§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
The Lord Privy Seal, in opening the debate yesterday, usefully covered an extensive world canvas, even thought the House, in general, since then has tended to concentrate on one or two central issues. I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman's tour d'horizon, but before I come to the main issues I want to refer to one subject with which he dealt yesterday, namely, Laos.
The whole House was united on the principle which led to the Geneva agreement: the creation of a neutralist Laos under a coalition Government representing Right-wing forces, neutralists and Pathet Lao, under the neutralist 384 Prince Souvanna Phouma. The House as a whole, too, has shown its growing anxiety about the breaches of the Geneva agreement, and about the danger that this very precarious Laotian administration would collapse. We have all expressed our hope that the Control Commission, established under the Geneva agreement, would be effective in isolating and reporting on individual breaches of the agreement—all these breaches coming from Pathet Lao activities.
Foreign Office Ministers in another place have been critical of the Polish element in the Commission for its refusal to allow the Commission to intervene, but I think that I am right in saying that a correct interpretation of the Geneva agreement means that the Commission can act, as we all want it to act, only when it is asked to do so by the Laotian Government, and this means by all three constituents of the Government and not the Prime Minister acting alone. So far, Souvannaphong has withheld his agreement, and this has led not only the Laotian Premier, but also the Foreign Secretary, as Co-chairman, to appeal to Moscow to intervene to secure an agreed Laotian Government approach.
I have reason to think, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said yesterday, that there has been no bad faith on the part of the Soviet Government on this issue. I believe that they are as anxious as we are to see peace and stability in Laos, and that their failure arises not from bad faith but from a sheer inability to control the situation because, quite frankly, their writ does not run in this territory and they are unwilling to challenge the Chinese—whose writ, I imagine, does run—in a confrontation, or trial of strength, on this issue. This is part of the very much wider problem of Sino-Soviet relations.
I want to concentrate on the immediate problem that we have been facing in this debate—a nuclear test ban. I do not need to underline the urgency of this—the priority need to avert a fresh round of damaging nuclear tests, the need to prevent a further dangerous impetus to the nuclear arms race, the economic cost to East and West alike, and, perhaps, above all, the need to get one clear and 385 symbolic—indeed, more than symbolic—one positive achievement in the field of co-existence. President Kennedy faces political problems, in any test ban agreement, in the Senate. So, in my view, does Mr. Khrushchev. I think that Mr. Khrushchev has similarly shown great courage in standing by the policy of coexistence in the face, I suspect, of some pressure at home, and, in the context of the Communist world, in the face of almost intolerable pressure within his alliance at a time of great ideological dispute.
We must all face the fact that any failure now in these negotiations, if that failure can be laid at our door, could lead not necessarily immediately—perhaps later rather than sooner—to strengthening the hands of those in the Communist bloc who are only too ready to criticise Mr. Khrushchev's co-existence policy. We must remember that Mr. Khrushchev has a Senate, too.
The first question that my right hon. Friend and I, and my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Slater), who took part in all our talks in Moscow, sought to put was the prospect of a straight, overall test ban covering tests in the atmosphere, in space, underwater and underground—the complete test ban. We were particularly at pains to try to dispel the suspicion and mistrust which had arisen between the Soviet Union and the United States, from the grave misunderstanding between the two countries' representatives, on the question of inspection. The Soviet representatives, headed by Mr. Kuznetzov, had gained the impression that the American negotiators had indicated that if the Russians would agree to at any rate some on-site inspections—two or three—a test ban could be agreed to immediately. The Russians feel that this was the proper interpretation of what was said, and 'they therefore feel that, having offered three inspections, they were let down when the Americans said that three were not enough.
My right hon. Friend and I were completely satisfied, from our talks in Washington, that this was a genuine misunderstanding, that the Americans had acted in complete good faith in this matter, and that they were worried about the fact that the Russians had misunderstood. So we spent some time in Moscow trying to convince Mr. Khrushchev and 386 his colleagues of America's good faith in this matter.
But we were left in no doubt that, whatever the cause of this misunderstanding, the Soviet Government regarded this issue as closed. The offer of two or three on-site inspections was withdrawn. When this statement was made to us we felt that it was too important and too sombre to be left in doubt through any vagaries of interpretation or translation, and we pressed for a repetition. I am sorry to have to repeat to the House that this is quite clear; the offer of three inspections is withdrawn. Unless, therefore, there is a sudden change in the Soviet attitude, between our visit a fortnight ago and the talks when they begin in a few days' time, the possibility of a comprehensive test ban—including underground tests—is, we must admit, far from hopeful.
In those circumstances we felt it right to press two alternatives. One of these was the proposal which has been put at different times by the West and by the Soviet Government, but never at the same time, for a ban limited to the so-called threeenvironments—atmosphere, space, and underwater. This is limited. If we had a test ban of this kind it would be limited in its coverage, but I think that the House would agree that it is well worth pressing for.
It would, in any case, outlaw the major tests—the 20, 30 and 50 megaton explosion. It would end the danger of the pollution of the atmosphere. It would limit, though it could not end, the nuclear arms race. But, of course, to have any hope of acceptance in the United States, this would mean that both sides would have to be free to continue underground testing, because a voluntary moratorium in the field of underground testing would simply be to accept the Soviet view on inspection.
Mr. Khrushchev, when we pressed him on this, said that the Russians would welcome a three environments ban, leaving the question of underground tests for further negotiation. But, of course, we were not able to get a clear agreement that during those negotiations both sides would be free to continue underground tests. Frankly, we could hardly have hoped to get this. As my right hon. Friend said, we were not in a position to negotiate with the Soviet authorities.
387 What we were engaged in was a reconnaissance in depth which, I think, was of itself quite useful. But I believe that the idea of raising this question, of sidetracking the difficulties away from the somewhat sterile argument about inspection into the more hopeful sphere of a test ban limited to the three areas that I have mentioned, has been useful, and I think that Mr. Khrushchev's speech yesterday in East Berlin, the first time for a very long time that he has given this assurance in public, stems from the discussions that we had in Moscow.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I have listened with some surprise to the right hon. Gentleman, because everyone knows that for at least two years the Soviet Union could at any moment have signed such a test ban treaty for space, the atmosphere and underwater. There is nothing new about this at all.
§ Mr. Wilson
I said that there is nothing new about it. The point is, of course—as I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman from his study of these matters realises—that at various times East and West have said nearly everything, but they have never said it at the same time. The Soviet Union itself, some three years ago, and indeed longer, pressed for a three-environments test ban but the West did not agree at that time. I do not want to apportion blame to either side. This is too important an issue to be regarded as a debating point.
What I think is important is to establish, particularly on the eve of these vitally important talks in Moscow, what are the areas in which agreement can be reached. Until a month ago—I agree with what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said; we said the same in Moscow—all the emphasis and all the discussions were on the question of inspection. Would they go above three? Would the Americans go below seven? Is there a way round it by suggesting 21 or 22 in three years with a maximum of so many in any one year? I think that the importance of the last few weeks has been to establish that probably the most helpful line lies in both sides reviving at the same time—and saying this at the same time—aproposal for this three-environments test ban. I agree—and I am sure that all of us would agree— 388 that this is not the whole of what we would want, but it is a very valuable step forward.
I feel, therefore, that there is real hope of an agreement if the negotiators will take it up from that point. We did, however, press a further point. It is certainly not an original point, indeed, we have discussed it in this House, namely, a confrontation of Soviet and Western scientists. Soviet scientists claim that every underground test can be monitored from outside, or, at any rate, with the aid of black boxes. Once again, Mr. Khrushchev made it clear that the Russians had no objection to a number of black boxes.
It is the Soviet scientists' view that all tests of any significance at all can be monitored from outside. We know that this view is shared also by many distinguished and authoritative Western scientists both in Britain and in the United States, though the view is not shared by the scientists advising Western Governments. So what we suggested to Mr. Khrushchev, or, perhaps, we suggested in more detail to Mr. Kuznetsov and Mr. Gromyko, was this: that either as a means of following up the underground problem once a three-environments test ban had been agreed, or, if we like, more ambitiously, as a means to securing a fully comprehensive test ban, Soviet and Western scientists should meet, and argue the problem out on these lines. [Interruption.]
I know that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested these things many times, but we are trying to make progress now on the eve of these talks. The trouble is that the right hon. Gentleman has never suggested it in Moscow, and the important thing here is, if I may suggest it to the right hon. Gentleman, who, I know, has worked tremendously hard—and we all pay tribute to his patience and initiative—to get some loosening of the Soviet attitude at the top, and that, as I understand it, is what we are hoping to get on 15th July.
It is, therefore, somewhat relevant to the whole House to hear some idea of what the Soviet authorities have had put to them and those points on which they might agree. What we have suggested—the right hon. Gentleman and I have often passed this across the Floor of the 389 House to one another in debate after debate—was that when the scientists get together the United States should, during a given named period, say, during the next month, or the next fortnight, or whatever it might be, undertake a secret test, at a time and place unspecified, which would be witnessed and certified by United Nations or other agreed neutral observers. If, at the end of the period, the Soviet scientists could say,"That test took place at 3.35 p.m. on such and such a date in Nevada"—or somewhere of that kind—then I think that the Soviet scientists would have vindicated their claim of being able to monitor the tests from outside. If they failed to be able to do this, there is, I think, a prima facie case for the view that the Western scientists' claim had been vindicated. I hope that we shall see this proposal seriously pressed.
Even if we get the three-environments ban, I think that we are all agreed that it is important to go on and try to achieve the underground tests and an effective test ban as well. The question of a nuclear test ban is so vital to world peace that I hope that the Western negotiators will be prepared to put forward a package plan which is designed to assist a test ban agreement. I think that to confine the negotiations too closely to the test ban may not be as fruitful as if it is backed by other proposals.
I think that there are two proposals which could be of immeasurable help in creating the confidence necessary to get the test ban. First, a proposal involving a measure of disengagement, for example, a willingness to take the Rapacki plan as a basis for negotiation, in the wider context of what is called in the Geneva draft,"Measures designed to prevent surprise attack", because, from my discussions in Washington—I do not know whether Ministers will confirm that this is their view: perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us this evening—I formed the view that the United States did not entirely exclude all possible consideration of the Rapacki plan, but felt that it should be put under the general category of"measures designed to prevent surprise attack."
It is for this reason that I have been disappointed on a number of occasions, including last week, when we read the 390 text of the debate in another place, that the Foreign Secretary once again pretty brusquely ruled out the idea of considering the Rapacki plan. I will come to the prospects of disengagement later. Secondly, I believe that we should now press—and I emphasise the word"now", because I think that it should be related to the Moscow talks—with all the vigour at our command, a proposal for an anti-proliferation agreement, a ban on the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the four existing Powers who are, or claim to be, independent nuclear Powers.
This is a proposal which, I think, would not only have an enormous catalytic value in reaching agreement, but it is, of course, intrinsically, in its own right, a highly desirable and essential step. I think that it would help to get a test ban agreement. But, for its own sake, it is something which should proceed anyway. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House shudder to think of the spread of nuclear weapons to fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, tenth and twelfth Powers especially if those included, as they would, countries such as Egypt, Israel and China.
We had some lengthy discussions on this matter and found that the Soviet Government would welcome such a proposal, a proposal to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and I think that it could, as I have said, be a great solvent in the forthcoming talks. But the top Soviet leaders insist on one essential interpretation of the anti-proliferation agreement. It is that there must be no spread, direct or indirect, of nuclear weapons.
Frankly, the Russians would regard a multilateral or mixed-manned force as a breach of any such agreement; or, if the multilateral force were in existence before the negotiations, they would regard it as an impediment, indeed, as a fatal bar, to the conclusion of such an agreement. What I am trying to suggest to the House is that the Soviet authorities would welcome a proposal for an anti-proliferation agreement. But, at the same time, they would regard this as incompatible with the continued negotiations for a multilateral mixed-manned force.
When the Russians said this they had in mind the Germans. I have said more than once in this House—I think that all 391 of us have said it—and elsewhere, at the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians meetings, in Washington and in a number of other places. I have referred to the Russian"obsession" about German arms. I do not think that that is too strong a word. The point was made last night by the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). I do not think that I should ever use the phrase"love-hate relationship" between the Russians and the Germans. The word"love" does not quite fit in. But, at any rate, the Russians have a very powerful mixture of respect and hatred for the Germans. After all, going back to Czarist times, almost anything which ran successfully in Russia, from a railway to a cotton mill, was probably controlled or managed by Germans—[Hon. Members:"And Scotsmen."] Yes, and the Scots; I give credit to them. But the Germans have only respect for the Scots; they have no hatred for them.
At all times since, I think, they have had a formidable respect for German technological achievements. This, coming on top of, or being followed by, the Second World War, when 20 million Russians died, has created a situation about which I think one is justified in using the word"obsession". It is an obsession that we would have had had we suffered at the hands of the Germans in the way in which the Russians suffered.
I have expressed in strong terms my view that any proposal to arm the Germans with nuclear weapons would mean the end of any hope of easing the East-West tension. That has been my opinion. But my words, strong though they may have seemed to me, pale into insignificance when compared with the vehemence with which Mr. Khrushchev expressed the same thought when we were in Moscow. I am in no doubt at all that this really would mean the end of any policy of constructive co-existence. It would be as much a turning point in history, and as much a fateful milestone on the road to a third world war, as Hitler's march into the Rhineland was towards the last war.
We tried to find out whether the Soviet objection to direct German nuclear armaments extended equally to the multilateral force. Again, we were left in no doubt of the answer. We explained the American position to them and I think 392 that this should be said. The Americans deserve credit for their motives in proposing a multilateral force. Let there be no misunderstanding about this. The Americans are as keen to prevent the Germans from becoming a nuclear Power, either directly or through a Franco-German understanding, as anyone in this House. That is the American motive.
They know as well as anyone that from the defence point of view the multilateral force proposal is a nonsense, adding nothing to Western strength. But they are so convinced that, in the absence of proposals of this kind to integrate Germany into an international nuclear force, Germany would become a nuclear Power that they are presenting this nonsensical proposal, because it is the only proposal they can offer to stop Germany from becoming a nuclear Power.
If we were convinced that this were the only way to stop the German nuclear capability we would reluctantly support the multilateral force proposal. But we are not so convinced. On the contrary, we have feared all along that it would whet the German nuclear appetites, and, in fact, it is doing so, even before we have it. The very mention of it is whetting German appetites.
Herr von Hassel, the German Defence Minister, if he was correctly reported, has said that if there were a M.L.F.—a multilateral force—incorporating an American veto, that veto could not continue for ever. Moreover, when he stated his acceptance, in the statement he made, of the idea of the multilateral force, he said that this proposal did not supersede or replace Germany's request for medium-range ballistic missiles on German soil. We have been warned and the House must be very clear about its answer to this warning.
Further, General Lemnitzer, addressing the Assembly of Western European Union on 7th June, said:Our studies at S.H.A.P.E. indicate that a mixture of configuration—surface ships, submarines and land vehicles—would be the best solution to attaining the military capability which we require.So there is a very serious development of a"desire"—if hon. Members like—for a spread of nuclear weapons.
I hope that the Prime Minister, President Kennedy, Lord Hailsham—we wish him well despite our doubts about whether 393 he was the right choice—and Mr. Harriman will be in no doubt of the importance of this question, that the issue of German rearmament is the key to the whole problem of East-West tension and so to the wider problem of attaining a lasting peace. We must therefore ask the Prime Minister—I hope that he will give us a clear answer—where he stands on this issue. On 31st January, when we debated the Nassau arrangement, I said:We have a right to ask where the Government stand on these proposals for a European deterrent, including the nuclear rearmament of Germany. I make perfectly clear now where we stand. We are completely, utterly, and unequivocally opposed, now and in all circumstances, 10 any suggestion that Germany, West Germany or East Germany, directly or indirectly, should have a finger on the nuclear trigger or any responsibility, direct or indirect, for deciding that nuclear weapons are to be used."—[Official Report, 31st January, 1963, Vol. 670, c. 1246.]I have used exactly the same words at Washington and in Moscow. This is the policy of our party. When I stated this in January, and I asked the Prime Minister then if he would be equally clear about his own attitude to this question, his answer was equivocal. I hope that he will be clear tonight. It is important, for this reason. Recent reports suggest that the M.L.F. proposal may be shelved, or deferred. Since the Americans put it forward in good faith, as I believe, as the one contribution which they could suggest for preventing Germany from becoming a nuclear Power, and since the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister—whatever equivocations we have had from the Government Front Bench about M.L.F.—is obviously very dubious about it—I think that the whole House is—we have to ask him this question.
Since the Americans say that this is the only way of stopping Germany from becoming a nuclear Power and the Government clearly oppose this proposal, what is their alternative? What is the Prime Minister's alternative as a means of stopping the Germans from becoming a nuclear Power? Does he agree with the United States view that Germany either must be included in the M.L.F., or that Germany will become a nuclear Power? I think that the House and the country would be greatly reassured if the Prime Minister would express himself on this question as clearly as we have from this side of the House. 394 If the right hon. Gentleman does not, we want to know what is the alternative. It is no secret, I think, that last year, at the time of Mr. McNamara's Ann Arbor speech, which many of us welcomed as aimed at confining nuclear capabilities to the two real nuclear Powers, the Prime Minister was encouraging and supporting General de Gaulle's nuclear ambitions in his rather pathetic attempt to win French support for Britain's entry into the Common Market.
Is it now the fact that whereas Mr. Khrushchev, President Kennedy and, at any rate, this side of the House, and, I think, many hon. Gentlemen opposite—in fact, practically all of them—are all strongly opposed to German nuclear arms, the Prime Minister and the Government are, perhaps, prepared to see a situation developing in which Germany could become a nuclear Power on the ground that it would make his own so-called independent nuclear deterrent a little more respectable than it is? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will now make his position clear on this tonight, more so than he did in January. If that were his attitude, I think he should not be in any doubt that he would be gambling with peace for reasons of election calculations. Let us hope that we get a clear answer to this tonight.
I want to put another point to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that he put this point to the President of the United States last weekend, because it was one of the central issues included in a summary of impressions that we made available to the Government of our talks in Moscow. This is the issue of China. We were left in no doubt that the question of nuclear arms for Germany is tied up in the Russian mind with that of nuclear arms for China. I have little fear of the Soviet Union, in present conditions, wanting to give nuclear weapons to China—far from it—but my colleagues and I were told that it will be immeasurably harder to justify refusing them to the Chinese if Germany is brought, whether directly or indirectly, into the nuclear picture, and it will be immeasurably easier to refuse them nuclear arms if the Soviet Government can point to an effective anti-proliferation agreement covering both direct and indirect nuclear capability. Thus, the effect of an anti-proliferation agreement goes 395 far beyond even the hopes that some of us have placed on it.
Before I sit down, I want to refer to two questions which I mentioned briefly in passing. One is the German question, on which the Russians feel and express themselves so strongly. It is very important to get away from jargon and slogans. There is not one German question—ther are at least three—and it is important to disentangle them. I shall not disguise from the House the fact that when Mr. Khrushchev spoke on this question—he made a very long statement about Germany—he emphasised his points with such vehemence that the table between us shook, and I think that my colleagues will confirm that I replied with equal frankness about our attitude to this.
§ Mr. Wilson
I think that the issues we are trying to debate are a little beyond the comprehension of a pedantic grammarian. We are all extremely fond of the hon. Gentleman, and enjoy his interruptions, but I sometimes think that if the world were ever practically destroyed by a nuclear explosion, the hon. Gentleman would creep out of his shell next morning, if, happily, he were preserved, and complain that somebody had split an infinitive.
The position is that while I think that there is a great deal of common ground on the question of German nuclear arms, certainly between us and the Soviet Union, and, I think, between many hon. Gentlemen opposite and the Soviet Union, there is no common ground as yet on the question of West Berlin or of the proposed German peace treaty. On this subject we used the same words as we have used in this House in past debates, for example, on 5th July, last. I suggest to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that when they discuss this question with the Russians they should insist that there is not one, single, homogeneous German question, as the Russians always insist, but that there are at least three, the three I have just mentioned—Berlin, the peace treaty and nuclear arms.
The so-called urgency of a peace treaty on Russian lines exists as a matter of urgency only in the Soviet mind. It is 396 not acceptable, and it is certainly not urgent. There is no need for one, and on Berlin I think that we must continue to point out that the geographical accident, or the historical accident, that West Berlin is an enclave within an area coloured red, or green, or whatever it is, on maps has no bearing on the future of 2 million citizens of West Berlin. They tend to say that this is geographically part of East Germany and that, therefore, certain events must follow from that.
We insist, as the House does, that the 2 million citizens of West Berlin must be free to make their own decision about the kind of society and the kind of political system in which they live. I remember telling Mr. Gomulka, who had been very passionate on this subject, and had made a long reference, when dealing with something else, to the problem of slavery, that his proposals for Berlin would mean the creation of 2 million slaves who today are free men and women. I think that this should be clearly stated.
Let us try to disentangle the nuclear arms question, on which I think the Russians have every right to speak as they do, from these other issues, because we are playing their game. We are endangering peace if we talk as Dr. Adenauer does, or as Mr. Khrushchev does, of the German question. There is not one, but, as the Lord Privy Seal knows, there are many.
The other point in disengagement. I have said that this could be a great solvent both to the Berlin question and to the problem of nuclear tests. The Rapacki plan has been repeatedly turned down by Her Majesty's Government, and sharply at that, but there are some attractive things about it. It involves inspection on a substantial scale. It could lead to useful experience being gained and useful confidence being created to see how East and West can get together in a scheme that involves so much inspection. It contains built-in provisions against surprise attack. We emphasised in our discussions that we are not committed to every detail of the Rapacki plan, far from it, though we feel that it could be accepted as a basis for discussion. It should be tabled and discussed.
We emphasised, both in our talks with Soviet leaders and with Mr. Rapacki himself, whom we met in Warsaw—and 397 I think that this must be emphasised— that it should not be put forward or used in any sense which would mean altering the balance of forces or the military dispositions between East and West. Once the Rapacki plan is looked at in such a way to destroy the balance of forces, then any value it has disappears as a basis for negotiation. I therefore strongly urge the Government to be more forthcoming on the question of the Rapacki plan and to make this clear at the Moscow talks.
The principle of nuclear-free zones and areas of controlled conventional disarmament should be pressed for other parts of the world as well as central Europe. It may be that we could make progress more quickly in the establishment of such zones in other parts of the world. Why cannot we agree, as we pressed in Moscow, that the whole Continent of Africa should be declared a nuclear-free zone and guaranteed as such with adequate inspection by all the major Powers through the United Nations?
It is clear that we would have to exclude Egypt in the early stages—she is now being armed with German rockets—until we could get a similar nuclear-free zone established for the Middle East, and, as we urged on Mr. Khrushchev, a ban on arms shipments to the Middle East, which we know the Government would wish to support. But why should not we have one for Africa, and one for Latin America? Let us at least make a start with this even if we are not yet ready—and I hope that we would be—to make a success of a nuclear-free zone for central Europe.
These are concrete proposals on which we would welcome Government support tonight. I have tried to indicate some of the ways in which international negotiations, beginning with the vital conference in Moscow on 15th July, could lead the world in the direction of peace. The ideas put forward by my right hon. Friends yesterday are not academic exercises. They have been to a large extent tested in the Kremlin, and I urge again the need for talks at the Summit.
Whatever our hopes for a conference this month, the Soviet system is such that it is only at the top that we have real prospects of the flexibility needed 398 to break down the rigidities of Soviet policy—only at the top can we really get the flexibility that is necessary for negotiation and a successful agreement. That is why we stressed the need to a Summit conference.
The world has not had a happy experience of Summits. I hope that I am not unduly cynical, but their timing appears to have been too much related to electoral considerations in this country. In 1955, for example, the Earl of Avon—then Sir Anthony Eden—persuaded a very reluctant President Eisenhower to authorise him to announce, in time for the election of that year, that there would be a Summit after the eleclion. After the election, we had the Summit—it failed.
In 1959, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, with the good will of the whole House, put on his white fur hat and visited Moscow. He was working for a Summit, and he was right to do so, and he eased the path to the Summit, I believe, by indicating to Mr. Khrushchev—I use the word"indicating"; I do not say that he said it in so many words as a binding commitment—that he was inclined towards a measure of disengagement in Europe. Mr. Khrushchev certainly got that impression.
That led to agreement about a Summit, and the General Election in that year was fought partly on Summit hopes and Summit promises. There was a great deal of discussion about the date to be fixed for the Summit. This argument ran right through the election. But the Summit was doomed, even before the U2 flight, by the fact that any ideas the Prime Minister had about disengagement—and I believe that they were sincere in hismind—were firmly vetoed by Dr. Adenauer on the Prime Minister's pressing the matter further in the pre-Summit preparations. So the Summit failed.
Since then, there has been no progress. But now, with the same predictable regularity that we welcome the quadrennial spasms in industrial production, there is talk of a Summit again—and we welcome it, however mixed the Prime Minister's motives may be in this matter. We have talk of a Summit once in four years. Is it not fantastic? Moscow is only 3½ hours by jet from London, and 399 we are getting to the point where it is easier for two cosmonauts to rendezvous in space than for a Soviet and a British Prime Minister to rendezvous in the same conference room.
I said last week—if a British business man runs into a problem—with a contract, or deliveries, a specification or after-sales service—at the drop of a hat he will fly half-way round the world to solve it. But when we face these vital, challenging, dangerous problems, affecting world peace, we rely on this stately quadrille of Notes, of diplomatic representations, demarchés and détentes, instead of the plain, honest-to-goodness, commonsense proceeding of putting national leaders in a room together to settlethe issue.
I think that one reason—and I do not underrate it—is the fear of failure, the fear of the shiver of disappointment that would go through the world if heads of Government met and failed to reach agreement. This is understandable, and I think that it leads to the sterile insistence that everything must be cleared in advance and, as far as possible, agreed in advance, before heads of Government meet. But it cannot be agreed in advance, because, in the Soviet system, the authority to agree rests only at the top, so the leaders do not meet, or, if by chance they do, the very fear of failure tends to produce a sort of anxiety neurosis which makes failure well-nigh inevitable.
This is why we have put forward the idea—and it was warmly welcomed in Moscow—of regular, routine Summits to be held at a fixed date whether there had been prior agreement or not. That would have less fear of failure and, for that very reason, more hope of success. We suggested that the Prime Minister of the U.S.S.R. and the Prime Minister of Britain, whoever he may be—and, perhaps, when he decides to return to the comity of nations, the President of France—should go to New York, each to lead his country's delegation to the General Assembly each October and, while there—they could take the opportunity to make important speeches in the General Assembly if they so wished—meet the President of the United States—preferably, I think, under the aegis of the United Nations—for Summit talks.
400 None of us under-rates the formidable problems that are confronting the world's peacemakers, of whatever party they may be or of whatever country, during the next few years. We believe that this limited, but, I hope, constructive proposal for regular—perhaps annual—Summits, taken with the other proposals we have put forward in this debate, although none of them is very dramatic or spectacular, could be the first step towards an enduring peace.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
Like the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), I have listened to many debates on foreign policy, and it is an unhappy, though maybe an inevitable, feature of those debates that they tend at a very early stage to turn to a discussion about bombs: who makes them, who owns them—perhaps rather more hopefully, as the right hon. Gentleman addressed a good part of his remarks to it, whether or not they should be tested.
But however cleverly any of us might think we might conduct negotiations on that subject, at a moment when we are about to embark on a negotiation that is of very great importance to the world it would, on the whole, be rather unwise for a Government to start pre-positioning themselves over the whole range of complicated issues connected with a test-ban. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will deal with those matters later. I certainly do not intend to enlarge very greatly upon them myself.
I will speak of the matters connected with the nuclear deterrent which were raised by the right hon. Gentleman—it is my duty as Minister of Defence to do so. Perhaps I might say, in advance, that the peace of the world does not depend upon the manufacture of fissile material, or even on the unilateral abandonment of weapons; it depends on a change in the hearts and minds of men. The principal task of foreign policy is to serve our major interest, which is to secure peace, to resolve differences with our enemies and, where we can, to cement alliances without friends. In those great aims of foreign policy, defence policy plays a vital, but, I think and hope, a subsidiary rôle. It is about that rôle that I want to speak.
401 I start with the scenario, or background, against which we act out these events. The scene has changed utterly since the curtain dropped at the end of the last world war. Russia, from being a great and powerful ally, became a potential—I will not say aggressor, but a potential opponent in these matters. The bomb that dropped on Hiroshima ushered in a world in which the weapons would be immensely costly, and immensely destructive.
America, from historically being nationalist and isolationist, came right into the centre of the world stage, and China, perhaps most importantly of all, woke from the slumbers of centuries and started to adopt an aggressive imperialist policy. These very large changes faced the West with some mortal perils, and led to two principles of defence policy.
The first is the principle of deterrence. Quite a number of hon. and right hon. Members have said during the course of the debate that since no one could win a war—and, certainly, no one could win a nuclear war—it was obviously a major interest of the world to deter a nuclear war. But while the principle of deterrence is very much talked and written about it is very little understood. Phrases like"Surely this country or that country would never wish to go to war with Russia on her own" are, of course, perfectly true, but they are quite meaningless in terms of a deterrent.
A deterrent weapon is, ex hypothesi, not one to start a war. It is a weapon which an enemy knows you have and recognises that you would use only if he attacked you. This is the essence of any deterrent, whether Russian, American, British, French, European, multilateral, or anything else. Deterrence, therefore, is the first principle of defence, and of this I will say a little more later.
The second principle is interdependence. Plainly, in a world so dangerous and with weapons so powerful and so costly all, even the most powerful countries, must seek allies. Hence N.A.T.O., CENTO and S.E.A.T.O., co-operation with Europe and, importantly, our alliance with the British Commonwealth. Whatever may be said in criticism of these principles of deterrence and interdependence they are principles which have been pursued by both par- 402 ties. The Labour Party, in the past, was as ardent for the atomic bomb and for alliances as the Conservatives who followed them. Indeed, this policy has worked. In the main, we have had peace and when war has broken out it has been contained, and even where there have been gross misjudgments, like Cuba, they have been dealt with coolly and toughly and contained and stifled.
I believe, therefore, that the principles of deterrence and interdependence are right, but we have not rested on these negative aspects. We have sought and will seek to reduce tension and to resolve differences. No one who listened to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War last night, in a magnificent speech on our efforts at the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, could for a moment have underestimated our endeavours in that direction, and no one could have missed the warning that we should not enter into discussions of that kind by trusting too readily upon promises to inspect weapons that were destroyed and ignoring weapons that were kept. It should also be said that an outstanding example of the positive approach could be a test ban. I think that both sides of the House wish the Lord President of the Council well in the initial negotiations which he is about to undertake. These are, indeed, a first priority of policy.
I should like to apply these principles of deterrence and interdependence to the defence policy of the United Kingdom and to show, if I can, how they are related to our larger aims of foreign policy and such problems, mentioned by the right hon. Member for Huyton and others, as the multilateral sea borne force and the rest.
I think that we can divide British defence policy into roughly three parts—the deterrent in all its aspects, Europe with its standing continental army, and the world outside, with particular emphasis on the area between Singapore and Aden and the great oceans which cover that part of the world. I take the deterrent first, not because it absorbs the greater part of the defence budget—indeed, its part is quite small—but because it has been much spoken about in the debate.
When we think of a deterrent we must think, first, of the whole Western deterrent, tactical and strategic, British and 403 American. If it was not there and not effective all else in defence would be vain. Whatever else we may do, it must be our constant aim to weld the Western Alliance as close as we can contrive so that in the eyes of an enemy the whole of it, the Strategic Air Command, Bomber Command, nuclear forces on sea, land and air, would represent not a threat but an absolute certainty of retaliation.
This is why we welcome American nuclear bases in this country. This is why I hope that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), when he winds up the debate for the Opposition, will also welcome American nuclear bases in this country—air bases and bases for their Polaris submarines—because the first essential is unity in these matters, and unity not only in nuclear matters. The cause of unity was very notably advanced by the President of the United States in the speech which he made at Frankfurt on 25th June, which received almost too little attention in this country. I should like to remind the House of his words.
The President said:For eighteen years, the United States has stood its watch for freedom all around the world. These proven commitments to the common freedom and safety are assured, in the future as in the past, by one great fundamental fact: that they are deeply rooted in America's own self-interest. Our commitment to Europe is indispensable—in our interest as well as yours.He went on to say that the United States looked forward to a united Europe in an Atlantic partnership.
I believe that these are important words. They are certainly very brave and helpful words to come from a President of the United States and they markedly advance the cause of an Atlantic partnership towards which I think all of us must strive. They open a picture of a world which we would all hope to work for, but if we lift our eyes to the horizon, as we must, we have to deal with the world in which we are living now. Our defences have to be based on the realities of the world about us.
There may come a time, and the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bath 404 (Sir J. Pitman) looked forward to this, when all men live at peace and hatreds are resolved and when the United Nations has a world police force or is the only holder of the bomb. Men should not scoff at these ideas. All I say is that they are not with us yet. There may come a world when the Atlantic area is united and the United States has submerged itself as a unit in a larger whole, but that has not happened yet. America is still a very independent Power. Perhaps nearer is a world in which Europe is united by some common political institutions. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal dealt with these matters in his opening speech, but that has not been urged with marked fervour by both sides of the House, and Brussels has shown us that it may still be some distance away.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
The right hon. Gentleman said that the world was not ready for a world police force. Is he saying that in the meantime the world should accept an American police force?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I hope that the hon. Member will give me an opportunity to complete my remarks. I have only got as far as saying that this world is not with us yet.
I am not asking that these ideas should be dismissed. I am asking that the House, in forming its judgment about defence, should recognise that we live today in a world which is both dangerous and still divided, in which both Russia and the United States have nuclear weapons, in which France certainly and China probably will have them soon and in which other countries may, perhaps, have them, too. It is for and in this world that we must, as a Government, make responsible decisions of policy and decide what provision we should make for this country and what attitude we should adopt towards our European partners.
The truth—and I think that this truth is recognised as clearly in America as it is here; and it implies no mistrust of our allies—is that there is a growing feeling among those who live on this side of the Atlantic that they would like to feel that they have some nuclear capacity of their own. As Russian strength grows, and grow it will, as more I.CB.M.S are targeted from every angle at Washington and New York, this feeling will not 405 diminish. If anything, it will tend to grow.
The fear—and let us face it honestly—is that in ten or fifteen years' time a Russian leader might gamble that a threat or attack limited to Europe might be risked without the certainty of retaliation. These problems—and they certainly exist—are not capable of easy solutions. Indeed, it is easier to criticise the solutions from any quarter than to put sound solutions forward, wherever one sits in the House of Commons.
We are asked by some people to assume that we would never be threatened by nuclear attack, or that, if we were threatened, we would always have anally at our side; that whatever might happen, whoever else might possess them, we can do without these weapons for ourselves. I recognise the sincerity of those who hold these views, but let us at least agree that these are huge assumptions to make and that there are some perilous conclusions to draw for the future of the United Kingdom. Let us recognise one other thing, too: that if once they were so drawn they would be irrevocable. There would never be a chance again of going back into that particular line of business.
We should also agree that if we were to renounce them it would not have the slightest effect upon the plans or policies of either General de Gaulle, Mao Tsetung, or on anyone in this line of business. If we were to renounce them in the world as it is today we would be in some danger of being dangerously isolated; and even our presence at the conference table would not just become weaker, but quite irrelevant.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick said in his speech yesterday that we should rundown our V-bomber force and abandon any attempt at a successor—such as, presumably, the TSR2 or Polaris—and that, on the basis of that, we should negotiate, in discussion, an intimate relationship with the United States, not to get a finger on the trigger or safety catch but to have discussions with them on deployment, targeting, and so on. The point is that we already have that relationship with the United States. We could not have it more closely. Our representatives are sitting at Omaha. Why does this relationship exist? The answer is simply because we possess the 406 V-bombers and not because we have said that we will abandon them. Moreover, these relationships have now been extended to N.A.T.O. following the assignment of the V-bombers and, in the future, the Polaris submarines.
There has been some talk about Germany. Germany is already a member of the N.A.T.O. Nuclear Committee and, for all that is said, Germany today possesses nuclear weapons. There is the Corporal and Honest John. The Americans, I think rightly, have firm control over them, with a veto on the warheads.
The answer we have given in the world as we see it today is that we intend to keep our deterrent—the V-bombers, the TSR2 and the Polaris submarines.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman. He rightly says that Germany has certain atomic weapons over which the Americans have control. If Germany has some influence but her nuclear weapons do not represent an independent deterrent force in the sense that we have such weapons, why should the right hon. Gentleman assume that we should have no influence if we had no atomic weapons?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I was not talking about our influence. I was saying that we would not gain more influence by announcing our decision to abandon our weapons because the influence we have is there because the weapons are in our possession.
§ Mr. Wigg
Can we clear this point up? In the right hon. Gentleman's judgment, unless we have the V-bomber force, which has no capacity except over the target, and Polaris in the future, we should lose our influence. In the next breath he argues that Germany, without such weapons, has considerable influence. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I am not basing my case for possessing nuclear power simply on our presence at conferences. However, our presence at a Summit now on these matters, if we were not a nuclear power, would be regarded as irrelevant, and the hon. Member knows it.
So we have come to our answer, which is to keep our deterrent. This deterrent force today is no mean force. It would today inflict wholly unacceptable damage 407 on an enemy. Our V-bomber force is a magnificent one. It flies higher and faster than any other bombers composing the main strike force of the Western deterrent today. If we may accept the figures of the right hon. Member for Belper, our Polaris force is estimated as being 2,500 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. No permission need be sought for its use. No radio locks exist. Any enemy would know that if he attacked us this vast strike capacity could and would retaliate upon him. If that is not an independent British deterrent, words have lost their meaning.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
Clearly, the Polaris is not an independent deterrent. In any case, the right hon. Gentleman was arguing at the beginning of his speech, when he was dealing with what he called the principles of defence, deterrence and interdependence, that the principle of deterrence is that if the enemy attacks one can strike back with tremendous nuclear strength so that the enemy thinks twice about attacking and, in the end, does not attack.
Now the right hon. Gentleman is saying, in relation to the V-bomber force, that we could still, despite the dependence on free-falling bombs and the rest, inflict enormous damage on the Soviet Union. Would he tell us, first, whether he considers this to be really so and that we could inflict all this damage with the V-bomber force, as a second-strike weapon, and, secondly, does he believe that the Russians believe this?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I do not think that I can do better than quote the words used by the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick, who said:We have our V-bomber force, which is a very powerful force with a life of five years or more; five years—plus…".—[Official Report, 2nd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 238.]Those are fair words to use and, as it comes to the end of that five year period, we will introduce our TSR2 and the Polaris.
§ Mr. Wilson
It was not an answer at all. I went to some length to remind 408 the right hon. Gentleman that he had talked about second strike capacity. I asked him whether he thinks that the V-bomber force—which, we were told in the 1957 White Paper would be dead by the mid-1960s—is, with its free-falling bombs and the rest, an effective second-strike weapon. He has not answered this. Does he think that, with that as a second-strike weapon, we could do all this vast damage? Also, does he think that the Russians believe it? I can answer the second question for him if he cannot.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman argued these things in Moscow, but if he said in Moscow anything like what he says in the House of Commons he must have done a singular disservice to the cause of Britain. [Hon. Members:"Answer."] The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the V-bomber force, with not only its free-falling bombs but with its stand-off bombs and other weapons which are being introduced, is an effective second-strike weapon.
§ Mr. Wilson
In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, because the details have been made available to the Government—the Prime Minister has them—that, in our discussions in the Soviet Union, we did not at any time raise, and we were very careful not to raise, any point about the British deterrent. That is the first comment I make, which the right hon. Gentleman knows very well to be true.
The Russians referred to the French force de frappe, and Mr Khrushchev, in very clear terms, said what he thought about a number of other forces de frappe, I put that to the right hon. Gentleman, and I shall ask him in a few moments to withdraw what he has just said.
If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the power of the deterrent, which, after all, depends on its credibility in Russian eyes, really depends upon what is said in this House and not on the facts of the situation, which the Russians know as well as we do, he is totally wrong. It is not a matter of what is said in the House of Commons. If it were, we had better have all our debates in secret, of course. The right hon. Gentleman knows that we did not discuss 409 this matter with Mr. Khrushchev, and I think that he should, therefore, withdraw the remark he made.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I can only say that it is a pity the right hon. Gentleman did not listen to his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick yesterday when he said:What I said in Moscow and in Washington and what I say here."—[Official Report, 2nd July, 19611; Vol. 680, c. 238.]and then repeated, effectively, what I have just said to the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition really ought to come here and listen to his right hon. Friend.
At Nassau, we did more than consider the purchase of a missile. We considered the wider problem of how Europe might participate in the deterrent. Whatever view one takes, wherever one sits in the House, one knows that this basic problem exists. It exists for the Government and it exists for the Opposition. It exists for those who say that we should keep weapons, and it exists just the same for those who say that we should hand all our weapons over. It is not a simple matter to hand weapons over; it raises a host of problems of who controls them, on whose authority they should be fired, and, not least, how they can be kept in some credible form.
At Nassau, the American suggestion was that we as Europeans might assign our future Polaris submarines to N.A.T.O. while retaining the use of them for ourselves. We agreed, but we went further. We proposed to assign not simply submarines which might become available in four or five years, but to do something right away, which was to assign our existing V-bombers. Our joint purpose then was to devise methods enabling N.A.T.O., including non-nuclear countries and including Western Germany, to share in the targeting and control of nuclear weapons.
There was at that time some mention, but not much discussion, of an American idea to provide some Polaris submarines—it was submarines then that we were talking about—which would be mixed-manned, but we were in no way committed to such a force or to participate in it. We have honoured to the full our part of the agreement, and we have subscribed not merely some bombers but 410 the whole of our V-bomber force. We have provided a notable opportunity for all European nations to participate in the planning and control of weapons of this character.
Meanwhile, the Americans have pursued the idea of a mixed-manned force, though they now prefer, rightly, I think, the surface ship idea. This proposal, as the right hon. Gentleman said in his speech, raises military and political considerations. But it is—I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman himself emphasised this—an attempt by the United States, which should be recognised as such before we dismiss it out ofhand, to solve some of the problems which all of us admit to exist.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe) rose—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I do not want to be interrupted just in the middle of this passage. May I finish this part and then give way to the hon. Gentleman?
First, the military aspect. We have studied these matters closely. There are military difficulties. They are not concerned with grounds of impracticability. If I may say this with the very greatest deference to them, eminent retired Army critics underestimate the resources of the Royal Navy. Such a force could be made to work. A command and control system could be devised. Our reservations or our doubts about it are not concerned with whether it could be done, but with whether it should be done, and whether it would add anything important to existing Western defences.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington) rose—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman in a minute or two. May I just finish this passage?
There are many weapon systems which one could make, but one would not necessarily recommend them all unless they were a real addition to Western strength, on fairly strict criteria of cost-effectiveness. Such a strike force as that proposed would be costly to Europe, to us, and would be subject to a United States veto. But, whatever doubts there are about the system, the problems which it is designed to meet remain and they deserve consideration, and the system deserves consideration in the context of those wider problems.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I want the right hon. Gentleman to demonstrate to the House what particular problem the multilateral force would solve.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Perhaps I did not make myself absolutely clear. There are problems in Europe connected with the control and management of nuclear forces. Those problems are with us now and are likely to be with us for some time. This was a perfectly sincere attempt by the Americans—and, may I say, a rather generous attempt since, after all, they are a very great nuclear Power themselves—to try to share, if they could, some of this nuclear capacity with others. There are difficulties about it, which are set out quite plainly, but this was their attempt.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I should like clarification of what the right hon. Gentleman has been saying. First, he told us that we have the V-bomber force which was an effective independent nuclear force. He then went on to explain that the whole of our V-bomber force has been committed to N.A.T.O. As a non-expert, I should like to know what commission to N.A.T.O. means if, in fact, it is still under our independent command.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Shortly, committed to N.A.T.O. means that it may be targeted and planned by SACEUR for a N.A.T.O. nuclear battle, if that should ever, distressingly, take place, but it is absolutely and freely available to us as a deterrent if at any time we were, in fact, threatened or attacked.
At this moment, N.A.T.O. is engaged in two studies. One is a review of strategy; the other is a reassessment of the forces and resources available. These raise directly the whole question of the balance between conventional and nuclear arms and they are certainly relevant to this issue. We shall, therefore, pursue these matters with all our allies. None of us can question the fact that these problems underlie them. There is not an easy answer; but we certainly have made a notable contribution by our assignment of our own forces to N.A.T.O., and we must seek further progress in discussion with our friends in the United States and Europe.
So much for the deterrent. I now want to say a word or two about Europe. Whatever happened at Brussels we cannot divorce ourselves from Europe in 412 defence—or, indeed, in any other matter—nor should we try. Our policies are clear. Our policy is to honour our treaty obligation, and our treaty obligation is to bring our forces up to 55,000 men. This we hope to do during 1964. They will be organised, as I announced in the House the other day, in three divisions each of two brigades. I have been there recently and I hope to return there in September.
I say this about the B.A.O.R. Our forces there are well armed and, of course, will be even better armed. They are well trained and well led and they deplore, as I do, some of the less well-informed criticism about them. I wish that more hon. Members could see them for themselves. I am quite happy, if I am approached by a group of hon. Members from either side of the House, or any party, to see whether I can help, through the resources of the Ministry of Defence, Members of Parliament to go to Germany in reasonable numbers and see for themselves what the B.A.O.R. is like on the ground. I can assure them that it looks a bit different from some of the reports which reach us here.
They are the only Regular corps in Europe. They are provided by us, not without sacrifice of effort that we make elsewhere, and they involve very large payments across the exchanges. If they were criticised less, or praised more for the things which deserve praise, it would be even more appreciated by our allies, to whose defence they make so notable a contribution.
I say only two more things about Europe. The first concerns France. It is quite impossible to talk of European defence without France; it would have no validity. France, historically, has been both a battlefield and a great supplier of forces. Whatever differences there may have been, or still are, in the field of defence and defence co-operation, relations between England and France are crucial, not to one of us, but to both of us. It is in the interests of Europe and the Western Alliance that we maintain the links which traditionally unite us.
My second point concerns what are called—rather dubiously—"tactical nuclear" weapons. Nuclear weapons are necessary to the battlefield of Europe. It 413 is not possible, nor is it seriously contemplated, that conventional forces, air forces as well as ground, should be made available on a scale capable of fighting a prolonged conventional war. Such forces could not be held available on the Western front. I do not mean by this that conventional forces are not necessary. Clearly, they are necessary, and strong and good ones.
I am not prejudging the force requirement study that is going on, but I do mean that an enemy must know—and, indeed, today the enemy does know—that a full-scale conventional attack would be met by nuclear weapons and that it is part and parcel of N.A.T.O. planning that this should be so. It is known by the Russians to be so. Moreover, the use of so-called tactical weapons must pose very grave risks of escalation. The truth, then, is grave, but that the truth be known poses a lesser risk in my judgment than that the truth be doubted which would pose even graver risks of miscalculation.
To conclude, I have spoken of the deterrent, I have spoken a little about Europe, but we hear a great deal about Europe and N.A.T.O. and we hear much less of the world beyond. Yet the United Kingdom makes a vast contribution not only to world peace, but to the interests of Europe, by the forces which we dispose between Aden and Singapore. Europe is not the only point of danger. Russia is not the only country which lies beyond the Iron Curtain. America and the United Kingdom are almost the only Western Powers which make this world-wide contribution.
We have seen examples of its use in Jordan, in Kuwait and in North Borneo, We have wide obligations, not only to the old Commonwealth but to emergent Commonwealth countries like Malaysia. If forces had not been in those places—poised, trained and ready by sea, by land and by air—we might have seen much graver examples of unrest. If Europe demands nuclear arms and heavy armour, South-East Asia demands traditional sea power, transport aircraft and mobility and places great demands on the conventional resources of all three Services. Neither rôle is cheap, neither is avoidable. Both are likely to remain essential bastions to any foreign policy for the United Kingdom.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
I was under the impression that we were debating the twin subjects of foreign affairs and disarmament. While I agree that defence measures and defence organisation should not be excluded from our discussions, nevertheless I am at a loss to understand why the Minister of Defence dealt almost exclusively with the subject of the independent deterrent and sought to justify its existence.
Whether we have an independent deterrent or not is largely, for those outside Government circles, a matter of opinion. How do we know? The right hon. Gentleman has made great play about the existence of our 150 bombers which, it is admitted even by members of the Government, will become obsolete in the course of a few years, by which time we are to be in possession of some Polaris submarines which, apparently, will be included in the independent deterrent.
I ask a simple question and perhaps some hon. Member following me might venture upon an answer. Does anybody really believe that the Soviet Unionis deterred from making an attack on this country because of the existence of 150 bombers which will be obsolete in the course of a few years? It is a fair question. Unless it can be clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that the Russians are deterred from an act of aggression because of the existence of these bombers, there is very little else we can brag about, so far as I know. It would seem that the case the right hon. Gentleman has ventured to put to the House is completely exploded.
For the moment, I do not intend to deal with the subject of the deterrent or with the question of a multilateral mixed-manned force. I will come to that later. After all, the proposal to create such a force was one of the reasons for this debate. It had been discussed in the United States, in Europe and in this country, collectively and jointly, and it is a subject which has interested, almost fascinated, many hon. Members.
I want to say a word about some of the suggestions which have been made on both sides of the House on the twin subjects of an atomic test ban and disarmament. There is one inescapable 415 condition which must precede disarmament or, for that matter, an atomic test ban and, equally, what is described as co-existence—and that is a reduction in world tension. The question which we have to consider and which demands an answer is, how are we to achieve a reduction in world tension? I listened with great interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition today and the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who spoke yesterday. Both spoke in a spirit of optimism, at any rate of hope, about the prospects of concluding a measure of agreement on an atomic test ban consequent on the proposed discussions in Moscow. If I may use a well-known phrase, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But, frankly, I am sceptical about success.
As for disarmament, upon which my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) spoke so eloquently at the end of yesterday's debate—it is a subject to which he has devoted himself for many years with integrity and sincerity—I say of it, and of both these propositions, these hopes, these ambitions, these aspirations, which are common to all parties—there is no doubt about that—that there is not the remotest prospect of success unless we begin by tackling the vital and complicated problems which exist in Europe, South-East Asia and elsewhere.
It is suggested that if we cannot promote total disarmament we should seek partial disarmament. But a proportionate reduction in conventional forces between the Soviet Union, the United States and this or any other country, or for that matter a proportionate reduction in nuclear forces by what are called the nuclear Powers, would not herald world peace. For example, the United States is said to be in possession of about 3,000 bombs of varying capacity. Suppose the number were reduced to 300. They could be used just as effectively, just as destructively and disastrously, as 3,000. Indeed, 3,000 are not required.
I rule out any possibility of either partial or total disarmament in the immediate and foreseeable future unless we can provide the inescapable con- 416 ditions upon which it is possible even to negotiate with some prospects of success. What are they? I do not expect that every hon. Member will agree with me, but I must speak as I have felt for a long time. Let us look at the situation in Europe and relate it to the forthcoming conference in Moscow. Is it because of the intricate problems of inspection that the Soviet Union is unprepared to reach an agreement about a test ban? Or is it not because of certain difficulties which are apparent in Europe and which deters the Soviet Union from coming to such a decision?
It has been said repeatedly that the Soviet Union is apprehensive about the arming of West Germany. Her leaders are also apprehensive about other matters, perhaps more minor in character or at any rate more political in character—for example, the fact that in spite of all efforts, and although there is much justification for the proposition, we have failed to recognise the East German Government even de facto. I am aware that in West Germany and in some circles in this country, and presumably in the United States and elsewhere, there is a belief that the whole of Germany will be reunified. I think that we can rule that out as an immediate proposition. The division will remain for many years to come. There is no possibility of any solution until we address ourselves, as we must some day, perhaps remote, to the subject of a peace treaty.
But what would be the effect if when Lord Hailsham went to Moscow he were able to say to Mr. Khrushchev,"It is the intention of the British Government to recognise the East German Democratic Republic to begin with de facto"; and, secondly, if he reaffirmed the declaration that they would be no party to the return of the Oder-Neisse line and that the territories now in the possession of the Polish Republic would remain in their hands? What would be the effect on Mr. Khrushchev if Lord Hailsham and those associated with him in the forthcoming negotiations said,"It is true that the United Kingdom Government have considered the proposition for which the United States Government are responsible—namely, a multilateral mixed manned force—but we have abandoned the idea? Furthermore there can be no question, either directly or 417 indirectly, of rearming Germany with nuclear weapons". Those propositions would all have some effect on Mr. Khrushchev.
To go on talking, as we have done for many years—I am within the recollection of right hon. and hon. Members—about the search for an atomic test ban, much less disarmament, total or partial, is—I use simple, perhaps crude, language—merely a waste of time. It is not having any useful effect. It is very largely an academic exercise. I deplore having to say this. I would prefer it to be otherwise. If it could be demonstrated to me that, as a result of the forthcoming conference in Moscow, as a result of the proposals made on both sides of the House, all with good will, we would be able very shortly to see the end of atomic tests and would be making at least an approach to disarmament, no one would be more delighted than myself; but I prefer, rather than being academic and idealistic in these matters, to be practical and realistic.
Before I come to the multilateral force issue, I want to come to the situation in South-East Asia. Our Government, to their credit—we do not give them very much credit, but we must give them credit for this—perhaps under pressure, perhaps because of Opposition demands, or for whatever reason it may be, came to the conclusion several years ago that we ought to recognise the Chinese People's Republic. Can we not prevail on the United States, in the interests of world peace and with a view to reducing tension, that the time has come for them, if they will not recognise the Chinese People's Republic even de facto, to be ready to enter into negotiations with the representatives of the Chinese People's Republic in the hope that somthing useful and satisfactory will emerge? I say no more about it than that. But so long as the Chinese People's Republic is isolated, is ostracised, is not a member of the United Nations, tension will remain and all the deterrents in the world will not stop local conflicts breaking out from time to time, to the detriment and suffering of many thousands of people in that area.
I come now to the question of the multilateral force. I do not question the integrity of the Lord Privy Seal. I have never done so. Nor do I question his 418 competence. However, in his speech yesterday he was a little unfair. Speaking of the mixed-manned force, he said this:When this suggestion was made, we undertook to give the concept the full examination which it deserves.There is no suggestion that it had been accepted. Later the right hon. Gentleman said this:That is the concept the Americans have been pursuing and I have said that it is not necessarily the only way of trying to solve this problem."—[Official Report, 2nd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 217–9.]I have here the communinqué which emerged from the Nassau Conference. I have also subsequent statements on this subject. I will quote from only one, the Anglo-Italian communiqué of 3rd February, 1963, which says this:The Prime Ministers of Britain and Italy"—I ask hon. Members to note the words—'welcomed the opportunity to establish'"—not to consider—'a N.A.T.O. multilateral nuclear force in order to enable the Alliance to maintain peace in security.'I do not oppose the objective of peace in security. That is a very desirable objective. It is a laudable ambition. It was stated specifically what the real intention was.
I want to discuss it. Reference was made by the Minister of Defence to Field Marshal Montgomery speaking in another place. I have been on very good terms with the Field Marshal for many years, as hon. Members know. He is a man of transparent honesty. He is sometimes a bit misguided. I hope he will not mind me saying that. He is sometimes inclined to be somewhat infantile. Some of his views about the multilateral mixed-manned force were somewhat fantastic. He described the concept as"poppycock".
Why? This relates not to land forces but to sea forces. In the course of yesterday's debate, the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman), dealing with this subject and in order to demonstrate his conviction about the reliability of such a force, referred to the mixture in the Army of the Grenadier Guards, the Cold-stream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards. This suggestion has nothing to do with land 419 forces. It relates to surface ships carrying ballistic missiles. There is nothing fantastic about seagoing vessels, sailing the high seas, carrying mixed crews. There is no technical difficulty about this multilateral force. Anybody who knows anything about seafaring life and about the shipping industry knows very well that there are mixed crews of divers nationalities in many ocean-going ships, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, coloured people, Indians, Lascars, Malays, and the rest, with Britishers, Irishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen, gather together, often speaking different languages. They carry out the orders of the skipper. If they fail, they know what is coming to them. There is no technical difficulty about a multilateral force of seagoing ships, of surface warships.
That is not the objection. The objection is something quite different. I have been looking into the matter. I will tell the House what I think the objections are. First, we know nothing about the expense. The Minister of Defence said that it would be costly. How costly? Are we to accept a pig in a poke? Are we to burden the taxpayers for many years to come as a result of the acceptance of this concept for which the United States is responsible? We ought to know something about it. The Government do not know. One may ask: how can they know? That is all the more reason why we should be somewhat sceptical about the proposition.
There is much more than that in it. There is no technical difficulty. The point is that there is no need for it. If we are seeking the reorganisation of N.A.T.O., that is another matter. I agree that some reorganisation is essential. For years some of us on these benches and outside have been saying—I even said it when I was Minister of Defence—thatN.A.T.O. was far too weak and Field Marshal Montgomery has frequently referred to the administrative problems confronting N.A.T.O. That ought to be put right. Perhaps there should be an investigation. We might adopt the device suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) in another context and have a Select Committee to inquire into the question of the weakness of N.A.T.O., or, for that matter, its alleged strength 420 and its possible reorganisation. That is another issue. I repeat that there is no technical difficulty, but the proposed force would be very costly.
There is no need for it. I will tell the House why I say that. President Kennedy was in Germany the other day. He made several speeches. Among the speeches he made was one in the course of which he is reported as having said that—The United States was prepared to risk its cities to defend yours"—he meant Germany—because we need your freedom to protect ours.He made it plain beyond any ambiguity that the United States with its vast military resources was ready to defend Germany in the event of aggression. Does anybody really believe that the creation of a multilateral force, a number of surface vessels and warships carrying missiles, will make an effective contribution to the mighty resources at the disposal of the United States? President Kennedy has provided an assurance for the Germans and a similar assurance for us. In heaven's name, why do we require to strengthen N.A.T.O. when all the essential strength to deter aggression is available now? These questions ought to be answered.
These are the objections to a multilateral force. But I repeat, if there is something wrong with N.A.T.O. let us examine it. For years right hon. and hon. Members on the Government benches were convinced that N.A.T.O. was all right under General Norstad, General Gruenther, General Eisenhower and General Ridgway. It was the perfect organisation. Now hon. Members opposite seek to supersede it because apparently something is wrong with the organisation and with the concept.
I listened with great care yesterday to the speeches of the Lord Privy Seal and of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones), whom I now see taking his seat. I have a great respect for the right hon. Member for Hall Green. He is a man of considerable intellectual quality. But I understand his dialectical tricks. I do not mean that in any offensive way; I mean his cleverness, his subtlety, the way in which he approaches the possible solution of a problem. He dotted the i's and 421 crossed the t's of what the Lord Privy Seal said.
What is the reason for the multilateral force? Why has it been proposed by the United States?—the failure of the Common Market. So something has got to supersede it. Look at the language used by the Lord Privy Seal yesterday and by the right hon. Member for Hall Green. Examine it, and there is the answer—all the phrases about European power, about the need for political integration, all the familiar language. That is the reason for it. What effect is it going to have in the Soviet Union?—provocation. If it were effective as a deterrent it would be a different matter; it would be acceptable. I do not want to debate the Common Market issue here—it would not be appropriate—but some day there might be political integration in Europe—I do not rule it out—on the basis of proposals submitted by the Labour Party. They would be sound reasons for political integration, and for economic integration, of course; they go together. But it is unsound to use this multilateral force merely for the purpose of making amends for our failure to enter the Common Market.
I hope the Government will succeed in Moscow, though I am sceptical about it, but expect that they will pay some attention to the possibility of reducing tension. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence referred to the activities at Geneva of his right hon. Friend the newly-appointed Secretary of State for War. I agree that he has worked very hard there, but not so much to reduce tension. He was seeking to come to an arrangement about a test ban, about partial disarmament. Of course, he deserves all credit for that. But unless we face the problems that exist in Europe—the division of Germany, the need for de factorecognition of East Germany, the need for some clarification of the British and, indeed, the American position on the Oder-Neisse line, unless we are prepared at any rate for the time being to abandon this fantastic multilateral conception, while not ignoring the need for some reorganisation of N.A.T.O., I venture not the hope but the prediction that Lord Hailsham, for all his ability and aspirations in the direction of peace, which we all share, will failat Moscow.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
I shall not entirely follow what the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) has just said at some length, but I agree with him on the question of the multi-racial, or multilateral or mixed-manned force. In fact, it is the only time that I have ever agreed with Field Marshal Montgomery, who spoke on this subject the other day in another place.
I think we all greatly admire the wider view which my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal expressed yesterday. He covered most meticulously and penetratingly the whole field of foreign affairs. I was also impressed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War last night. He seemed to be more than competent to deal with problems not only of defence but also of foreign policy.
Reluctantly I confess that I could not agree with the views expressed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House last week when he suggested that this debate should be divided into two parts—defence and foreign policy. I was glad to note that the Secretary of State for War agreed with me on that point last night. To my mind, both aspects are so closely interwoven that they cannot be treated separately. Surely, it is on the success or failure of our foreign policy that our defence policy, and more especially our defence expenditure, depends.
For instance, if the Prime Minister's aim, and indeed also Mr. Khrushchev's aim, of finding a method to enable the West and the East to live in mutually acceptable co-existence were achieved, almost immediately we could begin a substantial reduction in our vast nuclear expenditure; and think of the immeasurable results that that would have on the social and economic welfare of not only our own people but all peoples concerned.
What are the obstacles to these aims being realised? They have been touched on by various speakers, and we all know them: the fear on our side that Communism may forcibly spread its menacing clutches over the free countries of the West, with all the resultant misery, as we have already seen; and, of course, Mr. Khrushchev's alternate threats and blandishments do not help us very much; they do not tend to reduce our anxiety. On the other hand, I believe that Mr. Khrushchev has an equally genuine fear 423 that we in the West may be contemplating a full-scale nuclear attack to forestall such a danger as he envisages. In my opinion, he has every reason for those fears. He hears of speeches made in this House about the missile bases stationed all around him, from Alaska to Malaya, all pointing right at the heart of Russia. Anyone who like myself has seen the miles of newly-built blocks of flats stemming to the centre of Moscow can well appreciate the fears that Mr. Khrushchev may well have about their destruction. But he has other fears. I have talked to Mr. Khrushchev and I have been many times in Russia. I lived there for three years at one time, and have been there many times since. I was there a couple of years ago. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) that the one predominant issue that one meets on every hand in Russia—and I can speak enough Russian to understand what I am told—is peace, peace, peace. I was frequently asked,"Why do you allow those bloodthirsty Americans, who want to destroy us, to use your country as a jumping off place to hurt and harm us?" I believe that. We heard that from the President, Mr. Brezhnev, right down to the usherettes and dance-hall attendants in the various dance halls.
I believe that Mr. Khrushchev has made, as I said once before, certain definite promises. He only made them very lately—last year or the year before—to his people, and he is now the prisoner of those promises. He knows, and anyone who has visited Russia knows, that despite Russia's dramatic achievements in space which she has won over the last year or two and despite her fantastic economic development during the last ten years which is obvious to everyone who goes there—and this has been referred to consistently—there is still one missinig link in her undoubted progress. It is the shortage—I will not say the complete absence—of consumer goods, women's frocks, clothing of every kind, shoes, radio and television sets, and, of course, motor cars, not to speak of a lack of variation in food and housing.
Mr. Khrushchev knows that owing to the interchange of visits, which was recommended by the right hon. Member opposite, and by our own Front Bench, such as of opera and ballet companies, 424 like the Bolshoi, and of architects and people of every kind, including tourists, the people of Russia, and especially the young people, have learned a great deal about our way of life in the West and want it for themselves. Mr. Khrushchev fully appreciates that demand which is now pervading not only Moscow but the whole country, and he knows that he has got to meet that demand.
What does that mean? It means, for housing, more men on the building sites; for the variation in food, it means more men on the farms; for consumer goods, it means more men in the factories. Where are these men to be found? Only in the vast armed forces of the Soviet Union.
But there is still one more reason why Mr. Khrushchev is so anxious to come to terms with the West. In a speech which I made a few years ago, more or less on this subject, I referred, and it has been referred to again today, to the fear that we learned in our childhood—"Beware of the Yellow Peril". I suggested then—and I have every confirmation for thinking that I was right—that Mr. Khrushchev has been looking over his shoulder and seeing China's 700 million bodies, many of them supplied with arms by his predecessor Mr. Stalin. He knows that it would not matter to China if it had a nuclear war tomorrow. It would be a godsend to her because she would lose probably a couple of hundred million men. That would be a godsend to her in her present state of foodless drought. I do not think that the Prime Minister or the Commander-in-Chief of China has any worry about the bodies being lost.
I submit that Mr. Khrushchev would go even further if he were met half way. That brings me to the first step, which has also already been discussed, the test ban treaty. Of course, we recognise that Lord Hailsham and Mr. Harriman are going to try to secure that, or at least some progress in that direction, but there are, as we all appreciate, obvious difficulties. It has been stated, and contradicted by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), that the Americans are demanding seven or eight yearly site inspections. The Russians, apparently—although we 425 again have contradiction on the subject—are only willing to agree to three. Incidentally, that is a considerable step forward from the line which they took a year or two ago. As the right hon. Member opposite suggested yesterday, let us be flexible on this subject and, if necessary, as I say, meet Mr. Khrushchev half way and have equality of inspections. I do not think it matters tuppence whether it is three or eight. To my mind, the number is comparatively immaterial, but on this point agreement, to my mind, is vital.
While on the subject of the nuclear deterrent, I was greatly relieved to find that the Prime Minister had persuaded President Kennedy to postpone indefinitely the question of the mixed-manned Polaris. I think that is somewhat different from the multilateral mixed force to which the right hon. Member for Easington referred, but I will not go into that because my time is limited. Of course, one sees the idea in American minds behind this suggestion, and I suppose it is just this—to prevent Germany and France from demanding, and no doubt obtaining, an independent nuclear deterrent for themselves. It is one of the unhappy developments of this nuclear arms race that the possession of the nuclear deterrent is now apparently regarded as a yardstick of nationhood. It is also stupid and sad, because we all appreciate that China will no doubt be next in the queue.
I agree that it is a great pity that we cannot persuade our allies to allow China into the United Nations. What, after all, can Formosa offer the United Nations, or the world? If China were admitted we should have this potentially great and dangerous country under our eye in the United Nations, and for another thing we might persuade her to adopt a different attitude as a member of the United Nations.
I will not touch on the proposed dissolution of the Central African Federation—it would take a little longer than I intend to speak—because it may be outside the terms of this debate, although the Motion for the debate is on the Adjournment. But to my mind it is a tragedy that Sir Roy Welensky had that noble, imaginative conception of a multiracial community destroyed at the behest of a few educated people whom we edu- 426 cated and who are able to influence far beyond a proper judgment the vast mass of illiterate Africans in their country. But we succumbed, and I can only hope that the First Secretary will have some success in producing an alternative organisation of similar importance and similar conception.
In conclusion, I must, I am afraid, refer to some of the latest and most reprehensible activities of the Leader of the Opposition—of course, always for one reason, to pacify his extremists. I am sorry not to see one of them, the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), in her place, for she usually adds attraction in this Chamber which is sadly missing when she is not here. However, that is enough said about that.
I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition was indulging in one of his usual mad scrambles for votes when he declared, vindictively I thought, some time ago in Trafalgar Square that if a Labour Government were formed—which, incidentally, God forbid—he would prohibit the sale of arms to South Africa. Of course, we all abhor the apartheid policy of the present South African Government. But Governments come and Governments go, whereas people remain.
The people in South Africa who would be hurt most are the people to whom my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a short time ago referred so movingly—the people who fought with us and for us and who died with us and for us in two world wars. Also there are the people here at home, the tens of thousands of men, craftsmen and others, who are producing the aircraft, the tanks and the guns to enable South Africa to carry out its defence obligations.
Finally, we have had his express determination to give up our nuclear deterrent. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has referred to this today and, no doubt, we will hear more about it before the debate ends. We all remember what the late Aneurin Bevan said about giving up the nuclear deterrent, which would mean"going naked into the council chambers of the world". What effect would that policy mean? As I see it, it would mean Great Britain having to shelter behind the skirts of the United States.
427 Whether we admire the United States or whether we have doubts about her, we have to remember that the United States left us for quite a while during both wars to stand alone. I wonder sometimes what sort of people does the Leader of the Opposition think we are, we who won those two wars without which they would have been lost, we who sank everything—men, material and wealth—in those two wars so that civilisation and freedom might live, we who survived six years of Socialist rule, underfed and poorly clothed, and then restored our country to plenty. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he thinks again on these two subjects, and thinks much more intelligently.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I hope that the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his notable speech. I want to speak about the Western Alliance and N.A.T.O. The Lord Privy Seal, to whom I must apologise for having missed the opening bar—which is an appropriate term for the opening of a speech by such a well-known organist—said yesterday that he disagreed with my view that the Western Alliance was drifting. I will make my criticisms more specific.
Much as I admire the President of the United States, and delighted as we all are to see him at any time, his visit was, to me, a journey down the wrong road at the wrong time. To skirt round France as though he and the President of France were two dogs with their hackles up was, to my mind, a diplomatic error. Secondly, I regret that the British Government have not spelled out the intentions on multilateralism which appeared tentatively in the communiqué from Nassau.
Thirdly, I deplore the obsession with the question as to whether the Germans will get strategic nuclear weapons. I deplore it, not because I want the Germans to have them but because I do not consider this a relevant problem at this time. To have the controversy over N.A.T.O. centred on this problem is to divert it on to a dangerous subject, which is not one which needs to be discussed at this moment, away from topics of much more importance.
428 I should like to see the British Government bend their energies to two aims. The first is to heal the breach between America and France. This is an extremely serious breach in the Western Alliance and it has gone on for a long time. The second is to take up the multilateral idea and develop it on lines which will meet the real needs behind it and along which Europe could unite. We should examine the reasons why the Americans have put forward the proposal for multi-manned vessels with Polaris weapons. The reason it has been suggested is to meet certain aims of American policy. First, the United States would like to see a united Europe. I listened yesterday with great interest and agreement to the speech by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones). I thought, however, that the right hon. Gentleman might be misunderstood when he said that America might withdraw from Europe if a nucleus of power grew up in Europe.
The Americans have made it clear that they do not want a separate European deterrent. Mr. McNamara has himself said that he would contemplate European strategic nuclear weapons only if they were integrated with the American system. Surely, however, the Americans want to deal with a united Europe and not with eight or nine separate countries in Europe, In that sense, they are not opposed to a nucleus of power within Europe.
Secondly, America would like to be relieved of some of the costs of defence. In my experience, this is a serious element in American thinking which is not fully appreciated in this country. Thirdly, the Americans would like to minimise, at least, the spread of nuclear arms for two reasons; first, because the more people who have these arms, the greater the danger of war, and, secondly, because in conducting the nuclear dialogue with the Russians they would like to have the cards in their own hand and they do not welcome a lot of non-players continually looking over their shoulder.
Finally, America believes that the Europeans want to participate in the control of the nuclear potential of the Alliance. Behind the proposal for mixed-manned vessels is the theme to bring in the Europeans and give them a taste, so to speak, of what it means to take 429 nuclear decisions and involve them in the nuclear part of the Alliance. I sympathise with the Americans, but to sympathise with them is not necessarily to approve the methods by which the Americans propose to reach them.
§ Mr. Grimond
I also can see, and one must recognise, that dramatic as has been President Kennedy's pledge to Europe, when at Frankfurt he virtually said that he would put the cities of America in the front line along with the cities of Europe, this attitude might change under a future President.
One can appreciate, too, the isolation which, I believe, the Americans feel in that they are so divorced from their allies in having at their disposal this vast armoury of weapons, and continually looking at the whole problem of defence and foreign affairs as a Power intimately connected not with a particular nuclear weapon but with a whole range of possible responses, including nuclear weapons, but going right up from the conventional weapons to the very largest and most diverse nuclear potential.
I want to see how far those American aims, with which one can sympathise, can, or should be, met by the proposal for a mixed-manned force. To begin with, a unified Europe, which is one of the things that America wants, cannot be achieved without France, and the way to win full co-operation from France, as I should have thought was apparent from the Nassau experience, is not to try to isolate her.
Everyone can understand President Kennedy's irritation with President de Gaulle. He may be entitled to point out to Europe that on defence matters there is, to some extent, a choice for Germany between America and France. Of course, put like that, France does not weigh for one moment against America in the defence field. But, if she is a featherweight in the defence scales, she counts in the political scales in Europe. Irritated as Europeans are with General de Gaulle, they know quite well that France is essential to Europe, and when it comes to the pinch—I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal would agree—they will not abandon France for the sake even of 430 getting us into Europe. They want to go forward with the unity of Europe, but they are absolutely certain that that involves France. It is. therefore, of prime interest to our policy to break down this barrier between France and the United States and, to a lesser extent, ourselves.
We should be concerned about the unfair share of the defence burden of the West which the Americans have to bear. The seven major countries in the West, including ourselves, spend only about a quarter of the United States budget.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
As the right hon. Gentleman is leaving the question of France, may I say this? I do not think he was trying to imply that throughout the Brussels negotiations which led to the differences about which he was speaking we were trying to isolate France. Nothing could be further from the case. Throughout the whole negotiations we were in the closest touch—much closer touch than with the other countries—with the French delegation and the French capital. Secondly, in what way did the Nassau agreement isolate France? Exactly the same offer was made to the French President after Nassau as was made to the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Grimond
On the first point, I did not mean to imply that we tried to isolate France in the Brussels talks. What I was referring to was that there were certain people in this country who, after the breakdown in the negotiations, thought that Europe might break with France because of France's treatment of us. To my mind, that was never a possibility. I am glad to see that the Lord Privy Seal agrees.
On the right hon. Gentleman's second point, I can only say from my experience in talks with Frenchmen, particularly de Gaullists, that they got the impression from the Nassau Agreement that we were determined to keep what we liked to think was our special relationship with America and that this was one of the last straws which convinced General de Gaulle, perhaps wrongly, that we were not wholeheartedly good Europeans.
To return to the point which I was making concerning payment for the Western Alliance, it should be realised 431 that the seven major countries of Europe pay only a quarter of America's contribution to the cost of the defence of the West. Unfortunately, a mixed-manned force would not relieve the Americans of any expense unless the British and French were prepared to give up their independent forces or unless the Americans felt that they could dispense with part of their forces. But there is no sign of any of these three things happening. I should have thought that this proposal for a mixed-manned force would make it more difficult to extract from Europe a greater contribution which could relieve the American taxpayer of some of the costs of Western defence.
Nuclear weapons, alas, have already spread, in particular to Britain and France. Those who like myself regret this—I still regret it—nevertheless must face the present situation. France began to become a nuclear power before de Gaulle took office and, to my mind, will continue as a nuclear power even if de Gaulle goes. Even people like myself who disapprove and dislike this must take it as a fact of life. I do not believe an offer to have some French sailors on a mixed-manned ship would divert President de Gaulle or any French Government from a determination to build up France's nuclear potential. If we are to stop the spread of nuclear weapons we must give a much more genuine alternative to the Powers which want a say in nuclear strategy than is proposed.
That brings me to the question of which countries want nuclear weapons, in what sense they want them and how their demands, if they exist, may be met. I believe that we must distinguish between two things—the control of nuclear weapons in the sense of having some say over defence and foreign policy in general and the type of situation in which one might have to use nuclear weapons, and control in the sense of pressing the button. These are two quite separate things and I should have thought that there was a very important distinction between them.
The smaller N.A.T.O. allies certainly do not want control in the latter sense. I have never found that any of them 432 wants a finger on the button or the trigger. I doubt whether they want it in the first sense. Italy could enter the nuclear field, but, being an eminently sensible country, she has, as far as I know, never suggested that she wants control in the sense of having a finger on the button.
So we come to Germany. I have been amazed in this debate at how it appears to be generally assumed that the Germans are yearning for control of strategic nuclear weapons. I do not find this. If they are interested in the control of nuclear weapons, I should say that they are much more interested in control over what are called tactical nuclear weapons. They are deeply concerned about the defence of Germany by conventional and tactical nuclear weapons, and one can well understand why. Therefore, I do not think that we should go on raising this question of the control of strategic nuclear weapons for the Germans. If we do, we make it more difficult for the sensible German politicians to keep the matter in perspective.
There are two good reasons for not continually raising this question. The first is that no decision will be taken by Germany on anything like this until a successor to Dr. Adenauer is chosen. Therefore, this is a mistimed moment for talking about it. Secondly, Germany is bound by treaty. Those hon. Members on this side of the House who deeply fear the Germans somehow obtaining nuclear weapons should be reassured by the fact that she is clearly bound by treaty not to do this, and as far as I know—I am open to correction—she has never shown the slightest symptom of wanting to break that treaty. It would be wholly against her interests to break it and an extremely foolish thing for her to do. If the Germans were really interested in having a finger on the button, the mixed-manned force would not provide her with the opportunity of having it.
I therefore conclude that this idea of a mixed-manned sea borne force is an ineffective solution directed at a problem, at least in so far as it is a German problem, which does not exist and which should not be raised. But the multilateral concept has one notable virtue. A multi-lateral force could not be withdrawn from N.A.T.O. and used for unilateral national purposes. Is this 433 what the Government had in mind when they said that they welcomed this concept? Apparently it is, and, if I may say so, I am glad to hear it.
This was made clear by the Lord Privy Seal yesterday. He said:The right hon. Member"—that is, the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)—will recall that I answered a Question in the House some time ago in which I said that Her Majesty's Government welcomed the concept. I described the concept just now as being one which tried to solve this problem by crews or by control which would not allow national use. That is the concept the Americans have been pursuing and I have said that it is not necessarily the only way of trying to solve this problem."—[Official Report, 2nd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 219.]I take it that that is a clear declaration by the Government that they accept that there should be weapons in N.A.T.O. and under N.A.T.O. control which cannot be withdrawn from N.A.T.O.—I am glad to see the Lord Privy Seal nodding assent—because the Minister of Defence in the debate on 4th March and again today said that we had assigned the V-bomber force to N.A.T.O. I imagine that the right to send it into action still rests with the British Government. Nevertheless, it is assigned to N.A.T.O. But the right hon. Gentleman made it clear on 4th March, in an intervention in my speech, that the Government still retained the right to withdraw it.
Are the Government going on, in accordance with the Lord Privy Seal's new policy, to assign the V-bomber force or some other force permanently and irrevocably to N.A.T.O.? That is the logic of what the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday. That is the logic of the Nassau Agreement, but I do think that this should be spelled out. There is a clear question here to be answered, and clearly, judging by the Lord Privy Seal, it can only be answered one way, that the British are prepared to assign the V-bomber force or some part of it, or some part of a nuclear potential, if we have it, to N.A.T.O. targeted on N.A.T.O. targets and without the right to withdraw.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The right hon. Gentleman is asking what the situation is. He had better have it clear. The V-bomber force is assigned to N.A.T.O. 434 —the whole of it is assigned—and we have absolute freedom to use it in our own interests if we wish to do so.
§ Mr. Grimond
This is an important matter. This seems to make nonsense of what the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday, that we accept this concept and spell it out, and say the concept means N.A.T.O. is to have the force and that it cannot be unilaterally withdrawn, for the Minister of Defence to get up and say,"Of course, assignment of the force means exactly the opposite." This is the problem. There is no way, to my mind, of reconciling this.
This brings me to the point of the whole conduct by this Government of foreign policy. Ever since Suez they have never taken the of this country into their confidence and told them what they really mean.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
These subjects are grave matters, and, surely, it is quite possible to hold different views about what the answers ought to be, but I really think that it is somewhat of a disservice to the House so grossly to bemuse the issue of what is an absolutely plain statement of fact. We have assigned these bombers to N.A.T.O. and we have the absolute right to use them if we want.
§ Mr. Grimond
Of course I accept this plain statement of fact, but if the Minister of Defence can follow me and bring his mind to bear on the subject, the Lord Privy Seal made a speech yesterday from which I have quoted, and in that he accepts a concept. The concept is that countries should assign some of their nuclear power to N.A.T.O. and not retain the right to withdraw it.
What I am asking the Government is, are they going to do that? I am pointing out that so far in practice they are not going to do it. They are going to say,"We accept this concept, but in practice we will have nothing to do with it." I want them to accept the concept, and I should like to see them follow it up in practice, but they are not doing that. We have got to have this clear. I am totally bemused by what the Government mean when they say they accept the multilateral force, because at Nassau they made great play with that, saying that the V-bombers would be assigned to 435 N.A.T.O. and that that was the British contribution against the American proposals.
I return to the point that I wish the Government would more often make crystal clear what they mean and not vaguely say they accept a concept without having spelled out what the concept means.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the House. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal was referring to the concept of the mixed-manned force. It is perfectly true we have accepted that concept as an idea which is being pursued. It is something utterly different from assignment of the V-bombers.
§ Mr. Grimond
The Lord Privy Seal did not accept a mixed-manned force. He made it perfectly clear. The Lord Privy Seal is a very clear-headed man. Without this assistance by the Minister of Defence we might get on much better. The Lord Privy Seal explicity rejected the mixed-manned force. But he saidcontrol which would not allow national use."—[Official Report, 1st July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 219.]He rejected the mixed-manned force. That is the point. It is no use the Government vaguely accepting concepts without thinking of their practical application. This is an extremely important point. Again, if we look at the communiqué which was issued after the very important meeting at the weekend. I think it necessary that the people of this country be told what the Government mean. We have suffered a good deal from this since Suez. If the Government had explained earlier and fully, they would have got more support for the Common Market on its political side. Again and again they have not told the people about the political side because they thought it unpopular. Here is the passage from the communiqué of 30th June:The President reported on his discussions with Dr. Adenauer in which they reaffirmed their agreement to use their best efforts to bring into being a multilateral sea-borne M.R.B.M. force.This shows that the idea is not dead. I therefore wish all the more that the Government would explain to the people the alternatives they have to propose, 436 because I do not think we should drop this idea of a multilateral approach. I agree here with the Lord Privy Seal, this mixed-manned force is not the way to bring it into being, but I think we could make a very useful contribution, and there should be assigned some, if not the whole, of the V-bomber force and of the Polaris submarine fleet to N.A.T.O. irrevocably. It would be a great example to accept this practical application of the concept which the Government say they accept.
Further, I also believe that the Government could take a useful initiative in tackling the real problem, as I see it, in the first place, to carry out some further friendly reconnaissance of the French. I do not know what our relationship with the French at the moment is. No doubt, recent history has not made it easier, but I believe that, directly or indirectly, it is in the interests of this country to try to heal the breach between France and America and between France and ourselves.
I was very glad to hear the Lord Privy Seal say yesterday that he was conscious of the need to have discussions in W.E.U. and I would suggest that either through W.E.U. or, perhaps, through a new political community, the Government might propose setting up something in the nature of a European defence authority to consider matters of defence and such matters of foreign policies which are necessarily involved in defence. That would be the way to win back France and bring her back into her partnership with N.A.T.O. Then it would also become possible to tackle the real problem within N.A.T.O., which is not the creation of further nuclear strategic weapons, which, as I think everyone is agreed, are militarily unnecessary, but the consultation over the general defence and strategy of the West and the control of tactical nuclear weapons, which is a matter of great importance and which I think would be a much more important matter than whether or not Germany should have strategic nuclear weapons.
The N.A.T.O. Council, I believe, should be equipped with a stronger expert civil, scientific and military secretariat which would be able to carry on a dialogue with the United States 437 within N.A.T.O., which the United States itself wants, and the movement for the unity of Euorpe would be furthered. We should be able through defence to promote the unity of Europe. It would become possible to co-ordinate nuclear weapons production and to lay down guidelines for nuclear weapons and the proper response to situations which might involve such weapons, and, in general, plan the overall policy of deterrence right up from conventional to nuclear weapons. This Council should be supplemented by stronger representation in Washington.
I also believe that N.A.T.O. has got to take account of things outside its area. I find it difficult to see how N.A.T.O. can be kept apart from decisions, say, over the Middle East and I suspect it might reveal considerable divergence of policies about the Middle East. I do not think our allies in N.A.T.O. appreciate that 25 per cent. of our defence budget is in relation to defence east of Suez. It should be explained to our allies in N.A.T.O. that we must build up certain conventional forces, to bring them up to strength in Europe, but we are entitled to say to our allies that our commitments east of Suez must be weighed in the scales when it comes to carrying out our contribution in Europe.
The Minister of Defence also mentioned that there are British personnel at Omaha and that we are strongly represented in America. I suspect that our allies in Europe are not nearly so strongly represented. If we are moving towards a multilateral solution, it might be as well to have some European personnel on the Omaha sites and build up a stronger European representation in Washington and on the sites in America.
I do not know whether hon. Members have read what is known as Adelphi Paper No. 3, an excellent paper the product of international experts issued by the International Institute of Strategic Studies. This is a private document, but it is extremely relevant. It goes further and suggests that there should be a chief of Staff in N.A.T.O. separate from SACEUR. This seems to me to be an idea which could well be examined.
When this has been done and N.A.T.O. has a better means of taking part in 438 control, not in the sense of pressing the button but in the sense of control of policy and certain denned aspects of foreign affairs, I believe it would make sense to assign, or to try to assign, some of the V-bombers or all of them, and the TSR 2's, and the Polaris submarines, to N.A.T.O. and to ask the French to put in their Mirages or other parts of the force de frappe at the same time, and make it irrevocable. If we accept this concept, we must put some body into it.
The whole of this movement towards diverting the discussion away from pressing the button to the earlier formulation and the long-range control of policy, foreign and defence, will be a useful move. It will be more likely to heal the rift in the alliance which I think exists between the French and the rest, and particularly between the French and the Americans, and it will be more likely to meet the legitimate aims of ourselves and Europe and America.
I rather doubt the validity of the text of the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green. I rather doubt if Britain historically has always wanted to be at the centre of power. Historically she has often kept out of the centre of power. But I agree that now she should be at the centre, and that the centre of power ought to be transatlantic. But if we are to play our part in the transatlantic centre of power, we must play it not only on behalf of ourselves but on behalf of Europe as well, and, to follow up what the Lord PrivySeal made clear yesterday, we must make clear that we accept that multilateralism is something which should be very seriously considered, and also that we are well aware, and accept with enthusiasm, that Europe has a political rôle to play in the world.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Captain John Litchfield (Chelsea)
It is a pleasant and formidable privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). Although I do not think that I should altogether agree with his politics, if I could understand them, I always very much enjoy listening to him.
As I am also following, on my side of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), perhaps I might refer to his statement that the success of our defence policy depends upon the 439 success of our foreign policy. I would rather put it round the other way, at the risk of intervening between two of my hon. Friends. I feel that the truth is that the success of our foreign policy depends very largely upon the strength of our defence policy.
This debate has ranged over a fairly wide field. At the start I would say how very warmly I welcomed and agreed with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, and, particularly, how strongly I supported everything that he said about the deterrent. I found myself less in agreement with the marathon speech made last night by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus). I must confess that I do not feel intellectually equipped to follow his thinking on his theme of"no annihilation without representation" or to understand the mental processes by which he arrived at his conclusions, which seemed to me to be entirely contradictory to the facts.
But I must disagree most strongly with the hon. Member over his reference to President Kennedy and Cuba. In my opinion, this country and, in fact, all the people of the West have good reason to be exceedingly grateful to the President for his cool and courageous handling of that situation last autumn, and, equally, to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for the support which he gave to the President. The weight, and anxiety, of responsibility which rested upon the Western leaders in that critical week was probably heavier than any responsibility which has ever rested upon political leaders before. We can be thankful that neither the President nor our Prime Minister faltered.
I want to say how much I welcomed, and how relieved I was by, what I understood my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to imply, that the multi-manned fleet project appears to have been put, at any rate temporarily, into cold storage. I have always appreciated the force of the political arguments which have been advanced by the Americans and by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal in support of this project. I do not think that these political arguments, whether one agrees with them or not, should be contemptuously dismissed. It is easy to be funny about 440 such projects, but, after all, this is a fairly serious matter. Nevertheless, in my view, very rarely can unsound military policy make good politics or be a sound basis for foreign policy.
Nor do I believe that this scheme would have appealed very much to Western Germany, at any rate not as much as has been suggested in some quarters. It seems to me hardly a compliment to Western Germany, which, after all, is emerging into a great nation again, to fob her off with what is really no more than a second-class ticket into the nuclear club. I agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that there is no strong yearning in Western Germany as a whole or in the Western German Government at present to come into the nuclear club as a full member. Indeed, I do not think that that feeling really exists at the moment.
But we have to take a fairly long view of these things. I hate to say it, but my conviction is that it is not realistic to imagine that Western Germany will be content to accept exclusion from full membership of the nuclear club indefinitely, especially when France and, possibly, China possess these weapons, too. On a long-term view, therefore, I have no doubt that the multi-manned fleet project would have made little difference to the attitude and ambitions of Western Germany in regard to nuclear weapons.
If I may take this point a shade further, I believe it would have been wise to say quite straight to the Americans when this project was first mooted, not that we thought it had merits—which, certainly in the defence field, I do not think we really thought—or that we accepted it in principle, but that this was military nonsense and that military nonsense will never make political sense.
I have had quite a lot of experience of working with the Americans, though at a less exalted level than my right hon. Friends, as a planner with the Combined Chiefs of Staff during the war and as a student at the National War College of the United States in peace. I believe that the best way to conduct one's relations with the Americans, who are very well disposed towards us in many official quarters in Washington, is on a very frank and straightforward basis and not 441 to be over-diplomatic. That is why relations—and this is a fact—between the United States and British Navies have always been, and are today, so particularly close and confidential.
I think that it is better, in dealing with the Americans, to say what one thinks and why. They do not mind this. Indeed, I believe that they like it. I remind the House of one sad fact. Who has won more concessions than anyone else in Washington? President de Gaulle.
I want to turn now to another matter in which foreign policy and defence policy are closely related. One of the strangest anomalies in the present situation of the United Kingdom seems to me to be that, as our relative economic and military power has decreased, and the faster we have reduced our colonial responsibilities, the more our commitments all over the world seem to have grown.
We have enormous commitments, both military and financial, in N.A.T.O. We have military and political commitments in CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. We have open-ended internal security responsibilities in three Continents—in Asia, in Africa and even in South America to a limited extent. We have great political and economic interests in many other parts of the world as well. Our aggregate commitments have never been so great in peace time.
The question is whether our military capability matches up to these commitments. Is our foreign policy in line with our military capability and vice versa? Do we possess adequate military strength to support our present policies? Are our available forces properly disposed to maintain those policies? Are those policies realistic? I must say that I feel a little doubt on this last question.
Whether or not we still regard ourselves, or are regarded by anyone else, as a colonial Power, we do have worldwide interests and commitments—more perhaps than any other country—and we are still the heart and centre and political capital of a great Commonwealth.
Yet it seems to me that not enough attention is given to this aspect of our situation in our foreign and defence policies. We seem to be almost exclusively preoccupied with Europe. I agree that Europe is the vital area. The prizes and the stakes are higher there 442 than anywhere else. But do we really expect military war to come in Europe? I entirely agree with right hon. and hon. Members opposite who have said, in so many words, that if that happens,"We have had it". That is certainly borne out by what my right hon. Friends have said for months and even years.
However, my right hon. Friends have implied for some time now that, in their opinion, all-out war with the Soviet Union is a very improbable event so long as the Western deterrent is maintained and so long as we show that we have the political courage and determination to use it if we are attacked. It does not seem to me, therefore, that the chance of anything in the way of a conventional war in Western Europe is at all a likely event.
This leads me to the question whether the immense effort in conventional arms, particularly in the Rhine Army, is really paying an adequate dividend. It is very easy, I know, to talk like this as a back bencher, for one does not have the responsibilities which, as I fully appreciate, my right hon. Friends have. For one thing, they cannot talk like this and for another they probably would not wish to do so anyway.
I am aware of our obligations in Western Europe, but none the less I feel that this is a question which it is fair and reasonable to raise from the back benches. I have some doubt as to whether a defence and foreign policy can be said to be realistic which produces a situation in which the main strength of the British Army is deployed against a country which has no intention, as far as we can estimate, of making military war upon the West in the West.
I wonder sometimes whether we have not fallen, in this respect, into the very trap the Russians have set for us by diverting our military effort from the fringe areas, where the dangers, although, of course, infinitely less perilous than in Europe, are, nevertheless, much closer and much more of a possibility.
I cannot help feeling that, in our foreign policy and defence thinking on these matters, we have been too much influenced by the thinking of 1946 and the post-war years, and that it is time we tried to get rid of some of these inhibitions about Western Europe. The Soviet Government are a calculating machine. They 443 are not, like the Nazis, ruled by the unpredictable emotions of a madman. I cannot believe that my right hon. Friend's really feel that military war in the West at present is a possibility.
If that does represent their thinking, then do Her Majesty's Government think that the continuing argument for this huge and costly deployment of conventional military forces in Rhine Army at the expense of our capabilities elsewhere is justified? Unlike some hon. Members opposite, I do not say that we have too much force. I say that we have too little force, but that some of it is in the wrong place. I believe that this disposition of our forces springs from a mistaken appreciation of the priorities and of the likely contingencies which we may have to face.
Of course, my right hon. Friends are even more fully aware than the rest of us of the threats and dangers which exist for British interests outside the N.A.T.O. area, but it is a question of emphasis and priority. I feel that we have perhaps got the balance wrong.
I remember a conversation which I had two years ago with an old wartime American joint planning colleague in the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington, who then held the office of SACLANT, a most able and enlightened American officer. He told me that in his view the greatest contribution that we the British could make to our common interests in the world would be to take good care of our purely British national overseas interests in the East, in the Middle East and in the Far East, where nobody else could do the job for us and where, if our interests were threatened, they would not necessarily be safeguarded by N.A.T.O., or S.E.A.T.O., or CENTO.
This, he thought, should be regarded as the first priority. Those were sensible words, but they certainly do not represent our present policy or thinking. Our preoccupation with N.A.T.O. and the strength of the Rhine Army and with full-scale war with Soviet Russia is necessarily at the expense of our capabilities and national interests elsewhere.
§ Mr. John Cronin (Loughborough)
I have been following the hon. and gallant Member's argument with interest. When he says that we should reduce our forces 444 in Western Germany, as this is a treaty obligation, are we to understand that he wishes to have a revision of the N.A.T.O. Treaty?
§ Captain Litchfield
I see the point, but the hon. Memberhas got me wrong, because I have not come to the point of recommending reductions. I am advancing a line of thought from which certain conclusions may follow, but I must leave the conclusions to my right hon. Friends. I am trying to put a slightly different angle on our present thinking. I will not develop it further, although I have views about it.
Whatever our obligations to N.A.T.O. may be, and I understand them, with our other commitments overseas it is indisputable that we are making a very great contribution to N.A.T.O. as things are, and we are undoubtedly dangerously stretched elsewhere. I sometimes wonder whether we are not maintaining our position, if it were really militarily threatened further afield, partly by luck and partly by bluff.
In a word, I suggest that our policy may be a little out of balance and that we are targeting our policy on the wrong target. I am not saying for a moment that our policy has always been mistaken. I believe that it has been right, by and large. After all, we have held the Western position and we have maintained the peace in Western Europe through a great many anxious and dangerous years. There are still great anxieties and great dangers in Europe, but they do not all arise from inside Russia. Situations change and when situations change policies should be reconsidered. In Africa, in the Middle East and in the Far East we have great interests, some economic, some political and some strategic. These interests have already been dangerously eroded and in some cases, perhaps, too easily eroded. The process has gone far enough, and some of us might say too far.
I understand the difficulties of our obligations to N.A.T.O. and I am sure that my right hon. Friends appreciate the problems of maintaining our interests, influence, position and military strength in other areas of the world. But I urge them to have the situation examined realistically. As an old joint planner under the Chiefs of Staff in Whitehall I know a certain amount 445 about the machinery—at any rate, the past machinery—of that organisation. I sometimes wonder whether the integration at what one might call the working level, the drafting level, between the Chiefs of Staff organisation, the planners, and the Foreign Office is quite as close as it might be.
I will not go into anything that I should not, and I know that the Foreign Office is represented in the counsels of the Chiefs of Staff, organisation, but my point is that the Foreign Office does not share responsibility within that organisation, particularly at the Chiefs of Staff level. When my right hon. Friend takes his final decision on the new defence organisation, it might not be a bad thing to see whether the integration of foreign policy and defence policy at the top, but below Cabinet committee level, could not be improved.
The time is already overdue when we should face up to the realities of our situation, the situation in Western Europe, and the balance between that and our interests overseas. When this has been considered, and the conclusions drawn, I hope that action will be taken.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I listened with some care to the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Captain Litchfield) and I will touch on some of his remarks later. The hon. and gallant Member began by saying that he was convinced that the success of our foreign policy would depend on the success of our defence policy. I prefer to say that I hope that the success of our defence policy will be gauged by the success of our foreign policy. Defence is not a policy in itself, but depends upon the success or otherwise of foreign policy. I would have preferred it formulated in that way.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), I was a little uneasy about the speech of the Minister of Defence. He dealt almost entirely with the British independent deterrent, although this is supposed to be a debate on foreign affairs and disarmament. He may have considered it necessary to inject this feature into the debate, but I hope that it was not an indication that the Government are 446 putting most of their weight on the British independent deterrent in their consideration of foreign policy.
I turn from that to yesterday's speech by the Lord Privy Seal and his reference to the Brussels negotiation. With many other hon. Members, on both sides of the House, I welcome his assurance that it is still intended, as the opportunity permits, to enter new negotiations to achieve British membership of the Common Market. He will be well aware of the policy of the Labour Party, as expounded from the Opposition Front Bench in our last debate on the European question just after Brussels, and that it is clear that this party is in favour of Britain joining Europe, with certain conditions which we would expect to be fulfilled. Whatever Government we have after the next General Election, I, therefore, hope that we can rest assured that the first opportunity to reopen the negotiations will be taken.
The breakdown of the Brussels negotiations has not been merely embarrassing to this country or dangerous to its economy, but, more important, danger-out to the survival of the European Community itself. That Community, as Mr. Hugh Gaitskell pronounced, is a great and imaginative concept, with former enemies coming together in a single political community to say goodbye to the wars and causes of war which divided them in the past.
If this were to be endangered as a result of the intervention of President de Gaulle, or of the bitterness that his intervention has created amongst his colleagues and allies in the European Community, or because of the persistent opposition of an element in this country which still wants to wallow in the misty tradition of the great British imperialist days, it would be a tragedy for Europe and for the world. Whoever be the Government of this country at the time when the opportunity arises—and I hope that it will be soon—if we intend to reopen these negotiations at some stage we have to keep this concept alive, and I therefore put two propositions to the Government which I hope they will find worthy of consideration.
During the last debate on the European Community I ventured to suggest that we ought to exploit to the full the 447 one existing link between ourselves and the Six. This was not referred to in the ministerial reply to the debate, but I was pleased to see that a couple of days later one Minister made a statement to the effect that he intended to do just that. But what he was proposing to do was not what I was suggesting. What he was proposing to do, and what has become clear since, was to utilise to the maximum the Council of Ministers at W.E.U.
I do not think that this will help very much, because a meeting of national Ministers, on an issue of this kind, does not seem to offer any opening at all for a new start or a new approach, because there will be present the French, the Belgian, the Dutch and British Ministers, and they will argue on the same level, purely on a national basis.
Within the constitution of the Western European Union it is provided that there shall be a Parliamentary Assembly, and that that Assembly shall be concerned not only with defence matters, but shall have power to discuss wider political and economic matters. I suggest to the Government that they should try to find ways and means of giving more power to that Assembly so that we have the voice of the complete Assembly and not just the voices of Ministers of national Governments. We should give this Assembly more opportunities of meeting and confronting Ministers not merely in a polite way, but in the same way as we are able to question Ministers in this House.
The other point is about the immediate functional approach that is necessary. I do not know whether the Minister has done me the honour of reading the report which I was asked to prepare for W.E.U. in 1960 on the question of an energy policy? That report was adopted unanimously by the W.E.U. and received the support of the Committee of Action for Europe, Mr. Monnet's Committee, and others, but its two proposals were shelved because there arose the possibility of Britain becoming a full member of the Community.
Perhaps I might read to the House part of the text of these two proposals, because I think that they should be looked at again. The first recommendation was that the Coal and Steel Community and the Government of the 448 United Kingdom, within the framework of the Council of Association of the United Kingdom and the Coal and Steel Community, should providethe procedure necessary for the promotion of a co-ordinated policy between the seven member countries for all energy questions in accordance with the convention of asociation;2. With this in view, invite representatives of the Commission of the European Economic Community and of the Commission of the European Atomic Energy Community as members of the Inter-Executive Energy Committee of the European Communities to attend those meetings of the Council of Association called for the purpose of discussing the energy policy.There was a second recommendation, and a draft opinion which read as follows:That die Inter-Executive body of the three Communities, together with representatives of the British Government, should be authorised to study and make recommendations in the matter of energy policy, should be constituted as a permanent or semi-permanent body and provided with whatever powers may be possible, toand then are set out the powers they should be given—investigating the growth of energy needs, the financing of co-operative energy experiments, hydroelectric experiments, and so on. These were specific recommendations which were unanimously accepted by the W.E.U. but they have been held in abeyance because of our application for full membership and I ask the Minister to be good enough to have a further look at these.
I turn next to the question of N.A.T.O. and the defence matters which have been raised. The Minister of Defence spent a great deal of time on the question of the independent deterrent, and the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) reminded us of the statement by Aneurin Bevan that without the independent deterrent we would be going naked into the councils of the world. The trouble about this so-called independent deterrent is that many of us do not believe that it covers our nakedness. Many of us are convinced that one is not less but more naked when one is wearing nothing but a mask. We are not impressed by the statement of the Minister of Defence about the independence of this deterrent.
I should like next to consider the point that has been made about Germany's part in this, because this is becoming 449 more and more important as the impression gains ground throughout Germany and in Europe generally that Britain is the only country which is still pathologically anti-German. There is a great deal of ground for this.
We have N.A.T.O. because we are faced with a possible threat of aggression from the Communist countries, particularly the Soviet Union. We are all agreed that we ought to be prepared to build up a sufficient deterrent to prevent such aggression. N.A.T.O. has not been built up to defend us against Germany. If we have N.A.T.O., and we think it necessary, it should be as strong as possible, because if it is to be a deterrent it had better be as full a deterrent as it is possible to provide.
I was surprised when my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) made his statement about Russia's fear of the strength of N.A.T.O., and the fact that Germany is likely to become a full participating member of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. Russia does not like this. Naturally, if a deterrent is being built up against Russia she does not like anything that strengthens the deterrent. But why should we weaken the deterrent to persuade Russia to enter into realistic negotiations with us? I cannot follow the logic of that.
Frankly, I do not believe that Russia fears Germany to this extent. I think that there is a good deal of propaganda in this, and I recall that Mr. Khrushchev, with the utmost contempt, talked about how he could dispose of Great Britain and France in five minutes, even though we had atomic weapons. Why he should be afraid of the rump of Germany without any atomic weapons, I cannot see. Furthermore, I recall that in 1951, at the Berlin conference, even under Stalin, the Russians put forward specific proposals for a settlement of the Berlin problem which included a proposal in regard to the independence of a united Germany.
They were suggesting that Germany should have its own independent armed forces, land, sea, and air, in which all Germans should have the same full civic rights with the exception only of those Germans in prison for Nazi war crimes. This was their proposal, and it does not sound as though they were afraid of a 450 future united armed Germany with independent arms, and a completely independent Germany which, in the terms of these days, meant eventually a Germany with her own atomic weapons. How they can say now that they are afraid of a Germany with no atomic weapons, and whose troops are integrated in an international organisation controlled by U.S.A., Britain and the rest, I cannot see.
I believe that if we are to concede everything that Russia asks us to concede before the negotiations we shall not have very successful negotiations. I feel rather embarrassed on the question of the multinational force, because everybody has spoken against it. I am not in a position to speak in favour of it or against it, because many highly technical and political questions are involved which I am not competent to assess on the information which is available to me.
But I am not yet convinced that the arguments that I have heard dispose of this proposition. Lord Montgomery poured contempt on it, and said that the idea of having ships manned by crews of mixed nationalities was all poppycock. On the other hand, as a result of its investigations the Daily Mail discovered that when H.M.S."Victory" sailed against the French no less than 31 nations were represented among her crew. I do not know whether Lord Montgomery or Lord Nelson is the better judge, but the result in Nelson's case seemed to be fairly satisfactory from our point of view.
Many hon. Members, particularly on this side of the House, are very enthusiastic about a world peace force. I find it difficult to understand what kind of world peace force we could have that was not multinational. If it is a lot of poppycock to have a force composed of Americans and Europeans, I find it even more difficult to visualise Chinese, Russians, South Africans, South Americans, Britons and the rest, operating together in an international peace force. We must be logical in this argument.
In principle, I am attracted towards the idea. I believe that we should try to step over all these national divisions and try to bring the peoples of the world together. We ought to forget the 451 differences of language and all the rest. At first sight, the conception seems to be a rather good one.
But I am more concerned about the alternative. If we have a N.A.T.O., but do not have mixed forces of this kind, under a central command, we must continue to accept a MA.T.O. consisting entirely of purely national forces with purely national commands, which are entirely independent, and which, like France, can withdraw their whole fleets, air forces or armies, from N.A.T.O., or, like Britain, the whole of a V-bomber force, at any time, in order to indulge in a Suez, or Algeria, or whatever it may be.
I wonder what kind of confidence the Commander-in-Chief of such a N.A.T.O. could have, if he did not know from one day to another whether his forces would be there or not, or whether they would be fighting in some other part of the world, for Britain, France, or some other member of N.A.T.O. In those circumstances, there might be something worth considering in this proposal. I cannot dismiss it, although I do not commit myself to it.
As for Germany, we had better make it clear once and for all whether she is to be accepted by us as an ally or as an enemy. If she is to be regarded as an enemy, or a potential enemy—if we do not trust her—she would be better out of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. But if she is regarded as an ally, why should we not treat her as an ally? Even if I were afraid, as some Germans are, that at some time in the future things could happen in Germany—and I wish that some people in other countries would have the same fear of what might happen there in certain circumstances—which would have the effect of causing Germany to become again an aggressor, I would prefer to have her integrated, together with her armed forces, under an international command rather than see her driven out, creating her own independent force and her own independent deterrent, or, alternatively, linking up her independent forces with those of President de Gaulle, in the creation of the European deterrent which President de Gaulle is suggesting should be shared between Germany and France.
That is the alternative. I cannot see the sense in trying to persuade Germany that we accept her as an ally and, at the 452 same time, telling her that we do not trust her. I often wonder why this anti-German propaganda is put out so persistently. I have a feeling that although some people are pathologically anti-German, for various reasons, others are more concerned about representing Germany in this light—for reasons which I do not understand.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton quoted from a statement made by Herr von Hassel, the German Defence Minister, in the W.E.U. Assembly. The part that he quoted was the part in which Herr von Hassel said that it could easily be understood why Germany requires to have her share in nuclear planning and responsibility. My right hon. Friend developed his argument on that statement, but what Herr von Hassel actually said, according to the Western European Union's report, was:The Federal Republic of Germany is of the opinion that the N.A.T.O. multilateral force must be supported by more than two member nations. This places us in a situation which is certainly not an easy one. There is still a certain amount of suspicion in Western countries. One suspects that we are trying to get nuclear weapons for ourselves and that we eagerly seized the multilateral formula in order finally to be able to lay our hands on these weapons. I therefore feel that there are a few things I must make quite clear.First, we have never aspired to have nuclear weapons of our own, and we continue to have no such aspirations. Secondly, in view of the fact that the Federal Republic is honouring her N.A.T.O. commitments to the utmost limits of her possibilities and that she furnishes the second biggest national contingent—after the United States contingent—for the defence of the freedom of all N.A.T.O. nations, it will easily be understood that we make it a point to have a share in nuclear planning and nuclear responsibility.Why was that latter point, which is a secondary one, quoted when the main point was not?
The main point is Herr von Hassel's assertion that Germany has never aspired to nuclear weapons of her own and continues to have no such aspirations. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is not here. I gave him notice that I would deal with this point when I spoke. I have, therefore, acquitted myself of responsibility. This was a most important statement, and it is a pity that it should have been given the wrong colour by that kind of quotation.
Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) made a long speech, in which 453 he often referred to the impossibility of our accepting annihilation without representation. As Herr von Hassel says, Germany makes the greatest contribution to the N.A.T.O. forces among the Western European nations. Is not Germany, therefore, entitled to say that she cannot accept annihilation without representation, and has now committed the whole of her armed forces to the N.A.T.O. organisation?
We can quite well believe that she may fear being disposed of by somebody pressing a button without her being consulted. That seems logical. It does not seem to be any kind of threat of aggression. Even if she is making the biggest single contribution to N.A.T.O. in Europe, she is not the strongest military Power in Europe; far from it. She has less manpower in her military forces, to say nothing of weapons, than Great Britain, France or even Sweden.
If Germany is making the greatest contribution to the manpower of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, is not that a good thing? Would we prefer it if, like France, she withdrew the greater part of her forces for national purposes, leaving only a token force in N.A.T.O.? I take the view that we should all commit the whole of our forces to N.A.T.O. and I include our V-bomber force. We should take our full responsibility in N.A.T.O. In other words, what more do we want the Germans to do than they are trying their best to do at the present time, and which all their statements, in so far as we can accept the statements and pronouncements of their politicians, indicate that they are trying to do on behalf of the common alliance?
I would, therefore, say that if we are to have N.A.T.O., let it be an effective N.A.T.O. If it is there as a deterrent, then let it be as big a deterrent as we can afford to make it. Let it be a N.A.T.O. in which the forces are fully integrated under a central command, so that the Commander-in-Chief of the alliance and those concerned with the command of the alliance will know from day to day, week to week, and month to month what forces are at their disposal, where they are, and how they can dispose them.
If this is a question of the common control of nuclear policy and I do not see how one can avoid it—no one sug- 454 gests that there can be a common control on who will press the button—then every member of the alliance, particularly those who have committed the maximum forces to the alliance and whose forces are, therefore, in hostage to the alliance, should have the same share as everyone else.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
Is it not reasonable that the Germans should commit the whole of their forces? After all, the main object of N.A.T.O. is the defence of Germany.
§ Mr. Hynd
I did not quite hear the question.
As for the question of the finger on the trigger, I think that hon. Members of both parties have made it clear that we are not concerned with having a multiplication of fingers on the trigger, nor is Germany. What we are concerned about is that there should be no spread of the atomic deterrent. If there is to be no spread of the atomic deterrent, even if Great Britain is to retain hers, we can have all the political control that we like over policy, but when it comes to the push it will be America who will decide when the trigger is to be pulled. That may be inevitable.
If we do not accept that, what is the alternative? Why should we expect that other countries will leave our finger on the trigger? Why should we expect Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and all the others to rely on France to come to their assistance any more than France can rely upon America to come to its assistance? One can go much too far in this kind of thing and have a considerable multiplication of these arms once we begin to accept this kind of argument.
What we are arguing very strongly for is that there shall be a common political control over the policy, but we do not believe that in order to exercise that control Great Britain, France, Germany, or Italy, or anyone else should try to multiply the number of atomic weapons merely for the purpose of keeping up with the Kennedys.
My last point is on the question of Berlin and the German settlement, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton referred. He suggested that Berlin was not the problem of Germany, 455 that it was a separate problem, that there were a number of aspects of the German problem, and that we must not confuse them. This I do not accept. Both my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench have said that we should make it clear to the Russians that it is our policy to stay in Berlin and ensure that Berlin is able to live in freedom and maintain her contacts with the West.
That is not enough. We all have a tremendous admiration for the patience and courage of the Berlin people. But it is not their desire to remain in a state of permanent siege. I do not think that it should be our intention to try to keep them in that state. The solution of the Berlin problem, I am quite satisfied, depends entirely on the solution of the total German problem. We cannot, in my view, solve it in isolation. I believe that the solution of the German problem is as much in the Russian interest as it is in ours.
If the pressure of our defence budgets in this country and in America is a strain on our economies, how much more must be the pressure of the defence budget on the U.S.S.R.? The Russians realise that there is the danger of a world war for them in Berlin as there is for the West. Stalin recognised this ten years ago, and now the situation has become even more dangerous.
We had the proposals in Berlin in 1951, and at Geneva in 1952, for the reunification of Germany and for free elections, and for an independent, united Germany. Maybe we can get back to that. Have the Russians recently—I should like the Prime Minister to give us the answer—proposed that we should enter into new negotiations for a final settlement of the whole German problem—frontiers, Berlin and the rest? Have they done so and, if so, why has that offer not been accepted?
If they have not, then I beg the Government to take the initiative themselves now and to invite Russia and press our allies to enter into such negotiations so that, after the eighteen years since the war, we shall at least have made the effort, in the new situation that faces us, with all the new dangers, of trying to bring an end, once and for all, to the uncertainties and risks in the German posi- 456 tion. I urge the Government to make this one effort now to bring an end to the cold war.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
May I refer to one isolated point made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) about his energy report to the W.E.U.? It was a very able report and served as the foundation for much subsequent work. I am afraid that he is a little optimistic in thinking that it is possible to open meaningful negotiations about that at the present time. If the Six have not been able to agree about the energy policy because of the divergence of interests between Belgium, which has a lot of coal, and Italy, which has none, then I fear that the United Kingdom, which has a mixed energy economy, would hardly contribute to getting an agreement. As to what the hon. Gentleman said about Germany, I find myself in full agreement, and I very much hope that his right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) will read his speech tomorrow.
As a matter of fact, I am rather tired of the right hon. Member for Huyton and his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who go on these journeys, coming back and telling us exactly what the Russian policy is to be, acting as a sort of stalking horse on Russian policy and negotiations about to take place. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who I suppose is not so welcome in Moscow as in Washington, came back and told us what President Kennedy was going to do the next time he saw my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The right hon. Member for Huyton comes back and tells us how nasty Mr. Khrushchev will be as soon as he gets a chance.
The right hon. Member for Huyton was against the M.L.F., because, as he put it, Germany will have such a large part in it. I think that he is a little naive in accepting the Russian protestations about this. Surely the Russian object would be to split N.A.T.O. as far as possible and to reduce her strength. The proof of this is that Germany already has to some extent a part in atomic weapons. She has the weapons, with the American lock upon them, of course, but the weapons she will acquire if the M.L.F. ever comes to fruition will 457 have the N.A.T.O. lock upon them. She will be no nearer independent nuclear capacity in the M.L.F. than she is at the moment.
I ask, as the hon. Member for Attercliffe asked, whether logically, or, indeed, practically we can keep Germany from nuclear weapons if we confine our policy to doing absolutely nothing except to say that we disapprove of her in every possible way. Surely the way is to tie Germany to the West and make her interests ours so that there will be no danger of it.
The right hon. Member for Huyton also spoke about the danger of proliferation which the M.L.F. might cause, and said that in return—this is how I understood his speech—for our not embroiling ourselves in an M.L.F., the Russians would consider refusing nuclear arms to China. If the right hon. Gentleman believes that, I think he is capable of believing anything. I do not want to cast doubts on his credibility, but I think that I must assume that his credulity is greater than I thought.
The fact is that we cannot divest ourselves of nuclear weapons. If we do go through the motions of abandoning the present nuclear weapons, which we have, or if France did the same with hers, it would be almost impossible to make anyone believe that we had done so. This is partly because they could be resuscitated quite easily and therefore we could divest ourselves of nuclear weapons—once we had even the capacity to do so—only to our own satisfaction. We should never get an enemy to believe that we had done so or that, having done so, we should not perhaps revive them if necessary.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
Did not the hon. Gentleman hear his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence say that such a decision would be irrevocable? Does he disagree with that?
§ Mr. Kershaw
I disagree about that. I do not think it possible to convince the Russians that we should throw away any great accretion of strength that we have at the moment.
I wish to make one or two observations about the M.L.F. The military aspects I wish to dismiss very quickly, and say only that there is a requirement for medium range ballistic missiles in Europe 458 which could be satisfied in this way. But I do not think, militarily speaking, that it is a particularly good way. One must bear in mind that, militarily speaking, it is not necessary for us to have any system, whether good or bad, extra to the power of the United States—militarily speaking. The United States already has everything which is necessary.
I regard the matter purely as a political exercise. I understand that the United States says that there is a malaise at the heart of N.A.T.O. which must be cured, and that Germany is impatient for nuclear weapons. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said he did not think that Germany was so impatient, and it must be a matter of some difference of opinion and judgment. I do not think that Germany was a short time ago. But I think that the American insistance that Germany wants these weapons has caused the Germans to believe that they do. However it may have happened, the problem has been brought into the open and it exists.
I think that there is a malaise at the heart of N.A.T.O. I think that it is associated with nuclear weapons and that, in effect, it is a sort of sense of inferiority on the part of those countries which do not possess them or do not possess them in sufficient numbers. It has nothing to do with the independent nuclear problem. The sense of inferiority is felt more by those countries which have no nuclear weapons than by those which have some. It is true that a solution of the Western nuclear co-operation problem would, in turn, solve the independent nuclear problem.
As to the second point about Germany's impatience, I see no evidence of that myself, although it may have been stimulated by United States anxiety. It is a pity that the Americans are pushing this so vigorously because of nervousness. What is also a pity is that Germany should be wooed in this way by the United States, by President de Gaulle and now, presumably, by ourselves. It is bad for the character to have too many suitors, and I do not think that Germany has acquired sufficient stability of purpose and democratic ways to be able to resist this concentration of attraction which is being laid before her.
459 Let us assume that the United States is right in both regards, that there is a malaise in N.A.T.O. and that Germany wants weapons. Does the M.L.F. give to Europe and Germany what the United States say that they want? I suggest that in its present form it is not a very satisfactory solution. The United States as well, of course, as the other participants will retain the veto and so the European nations taking part will not have anything that they do not have at the moment. There will be 15 fingers on the trigger because of the veto, which tends to make such a weapon incredible and therefore it might not be very attractive to nations to join. In so far as it is not attractive to join and if Germany and the other countries wish to have independent or effective nuclear weapons, it may well actually stimulate a nuclear veto rather than anything else.
In some countries it is likely to make the question of possesion of nuclear arms a matter of party politics, because some parties will be very much against it and others will be for it. In N.A.T.O. we have largely avoided that by pretending that the problem does not exist. But if we have to take a conscious decision in Italy or elsewhere about whether or not they should join, there will be political repercussions which could be harmful to N.A.T.O.
May I envisage how, in practice, it may be that the M.L.F. would operate? If the whole of N.A.T.O. were attacked, the M.L.F. would respond without any difficulty. The whole alliance would have been attacked and that would be what the Americans call a"spasm" war. That is a highly improbable event. What is far more likely is that one country may be attacked or seriously threatened and presumably—unless the Russians are great idiots, and I do not believe they are—the other countries, far from being threatened, would be cajoled and offered guarantees of every sort to induce them to remain apart from the country which was being attacked. It would be represented to them that their interests were not seriously threatened.
In this case I believe that the veto of the M.L.F. would come into operation and it would be likely that European countries might say that the veto would 460 make it useless for them. If a European country were attacked, I suppose the United States would wish to use a flexible response such as her very sophisticated resources would allow rather than a massive sort of city response which would be the only one that the M.L.F., with its rougher system of control, could contrive. Europe might well have doubts about that sort of strategic reply, and I believe, therefore, that from the nuclear attack point of view the M.L.F. would not be a very satisfactory solution.
The ships of the M.L.F. might raise the problem of a nerve war. If the Russians ever got round to envisaging a flexible response war, they would wish to have one or two targets upon which to demonstrate their firmness of purpose and to show they really meant business, the kind of targets which would make us think that they would go the whole way, if necessary, but which would not damage us so desperately that we would go to a full-out response as a consequence. To be able to take out one of the Polaris ships of the M.L.F. would be an ideal way of showing that we meant business without actually causing the enemy very great damage and stimulating him to a serious response. From the point of view of all the European countries the financial contribution to the M.L.F. might have the effect of reducing their capabilities in conventional arms or other spheres.
To me, those seem to be a fairly for-midable number of disadvantages. There must be some advantages, otherwise it would not have been put forward by so intelligent an Administration as that of the Americans, and I should like to list what I think they are. In the first place, it is an example of integration. Secondly, European nations which may have ambitions in the nuclear sphere will find before very long that the price of being effective independent nuclear Powers is such that they will hesitate and they may even find it impossible. Therefore, the M.L.F. might be the only way in which they can participate in the control of nuclear weapons in the alliance.
I think there is a duty upon those who reject the M.L.F. as a proposition to put forward some alternative. My alternative is very largely that of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of 461 the Liberal Party, that there should be a European deterrent. I am bound to confess that while that is what I should like to see most of all, I believe the chances of it are rather slim at the moment. President de Gaulle is solidly against it, but President de Gaulle is solidly against everything, so that is not a disadvantage peculiar to M.L.F.
Secondly, and much more importantly, we have the position of Germany. I think Germany would prefer the United States veto plus haying the United States in Europe, to getting rid of the United States veto and no United States in Europe.
Thirdly, I am pretty sure that the United States would give little help to the establishment of a European deterrent. Nevertheless, I believe it is worth trying. France, of course, is an obstacle and we should do nothing to make it impossible for France to join us. I think that she will eventually realise the expense of having her own deterrent. However great her determination for independence may be, she will wish to have something of this character.
We on our side must do something to make this proposition of interest to any one else, We must put our nuclear arms at the disposal of N.A.T.O.—perhaps not entirely all of them—but for those which we do put at its disposal we must not retain independent right of withdrawal. Otherwise there would be no meaning in the contribution. I believe we must retain some for our own use in areas outside N.A.T.O. We also have the problem of the V-bombers which have a conventional capability which we might need there also. Nevertheless, we must make it clear that we do not retain the right to take these weapons away. Otherwise there will be no incentive whatever for the European countries to join with us.
We have a certain amount of time at our disposal to get this going. Our military posture today is good. The conventional troops at the disposal of N.A.T.O. outnumber the Russian troops quite considerably. The nuclear weapons are, of course, enormously greater than anything Russia has at her disposal. There are quite a lot of other things to do to improve N.A.T.O. in the meantime. We could improve the planning mechanism. It does not seem very 462 sensible to have the planners in Washington and the executive in Paris. We could strengthen the Council of N.A.T.O. to give greater political cohesion. We could get a doctrine of common policy more easily arrived at, but, if the European idea seems not to be getting on foot, there is very little we can do about it, and I would sooner have M.L.F. than nothing at all.
I detect in speeches made by some of my hon. Friends and by hon. Members opposite a certain sense of triumph that the M.L.F. plan has gone off once again, and that once again we have eluded a foreign trap. I cannot help feeling that quite a number of hon. Members do not want to make a positive move in this regard, or perhaps in many others. It seems that we must show a little more positive determination to get a solution of this matter. One unfortunate tendency recently has appeared to be a determination to back horses which are obviously not going to win. I believe we persisted in the Common Market negotiations long after it was clear that they would not succeed, although I agree that, once having engaged in them, it was a diplomatic difficulty of the first order to withdraw without being accused of bad faith.
I believe that in economic policy in regard to Europe at present we pin far too many of our hopes on the Kennedy Round. I do not think it will be a significant success. I do not believe that the protectionism of the Six will be broken down by the possibilities of the Kennedy Round to any significant extent. We have to think of an alternative plan there as well. If we extend this policy of immobility to the defence field I think that in the end we shall be classed as ineffectual friends of the United States and ineffectual enemies of Europe. In either event we shall be ignored.
I beg the Government, therefore, to try if they can to get the European deterrent idea working in Europe. If this becomes impossible I think that the best we can do is to embrace a scheme of M.L.F. and try to improve it in future and build upon it in co-operation with the Atlantic Alliance.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
I was under the impression that the Prime Minister was to reply to this debate. 463 I imagine that he will have some difficulty as he has not heard much of our proceedings today. I appreciate that he has other duties, but I hope that someone—presumably the Lord Privy Seal—will keep him better informed about out words of wisdom than he has been informed on other matters lately.
With that personal observation, I pass to another less controversial observation. This happens to be the first foreign affairs debate since the new Minister of State for Foreign Affairs was appointed. I am only a naturalised Welshman whereas he is a Welshman by birth, but perhaps I may be allowed on behalf of my colleagues from Wales to say how much we congratulate him on his appointment. We shall do our best to see that he has long holidays and early retirement. Nevertheless, party politics apart, I feel that this is only one step in what is bound to be a distinguished political career.
In the general debate it struck me that there has been an atmosphere of almost aimless, desultory bewilderment. I say this not in criticism of speeches which have been made, but becaue it seems to stem from the situation in which Britain finds herself today. It comes from the fact that we are at the end of our function as a great imperial centre and, with the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations, we have not yet found a new function in international affairs. Inevitably there is bound to be a sense of frustration in the interregnum.
In the few minutes in which I shall detain the House, I should like to look beyond the immediate problems of this country to the likely course of international events in the next ten years. This debate is a debate about the cold war in its present state, about the policies of the Communist bloc, about Western reactions to those policies, about hopes for successful co-existence, and about the possibility of limited agreements such as a test ban agreement. Those are the main problems facing us.
Before one looks into the future, I think it necessary to have a brief look at the past. The greatest single event in this century, including two world wars, because of its wider implications, was the Russian revolution. This is what has lead to the struggle for the world, 464 to the division of the world. Some people feel that the cold war was brought about because of Western hostilities in the early days of the emergent Communist régime. Of course, I am not avoiding the extreme short-sightedness of Western policies of that time, nor the indelible scars inevitably left on the Russian psychology by the intervention and many subsequent events of the 1920s and 1930s. Nevertheless, the view which I hold and which I have stated often in the House is that I do not think this to be the case. The following is written into the preamble to the Soviet constitution:Since the time of the formation of the Soviet republics, the States of the world have been divided into two camps; the camp of capitalism and the camp of socialism.They mean Communism.There—in the camps of capitalism—national enmity and inequality, colonial slavery and chauvinism, national oppressions and pograms, imperialistic brutalities and wars. Here—in the camp of socialism—mutual confidence and peace and brotherly collaboration of peoples.The doctrine of the two worlds was inherent there from the beginning. Hon. Members should not smile too much at the irony of these strange words, because undoubtedly many people still believe them today, and this is undoubtedly our central problem.
The first point which I want to make is that, given what they believed right from the days of Lenin and the Russian revolution, add to it the military, political and economic power which has increased as the Soviet Union has grown in stature, and the cold war was inevitable. Once they were able to pose their challenge on a world scale—there it was—and the consequence is that we are in this period of history in which some of the early fires of the Russian revolution may be burning lower but when the impetus of the Russian revolution is not yet at its end.
Following upon that was the proclamation from the Tien An Men Gate in Peking of a Communist Republic in 1949. That meant that although the watchers from the outposts of Western society might see that some of the fires of revolution were burning lower in Russia, there was a new cauldron which was yet to burn brighter in China.
The deduction to which I come is that any hope of agreement must necessarily 465 be limited. The problem will not be solved overnight. We may well have to live with this situation for a generation or more, if we are fortunate. If we are not, it will all be over very quickly. This is the basic background to any thinking which one has about the cold war, and it is necessary to dispose of this, otherwise we always find ourselves in a false position about the possibilities of agreement which may be negotiated and the hopes which we may have for the future.
Looking at it from the Communist side, the main problem which they have today stems from their own internal difficulties arising out of the Sino-Soviet dispute. The interesting thing about this dispute is that it is not new. It goes back to the period when the Chinese Communist Party was compelled to practise coexistence under the orders of the Borodin mission to China from 1924 to 1927, a policy which ended in complete disaster and defeat in 1927. I believe that the attitude of many of the Chinese leaders today stems from their experience of what they believed to be competitive co-existence with the Kuomintang in China in those formative years. One has to remember that they subsequently won power in circumstances in which they received very little support from the Soviet Union. Indeed, Stalin was the only head of State to send his ambassador with the fleeing Kuomintang as far south as Canton in 1949. Not even the Americans sent their ambassador with the Kuomintang to Canton in 1949.
There is this back history of dispute. In my view, the dispute reached its point of no return when the Communist Parties' conference was held in Moscow in December, 1960—the meeting of the 81 Communist Parties. After that the Communist world could never be the same again. To borrow from the analogy of Christian history, a new Pope of Avignon had appeared and there was an alternative fount of doctrine.
This is the central problem on the Russian side. Wishful thinkers in the West appear to take the view that this dispute within the Communist bloc, which is presented in doctrinal terms but which has application in terms of power and is bound to have it even more so as time goes on, will lead to a complete split in 466 the Communist bloc. Eventually it may well do so. That is possible. But in the short run—and we are concerned with the next ten years—any realistic appraisal of the international scene will show that from the Chinese point of view the Soviet-Sino alliance is essential to their security and that from the Russian point of view the Chinese adherence to the alliance is essential to the preservation of the Communist bloc. Although there may be severe stresses and there may be public expressions of dispute, it would be most unwise, indeed dangerous, to presuppose that there might be a public break within the bloc in terms of the Soviet-Sino alliance.
What is the corollary to that judgment? The corollary to it is that if the necessity for the alliance is accepted from both sides there must be some compromises within the Soviet-Sino alliance to keep that alliance together. In exactly the same way as President de Gaulle, by pursuing an independent policy, imposes some of his views—not all of them—on the rest of the Western Alliance, or certainly causes the West to take note of his views, so will the leaders of the Soviet Union have to take the same kind of note of Chinese views.
All this leads one to the conclusion that, although we may get a limited test ban agreement, for which I fervently hope, we have to be prepared to look yet further ahead to the problems of Western security, Western organisation and our own Western reaction to the possibility of a continuance of this situation in the world for a long time to come.
What should be our reaction to this situation? The first and most important problem for this country—there are two facets to it—arises from our relationship with Europe. There is the political problem of a European unity. There is also the military problem of the political control of the Western Alliance and our share in the European side of that Western Alliance. A great deal has been said about multilateral forces today. There was one most interesting but, I thought, redundant speech by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw).
As we know, this proposal for a multilateral force has been placed in cold storage temporarily, and we are not likely to hear anything about it, at any rate for a short while. Why have the Americans 467 been prepared to place their proposal on one side for the moment? It is not merely a question of British objections or of a French refusal to participate. It is also because they realise, as we all realise, that the Europe of today is changing very fast. We are almost in the last years of the old Europe.
The Europe of Dr. Adenauer and the Prime Minister is going, In another two years there will be a very different situation. In Italy there are already clear signs of a left of centre coalition Government for some time to come. In Germany, if he succeeds Dr. Adenauer, Dr. Erhard will certainly represent a move towards more liberal policies in the Western Alliance. It may even be the beginning of a situation which could end quite easily in a coalition in which the Social Democrats are also involved. There are Governments in Holland and Belgium in which Socialists participate. If one includes the Scandinavian countries, the leftward balance in Europe is very strong.
In this situation a new Europe is growing up. The only reactionary figure remaining—and he is not indestructible—is in France. One of the central objections from many of my hon. Friends to the entry of this country into Europe was that we should be joining a reactionary, inward-looking body. This objection is being removed. A new situation is arising in which the logical step is to associate ourselves with the new leftward, progressive movements of Europe. Indeed, to stand on one side would be a fatal political error.
That is the start of the political problem. Then there is the military problem. The fatal point of weakness in the French position is the lack of efficacy in the long run of the French force de frappe. It cannot provide a credible European deterrent on its own. Not only the rest of Europe knows it; President de Gaulle does. A new situation could easily arise in which we have to take certain decisions about our own defence policy. Nobody except the most irresponsible elements in our society would seriously suggest dumping the British nuclear deterrent in the sea or allowing it completely to disappear and to ignore it. It may well be a very valuable contribution towards a European deterrent, about which the 468 right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) spoke, and as to which some hon. Members opposite expressed their agreement. This could easily be the key to turning the lock in the door which has held us out of Europe in the past.
There is one essential political corollary to the argument I make. This brings me back to the political aspect. It is Germany. Reference has been made to Germany in the course of this debate, I have heard, too, on my various visits to Communist countries all the stories of the Russian fears of Germany. I agree that the Russians suffered terribly in the Second World War. I agree that in their nightmares they may well see German tanks pounding down upon Moscow. But the Russians can count. They can look at the geography of Europe. They can see the vulnerability of Germany. It is like St. James's Park, flat, and everything can be pumped in to extinguish it. It is not a serious military threat to Russia as of its own.
We must not forget this about the history of German-Soviet relations. It was the wild, irresponsible obtuseness of a French Government after the First World War in its anti-German policy which drove the Germans into the arms of the Russians at the Treaty of Rapallo. The Russians have never shown themselves to be averse to pursuing their own national interests. It is not Germany they are afraid of; it is Western unity they are afraid of. It is always to their advantage for Germany to be detached to the Soviet Union. We must not forget that it was also a Soviet Government which signed a treaty which led to the Second World War.
All this could be repeated if we pursue this foolish policy towards the Germans. I have walked across the fields of human ash, like others, which are amongst the most terrible instances in recorded human history of the barbarity of certain groups of individuals. Nevertheless, Germany is a nation of many people. It exists. It is a country of great tradition and culture, as well as of military background. We live in Europe. We cannot put propellers on to the British Isles and drive them away to the Indian Ocean to form part of the Afro-Asian bloc. We must address ourselves to the problems in this part of the world. We have to live 469 with them. Whether we like the Germans or whether we do not, whether we are doubtful of the Germans or whether we are not, the logic of the British national interest is to heal the rift between Britain and Germany. If the French can do it, so can we.
The alternative to that is a dangerous one. We were faced with the same situation at the time of the European Army, at the time of E.D.C., in 1954. If we go on turning down all systems of control which can give the Germans a position in which they are not a second-class nation any more, we may well end up with a situation in which the Germans get the arms without the controls and the safeguards. This is the danger. Then those people who are responsible for that have a very heavy responsibility before history.
The logic of our interest, therefore, is to take a different view towards Europe from that which we have taken in the past, to shed our anti-Germanism, to take a more progressive view of our prospects of participating in a new Europe, and to show that we intend to exercise the fullest of our influence.
I would make one last point. There is one thing that concerns me about our nation today. This is a wider remark than the narrow field of foreign affairs. It has been at the back of my thinking in the course of recent events. I am appalled at the lack of the traditional instinct for national survival that appears to be abroad today. Too many people think that what we do does not matter. Too many people are saying that Britain has no longer a part to play. When that sort of nihilist thinking spreads abroad, a nation itself begins to face the seeds of its own decay. Those of us who have responsibility in one walk of life or another for our affairs must realise that, although an old rôle is past, a new vista opens up, and that a great nation that has been great in the past can still be a great nation in its new rôle in the future. It is our duty to pursue that policy and see that it is so.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
I hope that the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) will not be offended if I say how much I enjoyed 470 his speech. Both he and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) appeared to be refreshingly realistic, especially in their approach to the German problem. They are, perhaps, unique among hon. Members of the Labour Party, in that they are not in the position of sharing the emotional anti-German feelings which are so widespread in the Labour Party and which I think would make some people suspect that the Labour Party is, in fact, the anti-German party.
I have asked one of my hon. Friends on my left to give me a vicious hack on the shins if I go one second over 15 minutes. I hope that this example will be followed by other hon. Members this evening. I shall follow the hon. Member for Pembroke and devote my very short speech to the Western Alliance and N.A.T.O. and to everything that at the moment is working against the happiness and efficiency of the alliance. The alliance is an unhappy alliance at its present stage. I think that it is an unhappy alliance because N.A.T.O. is essentially an alliance of unequals in a nuclear age.
To overcome this problem one has a choice. Either one can work for the federation of Europe and the United States of America which, when it comes about, will allow Holland the same sort of safeguards and safety as Nebraska, or, on the other hand, one can spread the ownership of nuclear weapons more widely through the individual nations which make up this alliance of unequals which is, in fact, N.A.T.O.
These are the two extreme choices which face the N.A.T.O. Alliance. The solution which I hope we shall find is more subtle than either of the extremes. The M.L.F. is a start in trying to find a solution which lies perhaps midway between these two extreme solutions to the problem of N.A.T.O. It does not go the whole way, but it is at least a start. The underlying problem that is dividing Europe from the United States of America is that at the moment Europe is able to be defended, if attacked, only by the first use of American nuclear weapons. This is the underlying cause for concern that is dividing Europe from America. The only way in which Europe is able to be defended at present 471 is by the United States deciding to act on our behalf and deciding to act with nuclear weapons.
What are the reasons that have led very many people in Europe in recent years to wonder whether the Americans would in every circumstance be prepared to move to the aid of Europe? The reasons are many, and not simply that Europe has had an economic resurgence of strength. There are three other reasons which have forced Europeans to ask themselves this question about the reliance they are able to place not upon one specific Administration but upon a series of Administrations. These three other factors, in a sense, all spring from the new Administration in the United States and the way that it has re-thought several of the defence problems that face the alliance. For instance, since the new Administrations have come to power they have suggested strongly that the defence of Europe is no longer to be carried out exclusively with nuclear weapons but that all the European States will have to raise more conventional forces. This is one thing that the Americans have asked their allies to do.
The second factor which has upset people in Europe is the new discussions that have taken place on the nature of nuclear war, on the strategy of the flexible response, and the third factor which has upset opinion in Europe has been the relationship as seen in American eyes between the different national nuclear forces of the alliance vide the speech of Mr. McNamara last year.
On the first point, nuclear weapons are now seen by the Americans as deterrents only to other nuclear weapons and not as they were before—a deterrent to a conventional attack. This may or may not be good sense, but it is a complete volte face in American policy that has taken place in the last two years. After all, Europe has a larger incentive than the United States of America to try to prevent the outbreak of a conventional war, because a conventional war would be fought in Europe and in Germany in particular.
The implication of the second point—that the nature of strategic nuclear war has changed; that is the counterforce strategy which has been adopted by the Americans—is that the Americans no 472 longer need missiles abroad. The Thors are to be withdrawn and so are the Jupiters, and the Sixth Fleet is downgraded as it were, and altogether this aspect of nuclear defence appears to be less important.
Of course, if a nuclear war is to be fought on this new doctrine of flexible response, the Americans admit that this will result in far wider destruction in Europe than in the United States of America. It is hardly surprising that Europeans are not so inclined to share the academic enthusiasm for flexible response that the Americans have shown.
As to the third factor—this relationship between the national nuclear forces—the United States' insistence on single overall nuclear control of the nuclear forces will appear to America's allies as an effort not only to steer the way in which a future war will be fought but also as an indication that the United States will decide exactly when and where such a conflict should be started.
Britain originally got into the nuclear business because we felt that to have a nuclear deterrent would give us some influence over the Soviet Union. I think one might now argue that to hold on to the deterrent is to retain some influence over the actions of the United States of America as well as of the Soviet Union.
If our long-term objective in foreign policy is to join a united Europe, then a united Europe must have its own nuclear weapon. If not, it would not be a partner of the United States but a satellite of the United States. It is hard to escape the conclusion when discussing these problems with Americans that the Americans would like us to rely upon their good faith indefinitely whilst they themselves are not prepared to rely upon our good sense not to commit them to a war not of their own choosing.
I should like to conclude by making some comments on the multilateral force. This is obviously an idea that appeals more to the non-nuclear Powers in Europe than to the nuclear Powers as such. I do not think the idea of having a mixed crew is quite as stupid as some of our senior Army officers would pretend. The idea of mixed manning is to prevent any one nation withdrawing its complement or putting a ship to its own use. Therefore, in a sense it is a 473 symptom of mistrust between one ally, the United States, and another.
In the M.L.F. the United States are to have control over the warheads and to hold a veto of the possible use of such a force. This is offering Europe the shadow, for which the bill is pretty high, in place of the substance which is, in fact, control over the decision to initiate a nuclear war. One has either been afraid that the Americans would move to our defence in a war in Europe and would blow us up in the process, which is the fear of the"left" in Europe, or else one has the fear that they would leave us in the lurch, which is generally the fear of the"right" in European politics. If the United States decided on nuclear war she could use Strategic Air Command, which is the overwhelming nuclear strength of the alliance, and perhaps not the M.L.F. But if Europe decided in certain circumstances that she wanted to take this decision, she would have no control whatever over S.A.C. and would not be able to use the M.L.F. either.
To set up the M.L.F. at this stage would have disadvantages. It would isolate the French, which would be dangerous because there can be no unity in Europe without France. It would not prevent but would speed up the diffusion of nuclear weapons. It would not stop the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Germany, but nor would it satisfy a demand for nuclear weapons that is widespread in Germany. I would not agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I have little experience of meeting Germans, but those whom I have met are concerned with this problem and are eager to have a say in nuclear decisions. This may be restricted to members of the C.D.U., but I certainly found this view to be widespread among them. One can argue that to spend more money and to join the M.L.F. would make certain that none of the Western allies will spend money on conventional forces.
Finally, there is the military argument. If one is looking for a substitute for strike aircraft when they become obsolete, there are stronger arguments for a land-based force of Minutemen—a two-stage Minuteman—based on land, which would be a more efficient substitute for the 474 aircraft than a sea-based force. One might ask whether the Americans are prepared to relinquish their veto and whether the M.L.F. might thus be the start of a European deterrent. I do not think this is realistic. But if the Americans were to relinquish their veto, there would be left a European nuclear force in which the Germans would have the largest share. I think this situation should be avoided.
The best solution would be the creation of a joint Anglo-French nuclear force from which would come a European nuclear deterrent. The advantages of an Anglo-French nuclear force would be that it would allow a more flexible response. Secondly, it would emerge out of the existing nuclear force within the alliance. Thirdly, no non-nuclear Power would become a nuclear Power through the diffusion of nuclear weapons. Fourthly, and most important, it would open the door to Britain's entry into the Common Market. Fifthly, it would provide a vigorous incentive for Britain and France to work for the unity of Europe, so that once this had been achieved we could absorb the Germans into a united Europe and within this wider framework they then could make their nuclear contribution.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley), when he was referring to the multilateral nuclear force, tried to make fun of some of the opposition to the technical details of that plan by referring to military gentlemen who had experience only of commanding land armies. He used the identical words which were used by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence. The leads me to the conclusion that the two of them must have been burning the midnight oil together last night. Such remarks are most unjustified, because the first main opposition to this proposal came from the hon. Member for Horncastle (Sir J. Maitland), whose experience is not unknown. He tore into the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal when this matter was being discussed at Question Time and made his opposition to this plan quite clear. It would be quite wrong, therefore, to assume that the opposition to this proposal has in any way been confined to people who have no real experience of naval affairs.
475 It is equally important to remember that, while the opposition to the technical details has been great, there has also been a great deal of opposition to the political implications of this plan. I propose to return to this aspect of the matter in some detail towards the end of my contribution.
I now wish to make a comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw). It was an interesting speech, but it was marred by an unwarranted and unjustified attack on the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in which he mentioned some of the discussions that he had in Moscow with Mr. Khrushchev. I regret that the hon. Member for Stroud is not present. He should have had more sense and should have known that it is the custom and practice for prominent members of the Opposition, as with prominent members of the Government, to receive and accept invitations from countries abroad and to engage in discussions with statesmen in other countries.
I thought that it was common ground, until I heard the hon. Member's speech, that it might be very useful in difficult international situations for a number of unofficial discussions to be going on while preparations were being made for an official conference. I was disconcerted to hear so many hon. Members opposite, including some occupants of the Government Front Bench, joining in the cheers for the remarks of the hon. Member when they—certainly those who sit on the Government Front Bench—should have known much better. This is interesting, because the time may not be so far away when this party will be forming the Government and its representatives will be sitting on the Treasury Bench. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite may then be very keen to maintain the established tradition of the Leader of the Opposition having these discussions and talks. I thought that the hon. Member for Stroud made an unworthy attack, and I hope that we shall hear no more about it.
I should like to refer to the situation in Laos, which was discussed yesterday by the Lord Privy Seal, which gives cause for very serious concern. While I agree at once that the Government, 476 together with the Government of the Soviet Union, have been working diligently to create a basis of agreement for the Government of Laos, I am a little puzzled by one aspect of the present difficulty. The Foreign Office has published—and this is rather unusual at this moment—all the detailed correspondence concerning this affair.
I am puzzled by one aspect of the correspondence which deals with the meeting from which one of the representatives of the Commission decided to withdraw. I do not know whether the Prime Minister will find time this evening to refer to the situation in Laos, or whether someone will report to him that this matter has been raised, but while the Lord Privy Seal is still with us I want to impress upon the Government that the co-operation between the Co-chairman on this business has been one of the valuable achievements in international affairs in recent years. We should have had a more detailed explanation than we have had as to why the technical difficulties which have arisen are playing such an important part in the present deadlock.
If the reading which many of us have suggested is correct, namely, that the Soviet Government are as anxious as we are not to allow the situation in Laos to get out of hand, would it not be much wiser to overlook some of the technical difficulties which have arisen and perhaps by means of a new conference of all the Powers which participated in the Geneva Conference to see whether a new basis of agreement can be reached? It is not to be disregarded that it may be true that the Communist forces in Laos have decided that they do not want to continue in this field of co-operation. I believe that, unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that this may be so cannot be excluded as a possible analysis.
It would be to our greatest advantage, not only to publish the correspondence, but, which is far more important, to call a new conference in the hope that we may re-establish a basis of co-operation with the Soviet Government Co-chairman. If other influences are at work which desire to make agreement impossible, it would be to our advantage at the conference to have all the fourteen voices 477 heard again. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal will recall that at the conference held in Geneva the influence of some of the nations other than the major Powers was very helpful and healthy.
In this debate the Government should have told us something more positive about how they wish to proceed in this very dangerous situation.
§ Mr. Heath
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman by dealing with this point. I do not follow his argument, if he is agreeing that the Pathet Lao may have come to the conclusion that it will not operate the Geneva Agreements and have made advances in which it has helped to push the neutralists out of the Plain of Jars and other areas, to have another conference presumably to wipe out the previous conference against everything that the Pathet Lao has not done in carrying out the agreement and to make a fresh agreement to suit the Pathet Lao does, not seem a vary good way of carrying on international relations.
The question as to why the technical factors should enter into this has been raised in the House on a number of occasions. Let us accept the supposition put forward by the right hon. Members for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) and the hon. Member himself that the Soviet writ no longer runs over the Pathet Lao. Then I should have thought that the Soviet Co-chairman could have helped in matters over which he had complete control, namely, the publication by the Co-chairman jointly of the majority reports of the International Control Commission—he has power to do that, although his writ may not run in Laos—and, secondly, not unilaterally to publish only the correspondence of Prince Souvannaphong from the Pathet Lao. He could on his own right have agreed with my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary to publish the letters of Prince Souvanna Phouma as well as the report from Prince Souvannaphong. If the argument were right that the Soviet Co-chairman was trying to do his utmost to help, the least he could have done was to follow that course.
§ Mr. Mendelson
The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that any Government in their published 478 statements cannot do what they would like to do. The Foreign Secretary may sometimes be in the position of accepting some criticism of the conduct of one of our allies, but I should not expect him to say as much in a published document, and nor would the right hon. Gentleman.
The first point concerning the contents has not been fully answered by the right hon. Gentleman. It would not be necessary for a conference of 14 nations, if recalled, merely to sit down and do what the Communists wanted it to do. I suggest again that there might be a positive possibility of getting out of this highly dangerous situation if a new conference were called. If the argument against the conference is that it has been suggested in some Soviet diplomatic circles, it is not a sufficient reason for being against it, since if that were our attitude we would not do anything merely because the proposal came from the other side.
I urge the Lord Privy Seal—because this matter may not be dealt with in the Prime Minister's reply—not to go from this debate with the impression that just because not many hon. Members have mentioned this subject—perhaps I am the only one who has—there are not many of us who take this view. A number of hon. Members are very much concerned that we should not slide into a highly dangerous military situation out there which might be beyond our control.
I link with that just one other point if the negotiations are to be successful. We cannot completely ignore the attitude which has been adopted in Laos towards those who want to mediate between the two sides. The deplorable series of political murders and assassinations that have taken place also has something to do with the present dangerous situation.
While I fully agree that it is possible that the Communist forces have decided that it is more to their advantage to continue military operations—as they hope, successfully—we should also be guilty of a serious omission if, merely because of that, we did not try to continue patiently to save the situation by trying to create a new basis of co-operation for the two Co-chairmen.
479 Possibly the most frequently mentioned subject in the debate is the arrangements for the control of nuclear weapons in N.A.T.O. I refer, first, to what has been said by a number of hon. Members, on both sides, when they came to the proposal in detail. Many of them have said that this was a political proposal rather than a military one and I believe that to be profoundly true.
I am one of those who are extremely glad that this proposal has, in the end, not been accepted by Her Majesty's Government, and I have no particular interest in pressing them as to the various different statements they have made at one time or another about this proposal. I well understand that the earlier formulations which the Government have used may have been a result of the pressure that was put upon them by other Governments.
As I see the history of this proposal, it originated a considerable time ago in N.A.T.O. At some stage, the former commander of the N.A.T.O. forces, General Norstad, made a proposal that he should receive at N.A.T.O. level intermediate-range nuclear missiles and that he should have those missiles because in the foreseeable future, perhaps by the middle of the 1960s, the forces at his disposal would become obsolete.
That was linked with a proposal which had been advanced in German political circles by the former Minister of Defence, Herr Strauss, who has actively, with the support of the West German Government, pursued a policy of demanding a share in nuclear weapons, if not nuclear weapons of their own, for the Federal Republic. Many hon. Members opposite who have contradicted this analysis in the debate today are not correctly informed. It is a matter of great importance that we should get this right.
I wish to dismiss as quickly as I can all the nonsense which has been talked by the hon. Member for Stroud about the Labour Party acquiring the reputation of being an anti-German party. If the hon. Member knows anything about the wartime period, he will know that at a time when many people, including a good many of his hon. Friends, were referring to Germans in terms which I should not 480 like now to repeat, it was the Socialist movement of this country that was upholding the decency of international solidarity.
Immediately the war was over, under a Labour Administration, large numbers of people representing the trade union movement and the Labour Party started co-operating with individual Germans, with the German trade union movement and with Germans of all kinds. Those of us who were stationed in Germany with the Army at the time took part in that at a very early stage. We must get rid of these emotive contributions to debate on a subject of great and critical importance.
There is not involved here an attitude towards the German nation, nor, as far as I and many others on these benches are concerned, although this might play a great part in the minds of the Russian leaders, is it the past that we are talking about. It is the present situation with which we are concerned. It must, therefore, first be admitted that the Federal Republic, in the heart of Europe, is a country which has territorialaims against some of the Eastern European countries. This has not been mentioned very much apart from the speech by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who suggested that the Government should look again at the proposals for disengagement in Europe. It must be fully taken into account that although we do not hear much in detail about the large irredentist movement that exists in Germany, from time to time one receives a number of official and unofficial reports which give a great many disturbing details. This evening, I have time to quote only one example, which occurred three weeks ago and which is disturbing for all those who are concerned with the kind of policy that future German Governments might be able to pursue.
There was a meeting in Cologne of former residents of Silesia which was attended by 100,000 people. One of the chief speakers at the meeting was the former Refugee Minister in the Land Government in Hanover, a gentleman by the name of Herr Schellhaus. At the meeting, all the German television networks and services were represented. Two weeks ago, some hon. Members might have seen in a"Panaroma" programme a television film which had been made by the Hamburg television services, one of 481 the best sections of German television, about the former German city of Breslau, which the Poles now call Wroclaw. The programme was shown on"Panorama", having previously been shown on Hamburg television.
To those of us who saw it it appeared to be only an objective report of what the city of Wroclaw now looks like, and it did not contain anything offensive, either to the former inhabitants of the area or to the German people in general. At the demonstration three weeks ago, however, the correspondent, a gentleman by the name of Herr Neven-Dumont, who had made the film in the first place, was present at the Cologne demonstration to report for his viewers the speeches and atmosphere at the meeting.
Towards the end of his speech, the Foreign Minister for Refugees in the Land Government of Hanover spotted the journalist doing his work in the normal line of duty for his television services. He turned upon him, pointed at him and shouted,"There is a traitor. People who make speeches like that, selling Breslau today, will be selling Berlin tomorrow." Thereupon, a large part of the crowd broke away from the platform, went up to the rostrum where the television reporter was sitting doing his work, dragged him down, kicked him to the ground, started insulting him and shouted at him,"You traitor. You ought to be killed, you Jewish swine. It is time we finished with people like you." I happen to know the details of what was said, because the other television recording cameras continued their work and, therefore, a complete record exists of the remarks that were made as well as the action that was being taken.
The point which I am advancing in this connection is a crucial one. In an atmosphere where such irredentist movements are flourishing, where, indeed, they receive Government encouragement and are in some ways helped by the presence of prominent people, it might become virtually impossible for the West German Cabinet to have a policy which would lead to agreement and to their abandonment of any plans to regain the territories that have been lost. Indeed, this is part of the iceberg one does not often see; but this was one of those rare occasions when it was visible to the naked eye.
482 Therefore, it is with the present we are concerned when we say that it is highly dangerous to put into the hands of a German Government, either West or East, any share in the control or use of nuclear arms, and I am glad to see that there is growing opinion in this country, and, indeed, in the United States as well, in that direction.
The United States Government were pushed into a very difficult position by the proposals which were made by Herr Strauss, and I regret the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence, because he used in his speech today a formulation which was very similar to the one used by Herr Strauss. The danger of the proposal to give West Germany any share in the control of nuclear arms is to be seen in what might follow, because Herr Strauss at various N.A.T.O. Council meetings suggested, two and a half or three years ago, that control of the nuclear weapons either at N.A.T.O. level or at European level should not be given to 15 nations; he agreed it would be impossible to hand over a share to 15 nations, and he suggested a different formula. He suggested it ought to be given to a group of three Powers—as he put it, particularly exposed to Soviet aggression. It would be within a very short time after such a force was introduced before only two or three nations plus the Americans would play a very real part, and it is quite clear that on that path there is no hope whatever of agreement between East and West.
Whilst we must make it clear at all times to the Soviet Government, no matter what the occasion of the discussions may be, that so far as the people of Berlin are concerned their freedom and their right to govern themselves and to live politically as they see fit is something we have underwritten and we will defend, and whilst we must make it equally clear that our access to West Berlin is maintained, and that as long as the treaties are maintained, as they exist today, until they are changed by agreement, and only by agreement, we must stand by them, equally it must be made clear that we are quite determined that there should be no doubt in the minds of any Government in Europe that the frontier which has been established between East and West is the permanent frontier. There must be no 483 doubt in anybody's mind that any adventure directed against that frontier will meet with the complete opposition of the people of this country. We have not yet heard from the Government any clear declaration of that belief, and yet it would be the best possible indication to discourage an irredentist movement in West Germany if such a declaration were made from the Government Front Bench.
I turn to another aspect of the same subject which concerns the forthcoming negotiations in Moscow. As has already been indicated, the scope of the discussions is going to be wide. There has come to hand today a speech from Mr. Khrushchev which he delivered in Berlin only on 2nd July. In this speech Mr. Khrushchev had this to say:An agreement on the halting on nuclear weapons tests linked with the simultaneous signing of a non-aggression pact between the two groups of States would create a new international atmosphere favourable to the solution of other problems including disarmament.There is in that speech a link, which has not been made recently by any Soviet statement—although it was done some time earlier, last year and the year before—between nuclear tests discussions which are to take place and the signing of a non-aggression pact, and I think the Government ought to accept that as a subject for discussion.
People may argue: where is there this great importance in another pact, another declaration? The importance lies in two factors. First of all, this declaration is keenly desired by the Soviet Government and by many other Governments in Eastern Europe. As it would not in any way worsen our own strategic or political position, that is a good reason for agreeing to it, but, more important than that, it would imply that we accept the existing frontiers in Central Europe and, as the Government find difficulty in agreeing to a declaration that the Oder-Neisse line should be a permanent frontier in Eastern Europe and find difficulty in signing such a declaration because they argue it must be reserved for a general peace conference, I should have thought this would be an excellent opportunity for making that quite clear by implication in accepting a non-aggression pact between the N.A.T.O. countries and the Warsaw Pact Powers.
484 In fact, if at the conference in Moscow there might be considerable difficulties in the detailed discussions on a test ban, I should have thought that there would be everything to be said for easing the negotiations by establishing a basis of good will on both sides. I fully accept what the Lord Privy Seal said, that any proposal to reach agreement between East and West which might worsen the strategic position on either side without granting anything to that side is out of the question because it will only breed new suspicion. But here we have a proposal which will not worsen the strategic position of either the Eastern countries of the N.A.T.O. Pact countries. It ought, therefore, to be accepted. But I fear that there will be very bitter opposition to it from Dr. Adenauer and that the opposition will be concentrated in Washington and London before and when the conference starts. This opposition must be overcome.
Recently the President of the United States made a significant speech in his country in which he said that we must make an end to the cold war. I was interested to note that when he went to Germany he had in the original text of his Cologne speech a reference to coexistence, but when the journalists, who had received an advance text, actually heard the speech delivered they found that that reference was not included.
The answer to this mystery was provided by the correspondent of The Times next day, when he reported, very accurately, that after conversations between the President and Dr. Adenauer the reference to co-existence was omitted. This is an example of the deplorable pressure which is consistently being put on the American Government by Dr. Adenauer and his Cabinet. This pressure is equally being put by Hen Ulbricht and his unrepresentative, dictatorial Government on the Russians. There is great danger to us all when the extremists in both East Berlin and Bonn, who have so much influence on Government circles, are transmitting this influence to Governments in the alliance. We have a clear example here of a reference which would have been regarded as helpful by the Soviet Government, particularly if made in the situation in which the President spoke in Bonn, but it was left out at the insistence of the German Chancellor.
485 Let me say hastily that the President has on one or two other occasions done his best to maintain the tone and the position of his speech at the University of Washington. I watched the television conference which the President gave in Bonn. Having mentioned the omission of the reference to co-existence, it must in fairness to him be said that he got one or two awkward questions from some of the more nationalistic German correspondents and dealt with them in a way which made quite clear that he is not moving from the position of coexistence and co-operation which was the basis of his speech at the University of Washington.
On the other hand, I can well under stand, if this pressure continues all the time, that there must be occasions when he feels that he ought to yield. I very much regret that he yielded on this occasion. There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from this so far as Her Majesty's Government and this House are concerned. The Government have a very grave responsibility in all these matters. It is, I think, agreed between the two sides of this House that this country must be a member of the N.A.T.O. Alliance and must continue its work within the N.A.T.O. Alliance. It is equally agreed that we must make our contribution in shaping the policies of the Western Alliance. If we are to do that, then we must be on the look-out for possibilities of agreement, and just as pressure is being put on the President from Bonn in one direction, it is the job of Her Majesty's Government to put pressure on him from another direction. The people of this country are fundamentally agreed, and hon. Members on all sides are fundamentally agreed, that there is only one interest which unites the people of this country, and that is peace.
As was indicated in many speeches in this debate—although there was backsliding by some hon. Members on both sides into making cold war speeches and repeating outworn slogans—there is also wide agreement on the fact that any initiative the Government might take to put pressure on the major Powers to negotiate for agreement would have the overwhelming support of the nation.
This leads me to the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea 486 (Captain Litchfield) He talked of over-concentration, saying that the Government seemed to be engaging all our forces in Europe. But I do not agree with him. I happen to be one of those who approve of the policy of maintaining our Army in N.A.T.O. and Western Germany, and I believe that our contribution of the Rhine Army to N.A.T.O. is important. It is precisely because I do not want us to be faced with a situation in which, in a minor military conflict in Europe, we would have to use nuclear weapons straight away, that I believe our conventional contribution is important and should be maintained and improved.
But I was very alarmed today to hear the Minister of Defence trotting out the doctrine of the 1957 White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman said that the other side should know that if there is any conventional military engagement of a major character nuclear weapons will be used straight away. He is now saying, in the name of the Government, that this country would be among the first to use nuclear weapons even if only conventional military fighting were taking place. The Government should change their policy on this. They have no right to commit this country to such a policy. Their attitude arises from their unwillingness to improve our conventional forces and to envisage a policy in Europe which would make it unnecessary to rely unduly upon nuclear weapons.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to"tactical nuclear weapons". Again, he is behind the times. He said that he wished that hon. Members on this side of the House would pay visits to Rhine Army so that they might be better informed about its nature. He spoke as though hon. Members from this side never went there but merely made speeches and declarations from what they read or out of ignorance. But quite a number of my hon. Friends have visited Rhine Army and have discussed with our military commanders there the whole range of these problems. It is not always possible, since many aspects are confidential, to return here with public declarations. The right hon. Gentleman should not imply that we do not pay visits and talk only out of ignorance.
Hon. Members, after discussing these things with the Rhine Army, have re- 487 turned with the serious fear that our military commanders out there might be forced, by the Government's neglect of the build-up of our conventional forces, into a position in which they would have to apply for political authority to use nuclear weapons straight away.
Hon. Members have also come back with the knowledge—and this is something that the right hon. Gentleman should tell the House before making a statement of this kind—that it is not correct to assume, as so many newspaper articles have done, that the use of tactical nuclear weapons would begin with very small ones. On both sides of the division of Europe, the strategists and generals responsible have changed their minds in the last two years. They are convinced, in considering the use of nuclear weapons against concentrations of conventional arms on either side, that such concentrations would not take place near the border but many miles behind it. In order to hit these concentrations, they would have to use fairly large sized nuclear weapons from the very beginning. This cosy view of starting with little ones which are not very dangerous is completely beside the point.
If the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence does not wish to discuss these details, I can understand it, but if he is to make statements of that kind he should tell us more about it. Hon. Members who have taken part in these debates and spoken publicly about these matters have often visited B.A.O.R. and have returned knowing that the soldiers serving there are doing a good job and that their commanders are working very hard, but also with the fear that the kind of strategy being applied is not suitable to a solution of the international problems facing us and perhaps involving great political and strategic dangers if any minor military fighting breaks out.
The Government have had a comparatively easy task in this debate. The proposal for a multilateral nuclear force has been put into cold storage and, many of us hope, abandoned. The Government have not had to defend something in which they did not believe. We ought not to go in too great detail into the formulations which they have used in the past, but we should give them a 488 clear mandate from the House of Commons that this proposal is not acceptable and that it has grave political dangers and grave military and technical faults and ought not to be proceeded with.
The second message which the House should give to the Government concerns the Moscow conference. I sincerely wish it well. The negotiations which the noble Lord will undertake on behalf of the Government go far beyond party or other considerations and we wish him to have the strongest possible position in these negotiations. Doubts about his suitability have been expressed, doubts which I share, but that is now a matter of the past. He is our representative and the Government should give him a mandate to discuss openly and frankly the prospects of the test ban itself. They should give him a free hand to discuss the link which Mr. Khrushchev has proposed with a non-aggression pact between East and West and to explore even wider possibilities of agreement.
On the other hand, however, in the speech of the Secretary of State for War last night I detected a certain insistence that the Government cannot be too flexible about on-site inspection. The flexibility of the instructions given to the noble Lord must include that problem. It will not be good enough for him to return and say that agreement has not been reached because of the old disagreement about on-site inspections. It is imperative that this conference should go further than that.
We shall wish the noble Lord well and hope that in the negotiations he will remember that he represents not only one side of the House, but the whole of the British people, whose desire has been made clear beyond doubt—to move away from technical disagreements about the test ban proposals and go wholeheartedly into a scheme which, though containing some risks, provides a basis of hope for mankind.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Worsley (Keighley)
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) has covered a lot of ground and I shall not go over all of it. I should like to begin by saying a few words about the subject on which he ended his speech, namely, the Moscow 489 conference, and then go on to the theme which has also run through the debate, that of mixed-manning and all that.
A sad note to the debate was provided by a speech—I was about to say"in another place", but that has a technical meaning—by Mr. Khrushchev yesterday in Berlin. It was a sad note in that he said that once more the Russian Government had moved away from the idea of any inspection. There were, of course, cheerful notes in the speech, for it seemed to make bright the possibility of a test ban covering tests in the air, in the water, and in space. Though it had those positive aspects, the fact that once more the idea of inspection had been thrown out of the window is profoundly distressing.
Any sort of test ban would, of course, help immensely to reduce tension, but the inescapable fact is that any movement towards disarmament must include verification, and if it includes verification it must include inspection. This limited ban would lower tension, but it would not be—and this is the great hope of such a ban—a precedent for moving into disarmament. This is the depressing background to our two-day debate.
When we are discussing these things, it is no use simply to urge on Her Majesty's Government concession after concession, without, at the same time, urging on the Russians concessions as well. With respect to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), in winding up the debate for the Opposition last night he seemed over and over again to be stressing concessions that we could make, I wish that he had said more of the concessions that they could make, because there must be a meeting of minds about this. It is the critical issue, but it would be so easy for any British Government—and this applies all the more so to a British Government with an election in the offing—to press the Americans to edge a little in front, to press for slightly more concessions. This would be so easy, but what a primrose path!
The only possibility of agreement—and I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War made this point very well last night—is by negotiation from strength, and I therefore hope that in spite of the concluding remarks 490 of the hon. Member for Penistone, it will not be thought that the feeling of this House is concession for its own sake; that it will be understood that what we want is negotiation.
§ Mr. Mendelson indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Worsley
The hon. Gentleman said in his concluding remarks that we must get away from technical details. We cannot get away from technical details on matters like this. This is an intensely technical matter, and it is for this reason that the Minister for Science is going to Moscow to represent this country.
§ Mr. Mendelson
As the hon. Gentleman will see if he reads Hansard, I said that we should not let the conference in Moscow break down through disagreement over on-site inspection.
§ Mr. Worsley
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I thought that the phrase I used was a quotation from his speech, but, of course, I withdraw what I said.
The main point that I wish to make concerns the problem of the Western Alliance, which has run through this debate. The question of mixed manning has been one of the issues very much to the fore in the debate. Almost without exception speakers have criticised mixed manning. I intend to do so as well, but I think that much of the criticism has been for the wrong reasons. I am not a technician, yet I am sure—and there is plenty of evidence this way—that, technically, such a scheme is possible. It is technically possible if the political circumstances are right.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) yesterday, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence and other hon. Members today, remarked on the fact that any scheme which has ever been put forward for the later stages of disarmament has envisaged such a mixed-manned scheme. That is true. If the political circumstances were right, such a scheme would be a possibility.
I am prepared to go further. Even pending disarmament, if we were to get the sort of united Europe, in an Atlantic community, that I wish to see as a result of our policy, such a community would have a mixed-manned deterrent. But it could have it only if the political basis 491 was right. Although it has not been referred to in this debate, I was immensely impressed by the letter written to The Times by Mr. Alastair Buchan on Wednesday of last week. He said that it was technically possible, but went on to indicate some of the political difficulties.
I have little patience with those who criticise these technical difficulties and yet make no attempt to answer the question which this scheme, imperfect as it is, is designed to ask. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) yesterday referred to this question as the heart of the Western Alliance, and he is right. The question is surely bound up with the aspirations of all the allies to have a part in the control of ultimate power. The background is a reviving Europe. Although the smaller nations of the alliance may not want this, the greater nations do.
The hon. Member for Penistone discussed the attitude of the Germans to this matter, and he was right to do so. But this is not purely a matter of the German attitude. It is at least as much a matter of the French attitude. The weakness of the mixed-manned scheme, as put forward, is that it ignores the French aspirations The propositions put forward from the Opposition Front Bench have done nothing whatever to answer the problem arising from the aspirations of the members of the Western Alliance.
Today, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, with great emphasis, that in his view—and I understood this to be the view of his party—the Germans should have no part, directly or indirectly, in the control of nuclear weapons. That is a purely negative approach. It does not attempt to solve the problem of German aspirations. It has no constructive clement. The proposals put forward yesterday by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) on the ultimate objective of the Labour Party in respect of the control of the Western deterrent consisted of the setting up of a cosy committee in Washington, discussing these things. His argument had no positive aspect which would deal with the question of the way in which the allies on this side of the 492 Atlantic would take part in controlling these nuclear weapons.
I have listened to almost every word which has been spoken in the debate, and I have decided that hon. Members opposite have made no constructive suggestions as to the way in which the aspirations of France and Germany, and of a reviving and increasingly powerful, rich, and self-confident Europe can be fitted into the pattern of the Western Alliance. This is the question that we are discussing.
I believe passionately that the diagnosis made by Her Majesty's Government, a few years ago, which led to the application to join the European Community, has been amply proved subsequently to have been a correct diagnosis. I say a"correct diagnosis" because it appreciated that the creation of a little Europe would imperil the Western Alliance, and it appreciated that this alliance in particular is dynamic and not static.
It is a matter of fact that when the proposition was made to the House and the country that Britain should tryto join the European Community, these political reasons were always put first. It is one of the strange myths that has grown up around the Government's presentation of this case that it was argued on the ground of mere economic advantage. I do not believe that that is so. I believe that if we look at the speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and others we will see that the first emphasis from the Massachusetts speech onwards was always on the danger, as a result of the growth of the Community, of a divided Europe.
Surely no one, however he may be opposed to this country going into the Community, could for a moment deny that the problem we are discussing, the problem of these aspirations, would be incomparably easier if we were now just in the process of entering into the Community. If this were the situation, if the whole alliance were moving forward together, not only militarily, but politically and economically within this context, the problems that we are discussing would be relatively easy to solve. If that diagnosis was right, and, in my opinion, is right still today, then we can solve the problem of the Western Alliance only by a European policy also on nuclear matters. 493 This is where I come to the issue of France.
My objection to the mixed-man plan is not its technical aspects, not the mixed manning, but the fact that it would exclude France. The fact is that France has a veto on the development of the Western Alliance. I know that the French Government are at the moment, to use Parliamentary language, so stubborn that it is human and natural to resent the attitude they have taken, but it is folly to deduce from that that we can build up an increasing unity of the West by somehow ignoring France.
This is the fault, it seems to me, behind this idea of mixed manning. I know, of course, that France could be included subsequently, but if the scheme were accepted it would start without her and it would be difficult for her to join. I would say to the Government that the chief need today is to understand and meet the aspirations of France. I welcome very much the remarks of the Earl of Avon, in the debate in another place recently, when he said that our relationship with France must have a capital importance.
Today, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said that our relations with France were crucial. It seems that the fault of so much of our thinking is that we are obsessed by the idea of German aspirations. I should like to see us making more strenuous efforts to meet the French aspirations as well. Unless we solve the two problems we shall not succeed in producing an alliance and moving forward. At present, many people in Europe find it hard to distinguish between our nuclear policy and that of General de Gaulle. With respect to the Government, I think that much of this misunderstanding is our own fault.
Too often Ministers defend the Nassau agreement on the ground that it leaves the element of our deterrent in our own hands. This has been discussed during the debate particularly by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party. But the emphasis of the agreement is on the conception of putting our deterrent into the general machinery of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. The relevant words are:…except where Her Majesty's Government may decide that supreme national interests are at stake, these British forces will 494 be used for the purpose of international defence of the Western Alliances in all circumstances.The emphasis is upon the Western Alliance and not upon the use of weapons for our own purpose. Therefore, I say to the Government that we should take one further step forward in our movement towards a unified Western Alliance.
Let us make this clear about our possession of the deterrent. Starting with Nassau, let us say that we hold this deterrent, at the moment a truly independent deterrent, not merely as something which gives us prestige, something of vainglory, but as trustees for a future European deterrent, and that when that European deterrent is achieved we shall hand over our deterrent. Let us make clear to the country that we hold our deterrent not for our own individual prestige reasons, which is the attitude of de Gaulle, but as trustees for something greater which is to come.
If we make clear that it is as trustees that we hold it, people will understand much more clearly the purpose of our policy in this matter and, beyond that, I believe that it is in this direction that we shall find the solution of the problem of our alliance.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
Before I come to some of the larger issues which run through this debate and take the opportunity of picking up some of the things said by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley), some of which I agree with and some of which I am more doubtful about, perhaps I ought to begin with a reference to the rather odd speech—odd in relation to the pattern of the debate—which we had earlier today from the Minister of Defence. One cannot say about a defence speech that it is wholly irrelevant to a foreign affairs debate because defence has obviously some part in foreign policy, but a speech wholly specialised that would have been totally relevant to any recent defence debate had it been made seemed a bit peculiar to inject into this debate to the exclusion of all the other considerations the House has in mind.
This is not the place to deal with the claims which the right hon. Gentleman slipped in about our defence and services, about weapons, the state of B.A.O.R and 495 about T.S.R.2s, but some of the assertions he thought he got away with will certainly be taken up vigorously in debates to which they are more relevant. I was very surprised at the direction in which his defence of the continuation of independent national nuclear forces led him. It seems that Ministers still will not face the consequences of their own arguments in this connection. In the first place they persist, as the right hon. Gentleman did in his speech—which sounded to me to be more directed to the United States than to this House or to this debate—in making assertions about the state of our independent force and its continuing relevance, vigour and power, which do not deceive anybody else.
I commend to hon. Members the Report which was issued by the United States' Senate Committee on Foreign Relations only a short time ago and which is available in the Library. In it they will see just how hollow the kind of repeated assertion which the Minister makes here and gets cheered for by his own supporters rings against the assessments and examinations which other people are making and publishing. Merely repeating it does not overcome that. What it does, as I thought the hon. Member for Keighley said just now, is to lead our Ministers continually to make claims on behalf of independent national nuclear forces which are perfectly relevant, if true, to France, to Germany, to Italy, indeed to any other nation. It is the continual repetition of this that is doing a great deal of harm.
The Minister's defence of all this was also rather odd. He began with a very powerful commendation of a passage from Mr. Kennedy's speech at Frankfurt when the President of the United States said:The United States is here on this continent to stay so long as our presence is desired and required; our farces and commitments will remain, for your safety is our safety. Your liberty is our liberty; and any attack on your soil is an attack upon our own.…The United States will risk its cities to defend yours because we need your freedom to preserve ours.That was a very noble statement which I think cannot be repeated too often by us, nor taken up too often. It does more than simply say,"We shall come to your aid because you want us." It actually sets 496 out for American ears the reasons why in the interests of their own future this should be so.
The Minister started with a commendation of this and then, in order to support the defence he was making not only of the British nuclear force but of any national independent national nuclear strategic force in Europe, proceeded for the rest of his speech to talk as though he did not believe the declaration which the President had made. This is a dilemma into which Ministers get themselves. They end by throwing back into the teeth of the man who made it the very statement that they profess to be so pleased about. It is time that Ministers and their supporters faced the logic of their own claims, even accepting, which I do not, that these claims are true. They should follow the logic and see where it leads everyone, including the United States.
I want to look at the background to the debate. We have spent a long time talking about issues between the West and other parts of the world, and I will come to one or two of those in a moment. The background to the debate, however, is the state of disarray in which the Western Alliance stands. Politically and militarily—and for the moment I am concerned with the political aspect—it stands in a state of considerable disorder. It may well be fortunate for us that the Eastern bloc at the moment is no monolithic organisation, either. This may be healthy, but we cannot assume that the difficulties of the other side will get worse or will continue in their present degree of intensity. They may be cleared up if it seems to them to suit their purpose to clear them up. The urgency of looking at the state of the Western Alliance, finding the reasons for its disarray and seeing what we can do about them is very important.
This does not mean that we must take initiatives just for the sake of doing so. I do not know whether I am agreeing with the leader of The Times of yesterday or whether it was agreeing with me, but I wholly take the view, which our American friends do not always see, that there are periods when stability and trying to think what to do are rather more urgent than taking some new initiative just for the sake of doing so. Even though we recognise the urgency, there is a good deal of validity in the argument 497 that at the moment what we need more than anything else is to take a long look at the situation, to try to discover what are the problems and then to make sure that our suggestions go to the heart of the main problems.
This is the real case against the M.L.F., to which I shall return in a moment. It is not that it has inherent political or military objections; it is simply that it would leave us with the problems which face the alliance. They would still be there even after the creation of the M.L.F. The disarray of the alliance is in many ways due to and complicated by the internal political situation in many countries, and in this respect the timing does not help negotiations now. This is another reason for not being in too great a hurry.
I do not intend to make the Prime Minister's task more difficult in giving us a non-partisan winding-up speech, but at least the present Government do not have all the strength which ideally we wish a Government to have either in the country or among their own supporters. We are clearly moving towards a General Election. There is a difficult internal political situation in Italy which we hope will be solved with a left-of-centre Government which will hold, but that will take time. Towards the end of the year there will be a series of changes in Germany. One does not know what will happen when Dr. Erhard becomes Chancellor, but there is likely to be a series of changes right round to their election in 1965. In the middle of all this the United States will face an election next year.
Thus, the disarray will not easily be remedied. Nevertheless, if we take the view, as I do, that the maintenance of the Western Alliance has been responsible for our establishing a peaceful state of co-existence, and that it is essential to its continued preservation, if nothing better than that is offered, these are important problems. If we accept that we are unlikely to make such an advance in the East-West negotiations, whatever limited success we have, as to rule out the need for our own alliance in order to preserve the peace, and if we take the view, as I do, that we are more likely to get an agreement in the end because there is strength on our side which they respect, understand and evaluate, then it 498 becomes very important to try to work out our problems, even though for internal political reasons it may be difficult to do too much about them for the next year or two.
The first political problem is one which appears to be missed across the Atlantic. The issue between the European members of the alliance and the United States is not that there is not enough nuclear force in the alliance. It is not even about whose finger is to be on the trigger, the safety catch, or both. The problem, the argument, the uncertainty, the unhappiness, is about the extent to which we can establish political responsibility and participation in political decisions by other members of the alliance than the Americans, the extent to which one can disengage participation in real political responsibility in decision-making from the actual last-minute argument about the finger on the trigger. This is not concerned only with nuclear forces, because it is the whole question of the safety catch and the trigger.
We tend to conduct this argument largely round the nuclear forces, because obviously this is a very critical area. This also applies to all the decisions that have to do with the operation of the alliance at all levels. This is the one we have to face. How do we achieve this? How far is it possible? This, in turn, raises other questions. The first is the kind of machinery which we could establish within the alliance, a subject about which we have far too little discussion. Machinery, or mechanics, may be a dull subject, but in the end it is by getting the right machinery that the right decisions can be taken, or at any rate there is the possibility of the right decisions being taken.
Secondly, we must decide among ourselves the areas of political discussion where this could be involved. This does not only mean the United States adjusting herself to Europe. This does not only mean the United States consulting her European allies or sharing responsibility with them about issues which are important to the United States. It means also that we, the European allies, must be ready to do the same in reverse.
I read a remark which the Foreign Secretary is alleged to have made—one 499 does not know how true this is, and I merely mention it; if it is not so, I shall be delighted to be told—to the Americans in which he made it clear that British Guiana is our affair and will be settled by us in our own way. If we want to take, as I think we should, a realistic line with the Americans about the need for them to consult better with us—say, over Cuba—we, in turn, cannot say to them,"We will not consult you about an issue which happens to be our direct responsibility". I offer this example because I think it is very important that we should be clear that this involves a two-way traffic.
Thirdly, it raises a question which the House still, like most of the rest of us in Europe, finds difficult to grasp. It is the extent to which national rights jealously guarded can be eroded. This goes to the bottom of political participation and the sharing of political responsibility. This, again, does not only mean the Americans facing up to the MacMahon Act. Of course it does mean that. It does not mean only the Americans facing up to the constitutional difficulties of the Senate's rights when it comes to international agreement. Of course it means that. But it means also on our side the recognition that, if national rights are to be eroded in order that responsibility can genuinely be shared among an alliance of 15 nations, in fact some rights must be eroded on this side of the Atlantic as well as on that side. This again must be a two-way business.
I believe that Britain should be pressing wholeheartedly at the moment for progress in these directions. I believe these to be the essential issues. I believe these to be the ones that lie at the heart of the difficulties in the alliance. Instead of talking, as we do, and as, I believe, the Minister of Defence did today, almost as much nationalism as de Gaulle himself, we should be encouraging a realistic debate about the issues to which I have referred.
Here again, this is true about our relations with the United States. It also has been true—here the Lord Privy Seal yesterday made a reference to something I said about him elsewhere—until very recently in our relations with France. I think that since the breakdown at Brussels there has been a 500 period, which I trust is now over, in which we have given ourselves—our Ministers, at any rate have given themselves—far more freedom in public to attack and quarrel than was useful or that could help in erecting a decent policy, a good policy, a better policy, for the alliance in the future.
I want to return to the question of the relations with America. There have been many differing reasons given for the M.L.F., or rather for the change in the degree of vigour with which it was being put forward in the last two months. One can get almost any reason one likes in the United States; it depends upon whom one consults. I believe the real reason to be something like this. When the Prime Minister, at Nassau, instead of facing the logic of our nuclear position after Blue Streak and Sky bolt, decided then, as I believe he did, to put enormous pressure on the President on the basis of an old association, on the basis of an alleged special claim in order to get the Polaris offer from the President, he set up a whole chain reaction, and one of the consequences of this was that the Americans then felt themselves obliged to do something very quickly to offset the consequences of seeming to give in to the British special claims which they thought would arise in Germany and elsewhere on the Continent.
What had been until then something that was being, generally speaking, discussed but not vigorously sold suddenly took on a very different status, and the Americans then began to get very busy with the Germans and others explaining it and virtually leading them to believe that they and the Americans wanted it. The result of all this was that the Americans and the Germans very nearly got so far committed on this idea that it became nearly impossible to get a real examination of the consequences of going ahead with it.
I repeat, the main objection to this M.L.F. is that I am sure it does not go to the heart of the problem. It would have left the main problem of political partnership still to be solved. It would have created, if set up, heavy new problems both inside the alliance and between the East and West, arising from the fact that Germany was going to have such a very large part not only of the participation in it but of the 501 higher manning posts and of the control machinery within it.
Let me explain this to the House. It is only too easy to say of us when we urge this consideration that we are giving way to anti-German feeling. I should like to commend the speech that I heard tonight from my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) on this subject. This is not so. But, as has been pointed out by others, and recently by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), there is something special in giving this degree of nuclear participation to the one nation that (a) is divided, (b) sits geographically right at the heart of the European difficulties, and (c) has quite naturally irredentist aspirations.
This is not only to raise dangers for us. It is also important for the Germans themselves. Indeed, one of the dangers of the last hectic months about the M.L.F. has been that the Germans, who saw only too clearly the consequences for them if this move were taken and were responded to on the other side of the Curtain, as it might have been, have found it increasingly difficult to be heard by their fellow countrymen against the more clamant nationalistic-sounding remarks of other people.
I am sure we are right to go on urging on the Americans, on our fellow countrymen and on the Government the grave dangers of eroding the agreements that were made so long ago, voluntarily made by the Germans, about their relationship to nuclear weapons, and that we should do all we can to avoid any further erosion, or any belief that by bringing Germany at this stage closely into this area we are doing any good at all for the future of our own alliance or for the peace of the world in that area.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member says that the Prime Minister has done it, but, in my view, the Prime Minister happens to be largely responsible for the situation developing as it developed between Nassau and last week.
The other objection to this is that there is no military requirement for it, that it would shift to Europe a large area of expenditure which the Americans are bearing with no increase in political 502 power. I believe that the Government's failure to speak clearly about this at Nassau led to it. There are many people in America who believe that the Prime Minister not only was not clear about opposition to it at Nassau but that they got a commitment from him on it and who are prepared, as the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) found in America, passionately to tell us why they hold that belief. Just as the right hon. Gentleman's vagueness led to the concept in the first place getting so dangerously active, so I think there is vagueness in the Government's attitude even now which can keep it alive and continue to do damage. The Government should be speaking much more clearly at this stage about their attitude to this whole concept.
We should not only come out against the concept. We should certainly stop using arguments to support national independent deterrent forces. We should start thinking seriously about the changes which are likely to happen in Europe over the next two years and about how we can make use of a new climate which may arise there, of new institutions which may be more acceptable to us and to others than those which have been there in the past few years. We should be thinking how we can use that climate to reach that situation with the aim of reaching a point where a genuine Atlantic partnership instrument can be forged and all other nuclear forces and some part of the Americans will become a genuine N.A.T.O. instrument, genuine N.A.T.O. forces, genuinely N.A.T.O. controlled and decided. This situation cannot arise until new institutions exist. New institutions will not exist until a different climate exists in Europe. It is about this that we should be thinking.
Meanwhile, there are some things which we can do. It is not a question of doing nothing at all but think. There are steps which we can take at this very moment.
§ Mr. Fell
On the one hand, the right hon. Gentleman says that we have nothing definite, but I understood that the Minister of Defence this afternoon had something very definite to say to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. On the other hand, he says that we should wait before we say anything 503 definite to see what happens in Europe. When will this happen and how long will we wait?
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Gentleman has missed the argument. Perhaps it is my fault. If he reads it tomorrow, it may be clearer to him. I will not repeat it.
While we are discussing and trying to bring about a situation in which changes can be made, there are things which we can do now. We could with our allies try to develop the existing institutions in N.A.T.O. and create a more genuine Council. What exists at the moment is hardly worthy of the title. We could try to create a stronger Secretariat with powers which the present one totally lacks. We could try to bring about a closer degree of military integration. The Standing Group on the other side of the Atlantic nowadays looks a very wrong organisation indeed and itself contributes to wrong doctrines and wrong things being done.
All that I have said so far has been directed to the disarray in our own internal alliance. Let me turn to one or two of the larger questions which have come up in the debate on which we should like to hear from the Prime Minister tonight affecting relations between the alliance and the outside world. The first of these is, clearly, the test ban agreement. At the end of the day, one does not need to go over the whole unhappy history of this, in which the West has changed its mind so often, for one reason or another, that we, too, come out of it fairly badly.
What should now be said is that if we can get an inspection agreement, whatever the number of on-site inspections, clearly that would be the best. On the other hand, the House must now have been impressed with the reports which my right hon. Friend has brought back from Moscow. Therefore, an agreement may not be available. Whether it is or not, however, I am sure that it should still be pressed for by Governments at Government level, because until we get the first agreement with the Russians actually involving inspection we shall never have begun to make a break through in the way of a disarmament agreement. Therefore, it should still be pressed for at Government level.
If, however, it proves that my right hon. Friend's forebodings are right and 504 that it cannot be obtained, we should be absolutely clear that we will not haggle about the more limited but highly valuable unpoliced agreement to ban tests in the atmosphere, under the waiter or elsewhere except underground. We should not haggle about that if it is available to us. The fact that that does not help us with the inspection side is a disappointment, but if we could get it we might well head off another round of tests. We might well save a lot of people from continuing to be poisoned and we might save ourselves from additional nuclear Powers in the world.
Therefore, I trust that our Government's position will be clear, that we will not invent obstacles to this. In particular, if the non-aggression pact idea is to be attached to this, we may or may not think that there is any value in it, but there is no positive harm in a non-aggression pact and we should not encourage any of our allies to develop this into an obstacle which, again, might miss a point at which the agreement could be made.
The other two important questions on which I hope the Prime Minister will say something are, first, the question of Central European discussions. There is a variety of possibilities from, on the one side, the areas of simple—if that is the right phrase—observation over a wide area, which used to appeal to the military leaders of S.H.A.P.E. as well as to politicians, to a more complicated system of actual withdrawal and disengagement at the other end of the line.
We should take up these matters again vigorously and see what pressures emerge, because these, like the test ban, are in the area of things which are not only tremendously important to us and not only of advantage to us but are also areas in which the Soviets themselves have problems and in which they may well be highly desirous of making progress. I hope, therefore, that we will press this again and also that the Prime Minister will, as he was asked by my right hon. Friends and by other hon. Members, take up again vigorously with the United States the question of contacts with China and, in particular, the question of United Nations membership for China. I understand only too easily and clearly the delicacy of this matter and the problems over there. On the other hand, again 505 we are all talking about more participation and more discussion. The Americans must understand that this is an area of tremendous importance about which we are entitled to press them heavily.
I am sorry if I have misled or confused anybody by hurrying too fast, but I have tried at the end of the debate to make some constructive proposals on the areas that seem to me to be tremendously important. They link with a whole number of other problems which have been made during this debate. I hope that the debate will be ended by the Prime Minister with a speech in which he takes up for us these ideas and these clear problems and gives a clear idea of where the Government stand on them. There has been far too much woolliness and far too much vagueness in the Government's attitude, statements and negotiations over the last few years. I trust that the Prime Minister tonight will try to help us out.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
At the end of this two-day debate, ranging over a very wide compass, I think that the House would wish me, in summing up, to stick to the major issues which have been in all our minds, especially today.
There has been—and we know it—a setback, we hope temporary, in the concept of European unity, but if real European unity in the widest sense cannot be made without Britain I am equally sure that it cannot be made without France, and I am glad that that point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley) in the speech to which we have just listened. In the economic field we do our best, but in the political and defence field there might be very serious consequences for the alliance.
I thought that I detected a difference of emphasis between the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who opened the debate today, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown),who has just spoken. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to ignore, as did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), the really widespread feeling in Europe regarding this nuclear problem. In fact, we recognised it long ago, and we have tried to take a lead in dealing with it.
506 I dislike quoting my own speeches, but the right hon. Gentleman did it, so I will follow his example. As long ago as the spring of 1961, at Boston, Massachusetts, I used these words:Although the nuclear deterrent gives us security it is not so organised as to contribute to our unity.I went on to say:The health of our whole N.A.T.O. Alliance depends on finding a way to build a partnership in the nuclear as well as in the conventional field.The Lord Privy Seal reminded the House yesterday that the next step was taken on British initiative, and last year, at Athens, at the meeting of the N.A.T.O., the Foreign Secretary initiated the move, very much on the lines of what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper has just been saying, to improve the flow of nuclear information among the allies.
Then there came Nassau. This has been attacked partly as being too nationalist and partly as being too internationalist. The truth is that it combined, I thought, the principles of dependence and interdependence, which are only the reverse sides of the same coin, in a very sensible solution. But the whole emphasis, of course, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is this contribution, which we have agreed to make at great cost to ourselves, to N.A.T.O. for the N.A.T.O. defence. And if we make the final reservation that, in certain circumstances which one can hardly contemplate, but which every British Government must protect, we have that final right, that does not detract from this great contribution to the N.A.T.O. concept.
We were, of course, expecting to have Sky bolt, which would have continued, though not indefinitely, the strength of our still very powerful bomber force, but now there is a new generation of weapons, Polaris, which is virtually immune from attack, and, whatever may be said about anything else and which I will not argue now, is certainly a first-strike weapon which was offered both to Britain and to France. I hoped that the French Government would take up the offer immediately, and with this one reservation, which every British Government would make, we are putting this new Polaris force into N.A.T.O.
We went further, at our own suggestion, and I said to the Americans,"Let us do something now, not wait for three 507 or four years till Polaris is built"—and we offered our bomber force and assigned it to N.A.T.O.—"and make sure we have, at any rate, a multilateral conception". This was brought about and agreed during the May meeting of N.A.T.O. at Ottawa. That was another British initiative.
I really do not quite understand the speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick. The Opposition want us not to have nuclear weapons, presumably leaving France as the only nuclear Power in Europe, and, at the same time they want the bomber force, as the right hon. Gentleman put it, to run out, having spent considerable sums upon it, and want us to give up the TSR2 and nuclear warheads. Does he think that the French Government will give up their nuclear force to N.A.T.O.? In exchange for this abdication we are, in his words, to ask the United States for a share in the formulation of the nuclear strategy with the entire weapons of the Western Alliance. It seems to me a very one-sided deal. It is asking a great deal. We are not to be involved in the great decisions. We are to have influence, I suppose, but not responsibility.
But let us remember that from the very beginning Britain has been a nuclear Power. She has gained greatly, but she is willing now generously to give to N.A.T.O. all that she has. That system, I would also remind the House, has all these years resulted in undertakings, negotiated with two American Presidents, under which the United States has agreed never to use nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, whether in N.A.T.O. or outside, without prior consultation with the British Government. These are quite important advantages.
I do not understand this curious contradiction of doctrine—the Opposition want us to give up our authority altogether, and, at the same time, they are all the time calling for a more independent foreign policy. But, of course, the problem of how to bring in other European nuclear Powers and the non-nuclear Powers remains. I think that it is a problem which was quite clearly faced by the right hon. Member for Belper. It is there.
508 The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition dealt in a great part of his speech with one aspect of the problem—the question of Germany—and asked me certain questions. I do not intend to evade them. In the earlier period immediately after the foundation of N.A.T.O., before Germany had gained full independence and before she began to be heavily rearmed, and while most of the countries of Europe were slowly recovering from the devastation of war, this nuclear problem did not arise.
But today these are the facts. Germany is under solemn treaty obligations not to manufacture nuclear weapons. I do not believe that any responsible German statesmen would not recognise, and will not recognise, this obligation. Moreover, there are considerable counter-advantages associated with the complex of treaties made in 1954 under which we and other countries undertook to defend Germany against aggression, and Britain, in particular, undertook to keep troops in Germany for many years. These are all parts of the same complex of agreements, one of which cannot be destroyed without the others being put in jeopardy.
But, meanwhile, Germany has, of course, been armed with tactical nuclear weapons under the American veto. The Russians, no doubt, did not like this. But this is a fact of life, for how could one organise armies stretched on a great front, side by side—comrades—in which there was so great a disparity between the fire power of one part of the Army and the other? It obviously had to be done. In any case, it has been done.
Now there is the problem: will the Germany of the futures—I am trying to face up to these matters and trying to answer the questions put to me—seek her own nuclear armoury? That is the problem. She can. of course, do this—and the House must realise this—without breaking the letter of her treaty obligations if she can find another country to give her the weapons. This would not be technically a breach of the treaty, though I think that it would be a breach of the spirit of the treaty. Alternatively, she could do so by a direct breach of the treaty, yielding to a wave of nationalist emotion or a political convulsion.
I am convinced, and I believe that all of us are convinced, that the present 509 German statesmen and the German people today are against doing either the one or the other—either breaking their treaty or trying to get around their treaty—but without saying anything, I hope, the least critical of our German friends, I think that they themselves feel that this problem should be faced in order that these dangers can be permanently and definitely averted.
The best method of all, of course, would be a test ban treaty, followed by a non-dissemination agreement to which Germany could honourably adhere. But it is foolish to shut our eyes to the fact that the problem remains, and when the Opposition say,"Put it all in N.A.T.O.", this is posing the problem, not answering it.
One concrete suggestion—indeed, the only concrete suggestion—has been made by the American Government. This is for a mixed-manned force, of which there was some discussion at Nassau. We should be fair about this. It is, in our view, technically feasible. It would be possible, although perhaps difficult to operate. It would be a technical, administrative and even a juridical problem. I think that a great deal of the criticism is uninstructed and unfair and does not recognise the immense amount of work which has been done by the United States naval authorities on this—work which considerably impressed our own naval authorities. We have ventured to raise a number of questions on the suggestion for such a force.
The first is: does N.A.T.O. need more nuclear power? There is to be a review of N.A.T.O. strategy in the next few months. Does it need more nuclear power, at any rate of that kind and extent?
The second is: would the very large expenditure—and, alas, we know that estimates are apt to become very much larger as the years go on—be better spent on this or on the other many efforts which the alliance Powers are making to bring themselves up to date in making themselves wholly efficient. This applies more especially to this country which, we must remember, is the only country which is a full member not only of N.A.T.O. but also of CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. We thus have many calls on expenditure to meet these other obligations.
510 The third question is: would this force, as now conceived, as far as it has been worked out, resolve the basic political problem to which I have referred? We felt, and our American friends agreed, that more discussion was needed on these fundamental questions.
We are not committed to any particular solution, but we are committed to seeking an answer, and that we shall try to do in the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition spoke in the first part of his speech. He spoke of his contacts in Moscow, of which he gave our Ambassador an account which he courteously allowed to be sent to me. He had already been talking in Washington. Naturally, I do not complain of this. It is quite right. As the right hon. Gentleman said, an Opposition are able to reconnoitre in depth whereas Governments, alas, have to deal not in hopes and chimeras, but in hard facts. I think that during the course of the right hon. Gentleman's travels he did swallow quite a lot of propaganda.
Now I come to the second major topic which I think interests the House at this moment—
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale) rose—
§ The Prime Minister
—the question of the Moscow meeting and the discussion of a possible test ban agreement. As the right hon. Member for Belper fairly said, these test ban negotiations have been very prolonged. Sometimes we have seemed to go forward, sometimes we have seemed to slip back.
In President Eisenhower's time he agreed—I must say nobly in view of the very heavy pressures on him—to a continued moratorium, first for six months, then for another six months and then for another period. There was great pressure on him to resume tests, but he would not do so. We must remember that it was the Russians and not the Americans who broke the moratorium.
That was followed by a meeting which I had with President Kennedy at Bermuda, when we discussed what to do. He was not anxious to resume tests. It took a great deal of proof from the experts to prove both to him and to me—we had to agree to provide certain facilities—that this was right, and all the time we were trying to say,"When 511 this set is over, for both sides, can we not resume the ban?" At Nassau we discussed it in detail, and I have been in correspondence with him by a great many methods ever since.
The President regards the test ban, as I do, as by far the biggest thing we can do, if we can do it, for the peace and prosperity of the world. We know the gains, but perhaps it is worth reminding ourselves of them. It would end pollution of the atmosphere and many fears and dangers of fall-out about which we have heard a great deal in the House in recent years. If signed by an increasing number of nations, it would stop, in the most effective way possible, the dissemination of nuclear power and all that that means. It would afford honourable and acceptable means to nations not having nuclear power of their own and be of the greatest assistance and by far the best solution of the German dangers, if they are dangers, difficulties if they are difficulties.
It would, of course, leave the problems of the existing nuclear Powers. It would leave the problem of China. But it would make it much easier to deal with them if we could approach them after a test ban of some kind. It would, and this is perhaps most important, be the first real and effective agreement, after all these weary years, between East and West. It would not, of course, produce disarmament by itself, but it might pave the way towards disarmament.
To turn to the economic side, hon. Members are no doubt aware of the present broad picture of the nuclear contest. Both sides can destroy each other and in doing so probably destroy the greater part of human life. Both can destroy the other, but each fears that that equality might somehow be removed, and, therefore, both are poised, if we cannot get this ban, on embarking upon a vast and expensive attempt to solve what is called the anti-missile missile problem. I happen to have studied this in some detail and one is appalled at the waste of engineering power, of money and humanity, and yet each side will have to do it for fear the other gets ahead and thereby destroys the balance of power on which is preserved the peace of the world.
512 If that can be avoided, in economic terms it would be of enormous benefit, and perhaps the most attractive benefit to the Russian Government, because I feel sure that it, like other Governments, would like to devote its resources to the general well-being of its people and the development of all the enormous benefits which would follow.
Finally, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition suggested, it might be the preliminary to a series of Summit meetings. During the course of a most balanced speech, the Leader of the Opposition could not keep away from a little partisanship. I expected it and I do not resent it, but his account of the various Summit meetings and my part in them was not very generous. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) spoke very eloquently about the need for a decrease in tension in the world and, of course, it is a great need. I am bound to say, looking back to 1957 and 1958, that there really seemed to be a serious danger of an immediate clash over Berlin. It was a period of great tension and that was the reason why I made my visit to Russia.
I am thankful, and I think that we are all thankful, that during these six years, although we have not achieved a solution, there have been discussions and negotiations. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wood ford (Sir W. Churchill) used to say"Jaw jaw is better than war war". There has been plenty of discussion, but, thank God, there has not been a serious, dangerous clash over the Berlin situation.
That is a great gain and I think, also, that the various interchanges of visits between leaders of the different countries, the enormous increase in the last few years in the interchange of people from both sides of the Iron Curtain, and the great growth of cultural, economic, and artistic movement has been a gain. My answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that although this great problem remains to be resolved, there has been during these five to six years, a great reduction in tension and I think that this is something at least for which we can be grateful.
The right hon. Gentleman gave a completely inaccurate account as to why the second Summit in Paris broke down. It had nothing to do with disengagement. 513 Indeed, as late as the middle of that week I received a message from Mr. Khrushchev on the subject of the agenda and the best way in which it could be taken, and I had every hope that the meeting would take place. It is no good going over how the U2 affair was handled, but it was this and nothing else that brought the meeting to a premature close.
There are two other points which, although I am not making any criticism, I think I ought, for the sake of the record, to put right. Among the very interesting suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman was that we should now go to New York every year and then meet afterwards either in Washington or New York. This has great attractions. This is, in fact, what happened in 1960, but the original Summit plan—and it was accepted afer very long negotiation by all the Governments concerned—was really this: it was—and it was even discussed where future meetings should take place; Paris should be first—that there should be a series of meetings at regular intervals, and that if we could have made some advance—if the terrible U2 incident had not destroyed it—however small, then we could have decided to meet again later, in our familiar words, to report progress and ask leave to meet again. That was the plan, and if we could get agreement now in Moscow, I do not see why it would not be possible, in one form or another, to revive this system which so sadly broke down.
Because of these gains, I have always, all the time that I have had any responsibility, struggled hard for the test ban, first, for the moratorium, which we maintained and which then broke down, and then never ceasing efforts to see that negotiations were resumed. President Kennedy, whose political difficulties in this were fairly recognised by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, has responded generously and nobly. He feels the same, and in our recent correspondence with Mr. Khrushchev we took the matter at least a stage further. We thought of the plan which was agreeable to Mr. Khrushchev, that this very complicated Geneva expert negotiation should stop, however well it had been carried out, and that two emissaries, as President Kennedy called them, two representatives, should go to Moscow to talk freely and frankly.
514 There is one point I ought to mention about the scientific experiment. I think that the right hon. Gentleman perhaps misunderstood the difference between detection and identification. Modern seismology has made immense strides, but there is still difficulty, in certain cases, in telling whether a particular disturbance is natural or artificial. The recording instruments show the disturbance and in some cases, because of the character, it is clear that it is seismic and not natural, but in others it is not clear, and this, of course, was the importance attached by the Americans and ourselves to inspection. But I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. If we could get the principle of inspection, however modest, I think that it would help us very much in expanding later into some of the spheres which he outlined.
There is one further point. Up to now it is the fact—and I must record the fact—that the Soviet suggestions about a ban on tests in the so-called three environments have always been linked with the suggestion that there should be an unpoliced moratorium on underground tests. That has been the difference between the West and East. As the right hon. Gentleman said, if that were so it would mean that part of it would be unprotected or uninspected. I hope that that has now disappeared. If so, we shall soon find out.
I have read carefully Mr. Khrushchev's speech, and it is being carefully studied, but, on reflection, I think that it would be a grave error for me to now enter into an argument about it. Any preliminary interchange of argument would not serve the purpose which we have in mind.
The House will ask what are the chances of success. We want to negotiate—and I am glad that the right hon. Member for Belper emphasised this—for a full success, that is, the banning of all tests in all environments, because all the other things that I have mentioned will become so much easier to handle and many of the benefits, especially the political benefits, easier to manage. For that reason I agree that we ought not to accept any second-best without a real effort for the total ban We must explain our point of view again, and quite simply and frankly hope that we can get, by a compromise or agreement, the full system, for that is the great prize.
515 But that is not to say—and I am fully in agreement with those who have argued this—that if this should prove impossible a partial ban, covering tests everywhere except underground, would be no advance. It would be far better than nothing. But I still think that we should not adopt that attitude now, but should try by every possible means to go for the full agreement, for it is that which is the great prize. However, even if we get a lesser agreement of some kind, many of the good results that I have mentioned will follow.
I think that there would be, right through this country, all the Western countries, through Russia itself and, indeed, through all the world, a great sense that at last some progress, however small, had been made, and that following that there could begin progress in other fields. Up to now we have never really succeeded in getting a start—if only we could get a start in the right spirit of accommodation and negotiation! It may be that if the great Powers are in some disarray—although I do not quite accept this as regards the West—it may, in the long run, facilitate agreement rather than impede it, for it is so clearly in the interests of us all.
At any rate, it is in this spirit that Mr. Harriman, a most practised and able 516 negotiator, with a great deal of experience of Russia, has been chosen by the President, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen a very important member of the Government, Lord Hailsham, who has exactly the complementary qualities that are required. The whole House and the whole nation—and, I would add, I believe the whole world—will wish them Godspeed.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.