearing the Foreign Secretary's speech and absorbing the significance of his word "unfortunately", would fail to think that the real purpose of our despatch of troops was to intervene in Iraq to secure the oil far which we made the Suez war? Certainly the Russians thought so. They used every means within their power to let us know that if we intervened in Iraq they would do the same. In fact, the Iraq revolution had such universal popular support that all resistance to it was over in a day, but if the civil war had lasted for a week, if we had intervened, as it seemed obvious that we meant to intervene, we should have had a very serious risk of major war.
That was the first result of our dispatch of troops—a dangerous international situation. What results did it achieve in the Lebanon and Jordan? The American troops, like our men, behaved with magnificent discipline and restraint, but they did nothing to bring the revolution to an end. It ended only when they decided to go away. If there was indirect aggression in the Lebanon, the leader of the indirect aggression is now the Prime Minister in power.
Have we been any more successful in Jordan? The danger to King Hussein 446 has always been that he tore up the constitution of his country in April of last year, dismissed—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said this afternoon—the Ministers who had the confidence of his Parliament, dissolved the parties by royal decree and has been sitting on bayonets ever since. There is a lot of evidence that the repression after our troops were well established was still severe. There have been reports of recent relaxations. I hope that they are true. It was late in August that a well-known and reliable American called Jordan a "tommy-gun State" and The Times said that so many potential leaders of the Opposition were in prison that it was surprising that discontent could be voiced at all.
It is no part of a British Government's duty to keep in power a dictatorial Government to which the majority of its people are opposed. No true British interest can thereby be served. We admire King Hussein's courage, but he is very young. If we want to help him, we will persuade him now to restore his constitution and to give his people the kind of Government that they want.
The true assessment of our intervention in the Middle East is simply this. In the first few days we created a very serious world crisis. Since then we have reinforced the Arab belief that we are against their unity. They will think in future that we are ready to use force to keep in power Governments which we favour, however unpopular those Governments may be. When we say, as the Prime Minister did at Blackpool, that these movements of Arab unity are due to Communist inspiration we only make things worse, for neither in the Lebanon, nor in Jordan nor in Iraq was there a shadow of evidence that that was true.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday gave an equally strange account of events in the Far East. He suggested that the Leader of the Opposition had created alarm about the situation at Quemoy for which there was no real foundation. Has he forgotten the American Government's public warning that they would go to war with China if Formosa was attacked; the Russian warning that if there was war they would stand with China; the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force declaring, after elaborate consultation with the State Department, that the U.S. aircraft in the 447 Far East would use nuclear weapons if the Communists used force against the Kuomintang; the State Department paper which was reported to have said that the passing of the Communist régime was a prime objective of American policy; the statement issued by the United States Embassy in London only a month ago which said that the Formosa Government was steadily developing its political, economic and military strength, and which said that U.S. support of the Formosa Governmentenables it to challenge the claim of the Chinese Communists to represent the Chinese people, and keeps alive the hopes of those Chinese who are determined eventually to free their country of Communist rule?Do the Government really feel that all this was no reason for alarm? True, it is possible to hope that today there has been a change. Last week Marshal Chiang Kai-shek was induced to make a statement which the Foreign Secretary quoted and which I was going to quote if he had not done so. He was induced to say that the principal means of achieving what he called his sacred mission must be the implementation of Dr. Sun Yat-sen's three principles and not the use of force.
That is very different from what Marshal Chiang's Ministers have been saying in the last six weeks. We hope it heralds a real and lasting change in the poliy of the American Government. If so, it is due, no doubt, to world opinion in which Britain has played a part—and I say Britain, for I am very certain that the whisperings of the Foreign Secretary in New York would have been of small avail unless the Leader of the Opposition had said in public frankly and in all friendship what was the firm opinion of the vast majority of the people of these islands.
After what happened over Suez, no one in the United States is likely to think that we are anti-American. On questions of peace and war and the maintenance of the Charter they are much more likely to listen to us than they are to the Treasury bench. So the Prime Minister's reproaches do not move us very much. But what I find disastrous is the Government's whole conception of how questions like Quemoy should be dealt with. The Foreign Secretary reproved the Leader of the Opposition for what he 448 called "weakening the bargaining position" of the United States. I will not try to analyse the fallacies of that egregious proposition. They speak quite adequately for themselves. Quemoy is not a question between the diplomats of Washington and Peking. It is a matter of vital interest to every nation in the world. The interests of the British Commonwealth in the peace of Asia are of longer standing and they are still greater than those of the United States. On that issue, of all others, we should listen to the Asian members of our Commonwealth.
The Government say that they are against the use of force. So are we all. But an ex-Governor-General of India, Mr. Rajagopalachari, pointed out the other day, as did my right hon. Friend with unanswerable logic this afternoon, that the Quemoy conflict would never have arisen if the United States had not furnished Marshal Chiang with the armaments which he deployed on these offshore islands—islands which we all agree belong to the Chinese Government, the Government which we recognise to be the legitimate Government in power.
As my right hon. Friend insisted this afternoon, that is the real issue behind the question of Quemoy. It is an issue in which every nation in every continent has an interest, on which the whole future of international co-operation in Asia and of world disarmament and peace inevitably depend.
I wonder if any member of the Government saw a report of a speech made by the Prime Minister of our ally, Denmark, on 21st September. He said:Events in the Far East point once again to the fact that it is intolerable that China should be represented in the U.N. by the Formosa Government, and not by the Peking régime. We believe that it is wrong to keep the Peking Government outside the U.N. We have expressed this view many times and voted accordingly in the U.N. In the present conflict it has been clear how important it would have been if the U.N. had been able to discuss the issue in the presence of the Peking Government as China's representatives.We believe that it is wrong to keep the Peking Government outside the United Nations. Of course it is wrong. Let us consider the plain history of the last ten years. In 1949, the United States Government issued a White Paper, more than 1,000 pages long, setting out, in 449 reports from its generals in China, the utter incompetence and corruption of the Chiang Kai-shek regime. Commenting on that immense catalogue of failure, stressing the cruel misery it had caused to the Chinese people, the United States Secretary of State wrote these words:The inescapable fact is that the ominous result of the civil war in China was beyond the control of the United States Government. It was the product of"—not indirect aggression—internal forces which this country tried to influence but could not.Another inescapable fact is that the Chinese Government which resulted, whatever their shortcomings, whatever, if one likes, their crimes, have given the Chinese people internal peace for the first time in 50 years. According to what Indian experts who have been there tell me, they have done more for health, food production, education and public works than any other Government in the East. After nine years they are stronger than ever. The American proceedings at Quemoy can serve only to solidify their hold. It would be hard to show that this Chinese Government are less democratic than any other Chinese Government of modern times or that they have less popular support.
Nine years ago, Mr. Dulles wrote that all nations should be members of the United Nations, that we should not appraise them as good or bad, that Governments should be admitted if they governed. He said:If the Communist Government in China in fact proves its ability to govern China without serious domestic resistance, then it, too, should be admitted to the United Nationsafter it has been testedover a reasonable time.Is nine years a reasonable time? Are the Government of China governing China?
Are we not violating the practice of the United Nations in refusing the Peking Government their United Nations seat? We have a vital British interest in swiftly giving the Peking Government this United Nations seat. Can we hope for our share of Chinese trade while we refuse it? Can we hope for a disarmament treaty unless the Peking Government take part? Can we hope that China will observe the obligations of the Charter about non-resort to force while we deny to her the rights which, by the Charter, are justly hers? 450 Are not we ourselves in violation of the Charter which, in Article 23, plainly says that China, not Formosa, shall be a permanent member of the Security Council?
I wonder whether, during the discussions on this question in New York, the Foreign Secretary even whispered any of this to Mr. Dulles or reminded Mr. Dulles of his own words. Denmark ventured to speak up. Denmark is a N.A.T.O. ally. Denmark is much nearer to the Soviet Union, much more dependent on the United States for her safety, than Great Britain. Denmark could speak and vote, but we could not.
There are grave dangers in this policy of ostracising China and in the military posturings and threats of the last few weeks. There are grave dangers, too, in the immense new gifts of modern arms to Marshal Chiang now going on. Might not the Government of Peking, which was the product of internal Chinese forces, fairly talk about encouraging indirect aggression? Have we forgotten how the West, half a century ago, helped to build up the militarist imperialism of Japan? Suppose the same thing happens in China.
Already, the Chinese are working on their own nuclear weapons. A French scientist who was there during this summer told me that he had seen their nuclear installations and talked to their scientists. He believed that they would have their bombs relatively soon, perhaps by 1961.
The first step towards arresting these terrible developments is to give Peking the U.N. seat which is rightly hers. In the light of the continuing Quemoy situation it is not too late to reopen the question in the present Assembly. A lot of competent observers are agreed that if Britain were now to do what Denmark did, to speak and vote as a loyal member of the United Nations against what we believe to be quite wrong, then the necessary decision in all human probability would this year go through. I beg the Government to take this course today.
Of all our anxieties over China much the gravest is about disarmament. I will not repeat the general case we made on 10th June except to say that on the last two Sundays in the Observer Mr. Nutting has largely confirmed what we put forward about the Western volte-face in 1955 and about the need, which the Chinese situation reinforces, for a new and bolder start.
451 Tonight I only say one word about the meeting which starts tomorrow in Geneva on nuclear tests. I hope none of the political attitudes now being taken by various Powers will prevent a firm and lasting agreement from being signed. I have never thought tests were the most important part of the armament problem; a century of tests would do less damage than one hour of nuclear war. But the stopping of tests has become very urgent in itself, and failure in Geneva might be incalculably grave. The Government have always scouted the suggestion that serious damage has been done by the tests that have taken place up to now. The scientists admit that their knowledge is very incomplete and that a wide margin of error in their estimates must be allowed.
I wonder if hon. Members have seen some recent estimates made by Dr. Linus Pauling in his recent book? Dr. Pauling is a Nobel Prize man in chemistry, an honorary F.R.S. of Britain, an honorary doctor of Cambridge, Oxford and London, and his authority is in no way diminished by the fact that Her Majesty's Government tried to turn him back from London Airport the other day. Dr. Pauling gives three warnings which I will quote. First, if a fission-fusion-fission bomb, with 10 megatons equivalent of fission—a bomb like the Bikini bomb of 1954—is tested…it may require the sacrifice of only 1,500 children, but it may require the sacrifice of 150,000 or even more.Second, the testing of one such bomb causes an incidence of disease…such as to lead to the death of 10,000 people by leukaemia and bone-cancer, and possibly also 90,000 more by other diseases.Third, the carbon-14 produced in the atmosphere both by fission and fusion explosions, by clean and dirty bombs, will, as the result of one year of testing at 30 megatons a year—the present standard—…ultimately be responsible for the birth of 230,000 seriously defective children…and also for 420,000 embryonic and neo-natal deaths.Of this last warning he goes on to say:The foregoing argument is a reliable one. Geneticists are in general agreement about every point on which it is based.Surely no Government will dare to disregard warnings such as these? I hope that at long last they will be heeded; that a firm agreement abolishing tests 452 will be quickly signed; that China will be given her rightful place in the United Nations; that the true lessons will be drawn from this summer's crisis in the Middle East, and that these will be the first steps back to sanity and to using the United Nations as a genuine instrument of peace.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ian Harvey)
I should like, first of all, to express my obligation and that of Her Majesty's Government to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) for associating the Opposition in a welcome to the Foreign Secretary of Yugoslavia, because that means that he and his colleagues will realise that he is universally welcomed. As I think the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) know, the Foreign Secretary is tonight with Mr. Popovic. That is why he is not here, and no discourtesy to the House is intended.
I think that that is probably where my obligation to the right hon. Member for Derby, South ends. I should like at once to deal with his observations, which seem to me to be based on a complete fallacy, with regard to our recent operation in Jordan. That goes for the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale as well, whose speech indicated that he and his right hon. Friend were under an equal misapprehension.
It is totally untrue, first of all, that our troops went into Jordan with any other intention than of stabilising the position in Jordan itself. It was not related to events in Iraq any more than the fact that events in Iraq might well have spread to Jordan, and it was perfectly clear, as the Foreign Secretary said at the time and as the Prime Minister has confirmed, that if those events had spread to Jordan there would have been a spread of conflagration there which would have had disastrous results. I was astonished, and I am sure all hon. Members were astonished, at the extraordinary language used by the right hon. Member for Derby, South when he said that, unfortunately—"unfortunately"—events in Iraq were not found out.
§ Mr. Harvey
The right hon. Gentleman was quoting my right hon. and learned Friend with an inference that the right hon. Gentleman did not share the feeling of misfortune. At all events, that was the impression given to the House, and we are entitled to assume that the right hon. Member and his hon. Friends regard the events in Iraq—the murder of the King, the Crown Prince and Nuri es-Said—as something which were not unfortunate. The impression that my hon. Friends and I have is that hon. Members opposite do not regret what happened to the Royal Family of Iraq. That is not the attitude of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
I must repudiate that quite unworthy suggestion. If the Joint Under-Secretary will look at the speech that I made in the House on 22nd July, he will see precisely what I said on that point.
§ Mr. Harvey
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has repudiated the impression which he certainly gave me. [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Gentleman should listen."] I have listened with the greatest care to every argument put forward during the debate.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South actually suggested that our intervention in Jordan ran the serious risk of a major war. The reverse is the truth. Had we not intervened in Jordan, had King Hussein suffered the same fate as King Feisal, had the State of Jordan collapsed, there are very real reasons to believe that a situation would have developed which would have led to a major war in the area.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, in his opening remarks this afternoon, said that nothing has been achieved. How very wrong he is, and not for the first time. Of course, a great deal has been achieved. What has been achieved, first of all, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary has said, is that time has been gained. There was no upheaval in Jordan, and that in itself was a great achievement. The United Nations was summoned, and an Arab resolution was adopted unanimously. The Secretary-General of the United Nations came to the Middle East, and action has been taken.
454 We have every reason, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon, to hope that this is the beginning of a new operation, and that is the answer to those who ask, "Are we to be called in again?" We hope, as a result of these developments, and as a result of the commitment of United Nations forces in the area, that there will be a state of stability which will not require such an eventuality. If that is not an achievement, I do not know what is, and I think the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale showed a small appreciation of the truth of the events that have taken place.
Our objective, as my right hon. and learned Friend made clear this afternoon. is to achieve peace with freedom, security and justice in the whole of the Middle East, which would not have been achieved had the advice of the right hon. Gentleman been followed. We aim to strengthen the position of our friends—and by that we mean the Commonwealth and the United States of America—and our close association with them. The doctrine of inter-dependence, we believe, is fundamental to the future peace of the world. We aim also to remove the causes of tension and disagreement, and we aim also to assist the free world to resist subversion and infiltration.
I should like, in that connection, to turn to the situation in Europe. We attach the greatest importance to N.A.T.O. We were asked this afternoon what N.A.T.O. had done. Since its establishment, greater security has come to the countries of Western Europe and of the Atlantic Alliance. N.A.T.O. is not only a military alliance; it has great political implications, and it is not, moreover, a static machine. Changes are always possible within its structure, and that is a matter for consultation between its members.
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) made a speech which I think delighted the whole House. He was kind enough to tell me that he would not be able to be here this evening, but I should like to answer the questions which he put to me, particularly with regard to the speech of Field Marshal Montgomery. The Field Marshal is a great and distinguished soldier, to whom we all owe a considerable debt. The right hon. Member for Easington asked what would be the answer of the Government to the Field Marshal's criticisms of N.A.T.O. I repeat 455 what has been said on other occasions—that Her Majesty's Government are not directly responsible for the organisation of N.A.T.O.
We are partners in N.A.T.O., and we have a considerable interest in it. As the right hon. Member for Easington said, we have a considerable contribution to make to it, but we are not directly responsible for its organisation. Of course, any criticisms by so distinguished a person as the Field Marshal would be noted very carefully by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman asked me to convey his remarks to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, and I know that the Minister of Defence has already seen what the Field Marshal has said. Perhaps right hon. Gentlemen have also noted another remark of Field Marshal Montgomery, that we should admit that the achievements of N.A.T.O. have been tremendous. That, too, is perfectly true.
It is not for me to comment—and I should be in serious trouble if I were to do so now—on the military aspects of N.A.T.O., but, as the House knows, we have on many occasions indicated our view of the political developments within N.A.T.O. which are desirable. Changes have in fact been made, and we shall continue to make our representations through the normal channels available to us. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Easington is not here, because I could have remarked to him that the Field Marshal is, of course, a member of another place and it would be quite possible for the right hon. Gentleman, in certain circumstances, to continue his debates with the Field Marshal, if he so wished.
I have already made some observations about the contributions on the subject of the Middle East and, in particular, our intervention in Jordan. I want to say how much I personally appreciated the contribution of the hon. Member for Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins). He said that it was unusual for him to leave economic affairs and deal with foreign affairs, but he might do well to enter foreign affairs more often. His contribution showed a knowledge and balance of the situation which was lacking in some of those who profess to be, as the right hon. Member for Easington indicated, experts on this subject. 456 No one is complacent about the problems of the Middle East. No one has suggested that as a result of what has happened the situation is solved. However, what we do say and what I have already said this evening is that a breathing space has been achieved in what was becoming a very dangerous situation. We hope that in the days which lie ahead the recommendations of the Secretary-General of the United Nations may be put into practice and that we shall achieve a more stable situation.
In the last debate before the Recess when this subject was discussed, a great deal was said about Arab nationalism and coming to terms with Arab nationalism. It has been clearly indicated that we are not opposed to the just demands of Arab nationalism, and I assure the hon. Member for Stechford that it is not our policy to sustain one element of Arabs against another. What was lacking in the debate on this subject last time, and what has been lacking again today, has been any true appreciation of the problem of the existence of the State of Israel in the Middle East and what that implies. We cannot discuss a solution of the Middle East situation without referring at all to the State of Israel. To do so is theoretical discussion of the most dangerous kind, and the conduct of foreign affairs is not a theoretical discussion.
I want now to refer to Cyprus. The tribute of my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) to our troops in Cyprus was fully justified, and I would like to think that all hon. Members, despite what they may have said in other places, can be associated with it.
In a passage of great emotion the right hon. Member for Easington said, "Why do not we get out of Cyprus?" That is something which we cannot do if we are to have full regard for the true interests of the island and the people who live in it. We have a great responsibility to the people of Cyprus, and I am sure that nobody now fails to realise that this is not purely an island problem; it is a problem which radically affects the interests of two great nations, both of whom are friends of this country. It is a problem which, if we do not carry out our duties, might well result in civil war and bloodshed far worse than anything that has taken place so far.
457 The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) made various appeals to Her Majesty's Government. In view of her close association with Archbishop Makarios perhaps I can make an appeal to her. Perhaps she could say to him, "Do what any Archbishop ought to do; renounce the use of violence."
We have discussed in some detail the difficult situation in the Far East. I thought that the case put by my right hon. and learned Friend was clearly proved—that, whatever may be the arguments about the rights and wrongs of this extremely difficult case, we must seek to reach a solution without recourse to force. One is bound to look at the present bombardment of the off-shore islands on alternate days as nothing more than a piece of cynical propaganda, but we hope that in the days that lie ahead this situation may become less tense.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition complained during the Recess—and we have had the complaint made again today—that during these discussions my right hon. and learned Friend said very little in public. I would commend to right hon. Members opposite, and particularly to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—whom I understand has one or two aspirations—the view that diplomacy is not a matter for the continuous limelight, and for continuous public speeches, but that there are occasions when things should be conducted by way of private conversations, and that those conversations should not be immediately retailed to every newspaper.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I wonder if the injunction that the hon. Gentleman has made, to insist upon not retailing every conversation to the newspapers, has been conveyed to Mr. Dulles.
§ Mr. Harvey
There are many conversations which Mr. Dulles has which I have no doubt are not retailed to any newspaper.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South complained about the whisperings of the Foreign Secretary. With the greatest respect, I would rather have one whisper from the Foreign Secretary than a whole speech from the right hon. Member for Derby, South. He is known for his deep interest in questions of disarmament, and we attach great importance to the new conference at 458 Geneva. It is essential to follow up any cessation of testing with inspection and control. Hon. Members opposite too often forget the necessity to consider nuclear disarmament in conjunction with conventional disarmament.
We must work not only for nuclear disarmament but for total disarmament. I was asked this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman what our position is with regard to H-bomb tests in view of the recent remarks by the Soviet Union. We reserve the right to resume tests if the Russians continue them. Whether we do so or not is quite a different matter. It is certainly not possible when one is dealing with negotiators with the experience of the Soviet Union to expect us to put on the table right at the beginning every conceivable card. That is typical of the whole attitude of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They would sabotage in advance every operation of this kind.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington made great play this afternoon with the fact that my right hon. Friend had made no reference to a Summit Conference. I listened with profound attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale and I heard no reference to a Summit Conference either. The short answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington is that we have sent to the Soviet Union our proposals for an agenda for a Summit Conference and so far we still await a reply.
The great and overriding problem to which reference has been made this afternoon and on many other occasions is the problem of Anglo-Soviet relations. Let me make it clear that we have no quarrel with the Russian people. At the same time, so far as this Government are concerned, we have no truck with international Communism. We resent the interference of Communism with the government of other nations. It is, however, in our opinion, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave clear indication, intensely important to increase our cultural relations with the Soviet Union. I should like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the Soviet Relations Committee of the British Council which has done very valuable work in this direction. We hope that it will continue to do so.
459 There are after all in the field of arts and sciences and of letters fewer barriers than there are in the field of politics. I should like to submit also that there is for young people and for those who are coming on, who have not perhaps the same recollections of the past and who have not been indoctrinated, a greater hope of achieving understanding of other countries.
Our object is to persuade the Soviet Government to permit completely free interchange of persons, information and ideas. We should like to have with the Soviet Union the same untrammelled contact as we enjoy with countries of the free world. We should like them to stop jamming the B.B.C. We should like them to have British books, films and magazines with unrestricted distribution and sale.
We should like the elimination of the system whereby large parts of the Soviet Union are closed to British diplomats, British journalists and visitors. It is quite clear that the Iron Curtain is of their making and not of ours. The House will know that we had made proposals in the past for talks with a view to removing some at least of these barriers. These talks have not been accepted but we shall persevere with our efforts in the future.
We must face the fact that the world is faced at the present time with a planned Communist offensive. Communist propaganda has the advantage of speed in that no consultation is necessary—no regard for public opinion, because public opinion is organised according to the requirements of the Government. It is also backed by an immense financial expenditure, by military strength and by economic pressure.
We must also realise that Communist techniques and propaganda operate with appeals to nationalism, anti-colonialism, peace neutralism and the manipulation of front organisations. These are things we have to face, and it is no good closing our eyes to them. Mr. Khrushchev has said that trade is less for economic and more for political purposes. We see a clear indication of this fact in Egypt and in Iceland. There is a planned attack 460 upon uncommitted countries and underdeveloped countries.
I would like at this point to say how much I enjoyed listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble). It was a great pleasure to me, because his brother is a distinguished member of the Foreign Service and he represents a part of the world from which my family comes. We hope we shall hear from him many times in the future. He spoke about our voice in the world. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is here, because, under his guidance, a great deal has been done during the past year to strengthen the presentation of Britain's voice in the world. The true function of information is to present our policies honestly and effectively and to show the world the democratic way of life in which we believe.
We have to accept that, in a democratic society, the views of those who do not agree with the Government are often expressed in the world as well as the views of the Government. I would regret any suggestion that that should not be so, but it must be clearly understood that it can have a serious effect upon the power of our information operation. We must make use in our information of the most modern techniques of communication and must use them effectively. It is imperative that we should have a consistent plan and enough money to carry out this task effectively.
I would add a word about how important is the work of the British Council, which has done a tremendous amount not only to assist those who come to this country but to present British achievements and British works of art to the nations of the world. The Council has done an interesting and valuable job.
I would underline what my right hon. Friend has said, that our aim is to create conditions of peace, to eliminate sources of friction and to promote the cause of freedom. In promoting those ends Her Majesty's Government, and my right hon. Friend in particular, will constantly persevere.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Colonel J. H. Harrison.]
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.