§ >[FOURTH DAY]
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [1st November]:
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.
§ 11.7 a.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
A debate on foreign affairs on the Gracious Speech gives us all an opportunity of looking back on the major world events of the previous year and looking forward to the next. That is particularly necessary this time. On the one hand, there is an almost completely new team representing the Government in this field. On the other hand, in the last twelve months we have seen some extremely important major changes in world affairs.
My party has made it very clear that we deeply regret, indeed resent, the appointment of a Member of another House as Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. To debate with him is rather like arguing with a television set. But now that he is appointed and his appointment has been approved, we shall judge him by his policy and not by his peerage. It is in the light of his speech in another place this week, and in the light of the policies of Her Majesty's Government, that I shall make my speech this morning. May I say in passing that I look forward to exchanging opinions with the Lord Privy Seal. It will not be the first time that we have found ourselves on opposite sides in the same building.
I must say right at the outset that many of us on this side of the House found rather peculiar the Prime Minister's remarks the other day that certain events at a seaside resort in 501 Britain in the last few weeks marked what he called the end of bipartisanship in foreign policy and defence in this country. Those words came a little oddly from a man who was a member of the Government responsible in 1956 for the most atrocious act of British foreign policy in modern times—an act carried out in secrecy from most of his colleagues in his own party and in defiance of the known and expressed views, not only of the Opposition, but of an overwhelming number of people in this country.
I for my part never believed in any duty of bipartisanship in this country on foreign policy. I believe that it is the duty of the Opposition to submit the Government's policies to continuous and constructive criticism. I agree entirely that it is no duty of the Opposition party to manufacture artificial disagreements for party gain, but I believe that the Opposition Front Bench has exactly the same right as Government back benchers to discuss the Government's policies, to say when they disagree with them, and, when they do disagree with them, to seek to change them. I hope that on the issues on which we have some support from the Government back benches, notably the support from the many distinguished ex-Service Ministers on the question of Britain's possession of an independent nuclear deterrent, we shall be able to count on the support of men of principle on the Government side in the opposition which we shall pursue against the Government.
It seems to me that there are two outstanding features in world events in the last year to which one should draw special attention in this debate. On the one hand, there is the collapse of the attempts to bring Russia and the United States into direct negotiation with one another on the major problems which have been dividing the world for the last 15 years. This is a very serious development which few Members of the House expected when we debated foreign affairs in this Chamber a year ago. On the other hand, we have seen one major event of far more encouraging import; namely, the emergence of the United Nations as a major instrument for constructive diplomacy in the modern world. I should like to concentrate my speech on the implications of these two major changes. 502 All of us a year ago looked forward to the holding of a Summit Conference some time in 1960, and we all hoped and expressed the hope on both sides of the House a year ago that this Summit Conference would mark what we called a break-through in the cold war, and that it would bring the United States Government and the Soviet Government into direct and friendly contact on a number of major issues which had been dividing the world. But it became clear during the early months of this year that the Soviet Government were mainly concerned at the Summit Conference to force certain concessions from the Western Governments on the questions of Berlin and Germany. It also became clear that there was no chance of persuading the West to make one-sided concessions on these issues. The prospects of a successful Summit Conference were already dark when the U.2 incident occurred. Then, we had the appalling fiasco in Paris, followed by the walk-out of the Soviet Union from the disarmament talks, followed finally by the extraordinary display by the Soviet representative in the discussions in the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
We can all speculate on the motives of Mr. Khrushchev for his behaviour during the last 12 months. There may well be more or less sympathy for him in the line of conduct he has adopted, but one thing has become completely clear, and that is that the Soviet Government have no intention of resuming major negotiations on world issues with the United States Government until the new American Administration is settled in the saddle. In other words, whether we like it or not, there will be no major negotiation between Russia and the United States for four or five months, possibly six or nine months. And whether there will be negotiation even then is uncertain. It will depend not only on the attitude of the Soviet Government but also on the policies and attitude of the new United States Administration.
I believe that the other thing which has become crystal clear from the events of the last few months is that, having given up all hope of successful negotiations with the United States for a period of perhaps half a year, Mr. Khrushchev intends to exploit the interval in order to create maximum trouble for the West all 503 over the world. In other words, as he indicated in his own words recently, he proposes to make the Western Governments jump about like fish in a frying pan.
The first question to which I want to address myself is: What should the West do in this situation during the certainly difficult half year that lies immediately ahead? One thing on which there should be general agreement on both sides of the House is that the West must continue to maintain all its basic positions while taking care to avoid worsening the situation by unilateral actions on its own side. For that reason, I welcome the determination which the Western Governments have shown to resist all attempts by the Soviet Union to infringe on their rights in Western Berlin.
I think most of us would agree that the main danger during the next six months, given the determination of the Western Governments to maintain their existing positions, is in the military field. There is a serious danger that certain steps may be taken by the Western Governments, perhaps with the sincere intention of strengthening their defensive position, which will actually worsen the overall world picture, and, instead of stabilising, would tend to upset the existing balance of power between the two camps. I believe that Her Majesty's Government must use all their efforts during the next few months to resist any attempt inside the Western alliance or by an individual ally of the United Kingdom which might upset the existing balance of power in the world by unilateral action on our own side.
I think it will be well-known that my right hon. Friends and I are very much opposed to any acts of unilateral disarmament—any one-sided acts by the Western Governments—which might tend to upset the balance of power in the world by weakening the West.
§ Mr. Healey
I will gladly give way to my hon. Friend in a moment, but perhaps he will show a little patience. I hope very much that he will be able to make a long speech during the course of the day.
504 It is equally important that the West should avoid upsetting the balance of power by one-sided actions which would inevitably invite Soviet retaliation, and so lead to the general arms race in the world taking a new turn. It is for this reason that I and all my hon. and right hon. Friends are strongly opposed to any steps which may be taken to supply the West German forces with atomic weapons, because such steps would certainly be followed by parallel steps on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, and all the problems with which we have to deal in Central Europe would became that much more difficult to solve. There was grave concern, at any rate on this side of the House, and I believe in many quarters on the other side, at the recent public demand of the German General Staff for atomic weapons. Quite apart from the implications of such a demand on international affairs, it is highly undesirable that in Germany, or, indeed, in any other country, the military should enter into public debate in matters of this importance.
There is also great concern on this side of the House, which I had the opportunity of expressing in the defence debate at the end of July, about a great deal of the talk which we hear going on about what is called making N.A.T.O. the fourth atomic power. When we discussed this matter in the summer, the Prime Minister, unwittingly or wittingly, seriously misled the House by suggesting that this was not an actual proposal, and that there was no real need to take up any position about it for at least four or five years. On the contrary, it has become very clear that this proposal is now under discussion by the N.A.T.O. Governments. Indeed, there is every indication that the N.A.T.O. Governments will be asked to take a decision on it at their meeting in December.
I do not want to spend a long time on this problem now, because I stick to every word I said on this subject in our debate last July, but I would ask the Lord Privy Seal or the Minister of Defence when speaking later today to give us a guarantee, in terms, that Her Majesty's Government will not support any proposal in this field without first coming to the House for a full discussion on the proposal. It would be absolutely improper for a decision of such tremendous magnitude to be taken by a few 505 men sitting in a room in Paris in December unless there had first been an opportunity to discuss all its implications in detail in the House.
In discussing possible military steps by the Western Powers during the next six months, we must make a very important distinction between two types of military measures. On the one hand, there are certain measures that might be adopted, like the arming of Western Germany with atomic weapons or the large-scale distribution of strategic atomic missiles over the countries of the West European Continent. Such measures, in my opinion, would tend to de-stabilise the existing balance of military power in the world. They would tend to give the present arms race a new momentum. For that reason, we should utterly oppose them.
On the other hand, certain other steps are under discussion that might well be adopted—some have already been adopted—whose purpose and result will not be to upset the existing balance of power in the world but to stabilise it. In my opinion, one such step is the decision of the American Government to rely increasingly for its deterrent force on highly mobile atomic submarines rather than on land-based aircraft or missiles. I know perfectly well that some of my hon. Friends will oppose this proposal of the United States Government, because they reject—[Interruption.] certainly—because they reject the whole concept of deterrents. Indeed, they believe that this country should leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if that Organisation continues to maintain anywhere inside its boundaries any deterrent force at all.
That is a view that is held by some members of my own party, and I think that they would agree that it is held by many people outside as well. I must say that during a recent visit to one of our seaside resorts I was interested to find the proponents of nuclear disarmament parading round the streets with banners bearing the headline, "Gaitskell must go." I was rather surprised to find in the following week that those proponents were not parading round the streets with banners saying "Macmillan must go."
Whatever their intention, there seems to me to be no doubt at all that the 506 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has done more for the Conservative Party in the last year than even Messrs. Coleman, Prentice and Varley—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
In reply to that, perhaps I may say that the whole capitalist Press has done more for the Leader of the Opposition than has any other agency in this country.
§ Mr. Healey
I should be glad to continue these amiable exchanges with the hon. Gentleman in another place—[Interruption.] No, not in that other place. I hope that neither of us is ever elevated—at any rate to that extent.
What I now want to discuss is the attitude that should be taken towards the proposal for a submarine-based deterrent by those of us—a majority on both sides of the House—who do support the need for Britain to be a member of N.A.T.O., and the need for N.A.T O. to have an atomic deterrent. It seems to me that, in principle, and for a variety of reasons, the submarine-based deterrent is far preferable to all existing systems.
The submarines will be at sea for at least two out of every three months. While at sea they are almost totally invulnerable to any sort of attack. That being so, there can, first of all, be no incentive for the Soviet Union to launch a surprise attack on the Western retaliatory system, because the Soviet Union knows in advance that there is no chance whatever of destroying at any rate the submarine-based component of that system.
Secondly, therefore, there is no need for the West, on its side, ever to consider the possibility of trying to strike the first blow in all-out thermal nuclear war.
Thirdly, and equally important as the other two considerations, there is no need, even in general war, for the West to use this part of its deterrent system without full political consultation inside the alliance, because, if necessary, the Polaris submarines can float about at sea for weeks after a war has begun. The argument that I have seen quoted in the Press from Washington that in 507 general war there must be an immediate response is, fortunately, the reverse of the truth in regard to this part of the deterrent system.
The great advantage of the existence of the Polaris submarine is that it offers opportunities for continuous political control of the deterrent infinitely greater than does any other system that has yet been devised. For those reasons, this system must be welcomed by all those of us—and we probably all share this view—who are concerned at the danger of war by accident or the danger of war by miscalculation.
Above all, the Polaris system tremendously reduces the temptation for either side to strike the first blow in all-out atomic war—
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
Perhaps my hon. Friend would concede that the difference between him and myself is that I am and always have been a supporter of N.A.T.O., but that does not mean that I am a supporter of a particular weapon. Is not my hon. Friend getting into the difficulty that he has overlooked the declaration of the Minister of Defence—which was not challenged at the time—when speaking about this weapon? The Minister then said:The point that I want to make is that the value of Polaris or of any other weapon of this type is a matter which must be discussed by N.A.T.O. through its own proper channels. It has its military committee and its complex of military advisers, and it has its political committee. N.A.T.O. itself must first decide through its own machinery what it wants …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1960; Vol. 627, c. 539.]My difficulty is to square what my hon. Friend now says with what he wrote in the United States, because there is there the clearest conflict. It seems that he is once against departing from his support of N.A.T.O. in his passion to support a weapon the use of which will remain outside N.A.T.O. control.
§ Mr. Healey
Had I known that my hon. Friend was to make a speech I would possibly have waited for him to make it later. First of all, I am not responsible, thank goodness, for anything that the Minister of Defence says. Secondly, I believe that when the Minister made those remarks he was talking about the proposal to put land-based 508 Polaris missiles on the Continent of Europe, which is totally different from the proposal to put the American deterrent at sea rather than to keep it on land, in aircraft and land-based missiles. It seems to me that my hon. Friend, in his anxiety to manufacture a difference between himself and myself, has really stretched the facts a little bit more than was necessary.
Now I come to a problem to which I know we all want to give attention in this debate. Granted the fact that the submarine-based deterrent is a more desirable type of deterrent than many of the existing ones, what attitude should we take to the agreement which the Prime Minister announced to allow the Americans to have a depôt ship for some of their atomic submarines in a Scottish loch? The position that we take on this agreement must be determined by the extent to which the agreement makes use of the peculiar opportunities which the Polaris system offers for continuous effective political control inside the alliance.
I must frankly admit that I find it impossible to take a view at this moment because we have been given no information whatever by the Government as to what provisions for control have been made. The Prime Minister's statement on Tuesday was one of the most misleading statements he has ever made, and that is saying quite a lot. I will read what he said. He said:Wherever these submarines may be"—and we know that they can range almost throughout the whole oceans of the world—I am perfectly satisfied that no decision to use these missiles will ever be taken without the fullest possible previous consultation …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1960; Vol. 629, c. 38.]When we heard him make these remarks we all believed, and so did the Press—that is why they reported to Washington in this sense—that we had some agreement with the United States that we would be consulted before any of these British-based submarines fired their missiles anywhere in the world. I admit that, on reading the statement carefully, we see that it refers to the psychological state of mind of the Prime Minister and not to any agreement which may have been reached between the British Government and the United States Government.
509 I must confess that one of the most puzzling things about our Prime Minister, considering that his mastery in manipulation of the English language is almost unparalleled in British politics at the present time, is that it is remarkable how often he contrives to get himself misunderstood. I am not the only person who has this feeling about him. I know that Sir Roy Welensky has it, too. The Prime Minister is a very clever man. There is no doubt about that. We all admire his cleverness. But I cannot help feeling that sometimes he is a little too clever.
Perhaps it is not in order to say that he was deliberately misleading the House the other day, but there is no doubt that he did mislead the House, and I confess that I cannot see why such a master of words can mislead the House so often, unless at any rate there is some subconscious desire to do so. I must say I take it very hard, and so do many of us on this side of the House, that having made a statement which was misinterpreted, or interpreted rightly—who knows?—all over the world, the Prime Minister has not in the last forty-eight hours taken any of his many opportunities to come to this House and explain what he really means. I give warning to the Government that this Opposition will not put up with this type of arrogant levity on matters of life and death. Neither will the British people.
§ Mr. Healey
For that reason I must insist that the Minister of Defence, when he speaks at the end of the debate this afternoon, clears up the confusion which has been created by the Prime Minister's statement, so that the Opposition and the people in the country have some opportunity to judge whether or not they should support the agreement which has been made. All of us would agree—indeed, the Prime Minister appeared to imply this the other day—that the agreement with America about the submarine base in Scotland should, so far as possible, follow the lines of the agreements on all the other American strategic nuclear bases in Britain, be they manned bomber bases or missile bases.
I want to put a number of precise questions to the Minister of Defence. I will not deal at this stage with the 510 question of the safety of the area in case of an explosion in peace time on a submarine or on the base ship. That, no doubt, can be discussed if and when we come to discuss the agreement in detail. I want to deal with the question of political control of the use of the submarines operating from this ship, first in relation to their peace-time use.
All of us are concerned—and that concern extends to the other side of the House, as was revealed in our discussions on the RB.47 and the U.2 incidents in the summer—about possible provocative acts by American-based vessels of war in peace time. In particular, with the Polaris submarines the question arises of the possibility that they might patrol inside Soviet territorial waters or so close to them as to be provocative. I ask the Minister of Defence: will Her Majesty's Government be fully informed of the sailing plans of all the submarines based on this ship in Holy Loch in peace time? Will Her Majesty's Government have the right to veto sailing plans of which they disapprove? Will they have the right to withdraw these base facilities if the veto is not accepted or if it is found that the veto has been defied? I hope that the Minister of Defence will answer these questions about the peacetime use of submarines operating from this base.
Now we come to the question of what sort of control we may exercise in a state of emergency—that is to say, not actual war but a period of great tension when the possibility of war has to be considered by Governments. I note that the Prime Minister said on Tuesday:The deployment and use in periods of emergency of the submarine depôt ship and associated facilities in the United Kingdom will be a matter of joint consultation. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1960; Vol. 629, cc. 37–38.]Does that mean that Her Majesty's Government will again have the right to veto any American proposal for the stationing or movement of this depot ship and associated submarines of which they disapprove? In particular, have they the right to have this depot ship moved right out of British territorial waters if we so desire in a state of emergency?
511 Finally, I come to what is, I think, the most important question of all—the extent to which we have any control over the firing of the missiles from this ship in an actual act of war. As I said earlier, the one great advantage of this submarine-based system is that it offers, at any rate, the physical possibility of consultation between the allied Governments in any situation, Where the allied Governments are actually operating at all. The argument that I have seen used in Washington, that there will not be time for consultation, certainly may apply to some other types of delivery system. It does not apply to the Polaris submarines which can be in constant touch for weeks at a time with those authorities who give them their instructions.
What we are most concerned about in principle is that the first decision by N.A.T.O or by any N.A.T.O. Government to use atomic weapons should always be subject to collective agreement inside the alliance. This is the basic principle we wish to assert, that the first decision by the West, or by any Western Government, to use these weapons should be subject to collective agreement. Of course, we wish to see this principle applied not only to the Polaris submarine but to every other atomic weapon system, tactical or strategic, which may exist in N.A.T.O. or in any of the N.A.T.O. countries.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I should like him to clarify the position. What he is saying is that any weapon—presumably he means any nuclear weapon—cannot be used without the agreement of all fifteen N.A.T.O. nations?
§ Mr. Healey
I said that the agreement on the first use of these weapons must be an agreement which is taken by the fifteen member Governments of N.A.T.O.
In this connection, I wish to put certain important questions. First, will the British Government have any personnel permanently stationed inside the submarines which are attached to the base in Scotland? Secondly, have we an absolute veto over the firing of 512 missiles from these submarines, at any rate in British territorial waters, which would, of course, include Holy Loch itself? Thirdly, what sort of consultation is envisaged in regard to the firing of missiles by the submarines in other parts of the world, perhaps in non-territorial waters or even in the territorial waters of the United States?
This is not an irrelevant question, since the Prime Minister in his statement on Tuesday went so far as to say:I believe that the more we are involved with the whole great complex of the modern deterrent the more effective our voice becomes in its world-wide control.He definitely appears to be envisaging some sort of control over the use of this part of the American deterrent anywhere in the world. Indeed, in the earlier passage which has been misinterpreted so much all over the world, he said:Wherever the submarines may be, I am perfectly satisfied that no decision to use the missiles will ever be taken without the fullest possible previous consultation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1960; Vol. 629, c. 38.]I hope that the Minister of Defence will give us some concrete facts on this issue. I believe, and my party believes, that it is very important indeed that America's allies should develop some control over the use the Americans make of their deterrent system not only inside the N.A.T.O. area but all over the world. This is a demand which has been made formally on behalf of the French Government, as the Minister well knows, by President de Gaulle.
It may seem to be asking a great deal of the United States to ask for a voice in a decision by the American Government to use their deterrent system, but the fact is that we in this House—those of us who have accepted it—have always accepted N.A.T.O. as a collective security arrangement which means interdependence, and interdependence is a two-sided thing. One of the great advantages of a collective security system like N.A.T.O. is that it should not be necessary within it for every member of the alliance to try to do everything. There is the possibility of specialisation. But, if there is to be specialisation of functions, there must be some machinery for collective control of those functions. Otherwise, the specialisation leads to a great military weakening of N.A.T.O. rather than to its strengthening.
513 I ask the Minister of Defence to try to give us a precise answer to these questions later today. Frankly, I say that, if he is unable to give us an answer to them, the Prime Minister had no right whatever to make the agreement or to announce it to the House on Tuesday. I confess that I find it a little difficult to understand why he was in such a hurry. It is not proposed to bring the ship into the loch, I think, until February or March, and the first submarine will arrive there even later. It seems rather extraordinary that he should have rushed to announce the agreement in these vague terms only six days before the election of a new American Administration. Why could not he wait until there was a new Administration in power? After all, Congress in the United States has had no chance to pronounce on the agreement; it has not been presented to it. I cannot avoid the suspicion that, perhaps, the announcement was rushed for reasons purely of internal politics.
I say to the Minister of Defence that, if no precise agreement was reached on the questions which I have just put to him, then the Government had no right whatever to reach the major agreement on the acceptance of the base even in principle. On the other hand, if an agreement was reached in detail on these vital issues, then the Government have no right whatever to conceal that agreement from the House.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Prime Minister, by innuendo, was taking part in the Presidential election in the United States? If so, he should make that clear.
§ Mr. Healey
No, I was not suggesting that it was American politics which interested the Prime Minister. I think he was more concerned with internal politics in his own country.
I regret that I have had to spend such a long time in my speech on the Polaris base agreement, but it is a vital matter which the House must have an opportunity to make up its mind about in full knowledge of the facts.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he try to resolve this apparent contradiction in his argument? It appears that those of his hon. Friends 514 who want us to remain a member of N.A.T.O. believe that the interdependence within N.A.T.O. should be such as to enable the United States to be responsible for nuclear weapons and for us to be responsible for conventional weapons. If that be so, how does he suppose that we shall have more effective control politically over the use of Polaris?
§ Mr. Healey
First of all, control over the use of Polaris has absolutely nothing to do with whether we ourselves have nuclear weapons or not. The problems posed by control over Polaris are identical whether we happen to have a few V-bombers, with or without Skybolt, or not. I really cannot see the relevance of the hon. Member's question.
I should have wished in this debate to say something in detail about the other major revolution during the past year, but I think that I should be trespassing on the time of the House if I went into much detail on that. I must, however, say a word—
§ Mr. Healey
I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend will have an opportunity nevertheless to make her own speech later in the debate.
I wish, in conclusion, to say a word or two about the other development in world affairs which, in the long run, I think, is much more important than the Polaris base. I mean the really heartening factor of the emergence of the United Nations during the past twelve months as a really positive factor in world affairs. This is due, I think, largely to the entry into the United Nations of several African and Asian countries. I believe that in the Congo speedy and effective United Nations action has already, possibly, prevented a world war; certainly it has prevented war involving a large number of foreign States. We ought to pay tribute, too, to the rôle of the United Nations organ, the International Bank, in promoting the first major agreement between India and Pakistan, the agreement on the development of the Indus Valley.
Given the very inadequacy of the major Governments of the world to cope with their duties to mankind, I think that the United Nations has become our 515 main hope, perhaps our only hope. One of the most important duties of the Government during the next twelve months will be to do everything possible to strengthen the power and authority of the United Nations. I deeply regret that the Secretary of State, speaking in another place, had nothing whatever to say on this point. I believe that the Government should make proposals for the revision of the Security Council so that it more accurately represents the real balance of power in the world in 1960 and does not pretend to represent the balance of power in 1944, when the composition was decided.
I believe that the Government should now give notice to the United States that they will support the entry of Communist China to the Chinese seat in the United Nations next year and should immediately start consultations with the American and other Governments about the contingent adjustments in United Nations organisation which must follow, particularly with respect to the future of Formosa. I believe that this Government should immediately say that they will press for the representation of Communist China in any future disarmament negotiations which may take place.
The Government must, in the Assembly discussions in the next few weeks, support United Nations action for the peaceful settlement of disputes wherever possible, not only in the Congo but also in South-West Africa where it is long overdue that the United Nations should take over trusteeship of the Territory. This matter is now urgent since we do not know what policies the now South African State will adopt. I should like the Lord Privy Seal to say whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to accept whatever recommendations Mr. de Ribbing may make about the solving of the Buraimi Oasis dispute.
Finally, and most important of all, I believe that Her Majesty's Government now must accept the fact that Algeria is not just a French national problem. It is an international problem in every sense of the word, and, moreover, it is a major threat to world peace. Nobody, I think, can blame the F.L.N., when it has had 516 so little help from the West, for considering getting armed help from the Soviet Union and China, any more than any of us could blame the Spanish Republican Government for taking the same action in 1935. I think, however, that the F.L.N. might take warning from the way in which the Soviet Union responded to the Spanish Republican Government's demand for aid in the 'thirties by trying to capture the Spanish Republic and by not attempting to win the war for the Spanish Republic but using the war cynically in order to try to bleed the European States to death.
We must now accept United Nations responsibility for a say in what happens in Algeria, and the British Government can no longer shelter behind the argument that this is purely an internal French problem, any more than they any longer shelter behind the argument that what happens inside South Africa is purely an internal problem for the South African Government.
On the question of full, vigorous and active support for the United Nations, this side of the House, irrespective of party—[Interruption]—is completely united. I only wish that I could say the same for the other side of the House. I warn the Government that, if they fall short on their obligations to strengthen and support the United Nations in this field, they will meet from this side of the House vigorous, unrelenting and united opposition.
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)
I could not follow the hon. Gentleman on one point. Probably it was my fault. He said that before the N.A.T.O. Powers used any retaliatory efforts, nuclear or otherwise, there should be full consultation. If there were an all-out devastating attack on one of the Powers, does he suggest that none of the other Powers should retaliate without full consultation with the remaining fifteen Powers?
§ Mr. Healey
I certainly do. It is possible—and I believe that S.H.A.P.E. is trying very hard to achieve this—to reach agreements defining particular types of consultation which will be required in any particular situation. However, if the hon. and learned Gentleman wants a detailed answer to that question, I think that he would be much wiser to address it to the Minister of Defence.
§ 11.53 a.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
It is true, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has said, that the House looks forward to this traditional opportunity in the debate on the Address to consider the state of the nation both at home and in its relations overseas. I would only add that one does not have to be long at the Foreign Office to realise that neither of these can be separated from each other. On the state of our economy, which we have discussed recently, depends also the strength of our foreign policy.
This is a suitable occasion to pause both to reflect and to form a judgment on recent events and to reconsider our future policies. The hon. Member for Leeds, East referred to my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I am sure my noble Friend would ask for nothing more than to be judged on his policies and on his speeches. In the speech which he made in another place this week, he gave a clear and considered statement of British foreign policy for which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have been asking. Of course, the Opposition are free to consider and to criticise these statements of policy and we realise that bipartisanship is not something which one has by right. Nevertheless, if after this free and full discussion both sides of the House should come to the conclusion that they can support the policy, then I for one believe that it is better for our country and for the strength of our nation.
The hon. Member dealt with a number of points which I will try to answer in the course of my speech. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will deal with what the hon. Gentleman had to say about Polaris when he winds up, but I think that I must at this early stage reject the hon. Gentleman's accusation that the Prime Minister made a misleading statement or that he treats these things with levity. For the hon. Gentleman to suggest that the statement was made in order to intervene in the internal politics of hon. Members opposite is frivolous. All these are matters which cause everybody anxious thought, and they are treated with the fullest consideration. Nevertheless, I find myself in agreement with the hon. Gentleman on many things. I hope that that will emerge as the debate goes along. I hope that the House will not think me 518 discourteous if I deal with some of the things fairly fully. Most of all, I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) will not judge me discourteous.
This is an occasion when we should fully review these affairs. It is a pity perhaps that today, a Friday, has been chosen for a debate of this kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is not for me to intervene in that struggle. I should like to deal with these matters as fully as I can. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is a particularly appropriate occasion to carry out this review.
The first part of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which so many Heads of Government have attended, is now past. America is waiting to choose next week its leaders who will determine the policies of the United States for the next four years. Mr. Khrushchev, too, has cause to take a little time off for meditation. Next week he will be confronting the leaders of the Communist Party from all the Communist countries, including China. Much may turn on the outcome of that meeting so far as Soviet policies are concerned.
This, then, is a moment when we may well look at some of the wider issues which face us today in foreign affairs. Here in the House of Commons it is over five months since the House had a debate of this kind. The last was on 30th May, when we discussed the abortive attempt to hold a Summit meeting. This provides us with a starting point, for there can be no doubt that this marked a change in Soviet policy. In what I propose to say I find myself very largely in agreement with the analysis of the hon. Gentleman. We must all have been giving a great deal of thought to the possible explanations for this change. If we are to make good use of this pause in our affairs, it is essential that we should form a proper judgment about what has been happening in recent months.
It has now become evident that the policy of the détente which has been developing since the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow in February, 1959, and on which so many hopes had been placed, has been abandoned, for the time being at any rate, by the Soviet Union. This has certainly been true as far as any dealings with the present 519 United States Administration are concerned. Opinions may differ as to the cause of the breakdown of the arrangements for the Summit. Whether one considers that Mr. Khrushchev deliberately broke it up because he came to the conclusion that he would not get his way over Berlin, or because of pressures from inside Russia, or on account of differences with China, or because of the U.2 incident, whichever one of these explanations one accepts, it is quite certain that since then the Soviet Government have shown no signs of wanting to return to serious negotiations with the West.
Indeed, much of Mr. Khrushchev's behaviour and conduct, and many of his speeches, might almost have seemed designed to make a renewal of contact impossible for some time to come. It now remains to be seen whether he will pursue a different course, for a variety of reasons, in the spring or early summer. There is, perhaps, one welcome sign here. At least the Nuclear Test Conference at Geneva is being allowed to continue. Perhaps this is a sort of lifeline for the eventual renewal of negotiations on a wider plane. We must certainly endeavour to make that so.
What have been the consequences of this change of Soviet policy? I should like, if I may, to review them with the House.
There has been the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and the other members of the Soviet bloc from the Ten-Nation Disarmament Conference at Geneva. This they did on the day that new American proposals were to be introduced. The Soviet Union and their supporters have once again decided to impose pressures against the West all along the line, and they have extended them into almost every part of the world.
In Berlin, the East Germans have imposed restrictions on travel between the two parts of the city. Their clear intention, I suggest, is to undermine, gradually if they can, the allied position in West Berlin. Moreover, they have been backed by the Soviet Union in this action. In Cuba, the Soviets have openly claimed the right to intervene in support of the revolutionary Government against the United States.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be suggesting the United States have some kind of sovereignty in Cuba which a revolutionary Government is challenging. Surely the question of Soviet friendship with the legal Government of Cuba is absolutely no concern of the United States.
§ Mr. Heath
I was not in the least intending to suggest that; of course, that is not the case.
In the Congo, the Soviets have pressed their ambition to penetrate newly independent countries, and when the United Nations effectively prevented that, then, of course, they turned on the United Nations itself and set out to destroy its influence. I should like to discuss some of these particular points later on. The point which I wish to make here is that Soviet claims and pressures are now very widely spread and we must expect to encounter them all over the globe.
In the meantime, a new dimension has been added to the world-wide struggle between the free countries and those with Soviet support and in particular, of course, with the newly emerged and non-committed nations. This was one of the most striking features of the Soviet leader's campaign in the United Nations Assembly, to which the hon. Gentleman himself has made reference. What he tried to do was to represent the Soviet Union as the patron of these countries and of all peoples who were formerly under colonial rule. The culmination of this was his suggestion that the United Nations' Secretariat and influence should be divided into three blocs: the Communists, the Western Powers and the uncommitted countries.
Of course, these uncommitted countries themselves do not feel like a bloc in many cases and do not wish to be treated as a bloc. There are many Commonwealth countries which want to remain uncommitted, but they certainly do not intend to forgo their individual opinions and independence of judgment and act purely as a member of a bloc. Her Majesty's Government do not accept the idea that the world should be divided into these three blocs, nor do we believe that the 521 United Nations, if it were organised in that way, could survive.
Nor, of course, did the uncommitted nations themselves at the General Assembly accept this thesis of Mr. Khrushchev. On the contrary, in the question of the Congo and on the position of the Secretary-General, they showed themselves fully able to judge for themselves the validity of Mr. Khrushchev's claims. They were not swept away by them. They supported the United Nations' action in the Congo and opposed the attempt to introduce a veto into the Secretariat.
Our own purpose is quite clear. It is to help these countries to develop in their own way, to improve their living standards and establish themselves as independent nations. At the United Nations, the Soviet Government developed attacks against our own colonial policy. They levelled accusations against us which will certainly not make it any easier for the inhabitants of our remaining Colonial Territories to develop peacefully towards independence.
This, then, looking over those few months, is what has emerged since the failure of the Summit Conference—the abandonment of the policy of détente, increased pressure on a widening number of trouble spots, and a new tone of violence in propaganda against the colonial countries, the attack on the United Nations and Secretariat.
I should like to look in some detail at some of these pressure points. The first pressure point is Berlin, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and I am grateful for the support which he gave on this. The East Germans have here imposed restrictions on movement between East and West Berlin. They did this first of all for a five-day period on the excuse that meetings were taking place in West Berlin and public order was threatened. In the past, however, similar gatherings had taken place annually. The meetings passed off without incident. The restrictions were removed. A few days later, they were reimposed, without any reason for this being given at all, and they are still in force today.
In a note of 26th October, we stated our view clearly to the Soviet Government that the actions by the East German authorities were completely illegal and unacceptable to the three 522 Western Powers. But, as a consequence of these acts, the Western Powers have had to safeguard their own position. In the exercise of their special powers in Germany, they have placed restrictions on the issue of travel documents to East Germans. These documents are required by East Germans in order to travel to countries, like our own, which do not recognise their so-called Government. Without such a document no entry visa can be granted.
I know that some hon. Members in the House are asking whether in imposing these travel restrictions we have done serious damage to British trading interests. It is also being said that West German interests have gained an unfair advantage. It is true that the methods which have been taken by the Federal German authorities are not exactly parallel with those taken by other N.A.T.O. Governments. This is necessary because the problem of movement within Germany itself is a separate and special one. But the measures being applied by N.A.T.O. Governments, apart from the Federal German Government, are exactly the same as our own.
Moreover, the Federal German Government are taking measures in other spheres designed to ensure that the trading interests of no member of N.A.T.O. will suffer by comparison with those of other members, including themselves. At any time I shall be glad to consider details of any case which any hon. Member likes to bring before me if he thinks that this balance is not being kept. I will gladly look at it and see what can be done about it.
The real nub of the matter is this. The Western alliance is not prepared simply to acquiesce in these illegal actions, whether taken by the Soviet or the East German authorities. The counter measures which we have taken so far are entirely reasonable and justified. It is a simple matter to put things right. All that the East German authorities have to do is to restore the position as it existed before they themselves put on their restrictions.
I should now like to deal with the question of the Congo, about which quite a lot has already been said, partly today and also earlier in this debate. Some hon. Members have expressed disquiet about events in the Congo. The Government, too, are anxious about the 523 situation there. No firm structure of Government has yet emerged and there is much political confusion. Throughout this prolonged crisis, our objectives have remained the same.
We want to see conditions created in which this emergent country can develop and we want to see it develop on a basis of law and order and stability. We want to see it do so as a united and independent State within its present borders. We want to see it kept free from intervention from outside and we want to prevent it from becoming an arena in the cold war. We have a particularly close interest in the stability of the Congo because of the British territories which lie alongside it.
Our policy throughout has been to give our full support to the effort that the United Nations has been making to keep the peace and to put the territory economically and administratively back on its feet. What the United Nations has already been able to do, in the face of great difficulties over this huge area, is impressive. The United Nations force was organised with considerable speed. It was smoothly and speedily carried to the Congo. It has undoubtedly played a useful rôle in preventing excesses of the kind that were prevalent before its arrival. A beginning has been made with the large programme of United Nations technical assistance that is required. Moreover, the presence of the United Nations and its rôle under the Security Council resolutions has undoubtedly succeeded in preventing the Congo from falling a victim to power politics from the outside.
It is true also, as hon. Members have pointed out, that the United Nations has not always been able to quell outbreaks of tribal warfare, and that we deplore. The country is, however, an enormous one, four times the size of continental France, and despite all the support which the United Nations has received, its resources are still limited. Nevertheless, we remain convinced that the best hope of restoring the situation in the Congo to normal lies in full support of the United Nations. We shall shortly be announcing our response to the Secretary-General's appeal for contributions to the emergency fund, and I hope that other Governments will provide their fair share.
524 In the debate earlier in the week, a number of hon. Members were critical about the activities of the United Nations in Katanga. The Government have already made plain their view that the Security Council resolutions referred to the Congo as a whole and they therefore supported the Secretary-General's position when it was decided to send a United Nations force there. This brings me to the important question of foreign technicians. I am sure that nobody wants to question the right of the Congolese authorities to employ civilian technicians of their own choice from abroad, nor can there be any doubt that Belgian experts, who know all the local problems, can make a special contribution in the Congo. It would be a great mistake to forget this. There is, however, the practical question of marrying together the aid that comes from all these various sources.
For some time, the Congo will have to rely very largely on external aid to help it to run its services. By far the greater part of this aid is coming from the United Nations. It is, therefore, important that advisers and technicians who have come there by other means and from other places should work closely with the United Nations.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would the right hon. Gentleman object to Chinese economic or technical aid going to the Congo? If the Chinese are not at the United Nations, how will this be done?
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
When my right hon. Friend repeatedly talks about the Congolese authorities, to whom is he referring? Is he referring to President Kasavubu, Mr. Lumumba, Colonel Mobutu, or to about the only effective Government there, that in Katanga?
§ Mr. Heath
My hon. Friend has anticipated what I was about to say. The main need now is for agreement on some sort of Congolese authority to work with the United Nations and to give the country a proper administration. That is the main need and that is the great problem. It is something which the Congolese must work out for themselves, if necessary with the help of the United Nations. The constitutional difficulties, as well as the difficulties of personnel, are very great—we recognise that—but we hope that a settlement can eventually be reached which will allow the territory to develop with harmony between the various political elements but also with a proper arrangement to be made between a central form of Government and the powers which the provinces themselves want.
I know that many hon. Members are particularly interested about disarmament. This is an immense subject, on which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister touched in his speech at the beginning of this debate. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I say a little about it and do not go into all the details, in which many hon. Members are expert. Disarmament is probably the most vital question which we have got at the United Nations.
We want an agreement on disarmament under effective international control. For the sake of reaching an agreement, we are not prepared to conclude one which would risk placing this country at a grave disadvantage. I do not think the House would want that. We have put forward, in the United Nations, the proposals for technical studies which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mentioned, but that has not been our only positive move. What we have also done is to table a resolution on the principles of disarmament as we see them in order that the United Nations can determine whether the differences between the Soviet Government and ourselves are real or imaginary. The resolution is a detailed one and I will not go over it now. I hope, however, that the countries of the United Nations will not find difficulty in accepting these principles.
It is true that the Soviet Union has once again said that we are putting control before disarmament. I hope, however, that on further consideration the 526 Soviet Union will agree that our proposals for technical studies should be implemented and that, once again, we can see work being done on disarmament at the United Nations. The stalemate since the Russians and their satellites walked out of the Geneva Conference has gone on far too long.
Concerning nuclear tests, the outlook is, perhaps, more encouraging and we have recently made progress. The outstanding problems are substantial ones—the nature and scope of the research programme, the length of the moratorium, the quota of on-site inspections and the staffing of control posts—but we are not pessimistic about their eventual solution. I would, however, be deceiving the House if I thought that substantial progress was likely in the near future and, from what the hon. Member for Leeds East has said, I do not think that he expects it either. We must inevitably wait until after the United States elections, but we are determined at the earliest moment to press ahead and reach agreement if we can.
The problems of disarmament and nuclear tests lead me on to the question of China.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves this very important subject, would he tell us whether there is or has been any investigation by the Government into the suggestions made by Mr. Howard Green in the Political Committee of U.N.O., in which he suggested two things, one, the setting up of a small watchdog committee of non-nuclear small Powers, secondly, the possibility of a neutral Chairman presiding over the negotiations among the nuclear Powers with a view to progress with disarmament?
§ Mr. W. Yates
But would my right hon. Friend say whether the Government are in favour of the proposals mentioned by the hon. Gentleman and will give them some consideration?
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, that was my answer to the hon. Gentleman opposite—that we are giving them consideration; but I cannot say more about it at this moment.
When the present Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke on 12th May he pointed out the difficulties of arranging a disarmament conference, the difficulties in themselves without adding to them the substantial difficulty of including China, but he agreed we should not get a real settlement till China was included. This was the reason why in the plan introduced in March, the Western plan, and also in the United States plan at the end of June, provision was made for a world conference at the beginning of the second stage of disarmament to ensure that extensive disarmament is accepted by all sides. As far as the Nuclear Tests Conference is concerned, that, of course, is being conducted by the three nuclear Powers and we do not think that it would be helpful or would lead to agreement more quickly if we were at this stage to include non-nuclear Powers, and the Soviet Government accept this view.
Then there is the question which the hon. Gentleman mentioned of the admission of China to the United Nations.
§ Mr. Healey
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the question of Chinese representation in the disarmament talks as such, could he say whether the Government have any new proposals for associating China with any new body which may be set up to conduct those negotiations next year?
§ Mr. Heath
We have no new proposals at this stage. No. Our proposals are included in the plans at present on the table.
I turn to the admission of China to the United Nations. Hon. Members on both sides are asking whether it is realistic that China should remain outside 528 the United Nations. Of course, the problem is really not whether China remains outside. It is a question of which China is to be admitted to the United Nations.
§ Mr. Heath
There are difficulties of getting agreement about it, which hon. Members have asked me to discuss. The members of the United Nations are themselves deeply divided over this. Perhaps the House will recall that there are still 45 members of the United Nations who recognise the Nationalist authorities in Formosa and no other Government.
§ Mr. Davies
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Whatever the United Nations may have been thinking in the past, and without mentioning any specific nation which it is thought may be dominated by certain forces, the fact is that there will be 40-odd more new nations taking a vigorous part in the United Nations. Can the Lord Privy Seal possibly say they will be against China? We know that China will be in this year, and we want the British Government to give up that old line and to give a lead to the world that China may enter.
§ Mr. Heath
I am at the moment dealing only with what happened at the United Nations on this occasion. Her Majesty's Government followed the policy they have followed since 1952 of saying that so long as there was a deep and obvious divide in the United Nations they would continue to support the moratorium. The figures show that on this occasion 42 were in favour. 32 against; there were 22 abstentions, among which were most of the new nations.
§ Mr. Heath
As to the future, then, our task is to work for the reduction of tension which will remove this great divide between the nations which are members of the United Nations. That must surely be our task, and I think that we must hope that we can reach a solution to this which will not cause more difficulties than it removes.
§ Mr. Healey
The question of China's admission is really a question of the recognition of the Peking Government. Her Majesty's Government recognise that Government, but all our attempts to improve relations with them have been frustrated because Her Majesty's Government insist on asking other Governments to follow their lead and persist in supporting the attitude of Governments who want to keep Peking out. What we on this side of the House are asking—and I hope the Lord Privy Seal will say something more about this—is that the Government will take a lead in getting a majority in the United Nations for the seating of Peking.
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Gentleman knows that although we have recognised the Peking Government the Government also have to consider the wider question in the United Nations as a whole and also the other relations which we have with other countries. The Leader of the Opposition, when he was speaking on Tuesday, recognised this, and he recognised that in this year it was not possible to make any further progress with this matter. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman or the House would expect me to say more on this occasion, and about that I do not propose to say any more.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)
Would my right hon. Friend answer a technical question? Who is it who decides? Is it the Security Council or the Assembly, and with what majority?
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
Is the right hon. Gentleman 530 saying that the Government are taking no new initiative in this matter in the next twelve months?
§ Mr. Heath
I have not made any statement of that kind.
I have dealt with many of these points, but there still remain some. The Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East asked me to say something about Algeria. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) is to raise that matter on the Adjournment today, and I prefer to leave it till then.
There are also points about South-West Africa and Mr. de Ribbing's mission. As far as South-West Africa is concerned, the Leader of the Opposition asked me to give an undertaking that if the matter goes again to the International Court we should be prepared to announce now that we will accept whatever decisions to which it comes; and on the question of Buraimi the hon. Gentleman asked us to accept whatever decisions Mr. de Ribbing may reach as the result of his mission.
I do not think the House would expect me at this stage to give an undertaking before we know even the terms in which South-West Africa may be referred to the International Court or debate has taken place in the United Nations. We could give no undertaking of this kind. Our attitude on South-West Africa is well known. We accept entirely, we are sympathetic, of course, with and have the greatest respect for, the International Court, and accept fully the advisory opinion which it gave in 1950, but I cannot give an undertaking of the kind for which he has asked at this point.
As far as Mr. de Ribbing's mission is concerned, it is a good will mission under the personal auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the object is to try to remove some of the obstacles to a friendly relationship in that area between those who are concerned. I do not believe Mr. de Ribbing thinks he is omniscient, and that, therefore, everything he says must automatically be accepted by either party. It is not that sort of mission. I am afraid, therefore, that I cannot give the undertaking for which the hon. Gentleman asked.
531 The House has listened with great patience, but I should like to bring together the strands of policy which have been running through these matters with which I have been dealing. I have outlined an analysis of the way in which Soviet policies have been moving and I have dealt with some of the detailed points. I should now like to try to reach conclusions.
What are the policies which we should pursue in these circumstances? As I think the hon. Member for Leeds. East recognised, there can be no doubt that we are going to be under severe pressures now for some time to come. There are bound to be many testing times, but what we are really seeing is what is the real character of peaceful co-existence as it is understood by the Soviet world. It means in fact a perpetual struggle in every field and in all parts of the world, using every possible means apart from the actual use of all-out war and of weapons. It is as well that we should all recognise what this means. Peaceful co-existence is in fact competitive coexistence with the emphasis on the "competitive".
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
It is so discouraging for those of us on this side of the House who have been born and bred in this matter to see how little discrimination is shown by persons like the right hon. Gentleman between the different types of co-existence which have been ruling in the Soviet Union in the last few years, the trends there, the difference between the Soviet Government and the Chinese Government, and the differences between them and the Titoist Government. If the right hon. Gentleman will show some appreciation of these vital matters it will encourage us to take what he says seriously.
§ Mr. Heath
I recognise the differences between all of these, but I do not think that the hon. Member would expect me in one speech to be able to develop this theme. What I am trying to do is broadly to point out the problems that we face today and what is the thought behind them.
To return to our policy, when conflicts of this kind arise we of course believe that they should be settled by peaceful negotiation, but the challenge in these 532 areas will still remain. We must use every resource we can in dealing with them. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East emphasised in his speech the use of aid of various kinds, and we of course accept that. We must persevere with our attempts to secure disarmament, but above all we must keep our defensive alliances, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East emphasised—and it has emerged on how many things we have been ourselves in agreement with him. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will deal with these aspects as well. If we are to have Atlantic unity in our alliances we must have unity in Europe as well, and that is in the sphere with which I have been particularly associated in the last few months.
§ Mr. Wigg
Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell me whether this is a new policy and, if it is not, how he manages to square his view of peaceful co-existence as a struggle with the first paragraph of the 1958 White Paper on Defence which said that the world is still poised between total war and total peace?
§ Mr. Heath
While the Soviet view remains, we shall always be faced with these particular problems.
I should like to deal with some aspects of the European problem. This was dealt with by my right hon. and learned Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer on 25th July. At that time it was difficult to see how we were going to make further progress in dealing with the problems of the Six and the Seven. The situation was changed by the initiative of the German Chancellor in inviting the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Bonn. He showed recognition of the need for European unity and, that if he was going to secure that, of the need to solve economic problems.
Later, when I went to Rome, I found that the Italian Government also had the will to try to find a solution of these 533 problems. Later, I went to Paris, where I had an opportunity of discussing them with French Ministers, who said that they were prepared to consider solutions put forward by their partners in the Six. We had meantime been carrying out the agreement made with the German Government that we Would examine ways of finding a solution to these economic differences. In the meantime, also, the meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers took place in London and we had the opportunity of discussions with them. We were able to indicate to them what had gone on so far and to ask them for their reactions in as much detail as possible, to the effect that any association might have on their own economy. We did this not only in the broad setting of a need for unity, but also pointing out to them the balance of advantages and disadvantages in having a closer relationship with Europe.
There have been some in the House, including the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), who thought that the Government had been taken by surprise by the reaction of the Commonwealth and also that the Government had been depressed by that reaction. Neither of these things is true. We had always recognised the tremendous importance to the Commonwealth of any sort of agreement which might be made in order to bridge the differences and to close the gaps. We were then able to discuss these matters at the E.F.T.A. Ministers' Conference and explain them to those Ministers.
What we have been trying to do in Europe and among European Parliamentarians is to demonstrate that we are genuine in wishing to reach agreement with them and to remove many of the suspicions which have grown up and to try to explain to them what the Commonwealth means to us and what it is necessary to do in order to reach agreement with them. In this country we have been trying to explain something of what these developments in Europe mean. The speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer did a great deal to help that, and I believe that understanding has continued.
This is really vital. If negotiation is to succeed, two things are essential. First, there must be a political will to reach agreement; secondly, a reasonable 534 chance of reconciling the immense number of interests involved in any such agreement. On one thing I found everyone in Europe agreed, and that is that negotiations must not begin until there is genuine prospect of success. What Europe cannot risk is another attempt which then proves unsuccessful. We ourselves have the will to work for a solution. We are determined to over-come the obstacles, and I hope that Europe will respond.
The question that arises today is the best way in which these matters should be handled. I am quite certain that for the present we should continue to explore the possibilities through diplomatic and official channels. These discussions must be informal and confidential, and I hope that the House will not expect me to say much about them today. What I can say is that discussions with the German Government have been going on about solutions on which we have been working since the Bonn meeting. They will continue in order that we can develop them. It is too early yet to say what the possibilities of success are, but I am sure that the way to go about it is the pragmatic way. I believe that that is the way to which Europe is most likely to respond.
The House has listened with much patience, and I am most grateful to it. Sometimes world forces seem to alternate between periods of aspiration towards the Summit and then periods of deep depression afterwards. The variations of Soviet policy may give strength to that impression. But I am certain that our policy must remain clear and stable. It is to ensure that we are strong and united with our allies. We have to remain free to take part with all our energies and resources in competitive co-existence. We believe that our way of life is a better one and, therefore, that we can face the challenge with vigour and assurance, and at all times we should remain prepared to negotiate.
My noble Friend has made it quite plain in another place that any future Summit conference must be most carefully planned, but when the opportunity arises, then we must be ready. If we do these three things—if we remain strong and united, if we take part vigorously in maintaining our own institutions and 535 way of life and those of our friends, and if we are ready to negotiate—I believe that is a sound basis for our policy and one which I would ask the House to support.
§ 12.41 p.m.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
I am very grateful, Mr. Speaker, to catch your eye on this very important occasion. I shall talk, as is my right, as an independent Member of Parliament. We are all independent Members of Parliament, I hope, and in what I say I am neither supporting nor attacking my Front Bench or any group on our back benches. I say that straightaway, because it may relieve the minds of some hon. Members opposite.
In the first place, I feel deeply humiliated when a British Prime Minister is treated by the American Government or any other Government as a kind of lapdog. I take the strongest exception to the fact that when a British Prime Minister makes a statement in this House, it is corrected by a junior public relations officer, one of the office boys from the American State Department. I am not raising the issue at the moment of whether the Prime Minister's statement on Polaris control was deliberate fluffing or whether it was the kind of misunderstanding that can easily arise. But what I do press is that some hon. Member on the Government benches will consider the dignity of our country irrespective of the political character of the Government and make it quite clear that, if in future the American Government disagree with statements made in this House, their disagreement will be stated by the President or at the highest political level and not in the way it has been done recently.
Saying that may help me to explain my attitude to the American alliance and to N.A.T.O. I think that it would be suicidal madness for this country to go into a phase of enmity with America, and that it would be quite useless, do no good and almost certainly do harm, for this country to leave N.A.T.O. at the present time.
Those of us who have the privilege to know America fairly well and to have many American friends appreciate that America, like Great Britain, is not a monolithic country. In fact, most of my 536 American friends are as strongly opposed to the present American Administration as I am. But if we are to have friendship, it has got to be friendship on equal and dignified terms. It was not only over this recent incident that the Prime Minister was ticked off by some office boys and Press relations officers in Wash-ton. At the time of the Suez crisis the American Government very clearly, without standing on ceremony, told us how strongly they disagreed with the official policy of Her Majesty's Government. At that time the American Government had a great deal of right on their side. Our present Prime Minister has been able to fluff just how much responsibility he had at the time of the Suez fiasco as he has fluffed so many other incidents.
I am not objecting to the American Government from time to time disagreeing with us. Nor do I think that is any reason at all why we should not remain good friends. But what I do want to insist on is that our relationship with America should be one of friendship, and not of subservience. When it comes to N.A.T.O. I make the same point. I can see nothing to be gained by this country seeking at this moment to walk out of N.A.T.O., but I can see still less to be gained if we give the impression not only to America but to the entire world that our attitude is "N.A.T.O., right or wrong" or "America, right or wrong". The issues that are before us are far too serious for that.
The Government are letting down our country and failing to a very tragic extent to do the job that we should be doing. There are closer parallels between the situation now and the situation before the Second World War than many people see. Before the Second World War the defence position of this country was not exactly excellent. I would remind hon. Members opposite that there was then a Conservative Government. There was not a Labour Government then. It was the Conservative Party that was responsible for the defences of Great Britain before the Second World War.
The chief failure of the Conservative Government was not that they allowed money to be ladled out to defence contractors, that there was the most appalling expenditure, and yet, in terms—talking strictly of weapons—so little to show for it when war broke out. For me, that is 537 not the essence of the situation. The essence of the situation is that hon. Members opposite in the main, almost without exception, were so in love with what Hitler stood for and what Mussolini stood for before the war—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame. That is untrue."]—that they were blinded to the real dangers of the situation.
§ Mr. C. Osborne
The hon. Lady was kind enough to say that "with some exceptions" we were in agreement with what Hitler stood for. Will she please accept it from me that the majority of my hon. Friends were bitterly opposed to what he stood for?
§ Miss Lee
If hon. Members go through the records, public and private, of the years immediately before the Second World War, they will find that many of us on this side of the House were protesting against the fact that in Hitler's Brownhouses, trade union leaders, Communists, Socialists, and Jewish people were gaoled and ill-treated. As to the Socialists, the pre-war German Socialists were mild fellows. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is a bloody revolutionary by comparison. I am sorry if that is only a six-lettered word.
From the pre-war records, public and private, it will be seen that it was a pretty small band of us here who were taking active steps against the oppression that was going on inside Hitler's Germany. It will also be seen that when Mussolini established his dictatorship in Italy many hon. Members opposite were in love with the fact that he made the railways run to time. I am all in favour of railways running to time, but that was not the essence of the situation in Italy under Mussolini.
Associated with those two names is something more that goes very deep with many of us on this side of the House. It is the fact that the constitutional Government of Spain was overthrown by Fascist rebels with the ardent support of most hon. Members opposite. I can remember going on a delegation to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary when he was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Many of us were trying to get food ships through to the people in Catalan, and were refused. Either the intelligence services of Members opposite were as hopeless as their 538 defence services or they were bound to have known that both Hitler and Mussolini were sending in crack troops to aid Franco while we did nothing. All we could talk about was a fake so-called non-intervention.
I beg the House to believe that I am raising these matters not because it is old history or because it is something that we can afford to forget, but because I do not believe that there would have been the complacency in the pre-war world in terms of national security that there was amongst Members opposite if they had not held a rigid concept of world development. The essence of their philosophy was that Soviet Russia was the enemy and that all the Western countries were bound, somehow, to hold together, and that ultimately, if war broke out, it would be against Russia. That was the framework of a great deal of pre-war thought, and when we did declare war on Germany nobody was more surprised than Hitler.
§ Miss Lee
I am coming to that. If is not an irrelevant point. No one was more surprised than Hitler. We went through the period of the "phoney" war with his emissaries sent to this country to try to persuade us that we were fighting the wrong enemy. During that same pre-war period Stalin was in control in the Kremlin. At that time he had gone almost mad. Isolated, bitter, and suffering from a sense that the entire world was against him he and others around him were standing back coldly calculating what they could do that would be in the best interest of themselves and Russia in that situation. Ideological differences did not restrain him for a single second from making an alliance with Hitler when it suited him to do so.
We know the sequence of events. Members may ask what relevance all this has to what is happening now. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East—I hope I am anticipating. He can decide for himself whether the term "right honourable" was a slip of the tongue or not.
§ Miss Lee
My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Mayhew), in his intervention, began to make the point to which we have to address our attention with the utmost seriousness. It Is illiteracy to treat the Communist world as if it were a monolithic bloc. It is most dangerous infantilism in politics not to realise that Mr. Khrushchev has been carrying on a real conflict with influential opinion makers in the leadership of China. This has not been a "phoney" argument.
§ Mr. Osborne
Only a fortnight ago I was in Peking and discussed this with leaders of the Chinese Communists and also with the Soviet Ambassador to Peking. They all denied most emphatically what the hon. Lady is now stating to be a fact. It is just possible that she might be wrong.
§ Miss Lee
And it is just possible that in all the theoretical arguments that have gone on between the Russian and the Chinese leaders they do not mean a single word of it. The hon. Member can take that interpretation if he likes, but I believe that the truer interpretation is that these different countries are fumbling their way, as we are, and that there are moments of real tension and real hostility between them. Then there are other moments when the stupidity of the Western Powers drives them into a closer association than they would otherwise have. I believe that the more we can get diversity of oponion in the world and away from the concept that there are two monolithic camps facing one another, the safer we will be.
I remember, during the Labour Government after the war, when a brave Member of this House, whose friends and enemies both knew that he always stood his corner, got up at that Dispatch Box and said that if Yugoslavia was invaded by Soviet Russia we would fight. Hon. Members will recall that occasion. It was not an easy decision for a Labour Government to take. It was a decision that was, in spirit, accepted by Members opposite, and it was made in a situation where, if the Soviet Union had been able to march into Yugoslavia without this most serious wider involvement, it would have done so. Would any member opposite disagree with that?
The Yugoslavs are a brave people. They would have fought to the last man. 540 They would not have lain under quietly any more than we would have lain quietly if Hitler had come here. But it is just nonsense for anyone to pretend that the Soviet Union would not have swallowed up Yugoslavia at that point of time if there had not been other voices raised in the world to say: "You carry your argument with Tito to the point of the sword and we will be involved as well as you."
Hon. Members should remember, when I say this, that Tito is not one of my heroes. I will think more of Tito when some of the better Socialists in Yugoslavia are out of his jails. But what I am trying to do—and what I hope we as a nation will try to do—is to create a climate of world opinion when there will be fewer political prisoners in the jails either of the West or of the East.
The most important argument which has been going on in the world in recent times—besides which many of our local ones are mere tiddlywinks—is the argument between the Soviet leaders and the Chinese leaders. Just as Stalin's Russia was thrown into isolation and bitterness to the point of madness, the kind of mood when national leaders can drag down the whole world into chaos and war, so could we have that kind of phase developing in China.
I am delighted with the recent public relations statement made in the Press by the Chinese leaders, and which was also made to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Osborne). Remember, however, that we did not contribute to that statement and that we have a great deal to thank Mr. Khrushchev for. He has been fighting for peace on two fronts. He is a ruthless man—I have no illusions about power politics—but some of his actions would be more easily understood if we kept in mind that in the Kremlin he, too, has his N.E.C.; he, too, has his Parliamentary Committee to face.
He has views other than his own to consider. This is not a monolithic Soviet point of view opposed to a monolithic Chinese point of view. There are conflicting elements in those two enormous countries. We should not too lightly assume that in all circumstances Mr. Khrushchev, who stands for co-existence, will win the argument. Indeed, what right have we to assume that when we have done nothing to weaken the China 541 lobby in Washington? I ask hon. Members to remember that there is a China lobby in Moscow, as well as in Washington. The stronger the China lobby in Washington, the stronger it becomes in Moscow, and the China lobby in Moscow is inspired by some leading Soviet Communists as well as by some of the leading theoretical Communists from China and elsewhere. Are we to continue to sit back bovinely and hope that all will come out for the best in the best of possible worlds?
That brings me to what I have to say about the shameful position of the British Prime Minister at the United Nations. One cannot go to the British people in an election with both sides of the House making it perfectly clear that they believe that, in the interests of world peace, better cultural relations and better economic relations, Peking China should become a member of the United Nations, that we should break down the isolation which breeds bitterness and madness, and then behave as the Prime Minister did. Mr. Krishna Menon for India, without being an enemy of America, can plead for the admission of Peking China. Some uncommitted nations remained neutral. We were not even neutral. We voted as the lapdog of the American Administration, and that at a time when, I believe, the majority of the American people intend to change their Government.
The China lobby in Washington represents the point of view of a minority of the American people. It is a poor day for this country when some of the most reactionary pressure groups in Washington can decide the policy of not only their own country, but ours as well. I take the strongest exception to the fact that in the world's present state of danger the real will of the British people and the real voice of the British people should not have been heard.
Our world will be made a little more safe and a little more sane not by the number and destructive power of our weapons, not even by the ferocity of the newest nuclear weapons. In the struggle between pen and sword, the pen is the stronger. First, there was the word. Swords do not go into action of their own accord. It is the words which light the way to peace, or bring the world completely and utterly to disaster.
542 We have had two world wars and yet even today I have heard hon. Members opposite talking about what would happen if another war started, saying that the new Polaris weapons out in the wide oceans could not be reached. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) asked the Government whether they would see to it that the fifteen or sixteen N.A.T.O. nations would be consulted before a nuclear weapon of the most modern Polaris type was used for the first time. As he did so, I wondered whether he was looney or I was. That seems to be folly beyond words. Does my hon. Friend really believe that the situation in the world can deteriorate and deteriorate to a point of hair-trigger tension and that at that point of time it is within the bounds of possibility for even two or three Governments to be conculted, far less all Governments? Was that a serious proposition, or not?
§ Mr. Healey
I put that forward perfectly seriously and my hon. Friend may know that it is already the declared policy of N.A.T.O. to consult on the use of major strategic weapons before they are used. The great difficulty with most strategic weapons is that, unless they are used immediately, they may be destroyed. The great advantage of Polaris is that it can be taken about the oceans of the world for weeks without danger of destruction, and therefore there is time to consult before it is used.
§ Miss Lee
I am aware of what my hon. Friend said about N.A.T.O. and of what he said about consultation, but I still say that it is complete nonsense. The West German Government is complaining today because someone has handed all its 1961 military secrets to the Soviet Union. It is complete nonsense to think that in such an atmosphere of tension, in which one nation might seriously be contemplating starting a nuclear war against the Soviet Union or perhaps China, our security system would be such that one would have time for consultation.
If we allow the situation in the world to deteriorate to a point of tension at which either the Soviet Union or the West thinks it better to get its blow in first, the statesmen will have abdicated, have been defeated. Licensed murder will take their place. There are times when one can be charged with murder 543 and plead self-defence, but it is still murder.
In conclusion, I hope that we shall soon have representation of our country in this House and abroad more dignified, more effective and less illiterate than that which is now being given by hon. Members opposite.
§ 1.7 p.m.
§ Mr. John Jackson (Derbyshire, South-East)
I have the honour to represent South-East Derbyshire—just. It is a varied community with no cities and not dependent on any one industry or trade. The people there are just British people. Like others, they have given their sons and daughters in two wars and they are as aware as anyone of the importance of peace to them. Indeed, for them that is the vital factor before any other consideration.
The world is getting very small and scientific advancement is outstripping moral advancement. In that kind of atmosphere, the sands of time may well be running out unless we clearly come to our senses and understand each other's point of view. It has always seemed to me that some surrender of sovereignty is necessary for international security. That is not a new idea, but the question is to what extent it must be taken. The United Nations has proved itself peculiarly incompetent, mainly because it cannot enforce its resolutions. What we want, if only we can come to some kind of sanity between the nations, is an international army with nuclear weapons under United Nations control, and then national forces sufficient only for internal security or overseas commitments.
This surely is the thing. We are ganging up. It is all right, we had alliances in the past. Alliances are matters of expediency and not of inclination, and we have seen some pretty strange bedfellows. But these alliances have now become so huge that they are dangerous. Some small incident in some small place which has nothing to do with either of the two great blocs can spark off trouble. This is nonsense. We want to live. I suppose that the Russians and Chinese do, too.
Here I am afraid I must cross swords with my right hon. Friend. I cannot think that there can be any sense in 544 having an international organisation discussing its affairs and completely ignoring 600 million people. It just does not seem to make sense. I do not care whether it is a question of a million people in Formosa, or what their ideas are, or what their differences are, or what their political beliefs are. The fact is that 600 million people are governed in an orderly manner. They are capable of speaking for themselves, but they are not consulted. This situation is ridiculous. I am sorry if I have overstepped the mark in saying so in a maiden speech, but that is my opinion.
The hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) rather suggested this, and I will put it in plainer language. The Russians are governed by a committee. It is a dictatorship by a committee, not by one man. As the hon. Lady said, many of Mr. Khrushchev's antics may well be explained by the fact that he is answerable to somebody else. He cannot do precisely what he likes. He does not have plenipotentiary powers. Some of these antics sometimes make one wonder whether one is not dealing with somebody who is sometimes not responsible. It is a terrifying thought.
There is one other aspect about Russia. The Russian Government have been faced with a demand for increased consumer goods. To some extent that increased demand has been made. As soon as that situation arises in a Communist State, one gets, to a small extent, individual capitalism. It is the beginning of capitalism, though it never need reach estate or property level. Once one has a taste of that sort of thing one does not withdraw from it.
All that I am trying to say is this. I suggest that Communism in Russia—if I might call it Communism; the political creed of Russia—is totally different from that of China. Indeed, it may be that Russia herself is not keen on having this great giant breathing down her neck.
We look to our alliances, but there is one alliance which I sometimes think we ignore more than we should. We look to where we hope help will come from, yet over the centuries we have built up, sometimes by misguided conduct, sometimes by brutal, and sometimes by gentle conduct, but generally I think by wise conduct, a huge brotherhood of nations of every class, colour and creed. I agree 545 that in the first instance some of these places were conquered by force. In some places perhaps we just walked in. But there it is. We have this great Commonwealth in which there is every raw material known to man. It is teeming with people, with ingenuity, and with goodwill. This is no alliance of expediency. This is an alliance of inclination. God bless me, how much further do we have to look?
I think that I have taken up enough time, and I will finish on this note. Never in the history of man has so catholic a parcel of nations been tied with so loose a string, and arrived, if not entirely undamaged, intact and ready for use. In the name of our ancestors and ourselves, let us use it.
§ 1.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
It is my good fortune to be in a position to congratulate the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Jackson) on behalf of hon. Members on both sides of the House for his thoughtful and sincere contribution to the debate.
He said that he was afraid that he was being controversial in putting in a strong plea for Chinese membership of the United Nations. I think he will find that even on that issue he will receive warm support from both sides of the House. Only a few days ago I heard one of his colleagues making a similar plea.
I agreed wholeheartedly with the hon. Member when he drew attention to the differences between the Chinese regime and the Soviet regime and their policies. I recall returning by air to Moscow from Peking. As I stepped out of the plane at Moscow Airport I unconsciously found myself breathing in a new air of freedom, civilisation and peace. The difference between the restrictions, the lack of contact, the dogmatism, between Peking and Moscow is of outstanding importance to the understanding of the Communist world.
That is why I agreed so much with what the hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said in criticising what she called the political illiteracy of right hon. Gentlemen opposite in trying to comprehend the whole Communist world in a few simple phrases about co-existence. It is highly dangerous to suppose that there are not important differences 546 between them. Sometimes when I see the statements of policy of the Chinese Government on world affairs I thank heaven for Mr. Khrushchev's far greater sophistication and statesmanship in world affairs.
If we wish to interpret Mr. Khrushchev's recent behaviour at the United Nations, he was doing what is known as "talking Left", a phrase which I think my hon. Friend will understand. That is to say, he was dressing up a fundamentally moderate attitude on foreign affairs with some highly militant trimmings.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Just like the Front Bench spokesman of the Labour Party when opening the debate this morning.
§ Mr. Mayhew
My hon. Friend will agree that talking Left can be heard at conferences of the Labour Party. Unfortunately, it is very often merely the prelude to acting Left, which has been the case with some Left-wing supporters of the line my hon. Friend holds.
May I say, before leaving the subject of political illiteracy, that once again we listened to a spokesman from the Government Front Bench whose good intentions and integrity no one could question; but he seemed to be out of touch with the hard and rather brutal ideological struggle which is going on throughout the world. I read the speech which the Foreign Secretary made in the House of Lords this week. I do not for a moment question the noble Lord's sincerity or integrity, but I was struck by sentences like, "There listening in the Assembly to the debates I had constantly to remind myself that, when the Communist delegates talked about democracy, they in fact meant dictatorship."
No one can doubt the good intentions of the Foreign Secretary, but it is disheartening to those who have been all their political lives in touch with the greatest problem of the times, namely, the great ideological struggle, to find the British team going round the world competing like amateurs in a very professional match.
I turn now to the subject of the day, which is the Polaris missile base. Those who belong to what Mr. Speaker described yesterday as the "largest 547 minority" always experience some embarrassment in addressing the House on nuclear topics, because we find ourselves in a wide measure of agreement with hon. Gentlemen opposite on some of these topics and in a wide measure of disagreement with our hon. Friends below the Gangway.
Yesterday afternoon my mind went back to the Parliamentary situation thirteen or fourteen years ago. I was the Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office to Mr. Ernest Bevin. We were then discussing the question of Britain's and America's joint defence policy. In those days we bad below the Gangway an assorted group of those who were pacifists, those who were unilateralists, and those who were fellow-travellers. They, in the same way, organised themselves to attack the Labour Front Bench, which was then the Government Front Bench. Again we bad the situation of being Cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite and bitterly and hostilely attacked from below the Gangway.
It was, indeed, the same group of people—led by my hon. Friends the Members for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), and Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), though since then the latter spent some time in well-deserved retirement from membership of the Labour Party. Their actions were then described as the stab in the back of Ernest Bevin. I am afraid that it is now the stab in the back of another Labour leader with something of Ernest Bevin's integrity and courage.
I support the statement on the Polaris missile base made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). As he said, there must be conditions over the use of the Polaris missile by the atomic submarine. We demand these conditions because we are good members of N.A.T.O. and because we believe in the American-British partnership in defence. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock said, it is an essential part of this that these arrangements should be a matter of partnership, and not the subordination of one partner by the other.
It should be perfectly practicable to nominate which of the atomic submarines is to use Holy Loch and then 548 to insist that they should not ever use their weapons without the full consent of the British Government. After all, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said, there will be time for consultation in the case of these atomic submarines. The fact that they may be far away is sometimes advanced as a reason why consultation is difficult. This is absurd. Distance in these days means nothing. Communications are instantaneous.
It is sometimes argued that it is not physically possible to control a submarine on patrol. This, again, is not true. It is perfectly possible, if the will is there, to make the submarines physically incapable of firing their weapons without the receipt of certain code instructions. If the will were there, it would be perfectly possible to ensure joint British and American control over the firing of Polaris missiles by atomic submarines.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
May I ask my hon. Friend a friendly question? If the American Government refuse the demands for control as outlined by the Front Bench spokesman for the Labour Party, will my hon. Friend then be opposed to the submarine base in Scotland?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said about that. One enters into negotiations and makes demands. Certainly a number of these conditions would be conditions precedent to the signing of an agreement of this kind.
§ Mr. W. Yates
If the Soviet Union invents a counter-missile-missile, what deterrent will the Polaris missile be?
§ Mr. Mayhew
If either side develops an effective counter-missile-missile, a great deal of our defence strategy will be reviewed. Naturally, I am working on the facts we have at the moment.
I welcome the fact that, since we must have a Western deterrent, we now have an opportunity to make it a seaborne deterrent rather than an airborne deterrent. It is quite clear that, since we must have the deterrent, the Polaris weapon on the nuclear submarine has great advantages over both the rocket base and the air base.
The arguments for and against the need to have a Western deterrent are 549 very familiar on both sides. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is a pacifist. His point of view is perfectly plain, though I ask him how he can reconcile his pacifist doctrines with documents which I have been reading recently. I refer to the secret papers and diaries of the war criminals of the Nazi and Fascist countries. I ask my hon. Friend one day to study the references in the diaries of Ciano and Goebbels to pacifists in Britain, such as George Lansbury and others.
§ Mr. Hughes
If I had been a pacifist in Hitler Germany, I should probably have died in one of Hitler's concentration camps, like the pacifists in Germany.
§ Mr. Mayhew
However little we like it, it is perfectly plain from what Ciano and Goebbels wrote about the Peace Pledge Union in Britain that the activities of saintly creatures like Mr. George Lansbury did nothing but encourage the appetites of the war criminals in Germany and Italy.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Though we all sympathise with my hon. Friend, the hard fact is that arms do sometimes prevent aggression. We can say that today quite easily. No one wants Egypt to have nuclear weapons, but no one believes that, if she had had nuclear weapons in 1956, the aggression on Suez would ever have taken place. Equally, it is perfectly plain that arms in the hands of the Israeli Government today prevent war being waged by the Arab countries and the massacre of the Israelis. It is perfectly plain, to me at least, that if the Chinese Communists unilaterally disarmed, Chiang Kai-shek would be in Peking within a month or two.
If the Soviet Union abandoned its deterrent, what would be the result? It is worth indulging in a little speculation on that. If Russia abandoned her strategic nuclear deterrent, it is clear—to me, at any rate—that within a few months irresistible demands would grow inside certain Western countries for frontier changes in Eastern Europe. The irredentists in Western Germany would grow far more powerful. The demands 550 of those in the United States and other countries who support the liquidation of the East German regime would become irresistible. Anyone who believed in the Communist way of life would reasonably have cause for alarm at the abolition of the Soviet strategic deterrent.
I should have thought that that was self-evident. Yet, when it comes to the defence of the non-Communist way of life, people seem to think that we could abandon tae Western nuclear deterrent and not have Soviet Communism overrunning West Berlin and continuing to spread westwards, as it did before N.A.T.O. was formed, helped by the use or the threat of the use of military power. It seems to me to be self-evident that if the Communists are to maintain the Communist way of We, they will require the strategic deterrent. It is even more clear that if the non-Communist way of life is to be preserved, the Western strategic deterrent is a vital part of it.
Once we have said that, I cannot see how in principle we can resist the demand for the Polaris base. It is no good attempting to build up a Western strategic deterrent unless we have the courage to face its logical consequence, which is that the deterrent must be as effective as possible. The Polaris has several advantages over the land-based deterrent. It is our best chance of replacing the bomber and rocket bases which are less effective and in my opinion more dangerous. It is not vulnerable to a knock-out blow from the Soviet or any other Government. It gives time to reflect to those who have the use of it.
In particular, it does not imperil particular areas. This has never been a very strong argument, but there have been some who opposed rocket and aircraft bases in this country on the ground that they specially imperil a particular area of the country. I do not believe that that is so. I think that if this nuclear weapon is ever used, which heaven forbid, all areas in the country will in practice be equally imperilled. Even if we accept the argument about a special imperilment of geographical areas, I should have thought that the Polaris would be far more likely to remove that argument than increase the perils of Scotland.
551 These are some of the reasons why I support the statement made by my hon. Friend today. In the first place, we require far more assurance on the degree of control over these missiles; but in the second place, believing as we must in the importance of the Western strategic deterrent, we cannot oppose in principle the establishment of these bases.
§ 1.33 p.m.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Woolwich East (Mr. Mayhew), because I agree with him on two points—first of all, on his attitude towards the Polaris. It seems to me that any sensible person must agree with him that, until we have organised a better form of security for our people and the people of the world, we cannot possibly surrender or do without any of the weapons which are most effective. Further, I should very much like to agree with what he said about my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Jackson) in his maiden speech, which was a charming example of common-sense English dignity and intellectual analysis, which is no doubt found in Derbyshire as well as everywhere else.
I should like to draw attention to Mr. Khrushchev's objections to the United Nations being stationed in New York and to the personnel of the United Nations, because it seems to me that too little attention has been paid to it. I want Her Majesty's Government to take special note of that fact, because it opens up the new dimension about which the Lord Privy Seal spoke, or at any rate the opportunity for there being a new dimension in world politics.
Mr. Khrushchev suggested, I think rightly, that to have the United Nations in the middle of one of the two contestants for world power is a very improper thing in itself. He recognises that the person of the Secretary-General of the United Nations is really the servant of the ninety-two nations—or however many there are—in which there is a majority against him, and he is questioning that. I will come back to that point later. He is very rightly questioning the value of the disarmament talks at Geneva, and we have made absolutely no progress there at all. I think that this is not to be 552 wondered at because, after all, disarmament does not give us either peace or security if it is linked with sovereignty, and in this matter I am carrying on the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East.
If sovereignty is linked to disarmament, there is the obligation to re-arm, and, therefore, there is no security and no peace out of disarmament at all. Moreover, we get the very difficult task of proceeding by the unanimity of ninety-two nations sitting round a table and postulating that they will continue in their agreement and that none of those nations will ever re-arm.
It seems perfectly clear that the Government have propounded the alternative policy of a world security authority, which was first propounded by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), and the two outstanding examples of it were the statement in 1955 by the present Prime Minister when he was Minister of Defence, and that on 10th June, 1958, by the then Minister of Defence, who is now at the Commonwealth Relations Office. Implicit in the setting up of a world security authority is the idea that it should be separate from the United Nations.
It has to be separate, I submit, in place. In other words, the United Nations itself must be left free to go on to do its proper international work in New York, and the world security authority should be domiciled in some other place to do, not international work, but world work. Let us suppose that it was established in some centre like Stockholm or Geneva or somewhere in Africa or India. Or we might look to countries the names of which begin with the letters "Sw"—Switzerland, Sweden and Swaziland—a nice choice—to make it perfectly clear that the world security authority when it is set up is free from the pressure of any great group.
In terms of personnel, everybody would wish Mr. Hammarsjkoeld to carry on with the United Nations in New York in doing the necessary committee work of getting international resolutions and perhaps national actions from ninety-two Governments on such matters as world health, world education, world agriculture and food. There is required for the world security authority a new 553 personnel, which, equally, and I would say axiomatically, should not be either American, or Russian or members of any of the great Powers—Messrs. X, Y and Z, who would be given the job of running the security authority on a world constitutional basis and who would, of course be professional technicians. They ought to be recruited from the uncommitted nations, and ought to represent all ethnic groups and not be in any way connected with the domination of either the East or West.
Who is to take the initiative in this opening which I submit Mr. Khrushchev has given us in saying that he wants the United Nations domiciled elsewhere and wants a new personnel? I think that this country and this Government ought not to take the initiative, because we are a member of the Western alliance. Equally, I think that no one in the eastern alliance should take the initiative, but that the initiative should come from outside—from one of the less committed nations. It seems to me that it ought not to be this nation, because we have been giving independence to so many Commonwealth nations that it might sound ridiculous for us to say, "Here we are giving you sovereignty, but we are the people who, having done that, will be taking it away from you."
That, of course, would not be true, because if one could organise world security so that nations need no longer concern themselves with their own security, their freedom to govern themselves would be increased as a result, and not diminished. Nevertheless, I do not think that we should be the nation to take the prime initiative in making this proposal. My hope is that we might induce what I like to call a "foothills" country to do so. We hear too much about Summit conferences. What about a foothills conference in which the nations that are just as interested in world peace as are the Summit nations could take the initiative in putting this proposal forward?
Do not let us talk about collective security. There is no longer collective security; there is only collective insecurity. This new Polaris is really ringing Russia with still more potential bases. Do we wonder that they are fearful? This move in Cuba is putting another base in range of America. Do 554 we wonder that the Americans are worried? The fact is that today the world is based, not on collective security but on collective insecurity, and someone has to take the initiative to break that vicious circle.
The Government have saddled two horses. They have saddled the horse of disarmament based on the retention of sovereignty and the right to rearm. They have also saddled the horse of a world security authority; a supra-national security authority. They have promulgated the policy, but except in so far as the present Minister of Commonwealth Relations did when he went into very great detail, they have never yet clothed the skeleton of policy with the flesh of detail. It is no use willing the end unless one is also prepared to will the means, so I ask the Government to follow up these statements of policy with a statement even of conditional acceptance of the consequential means to carry out the will.
For instance, in view of the disarmament that the Government have agreed to, are they prepared to transfer troops and arms to such a world security authority, if accepted and set up? Are they prepared to furnish bases in areas that they control? Are they prepared, therefore, to give access to security officials to any place under our control? Are they prepared to allow free communication? That is absolutely essential. Are they prepared to say that we would never jam the broadcasts of such an authority and would never put across frontiers the incitement of our own broadcasting? That is a side of peace and security that must be dealt with.
Are they prepared to ask that our citizens should have world citizenship in parallel with their British citizenship; and the obligation to pay taxes direct? That is absolutely essential in any such authority. Are they prepared to deal with the question of a formation of a world court to limit the officials of the world security authority, and to establish such a court? We have gone a long way in this; is it not time that we took advantage of what Mr. Khrushchev has said and expressed our conditional willingness to see that horse win its race?
§ Mr. C. Osborne
Is my hon. Friend asking that we should be allowed to 555 pay Income Tax to an outside body in addition to the taxes that we pay to our own Government? If so, we can already do it.
§ Mr. Pitman
Of course we can do it, but the point is that we would pay so much less in taxation if we were paying it to a world organisation. Let us not forget that the cost of the police giving us security is very much less, and the security provided is very much more than in the days either of the heptarchy, when we had seven kingdoms, or in the days when we had a whole lot of barons with their own standing armies and castles. The very essence of peace, law and order in Britain is that those standing armies were made illegal and the castles turned into residences, and we set up a new institution that could guarantee better security to all the barons than they could get with all the standing armies and castles they might have.
Are we ready to make that condition? I believe that the Swiss are the sort of people to make, and that they are ready to make such a proposal. A great friend of mine, who is interested in what I think we wrongly call world government, has recently visited Moscow and is quite convinced that the Russians are prepared to discuss this kind of proposition, to probe it and to develop it. The Government have put it on the stocks as a specific proposal. May I urge them to try, before it is too late, to see whether that proposal cannot be probed to the full?
§ 1.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
While I find myself in a great deal of agreement with the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman), I wish to approach the international situation now confronting us from a rather different angle. I think that Members on both sides agree that the international picture that faces us today is undoubtedly very gloomy and that the one beacon of hope that has emerged in recent weeks is the fact that we have the United Nations in existence.
The Prime Minister, on Tuesday, very rightly pointed out that the United Nations has at least prevented the full violence of the cold war—and, perhaps, something worse—from sweeping into 556 Africa, and particularly into the Congo. Even that remark was something in the nature of an understatement. I believe that if the United Nations had not taken the action it did in the Congo, not only would we have felt the full force of the cold war but the international situation would have reached a point of crisis that might well have precipitated conflict between the great Powers.
Does anyone believe that if the Soviet Union—as it did to some extent even in spite of the intervention of the United Nations—had continued to pour supplies and transport and other weapons of war into that part of Africa, other countries would not have followed suit in order to prevent the Soviet Union securing a position of domination there? We can really be grateful that the United Nations is in existence, and that it took the action it did in the Congo.
It must be realised, however, that great changes have taken place in the United Nations since 1945. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and the Lord Privy Seal referred to the considerable changes that have taken place. I believe that originally, in 1946, there were 46 member nations. There are now 99, of whom 46 are Afro-Arab-Asian members, and of those nearly half are what are called emergent nations. I believe that the dominant position of the permanent five in the Security Council is no longer automatically acceptable to these countries. These uncommitted countries, representing, as I say, nearly half the total membership of the United Nations, are conscious of their numbers, if not of their strength, and for that reason I agree with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition who said on Tuesday that while we must strengthen the United Nations, we must strengthen its reputation for impartiality and fairness between different interests.
I am sure we all welcomed the Lord Privy Seal on his first appearance in a major debate in this House. I for one wish him well in the efforts that he is making to secure a settlement of the problem of the Six and the Seven. If he were here now, I would say to him that sometimes it is necessary to grasp the political or economic nettle, and I believe that our country will have to face this position. I hope we shall not be too long in doing so, because while I appreciate the interests and commitments that 557 we may have in respect of other members of the Commonwealth, and our own peculiar agricultural problems, many people are beginning to realise the importance of our securing the closest possible political and economic association with the other countries of Western Europe.
I thought that the Lord Privy Seal was perhaps in a difficulty. He has not been at the Foreign Office very long, and I think he was wise in his refusal to be drawn into following the direct questions that were put to him on the problem of China.
I do not wish to pursue that subject except to say this—and I believe that we ought to express what we think about this problem: I believe that the continued exclusion of China from the United Nations is a source of weakness to the United Nations and is certainly inconsistent with the United Nations Charter. What is even more undesirable is that it is forcing Communist China to pursue a policy of isolation which is bedevilling all the international negotiations and discussions which have taken place and will take place. While one does not expect that the Government can decide this issue, I regret that Mr. Khrushchev seems invariably to take the initiative on so many international problems. I think it is a great pity that the West, and indeed our own country, should not take the initiative when we believe that a certain course of action is right.
I make proper allowance for the fact that as this is a partnership, or an alliance or an association, it is necessary to keep in step, and that a convoy has to proceed at the speed of the slowest ship, but I hope the time has now come when Her Majesty's Government will recognise that it is right that Communist China should be brought into the United Nations and that we should do everything possible to lead the movement in that direction.
I said that the United Nations has changed since its inception in 1946. I agree with Mr. Khrushchev to this extent that the time has come for Charter revision. Some of us have said this many times in the past five years, and we have always been given to understand that the one Government most firmly opposed to Charter revision was 558 the Soviet Government. Now, in the, interests of power politics which are taking place at present, the Soviet Government apparently take the view that it would be a good thing if there were Charter revision.
Mr. Khrushchev has proposed that the membership of the Security Council should be enlarged by the addition of four or five neutral States. That is a proposal that is well worth considering. Indeed, it has been frequently advocated from these benches. I base this proposal on the fact that there are 99 members of the United Nations in 1960 as against 45 or 46 ten or more years ago. I believe there is a very strong case for the United Nations, when it comes to revise its Charter, to decide that the Security Council should be enlarged by the addition of four or five neutral States.
Mr. Khrushchev's other suggestion was that the office of the Secretary-General should be transformed into a commission of three. This proposal has nothing to commend it. Every action taken by Mr. Hammarskjoeld in respect of the situation in the Congo was in pursuance of a resolution passed by the Security Council. Mr. Khrushchev's proposal appears to have been motivated by a destructive political objective that is to paralyse the effective functioning of the executive authority of the United Nations, largely because of the political setbacks suffered by the Soviet Union in the Congo. To turn the Secretary-General's office into a commission of three would bring the veto into the executive centre of the United Nations and would render it practically impotent in toe face of such world dangers as the Congo crisis.
§ Mr. Pitman
Is it not possible that Mr. Khrushchev's objection is really to the constitution of the United Nations itself and to the fact that the Secretary-General has to do what he is told by a number of nations who are hostile to the East? It is not so much personal as constitutional.
§ Mr. Henderson
Whatever his ultimate objective is, I am sure that we ought not to play into his hands by allowing him to use the office of the Secretary-General to get at the Security Council. I think there will be broad 559 agreement on both sides of the House on that matter. Indeed, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Lord Privy Seal and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East have all made their positions quite clear on this proposal.
May I now say something on the problem of disarmament? I do not propose to deal with the question of Polaris which has already been discussed by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East. I want to deal with another aspect of all these problems, which I think is the most important of all. If we want to get rid of nuclear bombs, Polaris missiles and so on, the easy way to do it, if only the world will do it, is to get rid of the lot through a world disarmament agreement. I wish to refer to the other form of defence, which is the best form, namely disarmament. I doubt whether the discussions which are taking place today in the Political Committee of the United Nations will produce agreement except possibly on procedure.
Here I find myself in agreement with another proposal put forward by Mr. Khrushchev. There is a very strong case for the proposal which he makes to increase the membership of the Ten-Power Disarmament Committee from ten to fifteen and to make the five additional members representative of neutral countries. I would go even further. Not only would I enlarge the membership of the Commission from ten to fifteen to include five neutrals, but there is a great deal to be said for the proposal recently made by Mr. Howard Green, the Canadian Minister for External Affairs, for the establishment of a committee of small non-nuclear Powers as an advisory or watchdog group to assist in solving the problem of disarmament.
Mr. Green proposed also, in another practical suggestion, which has, in fact, been made from these benches in the past, that there should be a neutral chairman to preside over the deliberations of the ten or fifteen Power commission, if Mr. Khrushchev's suggestion were accepted. Here again, we must make a move. We cannot go on with the deadlock, and I think all those three proposals are worth considering, the enlargement from ten to fifteen, the 560 neutral chairman, and the establishment of a small watch-dog committee.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman consider also the proposal I made in The Times last Saturday, that all the plans made by the East and West at Geneva could be considered by a neutral committee of the United Nations, so that a compromise answer might be produced?
§ Mr. Henderson
I was coming to that in a moment or two, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me. In my view, if the political will really exists, there is no substantial reason today why agreement should not be reached. The Soviet plan of 2nd June, the United States plan of 27th June and the statement of principles of 14th October seem to me to constitute an eminently satisfactory basis for negotiating an agreement, provided that the Governments concerned are sincere in their desire to obtain agreement and have the political will to achieve it.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister referred to his proposal to establish a body of experts to examine the technical aspects of control and inspection in general disarmament. The Prime Minister's proposal might be taken a step further. First, could not these experts be instructed to prepare in detail a comprehensive plan covering the various phases of controlled disarmament based on the Soviet proposals of 2nd June and the Western proposals of 27th June and 14th October? Secondly, could not these experts be instructed to study what amendments should be made to the Charter of the United Nations to meet the new situation which would be created by the achievement of a world disarmament agreement?
It is clear that, as we move along the road to disarmament, increased responsibility will be placed upon the United Nations to maintain world peace. Here, I agree with many of the proposals advanced by the hon. Member for Bath, because it seems to me that two special factors will have to be borne in mind and provided for in the event of the world ever securing a substantial measure of disarmament. First, the powers of the United Nations will, of course, have to be increased. Second, there will have to be a world police force. If the world is disarmed, there will have to be an 561 agency for maintaining peace, enforcing the rule of law and safeguarding the security, freedom and independence of all nations great and small. Obviously, a world security authority will have to be created. My difference with the hon. Member for Bath, perhaps, is that I believe that such a world security authority must be a special agency of the United Nations, not something independent of it.
The proposals I have been making will take time. Meanwhile, the nations of the world go on piling up their stocks of nuclear and conventional weapons. This process will continue until we achieve disarmament. Cannot something be done to improve the climate for disarmament and reduce the present distrust and suspicion which are bedevilling all disarmament negotiations?
There are one or two steps which, in my view, could be taken in an effort to break the present deadlock. One, of course, is agreement on nuclear tests. I was very glad to hear the Lord Privy Seal say this morning that he thought the possibilities of achieving an agreement were encouraging. If that be right, I would certainly agree with him and with others who have said that such an agreement might well make a very fine contribution towards easing tension and might, perhaps, lead to further progress.
Next, there is the problem of surprise attack. The disarmament negotiations are bedevilled by Soviet suspicions of espionage and American concern about the danger of surprise attack. Somehow or other, these fears must be overcome. The U.2 and R.B.47 incidents lend greater urgency than ever to the provision of safeguards. It is such incidents which increase the danger of conflict. It seems to me urgent and vital that steps should be taken by the great Powers to stop these methods of gaining intelligence whether by aircraft, submarine or fishing trawler.
I should like to see the West offer to enter into discussions with the Soviet Union and its associates with a view to minimising all these dangerous activities. Unfortunately, Soviet fears of espionage make it unlikely that any such agreement can be reached in the near future, and the existence of a Pearl Harbour mentality in the United States make the United States particularly sensitive to the possibility of 562 surprise attack. But I believe—I am sure hon. Members will agree—that a limited agreement might be well worth while in the interests of East and West.
A few weeks ago, the Guardian published a suggestion with regard to overlapping radar screens. The suggested plan would enable prior information to be given by both the United States and the Soviet Union of all missile launchings and all scientific survey flights by military aircraft. I understand that the plan would—in peace time, of course—allow the United States to penetrate Soviet bloc territory by radar and the Soviet Union to penetrate Western territory in the same way. Surely, such an agreement, if it were possible to attain it, would provide a valuable safeguard against surprise attack and would assist in reducing the fears of bath East and West.
Also, under the heading of surprise attack, there is the French proposal for the establishment of appropriate controls at bomber bases and rocket sites—not disarmament, but controls at the sites. This is not so far-fetched as it may appear on the face of it because both the Soviet Union and the United States have in principle agreed to consider ground controls under this heading. In my view, there is a great deal to be said for the French proposals. Could not such an agreement be made in advance of a general agreement, not as a measure of disarmament but as a safeguard against surprise attack?
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that all the insistence upon the danger of surprise attack is rapidly passing out of date and will be really out of date with the advent of the Polaris submarine?
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not know how far off we are from the Polaris submarine operating in numbers. I still think that other questions concerning the use of the bomber and the need to obtain intelligence will remain relevant. I do not imagine that the Polaris submarine will be an agency for obtaining intelligence by the United States or by Russia as to the intentions of other countries. I do not think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's suggestion meets the point.
563 Another step which could be taken is the renunciation of further nuclear weapon production by Great Britain and France. Whatever may be said, the fact is that the United States is today the main provider of the strategic and tactical nuclear weapons which are at the disposal of the West. In my view, such a renunciation might well improve the prospects for a disarmament agreement.
Fourthly, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech on Tuesday, proposed that there should be a controlled zone in Central Europe. This is something which could well be done while maintaining the balance of security on both sides of the zone, which is the acid test of any progress likely to be made in the disarmament sphere, and I hope that the Government, in spite of their objections in the past, will give this proposal their careful consideration. The agreements to which I have referred would not in any way constitute what is called partial disarmament, but they are agreements which might well transform the international climate and pave the way for progress towards comprehensive controlled disarmament.
I should like to say a word about the Middle East, which I visited only two weeks ago. In my view, the position in the Middle East continues to be highly dangerous, although I do not believe that a conflict is imminent. On the other hand, there is ample evidence of the fact that Egypt is intensifying her rearmament. She is receiving large numbers of modern jet aircraft, including the latest Mig fighters, destroyers and submarines, from the Communist bloc. In addition, large numbers of Communist instructors are training her personnel. In my view, the United Nations has a major responsibility to this part of the world and it must take active steps to secure a settlement of the Middle East problem.
It is only right to say that Israel has constantly indicated its readiness to participate in a peace conference and to play its part, so far as possible, in securing a final settlement. I suggest that the United Nations should consider appointing a fact-finding commission to investigate and report, first, on the problem of refugees, secondly, on 564 boundary revision having regard to United Nations resolutions of 1948 and 1949 and thirdly, on economic problems that arise in connection with the resettlement of the one million Arab refugees who are now in the Ghaza Strip in Jordan.
I am sorry to say that I do not see any initiative coming from the Middle East countries themselves. It may be optimistic in the present international situation to expect co-operation between Russia and the West in this area, but I believe that an attempt will have to be made sooner or later on the basis of such co-operation. It would be a tragedy if the Middle East were to continue to be a shuttlecock of world politics. I hope that the Lord Privy Seal will at any rate consider the need for taking action. The British Government cannot take action unilaterally, but I hope that they will play their part in endeavouring to bring about the settlement of the Middle East problem, because there is no doubt that those unfortunate peoples are today living on the edge of a political volcano.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I want to raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. There are some of us on this side of the House who are unqualifiedly opposed to the Polaris base in the West of Scotland. We have tried to express this opposition by putting down a Motion on the Order Paper. We have tried to express our opinion by putting down an Amendment to the Address, which has not been called. Now it seems that we are not likely to have the opportunity of being able to express the point of view of our constituents who are absolutely and strongly opposed to this base. I should like to ask you this, Mr. Deputy-Speaker: what can we do except to put down a Motion of censure on the Chair?
§ Mr. P. Williams
Further to that point of order. There is a Motion on the Order Paper referring to today's debate in particular. At the same time as you give your Ruling on the matter raised by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I wonder if you would give your Ruling as to why anyone who wishes to speak on the Motion should not be called to speak to it?
§ Mr. Wigg
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Obviously, what you say must influence your further choice of speakers. Will you bear in mind that no one below the Gangway has been called, and, as always in important matters of this kind, we have had the same posse of Privy Councillors, persons of influence and the like, so that the independent Member never gets the chance to express his view?
§ Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)
May I raise a slightly different point? There is, apart from the general question of Polaris, a particular west of Scotland local interest in this matter. I think that it would be desirable that at least some Member from the west of Scotland should be called. It looks at the minute as if that is not to happen. I say that without necessarily supporting what my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) said.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
No Amendments to the Address have yet been called; and, of course, none is being called today. I am sorry that it has not been possible to call more speakers, but I cannot discuss the selection of speakers by the Speaker.
§ Mr. Hughes
Further to that point of order. Would it be possible for you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, perhaps to make investigations to find out for yourself that the Holy Loch is in Scotland?
§ 2.7 p.m
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
If all hon. Members had made their speeches as short as I intend to make mine those hon. Members who have just raised points of order would have had a better chance of contributing to the debate.
In the wide review of world events which today we have had from the Lord Privy Seal, whom we all congratulate on his first appearance and for his very masterly appreciation of all the various problems facing us, I intend for reasons of brevity to touch on one matter only, and that is the situation in the Congo. I should like to do this particularly because I have just reurned from a fairly extensive tour of Central Africa. Had I been fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair yesterday I should have done my 566 best to talk about Federation and break a lance for Sir Roy Welensky, but unfortunately I shall have to wait for another day. Therefore, I shall concentrate simply and solely on the time I spent in revisiting the Congo, where I had been on a number of occasions previously before independence day arrived.
My arrival in Katanga, which was the only part I could reasonably get to this time, had an amusing feature, in that as I arrived at the airport and stepped out of the aeroplane a military band was drawn up at the edge of the tarmac vigorously playing the new Katanga national anthem and I momentarily got the completely wrong idea that I was of more importance than I was. It turned out that it was playing a farewell note to Colonel Mobutu, who was leaving by another plane, having earlier flown down to get some advice from his friend Mr. Tshombe. I had the interesting experience of spending an evening with Mr. Tshombe and his Minister of the Interior, Mr. Manungo, and I had a further long talk with Mr. Tshombe the following day.
I should like to take this opportunity—and I make no apology for concentrating on this one issue—to say that remarks widely made in certain sections of the Press and among political opinion here that Mr. Tshombe and his colleagues are stooges are not only wrong but extremely foolish.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
On a point of order. Yesterday, a Ruling was given that the word "stooges" was out of order. Can you say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether the hon. Gentleman is in order in using it?
§ Mr. Hughes
May we take it that we are in order in applying the word "stooges" to an hon. Member of this place?
§ Mr. Bennett
I am not sure whether that remark is meant to be as insulting as it might appear, but I have no interest to declare and no shares in the Union Minière. If that was what was intended, then I demand that there should be an immediate withdrawal of the remark.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not understand that any charge was made against the hon. Member for Torquay. I thought it was a hypothetical point of order and, therefore, I did not answer it.
§ Mr. Bennett
Moreover, my pledge to be brief in order to let other hon. Members talk about the Holy Loch or anything else will lapse if I am subjected to more interruptions of that sort. I have only given way on points of order. Otherwise, believe me, I should not have done so. On this occasion, I did not anyhow insinuate that certain people were stooges. I said precisely the opposite—that Mr. Tshombe is not a stooge and that anyone who said that he and his colleagues were was wrong and foolish to abuse good friends of this country. They are wrong, too, for another even better reason—because it is not, in fact, true. It seems to be a very strange state of affairs that when we get an African politician with sufficient breadth of vision to realise that he cannot at the present stage of development of the country under which the Belgians left it when it became independent run his own affairs without European help, he should be immediately criticised in this fashion.
In talking in the economic sphere, we might as well say that any future African Government in Northern Rhodesia will be a stooge Government because the greater part of its revenues will be drawn from the copperbelt which they have there. All that has happened in Katanga is that the Union Minière mines there have to pay their proper taxes and revenues to the State in which they are situated.
So far as political assistance is concerned, if at this stage Mr. Tshombe is to be dependent on European help there both with regard to the police, the civil service and other forms of administration which is the situation nearly all over Africa in British territories, including the independent ones, Ghana, Nigeria, or anywhere else, it is quite unfair to criticise him on this ground 568 as on any other. I was there the other day when Mr. Tshombe made a speech about certain Belgian Government policies in extremely critical, and even abusive terms, which is a peculiar thing to do if he is to be criticised as a stooge of that Government.
I should like to say about the Tshombe règime that it is an extremely welcome contrast to the rest of the Congo. We may not approve of every facet of this Government, but things are working out pretty well and a non-racial society is settling down. In the former rigid European quarter, Africans who can afford it have bought houses and are living contentedly in the area. The hotels are non-racial and there is general calm and security throughout Elizabethville today. When one compares that with the reports daily in the Press of what is happening elsewhere in the Congo, surely we should be grateful for that.
I should like to ask the Government Front Bench what exactly, or even in the rough, our policy in the Congo is to be. So far as I can understand it is a recreation of the Congo as a unitary political whole. Anyone who has been there and who really believes that that is possible is living in a daydream. If it is impossible and wrong to impose federation on the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland without the inhabitants' agreement, believe me it will need many more forces indeed to compel a unitary state to emerge in the Congo. We all too often forget in referring to the Congo as a unit that in fact it represents only the limits of Belgian expansion in the nineteenth century. It has no natural cohesive force. If there is removed the only cohesive force that kept it that way—the colonial power—we have to look at the situation as it now is, and for my part I should have thought that the very best that we can aim at is a very loose federation there; and even this will be extremely difficult to obtain. If the United Nations or anyone else thinks that it can compel the Congo to emerge again as a unitary state as it was before, a great deal of time, money and bloodshed will be spent to achieve it.
I appreciate the difficulties about which the Lord Privy Seal spoke in regard to the Congo, particularly in regard to the recognition of Katanga which some people are pressing for. Unlike some of 569 my hon. Friends, I do not in general criticise the rôle of the United Nations in the Congo; for I would ask what the alternative was if in fact they had not gone in. Although there may be many imperfections today, it could only have been a great deal worse if no steps had been taken at all except the transference of the cold war and the rival power blocs onto the African Continent, which could have been the only alternative if the United Nations had not gone in.
Moreover, I see the difficulty that if we were openly to recognise Katanga as a State we should be inviting the Soviet Union and other trouble-makers also to recognise a particular part or parts of the Congo as other separate States which they might like, for infiltration purposes. Therefore, it must be in our interests internationally to keep the Congo as a whole. But I have already made my reservations that it can only be done in the loosest federal form and not in any other way because it would be impossible and wrong and against the wishes of the inhabitants to try to impose a unitary state upon them.
Meanwhile, although I appreciate all these difficulties, one must also contemplate very seriously what would happen if so little support was lent to the Katanga Government and to Mr. Tshombe in particular that he went and was replaced by the sort of chaos which we have in the rest of the Congo. It could not be in the British interests for this to happen, because the tribes over which Mr. Tshombe rules live also on the other side of the scarcely defined enormously long and open Rhodesian frontiers, and trouble would inevitably spread over them. Accordingly, we would undoubtedly get trouble spreading right throughout the neighbouring sections of Northern Rhodesia with resultant misery for all concerned. Therefore although I appreciate all the inherent difficulties and I realise that it would be impracticable and foolish to go too far and too fast in bolstering up Katanga as a separate sovereign State, we must also realise that unless some greater measure of support is given to it and it does go, we in Britain and those to whom we owe responsibility in the neighbouring British territories will be the first to suffer. Neither can I believe that it could be in the interests of the United Nations which already has 570 an appalling enough task in the rest of the Congo, also to have to restore order out of chaos in yet another part of the area which the U.N. has to administer with such limited resources.
Finally, I cannot believe that for the Katanga Government to collapse and the Congo chaos to spread even to there can be in the interests of any part of the world whether uncommitted, British, the West or anything else except the Communists who wish to bring about the very state of affairs which the rest of us would deplore—that is the further chaos with unlimited opportunity for Soviet infiltration to get even closer to the African areas where an attempt is still being made to maintain reasonable law and order.
For all those reasons, I ask that we should no longer believe or pretend that it is possible to recreate the Belgian Congo as a unitary state as it was before under Belgian rule, and we should therefore start to think now of practical alternatives. I believe that some new form of loose federation or confederation is probably the only thing left open to us. The United Nations in so far as it has failed in the Congo—and I have already paid my tribute to the work it has done—has failed precisely because it was given an almost impossible task to do.
It is surely our job in any lead we may give in the United Nations and elsewhere to make it possible for those in the United Nations who are doing this job to be able to carry out something which is both feasible, practical and right. At the moment, I have not found anybody who can tell me in the long term as opposed to a stop gap operation what there is exactly practical which the United Nations within its present mandate is either likely to be able in the foreseeable future to attain.
§ 2.29 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
We are in the difficulty today of trying to debate the whole of foreign affairs and defence after the events of the last three months in one day, a single Friday. If I do not follow the subject developed by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) it is because I wish to comment on defence, although I do not intend to detain the House too long.
571 The debate today began with a speech by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) outlining, among other things, the Labour Party's views on defence. They are, the House will have noticed, very like the views of the Liberal Party three or four years ago. I welcome that—I make no complaint about it. We wish to make converts and we have made some, but we should like to feel that the conversion was from the best of motives and was permanent.
As I understand it the Labour Party has given up its belief in an independent British nuclear deterrent only because of the failure of Blue Streak. We now have Polaris. I wonder whether, if Polaris is offered to us and we have a submarine which can mount it, the Labour Party will maintain their view that we must give up our independent deterrent and that a Western deterrent is sufficient.
That is my view. We should discourage countries from having independent deterrents of their own. We should regard the Polaris development as a contribution to the Western deterrent. The great problem now is control. I am sure that control of a Western deterrent means a surrender of sovereignty which most people, and the Government in particular, have not envisaged. The hon. Member for Leeds, East pointed out that at present N.A.T.O. is discussing a sort of veto by only one N.A.T.O. country on the use of major nuclear weapons. He was interrupted by a Member on the Government side who asked whether that could be believed. I do not consider that it is believable that, say, Denmark, for the sake of argument, would be able to veto the use of a deterrent by a N.A.T.O. country in a time of real crisis. I do not accept that as possible. If we go in for a Western deterrent there must be a pooling of sovereignty and abandonment of the idea that each nation has some control over these major weapons.
§ Mr. Healey
It seems to me that the hon. Member is making a point which does not really exist. We would all agree that there must be a pooling of sovereignty but that means a sharing of the decision to use the deterrent, which means that everybody must play some part in it.
§ Mr. Grimond
Not in the way at present envisaged by an individual veto by particular Governments. It must be by the pooling of sovereignty at an earlier stage.
I should like to know whether the Minister of Defence can say anything further about the Prime Minister's remark on Tuesday, when he spoke in a rather queer phrase about becoming involved with the whole great complex of the modern deterrent and making our voice more effective in its world-wide control. I should also like to know from the Government that there is real agreement among the allies, not so much about particular control during an emergency, but about the circumstances in which we might begin to use the threat of the deterrent. We are all agreed that this is a deterrent and it is the threat of the deterrent which is important.
I take the view that Polaris is a step in the right direction. For reasons which have already been given, I believe that it is less vulnerable and provocative than fixed rocket bases. The Government might tell us, however, what their intentions now are concerning the rocket bases. As Polaris becomes more effective, will these bases be given up? I do not know whether we can be told whether the depôt in the Holy Loch is to be stocked with nuclear warheads. If it is, under whose control will they be?
I should like to take the point that I do not think it is a real distinction about controlling the particular submarines which may issue from the Holy Loch if we come to a stage at which this deterrent, of any sort, whether by submarine, aeroplane or any other means, has to be used. I do not believe that the Russians will take much trouble about finding out where it came from. They are not likely to send us a message saying, "Did this particular submarine refuel last in the Holy Loch?" I suspect that it would be the end of civilisation any way. Furthermore, it does not make much difference to the people on the shores of the Holy Loch either. If I were a representative from that area, I should accept such benefits as there were from the base, because we would all be playing harps in any case if the submarine had to be used. The general question of control is of great 573 importance, but one cannot make distinctions about control of particular weapons from particular bases.
I should also like to hear a word about the control of the submarine's non-operational use. If it goes on cruises, for example, have we any say then? This might be a matter in which we could come in for justifiable blame if any incidents occurred.
I want to ask only two more questions relating to defence and if I ask them quickly, hon. Members will understand why. Is there any truth in the statement which I have seen that there is a serious proposal now for a N.A.T.O. deterrent and that the Government contemplate giving up some of the V-bomber force to N.A.T.O. to give it the means of carrying this deterrent? If that is a serious proposal, by whom and how will it be controlled?
I turn now to Germany and to what, to me, is an alarming spate of rumours that our forces there are becoming more and more dependent upon nuclear weapons and that the control of these weapons is getting more and more into the hands of the military. I will take only one source of these rumours, an article in the Economist of 29th October. I trust that the House will bear with me while I read these quotations:Commanders are delighted about their new weapons"—that is, nuclear weapons—and make no bones about saying that they will use them if ever their troops are being overrun in land fighting. Training is now almost exclusively concerned with the use of tactical nuclear weapons to control the battlefield. Increasing responsibility for deciding when to use these weapons is being put on such relatively junior officers as brigade commanders.To my mind, once we were to begin using nuclear weapons, it would be difficult to stop it escalating and we should be taking a fundamental decision which must be taken far above the level of brigade commander. The article goes on to say:The other, even more interesting, development is that the soldiers are quite determined not to leave it to the politicians to tell them when to fire the weapons … The final impression left with your correspondent after his visit to Rhine Army units is that this small force has achieved a new sense of purpose now that it has these powerful weapons. Many units are ludicrously under strength; all the talk is now of what the 'nuclears' can achieve, 574 and very little is heard about what the man on the ground is supposed to do.That must be profoundly alarming to everybody in this House. If true, the statement that our forces in Germany are ludicrously under strength is extremely serious. Are we really in the position that any incident in Germany might spark off a chain of nuclear reactions, so to speak, largely under the control of the military? That is a matter upon which we should have a full statement or denial from the Government.
I accept the need for a Western deterrent until we can get agreement for disarmament with Russia, but that does not mean that it is necessary for every country to have nuclear weapons. Nor does it mean that we can be in the least satisfied with the present arrangements for controlling these weapons. I am not so much concerned about the control of particular weapons in particular countries. I am concerned, on the other hand, about who is really in charge of the use of nuclear weapons in the West as a whole.
Concerning Germany, which I regard as a most dangerous area, we should have an assurance that if nuclear weapons are used or threatened by our forces in Germany, this will be a political or civil decision and not left to junior commanders in the Army.
§ 2.37 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I listened with great interest, as I always do, to the speech of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I was much interested in what he had to say about the control of nuclear weapons, a subject which was dealt with also by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). I should like to say a word about this, and I hope that I will not be misunderstood.
We all recognise that it is an overwhelming obligation on the part of the Government to make as certain as it is humanly possible to make certain that war should not break out by accident. None the less, I doubt very much whether we can have all the advantages of the nuclear deterrent and have absolutely no risk whatever. My view is that the risks involved in what I regard as the advantages of the nuclear deterrent vastly outweigh the risks 575 which would accrue if we were to turn over to unilateral nuclear disarmament.
When the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East said—quite rightly: I followed his argument—that it really is not necessary for every member of the alliance to make everything, he then went on, I think, to argue that equally every member of the alliance really has the right to veto something. That is a matter on which I should rather like the Minister of Defence to say something. I can see that, of course, we could get to the point almost of no return. If we tie up the N.A.T.O. alliance and its machinery of defence for operating the deterrent into many knots, double knots and slipknots, we can get to a stage when the deterrent is not a deterrent at all. That seems to me really to be almost the worst of both worlds.
§ Mr. Healey
I should like to clear this matter up at this stage. I did not suggest that every member of the alliance should have a veto on any use of nuclear weapons. What I did suggest was that the first use of nuclear weapons by the West should be subject to the agreement of all its members. How and when that agreement should be defined and arranged is a matter of great complexity and difficulty, as the Minister of Defence well knows, but I imagine that it should be possible and desirable to reach agreement in advance of the sort of circumstances in which in some cases the use of weapons might even be almost automatic.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I am sorry if I misunderstood the argument of the hon. Member.
I would say one word about the unilateralists. I respect their views although I do not agree with them. But, of course, by some strange paradox, the more they ask to disarm unilaterally, as they would wish us to do, in the nuclear field, the chance of an agreement with the Soviet Union about tests becomes far more remote than it is now. Of course it would. The whole difficulty which the unilateralists are in is that they keep creating the impression, no doubt quite deliberately, in the Soviet Union and in other parts of the world as well that there is a substantial body of opinion in this country which is anxious to disarm unilaterally.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
My argument is that to whatever extent they crease that impression, which I think is a false impression, it reduces pro tanto the incentive of the Soviet Union to come to an agreement about tests, for this simple reason; why should the Soviet Union feel encouraged to negotiate an agreement about tests if they think that the other side will cede the point anyway? By a strange paradox, I repeat, what the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and his hon. Friends below the Gangway, or some of them, are advocating now will in fact have the exactly reverse effect to that which they want. They make the chance of an agreement about tests far more difficult than it might otherwise be.
I do not want to keep the House long, because other Members want to speak, and there have been, if I may say so, some very long speeches, but my next point is that I really think we must stop repeating parrot-like the phrase that there is a tremendous tension in Europe—to the exclusion of any tension anywhere else. I do not deny that there is tension in Europe. What I do very much doubt is whether the tension in Europe at any given moment is anything like as had as it is elsewhere.
The Soviet Union are past masters at the game of deliberately creating tension and then demanding concessions from the other side in return for relaxing the tension which they themselves deliberately created. I would guess—I do not know—that part of the reason why Mr. Khrushchev made such very bombastic speeches in U.N.O. was not that he was trying to woo the neutrals but that he was trying to frighten them, to put the wind up them, so that they in their turn would put pressure upon us in the Western alliance to make one-sided concessions to the Soviet Union in return for the Soviet Union's relaxing tension it created. Of course, if the Western Powers do not make one-sided concessions, the party opposite comes along and says to the Government, "You have lost the initiative. What are you going to do about it?"
Thirdly, I want just to take up one point which the hon. Gentleman made about China. Of course, I see the argument 577 that it makes no sense to try to get any general disarmament agreement if we exclude China with her population of 615 million or whatever it is. Of course I see that, but it equally makes no sense to talk about a general disarmament agreement in the terms the Soviet Union sometimes does if we exclude Israel and the Arab States, and to get a disarmament agreement there is just about as difficult as anything I can think of. At the same time, when he asks the Government to take the initiative in proposing that Communist China should be admitted to the United Nations it should be remembered that it is, perhaps, a little more difficult than it may at first sight appear. I can see the logic of the argument, but I believe that there are three difficult fences to jump.
The first fence we have got to jump is that it would be folly in the extreme, in my view, for the Government to propose the entry of Communist China into the United Nations unless agreement were first reached on this with the United States, because the one thing which the Communist Powers always try to do is to drive a wedge between Great Britain and the United States. If they can do it in the forum of U.N.O. so much the better for them. I do not think it is any good in our trying to initiate the admission of Communist China to U.N.O. unless the United States are in agreement. [Interruption.] This may be a minority view. Hon. Members on both sides may disagree about it, but I think that that is the overriding factor.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
No, I cannot give way. It is not that I mind giving way as a rule, but time is short and other Members want to speak.
The second fence is this. I still believe there are certain principles attached to the United Nations. It is a club, in a sense, with rules, and one of the rules, broadly speaking, is that its members should try to settle disputes peacefully. I do not think that that is an unfair paraphrase of the rules of U.N.O. It is very doubtful, judging by recent pronouncements from Mao Tse-Tung and other leaders of Communist China, that they really agree with this rule or whether they accept the theory that they have to solve differences peacefully. 578 It seems from recent statements that they do not accept the view that the cold war is enough, that they do not accept the view that in the end the Communist world will overcome the rest by the cold war alone. They take a rather more alarmist view. I cannot see that the suggestion, which the hon. Gentleman made, that Communist China should be admitted to U.N.O., when the leaders of Communist China openly say they do not accept the rule of U.N.O. in respect of solving problems peacefully, is entirely logical.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I was paraphrasing, but it comes to that.
The third fence is Formosa. We cannot hand over 7 million or 8 million—
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
—or 10 million people to Communist China when they do not want to go there. Formosa must be neutralised to some extent and taken over by some body of the United Nations.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
We have an obligation there. In one sense the problem of Formosa, anyway in the Americans' mind, is not dissociated from the problem of Hong Kong.
Lastly, a word about the Congo. Unlike many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, I did not in the Recess go to the Congo. I am almost in a minority. Therefore, my views are not of first-hand value, but I should have thought that we had got to steer between two extremes. It is no good blindly eulogising the machinery and the achievements of the United Nations in the Congo trouble without at the same time realising the limitations which this machinery imposes on the United Nations Force.
Surely, their problem is this. Can U.N.O. collectively for any length of time fulfil the functions of a trustee Power? We have got to answer the question. Is the U.N.O. force so equipped, so commanded, and are its orders such, that it can perform the one essential function without which all civilisation ceases to exist at all, namely, restore law and order and to enforce law and order in 579 an enormous tract of Africa where law and order have completely broken down and where we are back to tribal warfare? Taking a longer view still, can the United Nations run that great territory without a common policy, without a common language, without any experience of such administration?
These are questions to which I believe we in this House in the next few months have got to give considerable thought. They are practical problems which may have an immense effect not only on the future of Africa but on the future of the United Nations.
§ 2.50 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe). Perhaps I might deal with one or two points that he made. First of all, he ascribed to nuclear disarmers and others who call themselves unilateralists very great influence. He suggested that the policies they advocate have a worsening effect on the endeavour to secure agreement with the Soviet Union. I hold the opposite view, first of all, for the reason that I think that those who staff the Pentagon and the Kremlin are highly competent soldiers, airmen or sailors, as the case might be, and whatever their assessment of our power is based upon it is certainly not based on views published in the popular Press or poured out from the B.B.C. Their assessment of power would be related in strict terms to reality.
My charge against the Government and my disagreement with my own Front Bench leads me also into disagreement with those who call themselves unilateralists. We have, in fact, unilaterally disarmed. This is my charge, and I shall endeavour to prove it in the brief time at my disposal.
The great danger in the world is a lessening of British influence because we talk much greater than the power which we have to put our talk into effect. Let me deal with the situation in the Congo. I am astonished that hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House are so unaware of the fact and are so blinded to the national need to support our prestige on the basis of fact that tribute is not paid in all parts of the House to the very gallant services of British trained officers, n.c.o.s and men 580 who form the backbone of the Ghana Army.
If I ever feel the need to raise my hat to anybody it would be to General Paley, who became Dr. Nkrumah's military adviser after independence. It was clear that he would be a dead duck if things went wrong, but he had one qualification which the British Army teaches men—he was dead straight. He said what he meant and the point came when what he said was accepted.
The three battalions and 1,000 police that went from Ghana were and are the best troops in the Congo. What greater tribute could there be to Britain than that, quite disinterestedly, she equipped a small country to be able to manage her own internal affairs and to make a major contribution, within a few years of getting independence, to the stability of an area almost the size of Europe?
But what was the part played by the British Government and the Government Front Bench? I do not know whether it is sheer incompetence, lack of resources or muddle. When the time came for these three battalions and 1,000 police to go to the Congo they were to be provided with transport from Transport Command. The aircraft were not available. The Comets did not turn up. They were transported by planes flown from M.A.T.S. and by Russian Ilyushins. I have bored the House in defence debates, in Service debates and in Adjournment debates on the subject of the insufficient mobility of our forces and still we just have not got that mobility.
The nuclear disarmers, of course, have rendered immeasurable service to the Conservative Party and the country because they have campaigned and marched in their thousands to Aldermaston protesting against our being a nuclear Power. If they had not done so no one would ever have believed that we were a nuclear Power. I am struck by the fact that here the spark of radicalism which has been nourished for 300 years is now finding expression in our young people protesting against what?—Against nothing.
Let us examine the figures. Does the Minister suggest that our nuclear capacity, even at the maximum and even if all he says is true, is 5 per cent. of 581 the whole? The fact is that we are not a nuclear Power and on this side of the House we carry on battles which are really the subjects of hotly contested advice at the highest technical level inside the Ministry of Defence. I should be infringing the rules of order if I went too far and did not paraphrase, but in my old barrack-room days we used to hear about those who stand on street corners, spit and shout, and talk about things they know nothing about. This description fits the picture.
We have great arguments about weapons. We had such a wonderful row about Blue Streak, although to any objective and honest observer it had been a dead duck for over a year. We are now moving into another phase when we shall have another war about Polaris, and if there is anything that is certain it is that ultimately Polaris will also be a lot less useful than now appears. The things which we should try to influence we say nothing about, except perhaps to falsify the facts. For example, we have certainly unilaterally disarmed in the field of conventional weapons but my hon. Friends do not find it convenient to admit this awkward fact.
N.A.T.O. according to the original conception was to have 90 divisions and then it was cut down to 50. Later it was to be 30. What is it now? According to that major falsifier of facts, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) in his 1959 speech—and there is one falsification of facts in every defence speech he makes—N.A.T.O. had 28½ divisions in 1959. What is the truth? We have not got 15 divisions and therefore the Supreme Allied Commander, poor chap, who has on his shoulders the responsibility of holding an attack in Europe, is forced, whether he likes it or not, to rely upon atomic tactical weapons. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), the Liberal Leader, is absolutely right. He drew attention to our lack of strength in Europe.
At present we have in Germany 17 infantry battalions and 13 regiments of armour, and not a third of them are up to establishment. Before the war we had 124 battalions of the line plus the Indian Army. Then both sides of the House agreed without dissension to cut down that number to 49. Yet the commitments 582 are immeasurably greater than they were before the war. One does not need to get caught up in arguments about Polaris or Blue Streak to see that it is impossible to meet the commitments, which are increasing every year, and to ask 49 battalions to undertake tasks hitherto carried out by 128.
In order to cover this up the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West, has had to add a new major chapter of fiction. We shall have an opportunity very shortly of debating the Army Continuance Order. I shall take good care of that, but as a preliminary I suggest that hon. Members on both sides of the House should read the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West and of the present Minister of Agriculture. The speech a year ago of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West on the Army Continuance Order was not only false in concept; it was also false in detail.
The Labour Party is in a position of great difficulty. [Interruption.] Of course it is. If I am helping that I am sorry. The defence policy you are committed to restore was the defence policy that I advocated on 29th February, but since that time the facts have changed. [HON. MEMBERS:" Of course. I stand by the same policy, but you have the introduction of Polaris and the gradual change in Government policy.
§ Mr. Wigg
Certainly, Mr. Speaker.
I am helping because, in actual fact, sooner or later, however much hon. Members may pretend, they are brought face to face with the facts. For ten years we have had a controversy about whether the Government would attain their recruiling target. I have said many times that this will not be settled by what I and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West say. It will be settled by the number of men who enlist. It is the same with Polaris. Polaris will work or not work, and Blue Streak will work or not work. It does not depend upon us. It depends upon the facts. Therefore, what we on this side of the House have to do is to accept the facts.
583 Our difficulties are made all the greater because the public as a whole in times of peace—this is not a new thing; it has existed throughout the century—is basically not interested in defence. Inside the Labour Party—to its very great credit; this is a major source of national strength—we regard the use of force and the imposition of decisions by force as something on the boderline of indecency. That is part of the Labour Party's great strength, as it was in 1940 when it was brought face to face with the facts and formed a great wedge of opinion and power upon which the Government of the day could build.
But we also have a Prime Minister who is as clever as they make them. As my hon. Friend said, the Prime Minister understands the use of words perfectly well, and, of course, he is a master at timing. My hon. Friend was interested in the announcement about Polaris, and so was I. I have watched Polaris, as it were, underneath the surface and waited for it to emerge. Why did not this subject come forward at the Scarborough conference? Why has it come forward at this particular moment? I should have thought that from many points of view there were arguments against that.
One of the reasons is clear, that the story broke in The Times of 17th October. That is one possible explanation. Another possible explanation is that the Prime Minister made his announcement last Tuesday for the same reason as he made his "wind of change" speech when in Africa, that he hoped to bedevil relationships inside the Labour Party on this issue of defence.
The more national defence becomes a plaything as between the parties or a source of internal conflict inside parties—this is not a new view, because I have not changed one bit during the fifteen years that I have been in the House, and I have said this many times—I do not know who wins but I am absolutely sure that in the long run only Britain can lose. During the two and a half years that I served on the Select Committee on the Army Estimates I never once took a party line. I urge upon hon. Members that sooner or later they have either to elevate this problem to the point where the facts are examined objectively 584 or their policies will meet a test, and no form of words will enable them to wangle out of that.
I could make a prophecy, but I do not want to bore the House. I merely say that if the line that I advocate is not followed it can end only in national disaster or in national dishonour and our giving way to ultimatums because we do not possess the power to resist them. That seems to me to be absolutely inevitably the consequence.
Also, I think that many of our troubles are tied up with our procedures. We need, in some way or other, a simplification of our procedures. I do not want to repeat what happened in the Select Committee. If only we could establish the facts, it would be a major step forward. However, as long as we insist, particularly on this side of the House, in having arguments about weapon systems which many of us have not the least idea about and are not even interested in understanding, we are bound to go from one difficulty to another.
§ 3.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I should like in the few minutes which have been allocated to me to make one or two statements on issues arising from what I learnt a fortnight ago in China.
This debate has missed one important point, and that is, in my opinion, that the danger of a Third World War is much more likely to arise over Formosa, or Taiwan, than it is over Berlin. Too much time has been given to the risks which will arise from Soviet Russia and too little attention is given to what is happening in China.
Two weeks ago tomorrow, I had a three and half hours' interview with Marshal Chen Yi, who is the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary of China. I asked him many questions, and have three important statements from him which I think hon. Members ought to have in their minds before they decide on the importance of the issues before us.
Marshal Chen Yi said that the Chinese foreign policy was based upon three points: first, that China would never send a single soldier over her own frontier; secondly, that China did not covet any other country's land, because 585 she had far too much land of her own; and, thirdly, that China would never start an offensive war. But it is in this that the tragedy lies: he said that Taiwan—in China one is not allowed to use the word Formosa—is part of China and that until it is free from what he called American imperialism there will be a danger of war.
When I asked him how he, with his position, could justify war, he said that there were such things as just wars, and it would be a just war to free one's own territory which was already occupied by a foreign invader. Whether we agree with this or not, I put it as urgently as I can, because this is the danger to world peace. He made the alarming statement that if, after ten to fifteen years of patient negotiation, the Chinese Government are unable to get a peaceful settlement over Taiwan, they will then be entitled to take Taiwan by force.
Should they start to fight for Taiwan there will be no limit to that war. We shall all be in it. This was the most dreadful thing I learned during my eight weeks' trip in the Far East. I beg our Government to do whatever they can about this.
I asked Marshal Chen Yi and the Soviet Ambassador in Peking about differences between the Soviet Union and China. Differences do exist, but they do not hate one another nearly so much as they hate us. Let us be quite clear about that. Another thing whidh he said, to which we should give attention, was that the United Kingdom should, if possible, and as quickly as possible, have a completely independent policy towards China instead of being half and half, dependent upon America. At present, we have a chargé d'affaires—and an exceptionally good servant he is, too—in Peking, but he should have more power to his elbow. We have not the power there that we should have.
The last thing I learned which terrified me was this. They all protest that they do not want war, but it was reported—and I cannot prove that it was said—that the Chinese Minister of Defence had stated that if war came—and this is coupled with the threat of war in ten years' time—China could afford to lose 100 million dead and still repopulate the world with 550 million people left when 586 the white decadent capitalist countries had been entirely eliminated.
They really mean business. It is a puritanical world which would have frightened Sir Stafford Cripps out of his wits. They mean business. They are dedicated to a point of fanaticism. There is a puritanical drive about them which is frightening. I flew from Peking to Moscow and it was like coming to a capitalist paradise. Indeed, privately, I think, the Chinese do regard the Muscovites as the bourgeoisie of the Communist world, and it is true that when one flies from one country to the other the contrast is very great.
I understand that this year the harvest in China will be worse than the harvest last year, which was a failure because of floods and drought. According to the figures which I could obtain, they are living on something like 700 calories per day each against our 3,500. If they are driven too far, God knows what may happen. I beg Her Majesty's Government, before it is too late, to use what pressure we can behind the scenes with our American friends and allies to reconsider their Formosa policy. Unless that is done, nothing can prevent a world war. The first step in that direction is to get Communist China into the United Nations as soon as possible. To keep her out is to embitter her still more. She is already isolated enough and to drive her further into isolation would be madness.
I beg the Government, in so far as they can, to help the few British businessmen who are struggling in Shanghai under very great difficulties. There are many other things which I should like to have said, but the time is now ten minutes past three.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
On a point of order. I am not a Member to make threats or put down Motions of censure and nor would I wish to move a Motion of censure against you on your selection of speakers, Mr. Speaker. However, since I have been in the House for five years and never once been called in a foreign affairs debate, and since I expressed my desire to be called for the first time in such a debate today, is there any possibility of getting an assurance, either privately or 587 publicly, that I will be called in a foreign affairs debate at least before the next five years have expired?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am afraid that there is none. The House will appreciate how great are the difficulties of the Chair at all times and not least on a day when it was not possible to call the first back bencher until a quarter to one.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Further to that point of order. I, too, appreciate your difficulties, Mr. Speaker, especially in a debate of this kind, but there are certain circumstances surrounding this debate which I respectfully draw to your attention. My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) is a Member for a constituency which is vitally affected by the Polaris decision. The whole of that district—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) may express his views about my selection, but he must not make a speech, for that would not be fair to others.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am sorry if I transgressed the bounds of propriety, but I was seeking to reinforce the argument of my hon. Friend, who has a legitimate grievance in this respect.
Another grievance is that certain hon. Members on this side of the House have tried our utmost, by all the constitutional ways open to us, first to put down an Amendment to the Address, which you in your judgment decided not to call. We then put a Motion on the Order Paper. We come from the west of Scotland, which is seething with opposition to the Polaris decision, and yet we are not allowed to speak in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member and the House know that nothing would give me more pleasure than to be able to call everybody who wanted to be called. The circumstances are particularly difficult owing to the variety of situations and views which exist. I shall never find it possible in present circumstances to have the opportunity to permit expression of them all.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
I am greatly concerned because since I have come to the House I have found that Scotland's voice on very 588 important issues is sometimes not heard. Would you consider in your leisure time, Mr. Speaker, how you could find ways and means of having the voice of that great country of Scotland heard in the House or Commons on issues of national and international importance?
§ Mr. Speaker
I always try to take that into account as one factor—and the voice of Northern Ireland and the voice of Wales—but there are great difficulties about it.
§ 3.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I am sorry that the speech of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Osborne) was interrupted. We were very interested in it and I thank him for his very vivid and first-hand account of what he discussed and saw in China, and I will return to one or two of the points he made. I found myself, perhaps more than ever before in any of his speeches, in very close agreement with much of what he said.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Jackson) on his maiden speech which was extremely impressive, well informed and courteous, and which clearly held the attention of the House and commanded much support. I genuinely congratulate him on it.
I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal on his maiden speech in his new capacity. We maintain, and shall maintain, our objections to having a Foreign Secretary in another place. None the less, I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the extremely careful and courteous way in which he covered a great deal of the field that we have been discussing today, and dealt with many points that were raised later. I do not mean that I agree with all that he said, but he was courteous, careful, and exhaustive in his remarks.
I should like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to what I think must have been a slip in one thing that he said. My note may not be verbatim, but he said that the Soviet Union was ready to intervene in Cuba against the United States. I cannot believe that he meant to say that, because that would imply that the United States was somehow sovereign, and I wanted, in his interests, 589 and in the interests of what he intended to mean, to give him an opportunity to say that that clearly was not what he said.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
It would have done great harm if that statement had gone out uncorrected.
The right hon. Gentleman is particularly concerned with the Common Market and economic affairs in Europe, but I feel there was a certain embarrassment in his approach, no doubt due to the outbreak of hostilities between members of the Cabinet, which must be embarrassing for him. He said that our aim was to remove suspicion in Europe about Britain's attitude, but bewilderment and suspicion will inevitably arise if people in Europe find the President of the Board of Trade and the Colonial Secretary publicly controdicting one another during the same weekend.
Everyone's suspicions are aroused when the Leader of the House barges into this sort of thing, because we know that he does not do that without careful consideration, and it must mean that deadlock has been reached in the Cabinet. I thought that the speech of the Home Secretary that weekend was characteristic of the way in which he moves to try to dish a policy which is advancing in the Cabinet of which he disapproves and which he thinks might do him some harm.
I much prefer the approach of the right hon. Gentleman to that which we used to have from the present President of the Board of Trade. I think that it is important to make a pragmatic approach and not the sort of doctrinaire approach which the President of the Board of Trade used to make to the European Free Trade Area proposals which he stuck to apparently almost as a matter of faith.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is right. There are great differences and difficulties, and I am sure that they can be solved only if we do not take too catastrophic a view of the consequences, and if we set out by slow and detailed work to multiply all the links in all kinds of trade, big and small, between us and the Six and the Seven. This is the only approach. There is no sudden and 590 dramatic solution. I do not agree with those who take too catastrophic a view of the delays that are inevitably necessary if we make this approach.
Time is short and I will come straight away to the question of Polaris. If I have time I will deal with other matters. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, there are certain fairly simple principles that one can state in this matter. One must regard the whole thing, firstly, in the context of defence as a whole; in the context of our duty to play a full and fair part in the Western alliance; in the context of the need for the Western alliance to have nuclear weapons so long as the Soviet Union has them. We must not judge this in isolation, but against that background.
As my hon. Friend explained clearly and vividly, Polaris is a totally different weapon from Thor, or other missiles, or aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. This is a second-strike weapon. It will never be in a position where it will have to fire, even on a false alarm, for fear of being destroyed by rockets which may be on the way, because it can constantly move about, and in this sense it is not the sort of weapon which attracts a strike, as Thor does, to which we are strongly opposed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East, said—this was the most important point—because of the nature of the weapon there will be time to have political discussion about its use, even in very grave emergency or even after hostilities of some kind may, accidentally or otherwise, have broken out.
Therefore, it is so far the best of all these horrible weapons. It gives one a greater chance of discouraging first strikes on all sides. It gives time for discussion. In principle one could not possibly object to the Polaris submarine and to having facilities in this country.
However, the provision for docking for Polaris submarines cannot he separated from the question of political control over this and other nuclear weapons. This is an Anglo-American arrangement. It is not, strictly speaking, a N.A.T.O. weapon, though it is part of the nuclear deterrent of the Western Alliance and discussions about control over this weapon inevitably become caught up in the whole question of the 591 control of nuclear weapons in N.A.T.O. These things cannot be separated, because what one does in one field applies by analogy in others. It is essential that the fifteen Powers in N.A.T.O. must be satisfied with the machinery for consultation about military decisions in N.A.T.O.
This is what my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East made clear when he interrupted the Leader of the Liberal Party and other speakers. He was not saying, as some hon. Members tried to misrepresent him as saying, that he wanted to give a veto to Luxembourg, to take an extreme case. He was saying that the machinery for discussion and control must be acceptable to the members of N.A.T.O. and must be agreed by them. This is what my hon. Friend was concentrating on and saying.
On the military side, for ten years now there has been the Standing Joint Committee of the United Kingdom, the United States and France, which makes decisions on behalf of, and with the consent of, the other members of N.A.T.O. Indeed, one of the possibilities my hon. Friend had in mind was that that sort of arrangement might well be extended on the political side and not be confined merely to the military side.
Our criticism of the Government on the question of political control is that they have not taken advantage of the extraordinarily good opportunity offered by this new weapon, and the necessity for interdependence between the United States and ourselves, if it is to be properly operational, to ensure, and indeed extend, our political control in the use and deployment of this and other nuclear weapons.
The Government ought to have said, and ought now to say, to the United States, "This is a case in which each of us needs the other. This is true interdependence. You have the weapon. It is a very valuable one strategically from our point of view. On the other hand, to make it fully operational you need us. It is real interdependence. Therefore, let us share control both over the use of the weapon, if it should ever be necessary—it is a horrible hypothesis—and, which is in a way more important, the deployment of the weapon in peace 592 time." As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said, we do not want this weapon, which will be using our facilities, to be deployed provocatively in peace time. I do not say that it would be, but we want to be sure, through a proper share of control, that it is not.
I cannot understand the timing of this announcement. Various suggestions have been made. None of us knows, but the Government must know, why this extraordinary time was chosen, about six days before the change of administration in the United States. There must be a reason, because these announcements are not made suddenly. I assume that we shall be told.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I am glad to be assured that the Government will tell us. None the less, in a few days there will be a new administration in the United States. In the very first days of the new administration we should make our concept of the Western Alliance clear to the United States, arising out of the Polaris arrangement. We should stress that we are partners in it, that we will accept our duties in the alliance but that we also demand the rights of a partner. We should make this clear right away to this new Administration, because whichever party wins it will be a new Administration in personnel.
I should like the Minister of Defence to answer the questions which my hon. Friend put to him, as I am sure he will, because these are questions concerning British control of a base in Britain. This is the point about which we are asking. First of all, regarding deployment in peace time, with these Polaris-carrying submarines using our base, will we have knowledge of their sailing plans? Would we have a right either of veto or consultation or discussion of their sailing plans? This is related to what I was saying about the need to avoid a provocative deployment. In an emergency—I mean a time of feeling frightened that the balloon might go up—would we then, under the agreement, have real right of control of the movement of these submarines from our base, and even the right to remove the depôt ship—or close it down, if we want to—from our territorial waters? Do we also, if ever it is necessary for this weapon to 593 be fired, have control or a share of control in the first firing, anywhere in the world, of this weapon from submarines that use and have to use our base here?
We will listen very carefully to the answers which the right hon. Gentleman gives us, but I must say that, as we see things at present, we think, from all we have heard so far, that the Government are failing to look after, properly and adequately, our national rights and national interests in this very grave matter.
Like all other hon. Members who have taken part in the debate, I had hoped to say more than there will be time for me to say, and should like to confine myself to the main point on which I agree with what the hon. Member for Louth said. I regard as completely indefensible the Government's policy in regard to the seating of Communist China in the United Nations. This seems to me to be absolutely indefensible, if not to say ignoble.
First, we cannot keep out 600 million people. It is ludicrous. Secondly, to recognise them in one place and not recognise them in another is idiotic. I was amazed to hear the right hon. Gentleman produce a sort of defence, in principle, of lethargy—the idea that we had to wait until other people make up their minds because it might upset people in the United States. Britain cannot wait until everybody else has moved, so that we will be left in a dwindling majority of nations as a result of this policy, when everybody knows that Britain's vote would change the situation and do a great deal to win the non-involved nations to our side. This would be different if we had won the General Election. If we had won, China would now be seated in the United Nations, because Britain would have changed its vote. [Interruption.] It is Communist China that we are talking about, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has only just come in.
We have heard a new argument every year why we have had to postpone a decision. Last year it was because of the American elections, and there was some validity in that, but that position will now last for only another five days, and will then disappear for four years. I hope that we shall not have another argument next year justifying another 594 postponement. It is not worthy of Her Majesty's advisers.
§ Mr. C. Osborne
Surely, the right hon. Gentleman would not support the admission of China if it meant that America would walk out? He wants to keep in the Americans as well?
I think this fear is enormously exaggerated. I spent many weeks in America a year ago, going into this very closely, and I came to the conclusion that this fear was enormously exaggerated, and also that the Administration which uses that argument realises that it is in a terribly difficult position and wants someone else to get it out. We could do it.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
First, it is my pleasant duty to join with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) in congratulating my hon. Friend, the Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Jackson) on a very effective contribution to this most important debate. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the merits of that contribution, and I know that we shall all look forward with the deepest interest to what my hon. Friend will have to say to us on future occasions.
I wish to try to deal as fully and frankly as I can with the various matters that have been raised including, certainly, what the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and the right hon. Gentleman have put to me about Polaris. However, I shall start, if I may, by trying to put this in its proper context of the defence policy not only of Her Majesty's Government but of the West as a whole.
We have had an immense spate of words on defence in the last three months, and perhaps I may be allowed this personal comment. I wish that more of those words had been helpful to the task that I think most of us in this House are trying to do. In this House we are all agreed on one thing. Whatever our views may be, I am sure that we all want to try to keep a peaceful world; to try to stop a war starting—and I must say this because we know it to be true—which could destroy our civilisation as we know it today.
When I say, "our civilisation", I mean Russian civilisation, North American 595 civilisation—probably that of most of the world except, perhaps, as has been said, China. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I agree that China certainly could not avoid the disastrous effects of a nuclear war, but what I meant was that perhaps some of her vast population might survive it, although they would live in a new dark age. I agree that it is very questionable, when the horror of it is so great, whether one could get people to believe it unless one left some element of escape. But it is possibly true that there is no element of escape.
Let us have another thing clear. We on this side feel as deeply and passionately about these things as do hon. Members opposite, though we feel that perhaps unity is more effective as a deterrent. I do not question the sincere views of hon. Members opposite, but we feel just as deeply. The Minister of Defence, who lives, eats and sleeps with the problem, certainly must do. I believe that one day—and I agree with the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) that that day may not be as far ahead as some people may think—this House will come back to the belief that against the challenge—the horror, perhaps—of the fate that could fall on our world if we had a major nuclear war, this is not, on the whole, the best subject for acute political controversy. I only express a view there; I may be proved right or wrong. The Government have tried to deal with defence in this way, and so have the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman who have spoken today. I shall try to reciprocate.
First, I must go over the facts of deterrent policy as calmly and clearly as I can because, again as the hon. Member for Dudley said, any possible aggressor judges by the facts, and is usually very well informed of them—very much better informed, in fact, than some of those who have been making speeches on defence throughout the country. Let us start, therefore, with the facts about the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union has not disarmed, and is not disarming. It is true that on 14th January Mr. Khrushchev announced a reduction of 1,200,000 men in the Soviet armed forces, but he repeatedly emphasised that this did not mean any weakening at all of Soviet military power. 596 I should like to quote his actual words. Mr. Khrushchev said:The Soviet Army at present possesses such weapons and such fire power as have never been possessed by any army before.He also said:In our country the armed forces have been to a considerable extent converted to rocket and nuclear weapons. These weapons are being perfected, and will continue to be perfected.Those are Mr. Khrushchev's own words. He has also recently claimed, as hon. Members know, the possession of nuclear submarines and missile-firing submarines. I must add this, that, speaking for the Government, we can see no let-up by the Russians at all in their efforts and research in the development of all modern weapons of war. I say this to show that a Minister of Defence, and I hope all right-thinking people, must face the fact that until disarmament can be achieved—and the sooner that permanent solution can be obtained the better for all of us—peace must rest on the ability to make it plain to an aggressor that his aggression cannot possibly pay him.
That really is the task that, above all, falls not only on the Government but on all the allies of the West—the policy of deterrence, to stop a war starting until we can get disarmament. It has been supported over the years by both Labour and Conservative Governments, and I believe that if this country is a force for peace, as I believe it is, it is a policy that we cannot abandon if we are to play our part in the world.
The first thing that I would say is that it is a mistake to pretend, even perhaps by inadvertence, that our contribution, or indeed anybody else's contribution, to the deterrent power of the West does not exist. I was surprised to see that the Liberal Amendment—and I think the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), with most of whose speech I agreed, also said this—expresses regret at the fact that we do not intendto discontinue the policy of attempting to create an independent British nuclear deterrent …The hon. Member for Dudley said that we did not contribute 5 per cent. of the deterrent power of the West. I will give hon. Members one fact. I think it is known to most of them, but perhaps it is 597 worth saying again. At this moment we have a very powerful V-bomber force. It is at instant readiness, and each V-bomber can carry several scores of Hiroshimas in it. I think that brings it home more. I confess frankly that I get dazed by megatons and kilotons. I do not believe they mean anything to anybody. I say, therefore—as a threat to no one, but only because the facts should be known—that each V-bomber which stands at instant readiness can carry and must carry several scores of Hiroshimas in its load. If that is an insignificant contribution, I think that all our judgments have gone very wrong indeed.
That V-bomber fleet is a valid contribution to the deterrent certainly until the mid-1960's. It will gradually have an increasing stand-off capacity because of the coming into service of the British-made stand-off missile called Blue Steel. Therefore, I say this as a fact—and I am making no comment upon it—that until certainly the middle 1960's our contribution to the detenrent—call it independent, call it what you like; it is a fact and it is there—is immensely powerful and it has a quite horrifying capacity for destruction within it, as I know only too well. Let us pray that it never has to be used.
The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), in his constant search for slick wisecracks, said that the Government were sitting like the tramps in the play "Waiting for Godot", waiting for "Skybolt". It might have occurred to the right hon. Gentleman that we too would have thought that any weapon that is five years away and under development is likely to change in the course of development, or indeed never appear at all. That is the common parlance of defence development. Therefore, we have made alternative plans for maintaining our contribution should this situation occur. If it comes, of course we shall have it. If the B.52s of the Strategic Air Command are going to carry it, is it not common sense that the V-bombers, which are operationally interlocked with them, should carry it too? If not, we have other plans to enable us to carry out our contributions. I mention only one of them—the new T.S.R.2 aircraft which has this supersonic capacity and, what is more important, this contour-flying capacity 598 against which, at least at the moment, there is no known defence. Of course, it may be that, in five years, this will all be changed again. I give the facts to the House as I see them today. This is an aircraft and a weapons system which will be coming in after the mid-'sixties. There is at the moment no known defence against it.
I do not want to labour the point. I make it here merely to show that the Government are trying to fulfil their duty as we see it, that is to say, to continue to make our contribution to the deterrent forces of the West. We believe—whether or not we differ in this from the Opposition, I hope they will not question our sincerity—that in this way we do most to try to keep the peace of the world until, one day, disarmament can be achieved. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) put the matter very well indeed. We have to maintain the balance. If we do not, the chances of war, I think, are immensely increased
N.A.T.O. is not at present in a state of flux, but it is certainly in a state—as it should be, in my view—of rethinking its policy in a world which is very rapidly changing and a world where the nuclear weapon—this, though unfortunate, is true—is now immensely more available on both sides. There is no escape from our responsibilities by throwing the nuclear burden entirely on to N.A.T.O. N.A.T.O. is an alliance. It is not a nation providing its own army and its own weapons. Therefore, one or more nations must furnish the nuclear weapons which the alliance needs. At present, of course, the fact is that the Americans and ourselves are the only two nations which can do so. Some of our nuclear power is already at the disposal of N.A.T.O. I think the House knows this already, but I should like to put on record certain facts so that they may be known. Today a squadron of Valiant bombers in the tactical rôle, and, of course, quite a large number of Canberras, which provide an all-weather nuclear strike capacity, are our contribution to the N.A.T.O. alliance.
It may or may not be that there is a case for giving a more explicit N.A.T.O. label to these weapons. Frankly, I think that that is something which must be discussed at much greater length and 599 much more carefully before one could come to a view. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, the right hon. Gentleman and many other hon. Members touched the nub of the matter not only in regard to Polaris but in regard to the whole deterrent. I mean the question of control. This is the crux of the matter. The balance between having enough freedom to have a real deterrent and enough control to give politicians, as we must, some rights in the matter, presents, perhaps, the most difficult and baffling problem which faces a Minister of Defence and, perhaps, the whole House of Commons.
The purpose of the deterrent is to deter. If the book of rules when published seems to be a very restrictive one, if there are fifteen fingers on the safety catch, how much of a deterrent is it? Frankly, I cannot answer that question, but I think that the House must bear it in mind in these discussions. Moreover, we have our other responsibilities outside N.A.T.O., in C.E.N.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., and so forth.
Before I come to Polaris, I hope that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland will accept from me, because this is of great importance, that, Whatever the correspondent of the paper he quoted said, that report in no way represents the real situation. The real situation, as General Norstad said and as is true, is that General Norstad holds under his own hand control of every nuclear weapon in N.A.T.O. He himself has repeatedly said that he is subject to, and has to require, political authorisation for their use. I think we should remember that, because it is a very important safeguard, and it is something quite different from the point the article posed.
I wish to speak about Polaris in considerable detail, if the House will bear with me. In the United States, not very long ago, I had the opportunity of a very detailed examination of a Polaris submarine and a very long and full briefing by the United States authorities on how these new weapons would be used.
May I first give the House the background to what is a most powerful weapon, although I think that I agree with what some hon. Members have said that, in its turn, I fear that it will be overtaken by some new scientific development. If only we could lock up all the 600 scientists for five or six years we might be able to have a consistent defence policy. However, perhaps that is a plea from a Minister of Defence who sees too much of these new developments. Anyway, these submarines are operated from a base on the East Coast of the U.S.A. They will be split between New London and Charleston, and that is where all the work and all the refitting will be done. That is the submarine base. The base is not in the Clyde under any circumstances. It remains on the East Coast of America.
As soon as a reasonable number of these submarines are available, I understand that it is very possible that numbers of them will be operating from there and will not come to this country at all, because they are meant to operate in all the oceans of the world, and the only purpose in their coming to the Clyde is if they are operating in certain waters in the Atlantic. Let us be clear of one thing. Whatever view one takes about facilities in the Clyde, in the end they will not deal with all the Polaris submarines.
Here may I deal with the timing? Actually, these rather sporadic negotiations have been going on for six months. They have leaked twice in the Press and we have managed to suppress the leak. As one hon. Member said, they did leak in a major national newspaper, but not from this country. Obviously the leak was so detailed and clear that it was useless to try to deny it. The other reason for the timing was that if the depôt ship, the "Proteus", is to arrive at the due date, the work of buoying and preparing a pier and limited shore installations has to be started now. I confess that some of it has already started, otherwise we could not meet the due date. On both questions, it seemed best to get it out as soon as we could. I had hoped to announce it in the House of Commons when I answered Questions, but for purely technical reasons on the other side of the Atlantic I could not do so.
§ Mr. Healey
Could the right hon. Gentleman say at this stage whether the negotiations for the control arrangements for the Polaris base have been completed?
§ Mr. Watkinson
Yes, I am coming to that, and I think that I shall be able 601 to satisfy the hon. Gentleman that they are rather more detailed than perhaps he thought when he made his speech.
I have said that the base is in America. I have also said that these are not like a bomber aircraft. They have an almost limitless range. They can go round the world under the ice cap or in any other way they like. They can stay at sea for three or four months, or almost any period. The period is determined by the endurance of the crew, not the endurance of the submarine. I want to be clear on this, that, although their effectiveness is much increased now by using facilities in the Clyde, because crews can be flown over the Atlantic instead of being taken over the Atlantic in a submarine, this is probably something which is of great importance to the Americans for a limited period, and it was on that basis that they came to us and asked if we would give them these facilities.
There will be a depot ship and a floating dock. The submarines will do about two months at sea. They will come in, lie against the depot ship, and the crows will go to, I think, Prestwick, from where they will be flown back to America. There will be no crew families over here. Relief crew will then go on board. The submarine will do a certain amount of exercises over some weeks and then go off on another patrol.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether any attempt was made to consult the people on the spot before this was planted on them?
§ Mr. Watkinson
The difficulty about that was the difficulty of trying to keep this secret until we had got a proper arrangement with the Americans. Full consultation is taking place now.
§ Mr. Watkinson
If I give way too much, I shall not complete the explanation I wish to give the House.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
In view of the fact that the bewildered officials of local authorities were summoned at 48 hours' notice to be consulted about this, and in view of our experiences at Windscale, is it not the case that we shall have to take them into our confidence much more than has been done so far and that they 602 will have to be told a great deal more than they were told at their conference yesterday? A sort of liaison committee will have to be set up in order to make sure that the health and safety of the people in the area are not jeopardised.
Also, is it the case, following the Prime Minister's statement, that in fact it is possible for one of these submarines not to receive any British sanction whatever? In other words, are we bound by the American President should the Americans wish to fire these missiles?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I am coming to that. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, as a local Member, was not able to take part in the debate. I think that I shall be able fully to meet his points. I answer his first question by saying that a liaison committee is, of course, to be set up between the local authorities and the naval authorities and it will be given all the information possible to give it. I think that will show, as I saw this for myself, that the number of safeguards on these ships is absolutely immense, both with regard to the nuclear reactor in the ship and any weapons carried by them.
I now come to the question of control. There is, of course, as I have been trying to say all through my speech, the delicate balance between the certainty of retaliation upon which, I believe, the peace of the world rests and the quite proper control which politicians in any country ought to demand over a weapon which could launch a major nuclear war.
I agree also with the hon. Member that this submarine, this weapons system, is a rather better system because it is more invulnerable. It will be somewhere in the ocean—no one knows where, because its whole art is not to disclose its position. Therefore, it certainly is a second strike weapon and, I think, will be welcomed by all of us on that account.
To come to the detailed problem of control, I must return to what the Prime Minister said on 1st November. First of all, he stated that the facilities in this country, which include territorial waters, will be operated under exactly the same arrangements as those applying to the existing bomber bases and missile sites, that is to say, joint consultation in an emergency. I do not think that he actually mentioned this, but perhaps I 603 might make it plain to the House that our control within territorial waters is absolute. We have a firm assurance that these missiles would not be fired in any circumstances in the United Kingdom territorial waters. I do not think that the Prime Minister brought that out, and so I add that to the facts now.
The Prime Minister went on to explain, and rightly so, that in the case of submarines it was impossible to make an agreement on exactly parallel lines with the Truman-Attlee agreement for the air bases. The reason for this I have tried to explain. The submarines will only call at Holy Loch and they may be hundreds of miles from this island in a moment of emergency. They will also be mixed in eventually with other submarines from America. As the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said, I am not sure that an enemy would argue what label was on a missile if it arrived. There is that difficulty. It was to cover this situation which consequently arises that the Prime Minister used these words, which, of course, had the full agreement of the United States Government before the words were used. He said:As regards general control, therefore, we shall continue to rely on the close co-operation and understanding which exists between us and the United States in all these defence matters and which President Eisenhower has recently reaffirmed.The Prime Minister went on to deal with what arrangements this meant in practice. The phrase he used here was that there would be. . the fullest possible previous consultation …".—[Official Report 1st November, 1960; Vol. 629, c. 38.]I think that the misunderstanding in America, so far as I can track it down, occurred because some reports of his speech omitted the word "possible". [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, and, of course, if that is omitted it becomes an absolute statement. I must say to the House, because I do not wish there to be any misunderstanding, that the word "possible" is necessary, and I will go on to explain why because I think that we should consider the practical situation that might arise. It is obvious that if the deterrent is to be credible, as I have been saying, it must be possible to launch an immediate retaliation against aggression.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
This is a very important point. It might affect the 604 whole country. May I ask the Minister: Does he rule out the possibility that at a vital moment a similar mistake might be made and could result in a third world war?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I hope that the hon. Member will let me finish. I am trying to show that that is barred by the arrangements. I say this to meet the point made by the hon. Member. Of course, within the submarine there are an immense number of interlocking precautions and security arrangements which mean that a missile cannot be fired inadvertently. There are also clear arrangements in the drill and control from America which mean that nothing can be done without, not only checks, but double checks, of what one might be told, and so on. Therefore, I am quite satisfied from my personal experience that there is no danger there.
To return to the question of credibility, the difficulty is that one must be seen to be able to retaliate and in circumstances of sudden aggression it is obvious that consultation might be impracticable. That is what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister meant. He meant that it is right that we should accept this fact, because the certainty of immediate retaliation is an essential part of the deterrent and, therefore, vital to the preservation of peace.
§ Mr. Watkinson
I am coming to the idea that there might be an arrangement to agree these things beforehand, both in N.A.T.O. and outside it. If that does not meet the point that the hon. Member wishes to raise, I will give way.
§ Mr. Healey
I should like to get one thing clear. The Prime Minister's statement implied, for example, that if a Polaris submarine based on Holy Loch were cruising off the Chinese coast and there was conflict between Formosa and China, Britain has the right, if there is time, to be consulted on its use. Is that, in fact, the case?
§ Mr. Watkinson
What I understand is this. If that submarine were clearly known to be in those waters and from the base—and, I believe, if it was not—I am sure that the Prime Minister's understanding is that on a weapon of this kind, as, indeed, on the initiation of nuclear war as a whole, if it were 605 possible we should be consulted. By "we" I mean the allies as a whole. To be fair to the Americans, they do not regard us as being in any special position in this respect. I think they take the responsibility that they should try to consult the alliance as a whole.
We are satisfied that these missiles would not be used without the greatest degree of consultation with this country and our allies that the situation allowed. That is why—I know that the Prime Minister feels this, and he says so—we are content to rely on the close co-operation and understanding that we have with the United States on these defence matters and which has recently been reaffirmed by the President. I agree that in a few days' time, there will be a new President. No doubt, in that case, this may have to be reaffirmed. We are, however, right to rest on the assurance and in this case, I think, it has been held in the past that one President can commit another.
I hope that I have answered the general questions and I should like to say one or two other things on the more particular questions. The most important one is to draw attention to the words of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister:The deployment and use in periods of emergency of the submarine depôt ship and associated facilities in the United Kingdom will be a matter of joint consultation between the two Governments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1960; Vol. 629, c. 37–8.]In other words, first there is the bar to any firing of any missiles in territorial waters. Secondly, there is the absolute right of joint consultation on the presence of the depôt ship. This is not like a bomber base. One cannot dig up a bomber base and suddenly move it, but one can ask a depôt ship to slip its moorings and go elsewhere. That is a powerful safeguard.
I have just drawn attention to the Prime Minister's words, which said that there would be joint consultation between the two Governments on this matter, and the ship, of course, remains in our territorial waters. So there is an important safeguard there and I wish to draw the attention of the House to it.
Again, I come back to the dilemma; it is a dilemma and I do not want to disguise it. The hon. Member for Leeds, East has made his position more clear. At one time, I thought he meant that 606 there was a 15-nation veto. I understand what he said. He means that the 15 nations might agree proper rules of procedure beforehand under which a commander might act in certain acute circumstances. The hon. Member or one of his right hon. Friends mentioned what I call the Standing Group concerning the deterrent in N.A.T.O., to which I am much attracted because it limits the numbers.
I end by saying this. Of course, there must be more consultation on the broad issue of control, both in N.A.T.O. and in any other arrangement. This cannot stand still. If we agreed something today, we would constantly have to look at it and renew it again. I only promise the House that, subject to keeping the validity of the deterrent, I would never give up the right as a politician to have some say in the use of a weapon which would mean the destruction of our civilisation if it were used without proper consultation. That is the basis on which we stand and the basis which the Americans accept, subject only to the one proviso that in the situation of a sudden bolt from the blue, there might be circumstances—we might be partially knocked out—in which we could not—
§ It being four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.