§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
One striking feature of yesterday's debate was the wide extent of agreement between both sides of the House, which, I think, is reflected in agreement on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, that the danger of war in Europe is receding and there is a growing possibility of reconciliation between Russia and the West, at least in so far as the security of Europe is concerned, in co-operation on some form of arms control.
On the other hand, the danger of war outside Europe is patently growing. In fact, war is a reality in many parts of the world. At this very moment British troops are engaged in fighting in Borneo 1287 and South Arabia and in recent months they have been fighting in Cyprus and East Africa; and American troops are heavily committed in fighting in South Vietnam. I think that we must all admit that this is bitterly contrary to our hopes. All of us believed that Britain's military commitments overseas would be reduced by the end of our old Empire and the creation of an independent Commonwealth, but, in fact, the military burden falling on us has, if anything, increased in recent years.
I have myself, during the last few weeks, had the opportunity to see British troops fighting in the forests of Borneo and among the crags of Southern Arabia. Like everyone who has seen them there, I have been impressed more than I can say by their gallantry, courage, patience and good humour. But it is right that we should ask the questions: why are they still fighting there; and what legitimate purpose do we serve by asking our young men to make these tremendous sacrifices?
Two answers are commonly given to this question: first, that our troops are overseas to protect Britain's national interests; and, secondly, that they are overseas to prevent the advance of international Communism. In my view, neither of these answers is fully adequate. If we look at the argument that our forces are protecting our interests overseas in the narrow national economic sense, I think that we should learn, from the events of 1956, that it will be rarely right or possible for Britain, or any other country, to use forces on foreign soil simply to protect its economic or commercial interests.
Moreover, I think it highly doubtful whether, if we define interests in this narrow economic or commercial sense, the value to our country of the present system under which we obtain oil from the countries around the Persian Gulf and obtain tin and copper from Malaya is really sufficient to justify the enormous cost of our overseas military capacity. If the protection of our economic or commercial interests there were our only concern I think that we might well decide that it would be wiser to rely wholly on diplomacy to win consent for the retention of our interests in foreign countries, because we might well discover 1288 that the losses we would risk by relying solely on diplomacy would probably be less than the cost of maintaining a military establishment overseas at anything like the present level.
The other argument which is often used to justify our military presence overseas is that we must retain our base in Aden, or in Singapore, and large military establishments which go with it, to fight the advance of international Communism. At first sight, this is a more plausible explanation. We see at the present time the use of force by Communists in Laos and Vietnam to extend their territorial control, but in Borneo this is not the problem we face. Nor was this the problem we faced when British troops went to the independent Commonwealth countries of East Africa last January.
If we are honest we must admit that many of the conflicts in Asia and in Africa in which we have been called on recently to intervene have nothing whatever to do with international Communism. They arise out of the political instability which is an inevitable consequence of the revolutionary changes now sweeping the continents of Africa and Asia and which may shortly be spreading also the continent of Latin America. Many of these conflicts have nothing whatever to do with Communism. They arise, in some cases, out of the legacy of imperialism and in other cases out of local power politics. The conflict between Algeria and Morocco, the conflict in Ruanda between the Hutu and the Watutsi, the conflict between the two communities who live on the island of Cyprus and between India and Pakistan over Kashmir—in all these conflicts, and hundreds of others like them, Communism is not a major factor.
At worst, Communist parties or Powers may wish to exploit the instability, but are not themselves the prime cause of this instability which is so common and which, alas, in many parts of Africa and Asia, seems to be increasing rather than declining and presents a major danger to world peace. I believe that it presents a danger to the Communist Powers no less than to the Western Powers.
The idea that international Communism is the problem which we face 1289 in Africa and Asia is a nonsense from the start, because, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out yesterday, Communism internationally is no longer, as it once was, a single monolithic bloc. The solidarity of the Communist world movement has been shattered beyond repair and the process of distintegration will go a great deal further before it is finally halted. We all in Britain, I think, have accepted, and a large part of the American people have also accepted, the fact that polycentrism, as it is sometimes called, is a reality in Europe, a reality which, in many respects, produces a more favourable situation for world peace, a reality which we can seek to encourage although we should not seek to exploit it overmuch.
But this polycentrism is no less a reality for Asia, too. Every single Asian Communist Party today is split in the ideological struggle between Moscow and Peking. A few days before I arrived in Tokyo the Japanese Communist Party split and a courageous member voted for the Test Ban Treaty. Even those Communist Parties in Asia which sympathise with China in the international Communist schism show themselves extremely reluctant to accept subordination to China in the conduct of their national policies. Even the Communist Parties of North Vietnam and North Korea, which support the line of Mao Tse-tung in the great ideological dispute, have shown themselves most unwilling to accept the Chinese view on how the ideological argument with the Russians should be conducted.
For this reason, in those parts of Asia where Communism is clearly at work, subverting institutions of the non-Communist world, it would be a mistake to assume without evidence that that Communism is centrally directed from Moscow or even from China. There is much evidence to suggest that even the Vietnam Communist Party, although it holds heavy responsibility for Laos and South Vietnam, is not acting as a satellite of Peking.
In this respect, I think that we might take some warning from the recent revelation of the Yugoslav Communist, Mr. Djilas, that during the Greek civil war of 1944 and 1945 the Soviet Communist Party was, in fact, trying to hold the Yugoslav Communist Party back and that the main external sponsors of the revolt were in Belgrade rather than in Moscow.
1290 I believe that the real justification for the British military presence in Asia, Africa and the Middle East is that Britain can make an indispensable contribution to the stability of these great continents, a contribution which, at the moment, no other country in the world is capable of making, certainly in the vast area between Suez and Singapore. The presence of British troops in these areas in itself can act as a deterrent to local conflicts and can reduce the risk of war; and if war breaks out, the commitment of British troops can prevent avoidable human suffering and, above all, can help to prevent a small war from turning into a large war in which the world Powers become directly engaged.
I suggest that we have not only an interest but an obligation to make a contribution in this field, above all because we are a key member of an international Commonwealth which has important members in these continents, many of whom are bound to us by treaty. The interest which we are satisfying by our presence in these areas is not only a British interest, not only an interest of the local peoples, but an interest of the whole world.
If I may be permitted a digression—this struck me very much during my recent visit to these countries—when we offer a country such as Malaysia assistance against external aggression, we are not simply fulfilling a juridical obligation. In this case we are protecting a society which, in Asia, is a shining example of human welfare and racial co-operation in striking contrast to the country which at present threatens it. In this sense we are performing a human responsibility as well as a national and juridical one.
But if this is the real justification for our presence in these continents, if our rôle is essentially peace keeping and a contribution to international stability, as I believe it is and as, I think, right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite believe it is, then we are performing a rôle which is at least as worth while as, and in my view infinitely more worth while than, any rôle which we have performed in these continents in the past. But we must accept that it raises problems with which we are totally unfamiliar and in which our imperial 1291 tradition can give us little guidance. Inevitably, when one travels among British troops in these parts of the world one finds impatience and frustration at the limitations imposed on British action.
Before I come down to detailed cases I should like to offer some tentative general thoughts on the nature of this problem. First—and I do not think that anybody can deny this—if British troops operate in these Asian-African areas, we can do so only with the consent of the local peoples. We could not, even if we wished, any longer impose our will on these peoples as if they were still British Colonies. Moreover—and perhaps this is more difficult to accept—we shall very rarely find ourselves in a position to decide an issue ourselves. Our rôle is to provide support for independent Governments, and the success of our contribution will depend primarily on their ability to meet the challenges which face them. If they fail, there is nothing that we, or for that matter the Americans, can do.
I agree very much with what the Foreign Secretary said on his recent tour, and, if I may say so, I found that he had left the most happy and favourable memories behind him in Tokyo and Manila. I agree very much with him when he said that only Asians can find solutions to Asian problems. I hope that he will agree with me, too, that only the peoples of the Middle East can find solutions to Middle Eastern problems.
On the other hand, if we assume the responsibilities of this peace-keeping rôle not for selfish national gain but as a contribution to international stability, then I think that we can justifiably claim certain rights to go with our responsibilities. We must be able to give advice to those whom we assist. We cannot unconditionally commit ourselves to act as a police force if we have no part whatever in decidinig the laws which we are upholding.
This is particularly important if, as I hope will very rarely happen, we are called on to assist in keeping internal order, because if ever British troops find themselves committed to preserving internal order in a foreign country they must be satisfied, and the Government 1292 who send them there must be satisfied, that the order which they are protecting is a just one.
The other general point which I should like to make is this: when British troops fight in Borneo, or perform a rôle in Africa or the Middle East, they are operating not just on behalf of Britain, or even on behalf of the local people, but on behalf of all those who have interests in stability in the area. I think that we also have the right to demand the relevant co-operation from those other Powers which have interests in the area the stability of which we are seeking to preserve, whether those countries are, as in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, or, as in the Middle East, America and Western Europe.
Nobody who has thought about these problems or has looked at them on the ground can deny that the problem of creating the right political framework in which to operate is one of daunting complexity and difficulties. For this reason, as well as for many others, I believe that whenever possible our operations should take place within a United Nations context and under United Nations auspices, athough we must accept that in many cases we shall have to act first in response to a request and seek later to construct the framework of United Nations support which will enable us to stay there, as indeed we did, although in the view of this side of the House belatedly, in the case of Cyprus.
Moreover, I think that it will usually be in our interests to encourage cooperation on a regional basis between the local powers. As the Foreign Secretary said when he was in the Far East, the concept of Maphilindo may prove to be very fruitful in helping to end the conflict in Indonesia and Malaysia. I believe, for example, that many of the problems in Indo-China might be rendered easier to deal with if the Mekong Valley development scheme could be got under way.
Unity among the Arab peoples would be a most valuable contribution to stability in the Middle East and one which we should always make it our aim to encourage. The problem is one of great complexity. Our rôle essentially is to create the conditions of peace in 1293 which others can seek political solutions, not to find, still less to impose, a solution ourselves. The major responsibility must always lie on the people of the area themselves.
But, besides the contribution which we can make towards creating stability in Africa and Asia, Britain, as a world Power, has certain opportunities to ease problems by seeking agreement with other world Powers, above all with Russia, to assist in achieving stability in these continents. This point has been made before, but I return to it because I am more convinced than ever of its importance.
If the great industrial Powers of East and West could get together and agree on limiting their arms deliveries to the countries of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, they would make an enormous contribution towards a reduction of the instability which now torments those continents. It seems to me that it is a criminal diversion of scarce resources from the battle against poverty to encourage the local Powers in Africa and Asia to enter upon a spiralling arms race against one another, whether Egypt against Israel, or Indonesia against Malaysia. I hope that either the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary will be able to give us his views on this issue.
I believe, also—I think that there is no disagreement between the two sides of the House on this—that it is very desirable to try to reach agreement with the Russians that neither they nor the West will seek military advantage from the political changes which are inevitable in Africa and Asia. We had one such example of a neutralisation agreement, though it was rarely recognised as such, in the agreement between Russia and the United States over Cuba in 1962. As I understand that agreement, it involved an American undertaking not to try to overturn the pro-Communist régime in Cuba by force, in return for a Soviet undertaking not to try to take military advantage of the existence of such a régime in Cuba. The only other example we have so far is the agreement in 1962 on neutralising Laos, to which I shall return in a moment or two.
However, if we are honest, we must admit that Russia's power to decide what happens in the Far East is now very limited. The key to any great Power 1294 understanding in the Far East is some sort of understanding between the West and Communist China. I admit that the isolation of Communist China today is partly self-imposed. Nevertheless, the Chinese quarrel with Russia has given us opportunities for improving our relations with China as dramatic as those we all recognise it has given us to improve our relations with the Soviet Union. It is a great mistake to assume that everything the Russians say about the Chinese in their ideological argument is true. Much has changed in the Soviet Union since the death of Stalin, but one thing which has not changed is the totally dishonest and unscrupulous nature of inter-Communist polemic.
If we look at Chinese behaviour and compare it with Soviet behaviour, we are struck by the fact that the only obvious risk of war between a Communist Power and the West was that taken by the Soviet Union over Cuba in October, 1962. China, on the other hand, has conducted her relations with the West with extreme care. She has not even laid a finger on the Portuguese colony of Macao, which is right inside her own territory.
We must do our best to establish more normal diplomatic relations between the West and China. I believe that the time is long overdue when the Communist régime should take China's seat in the United Nations. I realise that this feeling, which, I think, is shared on both sides of the House, still causes deep revulsion in the United States, but I believe that many Americans are beginning to recognise that, whether they like it or not, their position on China and the United Nations is likely to become untenable in the next few years. It is not too early, even though we disagree about this question, for us to consult with our American allies on some of the contingent issues which will arise if the United Nations votes to elect Peking to the Chinese seat, particularly the right of the people of Taiwan to self-determination and a revision of the structure of the Security Council to take account of the tremendous changes in the world since 1944, when the United Nations Charter was first drafted.
After these, I hope not too boring, general comments, I turn to the central problems which threaten peace today, the 1295 problems of the three Indo-Chinese States, the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia and the problem in South Arabia—all areas which I have been fortunate enough to visit in the past few weeks. I realise that my acquaintance with these problems is of necessity very superficial, but I have been rather heartened to find that even experts who have lived in the areas for 30 years disagree with one another about the solution of them, so perhaps an attempt at a disinterested outside judgment may not be entirely without value.
First, Indo-China. On both sides of the House, we all hope that it will be possible to neutralise Cambodia and Laos. We should use all our possible influence to this end. I believe that there is no disagreement about this between the Foreign Secretary and hon. Members on this side. But it is very difficult—I confess this to my hon. Friends—to apply the same solution to Vietnam at this time. In the first place, it is very difficult to apply a Laotian solution to Vietnam if the Laotian solution is not seen to work, and, at present, the neutralisation of Laos is still very much an uncertainty.
Secondly, we must accept that Vietnam presents a problem of unique difficulty. Incidentally, the uniqueness of the situation in Vietnam should be warning against assuming that what happens in Vietnam must necessarily set a pattern for what happens in other parts of Asia. Vietnam has a large and old Communist Party, the leaders of which were trained mainly in Moscow and France, not in China, a Communist Party which has been totally committed to guerrilla warfare for the last 20 years, first against the Japanese, then against the French, and then against the Government of South Vietnam and their American supporters.
It is a Communist Party incredibly skilled in all the tactics of guerrilla warfare. For example, when I was in the Mekong Delta, I heard of its guerrillas talking down an American helicopter, a type of problem which, fortunately, we have never faced in our experience of guerrilla warfare. It is a guerrilla movement which is extremely well led by General Giap who, one must confess, is one of the outstanding 1296 guerrilla leaders of all time. Moreover, Vietnam is a country artificially divided by international agreement in 1954.
The central problem in South Vietnam is to win the confidence and support of the local population. It is now universally admitted, I think, that, under the Diem régime in South Vietnam, appalling errors, both military and political, were committed, and the price was paid in full after the inevitable fall of the Diem régime last autumn and the capture of almost two-thirds of the country by the Vietcong guerrillas in the administrative chaos which followed the end of the Diem régime.
My impression, from a very short visit during which I visited two of the so-called "new life" hamlets, one near Cambodia and the other in the Mekong Delta, is that many of the mistakes made in the past have now been corrected. In particular, the "new life" hamlets, or strategic hamlets as we used to call them in Malaya, are now being established intelligently, by persuasion. Hamlets are not being established until the security of their inhabitants is totally guaranteed. The troops do not move on from one hamlet until they and the local population are quite satisfied that its inhabitants can afterwards fend for themselves.
There is no doubt that the very rapid decline in the situation which followed the collapse of the Diem régime was slowed down considerably in March on the adoption of the new pacification programme. I believe that the decline can be stemmed and reversed on one condition, and that is that the South Vietnam Government continue to offer their people a simple, consistent and patient policy, roughly along the existing lines. It is impossible at present to say whether the policy is being successfully applied. We shall know better in the autumn. But, certainly, the United States can do no more.
If I may say so, I thought that it was an extraordinary ungracious slogan which the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) used yesterday, that the Americans are leaving all the chores to the British and keeping all the plums to themselves. No one who has seen the way the American soldiers are facing the problem which faces them in 1297 Vietnam can doubt that the Americans are making sacrifices in this field certainly comparable with any which so far we have been called upon to make. Certainly, the United States can do no more. The essential responsibility now for the situation in Vietnam lies with the Government in Saigon.
Now, if I may pass to Malaysia and Indonesia, here we have a totally different problem. The Federation of Malaysia was set up by the consent of all the peoples concerned, a consent which was verified by the United Nations' mission. All the territories in the Malaysian Federation are healthy, thriving societies. Co-operation has been achieved, to a degree which many would never have conceived possible, between the Malay and Chinese peoples and the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. Singapore, I think, presents an example unique in Asia in democratic socialist government, achieving standards of housing and welfare for its population which many European countries would envy, and we have a secure base in Singapore with the full consent, given again and again, of the local population.
The problem which faces us in Borneo today is very unlike the problem in Vietnam. There is a flagrant violation of an international frontier by forces of the Indonesian regular army. Incidentally, the irregular forces which the Indonesians sent in have proved so incompetent at their task that, I understand, a larger and larger proportion of Indonesian regular forces is now being committed. It seems to me rather extraordinary that an admitted violation of a frontier by regular armed forces should be accepted with such equanimity by so many countries in the world.
Nevertheless my impression was that the small number of Malaysian and British troops now engaged in protecting that frontier do have effective control of it, although 10,000 men are trying to control 1,000 miles of mountainous forest, and so far there has been no internal response of any consequence to the Indonesian attempts to subvert the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. Indeed, there is some evidence that it is the strain on the Indonesian forces at this time which has persuaded President Sukarno to call for a Summit conference and he is attending the one now taking place in Tokyo.
1298 I sincerely hope—I think that we all, on both sides of the House, must hope—that President Sukarno will now recognise that he miscalculated the situation in Borneo, and that he is facing there a united population, and that a continuation of the confrontation is no more in the interests of Indonesia than it is in the interests of Malaysia, though I must say that the auguries for agreement were not encouraging when I was in Borneo.
The day I arrived there was an incursion of between 70 to 100 Indonesians into central Borneo, and I believe that there has been another major incursion since. Here again, I think that it is just conceivable that the outside Powers, by supporting the concept of Maphilindo, particularly in supporting the concept of a Maphilindo economic development plan, might perhaps provide an incentive for co-operation between the three local States which would help to overcome their political rivalries.
If I may, I should like just to make a brief comment on the military situation, though I promise the Secretary of State for Defence that I shall make it very short and, I believe, not very controversial. As I said earlier, I think that the courage and ability and patience shown by the Malaysian and British troops in this situation is well-nigh incredible. I think that we have learned certain lessons from Borneo which we could well apply in any war of this nature. One lesson, which I know the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) would agree about, is the supreme value of Gurkha troops in such a situation. I say no more about that. The second is the quite exceptional value of unconventional forces such as the Special Air Services, the eyes and ears of the Army. I hope that the Secretary of State for Defence will consider expanding this force considerably.
Thirdly, and perhaps most important of all, is the crying need for helicopters. One of the local commanders has said that one battalion with helicopters is worth a brigade without them, and, if anything, it seems to me that that is an understatement, because in this type of country one can travel at 60 miles an hour in a helicopter but can only travel one mile a day without it. Quite frankly, it would be a waste of time putting more is evolving very fast; something, let me 1299 needed, unless one can provide them with helicopters at least on the scale on which they are provided at present in Borneo, although I would say that scale is still inadequate.
One of the lessons which I think one learns in South Vietnam and also in Aden is the irrelevance of expensive sophisticated weapons in this type of war. Even the replacement of the Javelins by Lightnings is likely to present a problem of control in Borneo which would render these highly sophisticated aircraft almost useless. If the Secretary of State for Defence is right, as I believe he is, in saying what he has so often said, that the main weight of Britain's military efforts should now be overseas, the balance of our arms production requires very substantial correction compared with the type of production we organised when we saw the main problem as the defence of Europe.
Finally on Malaysia, a political point. Tremendous efforts are being made by the Indonesians to win over the tribes in Sabah and Sarawak and to subvert the Chinese population, and there is also in Sarawak a very formidable clandestine Communist organisation of about 800 to 1,000 members who have recently been receiving military training from the Indonesian army in Kalimantan. I believe that Malaysia has nothing to fear from confrontation by Indonesia so long as the local peoples in Borneo get fair play and equal treatment. If they get fair play and equal treatment there is no danger of subversion by the Indonesians, and I have every confidence provided that this is achieved. Unpleasant and disagreeable as is the task of defending Sarawak and Sabah from incursion it is a tolerable one, and it is a duty we must perform as part of our responsibility to a Commonwealth ally and as part of our general contribution towards supporting the Afro-Asian world.
I want to deal, finally, with the situation in Southern Arabia. Anyone who travels from Malaysia to Southern Arabia must be struck by the very disappointing situation in Southern Arabia compared with Malaysia. I think that the problems of these two areas are today very similar. In both areas we have separate units of the population, on the one hand, detribalised city dwellers working in a 1300 base area which is totally separate from its hinterland, and, on the other, a hinterland of traditional rulers, Malay princes in Malaysia, tribal sheikdoms in the case of Southern Arabia, but in the case of Southern Arabia, still tormented by many internal conflicts among one another.
A third similarity which springs to mind is that in both cases one has pressure on these political units from a neighbouring State which has nationals in the base areas, Yemenis in the case of Aden, and sympathisers also in the sheikhdoms.
One of the problems that we have all been bitterly condemning in recent months is the tribal conflict inside the States of the Protectorates. The Radfani tribe, against whom the recent operations have been mounted, have resisted administration for 80 years. It is extraordinary to look back on the history since 1882 when the Radfani first announced their unwillingness to accept the authority of the Emir of Dhala.
There is no doubt that in recent months, partly, I think, owing to the inadequate resources of the Federal Government—I believe that the Secretary for Defence now will bitterly regret what he said about the irrelevance of economic questions in a situation like this—many of the Radfani went over to the Yemen because they were offered military training and rifles and were paid by the Yemen out of all proportion to what they were offered by the Federal Government in the Protectorates.
As I say, a military operation has been mounted, and all the evidence is that it is now over. I had the extraordinary experience last Friday of helicoptering up to the top of the Djebel Huriya, which had just been taken by the East Anglians—I doubt whether the East Anglians have ever fought in territory more unlike that where they were recruited—and looking down on almost the whole of the Radfan territory with not a single human being or animal in sight other than, of course, the troops who were occupying the area.
The real test now is that of the political wisdom of the Federal Government and their British advisers over the next six months, and the real test of the wisdom and success of the military operation which has just been concluded 1301 is whether the Radfani now return to their lands and whether they remain loyal when the harvest is over and the British troops have gone. I believe that the military job is now done. There is now a tremendous political and economic job facing Britain and the Federal Government in providing incentives for the Radfani to remain loyal citizens of the Federal State.
The troops have done their job magnificently, but I think that it still has to be seen how far these people can be offered the incentives to return. Nothing is more sad, incidentally, then to stand on the top of Djebel Huriya and look down on the incredibly ingenious terracing of these barren mountain sides and to see the green crops springing up in the fields and not a soul in sight because the whole of the local population has fled and dispersed in fear into neighbouring territories.
I hope that either the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary will have something to say later in the date about the steps which are now being taken, now that the military operation is over, to win the Radfani back. Incidentally, I hope that one of them will comment on the report in the Guardian today that in October last year seven petitioners from the Radfani tribe approached the High Commission or the Federal Government with requests for changes in the constitution, particularly in the relationship of the Radfani to the Emir of Dhala, and that the petitioners were arrested and all but one are still in gaol, and that one was let out of gaol only on condition that his son took his place as a hostage. I really cannot feel that the political aspects of the problem have been handled in the past as they should have been, and I hope that we can at least get some assurances for the future when we get the Government reply to the debate.
I turn to the broader issues of the South Arabian Federation and the Aden base. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has said, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) repeated yesterday, we on our side of the House believe on the information that we now possess that the Aden base is necessary to Britain's military rôle in 1302 Africa and the Middle East. The facilities which it now provides could, I suppose, be replaced or recreated elsewhere, but I am very doubtful whether the cost of recreating those facilities would be in proportion to the political and military advantages of recreating them.
Clearly, we must try to keep a military base in Aden, but we must accept—surely we have learnt this lesson again and again over the last 15 years—that a military base is useless without the consent of the people who live and work in it. It is no good at all having a military base if one has to commit so many troops to protecting it against local attack that one is not able to spare any troops to use from it, and, in particular, in the Middle East it is no good having a base if the steps that one takes to maintain it make one's friends unwilling to call on one for military help.
This, I think, has been a real danger in recent weeks as far as Kuwait is concerned, as the Prime Minister will recognise in the light of the statements made by the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister during his recent visit to London. The consent of those living and working in the base area is indispensable to the retention of the base, but what strikes any visitor to Aden is that those living and working there are Adenis, and that the base area is as separated—both Little Aden and Aden itself—from the hinterland as Gibraltar is from Spain.
The key to our position in Aden is the good will of the population of Aden Colony themselves. I myself cannot resist the conclusion that we should have followed in Southern Arabia the path we followed with such success in Malaysia. That is to say, we should have won the good will of the Adenis by giving them self-government as we gave self-government to the people of Singapore, and then, with their good will, we should have sought to construct some relationship between Aden and its hinterland.
The Government, as we all know, took the opposite course. They halted political development in Aden in order to force the Adenis into a federation with the hinterland, a federation of a type which put this comparatively advanced population of Aden under the control of the traditional rulers of the Protectorates. I believe that the main reason why the 1303 Government have called a current conference on Aden is to correct these errors and revise the constitution accordingly.
It seems to me that three steps are absolutely indispensable. The first is that elections should be held in Aden to produce a more representative Aden Government. I was disturbed to find, when I was there last week, that so far only 6,000 people have registered out of the 24,000 qualified to register for the election and out of a total population of 220,000 in Aden Colony.
Secondly, there must be a looser relationship between Aden and the hinterland, perhaps on the model of the Malaysian relationship, so that Aden would be one unit in the Federation and the other combination of the Protectorate States would be a separate unit. A thousand years of history separate the societies of the hinterland from the society in Aden Colony, and it seems to me on my brief acquaintance with the problem to be just as unrealistic to think that one can make the Adenis march at the slow pace of the sheikhdoms in the Protectorates as to think that one can make the Protectorates march at the much more rapid pace of the Adenis in the Colony.
Thirdly, no independence agreement must be reached for the Federation until this revision is achieved, otherwise we shall be doing in Southern Arabia what we did in Zanzibar, where we gave independence to a State where the balance of constitutional authority did not represent the balance of opinion at all. If we take these measures—I am sure that it is not too late—I believe that we shall get the willing consent of the Aden population for Britain's retention of the base. I think that they all recognise that the base is necessary for their prosperity. Many of them feel that it is necessary for their security. One of the striking consequences of recent events is that enthusiasm in Aden, even among the Yemenis, for immediate union with the Yemen is very much on the wane.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
Will my hon. Friend explain what he hopes to achieve from the London conference when the personnel invited to the conference are sheikhs, sultans and nominated members by the British authorities with no representatives 1304 of the population? How can the London conference achieve anything in the context of the present situation in Aden?
§ Mr. Healey
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will be dealing with this problem in more detail later this evening. If the Government are not now aware of the feeling of the Aden population, they jolly well ought to be. They ought to take the feeling of the Aden population, as it is being presented to them unofficially by the opposition parties, into account in reaching any agreement in the conference.
The long-term security of the base in Aden—I think that this cannot be stressed too strongly—must depend on the nature of Britain's foreign policy in the Middle East as a whole. One of the most extraordinary remarks I have read in years was one made by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies when he was in Aden a fortnight ago. The hon. Gentleman was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying thatthe British base in Aden was a purely 'domestic matter between Britain, Aden and the Federal Government. He was not interested in what the Arab world or others thought about it.Surely, by now, the Government know that when a colonial problem is solved an international problem is created. It is impossible, especially if one is considering giving independence to South Arabia, to expect South Arabia to remain totally immune from all the currents and tides of opinion in the rest of the Arab world.
The Government's whole policy in the Middle East in recent years seems to assume that the wind of change in Africa stopped dead when it reached the western shores of the Red Sea. The fact is that the wind of change in the Middle East is older and stronger even than the wind of change in Africa. In the Middle East, Nasser's Egypt, whether we like it or not, is as important as Mao's China is important in the Far East. British policy in the Middle East must not be continually distorted, as it has been in recent years, by a guilty jingoism or by the psychological trauma which the Government inflicted on themselves at Suez eight years ago.
It really is an extraordinary fact—I confess that I had not been conscious of 1305 it until I was in Aden—that at one time last year we had no diplomatic relations with any of the States bordering on the South Arabian Federation. I am glad to say that we have restored diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in the last 12 months. We still have none with Somalia or with the Yemen. A basic reconstruction of our attitude towards the Arab peoples is absolutely essential if we are to continue to obtain oil from the Persian Gulf on reasonable terms and if we are to continue to maintain a base in the Middle East. I think that the Kuwait Government see this very much more clearly than the Government in London. Incidentally, in 1961, when we did intervene in Kuwait, we had the support of the Arab League and we handed over the responsibility later to troops from Egypt and from South Arabia.
The political genius of Britain has always been best expressed in our ability to adjust ourselves to change and to accept realities for what they are. If we can apply this genius to the Middle East as we have already applied it in Africa and Asia, then we can guarantee ourselves a central rôle in fighting the great battle against instability and poverty in Africa and Asia and in the Middle East as well. I believe that it is the part we play in these battles which will make Britain once again truly great.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
One of the most agreeable aspects of yesterday's debate was that the House had the pleasure of hearing the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). My hon. Friend made a speech of real distinction. There was a great deal of original thought expressed in it, with the maximum economy of words. When an hon. Member can achieve that, he will always have the ear and the respect of the House. I would only add that, if my hon. Friend had ever written my speeches, they would have been even better than they were.
I think that the House will agree that we have listened to a very thoughtful review of his Far Eastern and Middle Eastern tour by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). I was very interested in it, and I do not find that 1306 I quarrel in any way with the analysis that he made of the policies which should be directed towards solving the problems either in Laos or in South Vietnam or as regards the Malaysian-Indonesian conflict.
The House will have been encouraged to have had from the hon. Gentleman as a witness the very encouraging statement that he made about the progress of the multi-racial State of Malaysia. I myself have always thought that a final settlement in this part of the world would be covered broadly by the word which the hon. Gentleman used, namely, "Maphilindo"—an economic and political plan, and perhaps a defence plan, covering the security of that area. The timing of it would have to be extremely carefully worked out, and this is not a solution, I think, at this moment which could probably be put forward with advantage.
I will ask my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to answer some of the detailed questions which the hon. Gentleman put about the Middle East. I have no quarrel with the hon. Gentleman's statement that it is essential for us—and, indeed, for the free world, I would suggest—to retain the base at Aden. Nor would I quarrel with the hon. Gentleman when he went on to say that it is necessary now to find a political settlement which will make that base secure. I think that that is right, and it would be agreed.
I think that the best service I can do to the House is to try to bring together now some of the wider ranging themes which ran through the speeches which were mad; by hon. Members yesterday and by the hon. Gentleman today. When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary opened the debate yesterday he was able to mark a new flexibility in international relations. All the speeches which followed my right hon. Friend's were consciously seeking ways of escaping the old confrontations of the cold war which have consumed so much of our resources in recent years and have threatened us from time; to time with extinction since the end of the last war.
Our debate—I am glad that this is so—is an extension of a debate which is now being carried on on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and, indeed, far further afield. There are two aspects 1307 of it which, I think, perhaps struck hon. Gentlemen, as they struck me, which are both connected with the contrast which there is between this debate which we hold now and other foreign affairs debates which we have held in either House in recent years.
One aspect of this which has struck me in particular—this was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and by my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton)—is that it is no longer accurate to talk of an East-West confrontation in terms of two blocs. That is new. Russia is now divided from China and the countries of Eastern Europe are now questioning the right of the Soviet Union to take decisions which will control matters which they consider to be of their own national interest.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick had some experience of this when he visited Roumania. I marked this change almost two years ago when I was at the Foreign Office, and we were able to take certain steps to improve the contacts between this country and the countries of Eastern Europe, with the exception, which he made, of East Germany.
The right hon. Gentleman said that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had said little that was new, but these two facts are new: that Russia and China are divided and that there is a new flexibility in Eastern Europe. The implications of them are profound for the future of humanity everywhere in the world. Just as significant as this fact is, I suggest, the cause of the breach between the Soviet Union and China, and to that neither the right hon. Gentleman nor some other speakers gave perhaps enough attention. I think that it is partly a physical pressure over thousands of miles of frontier, largely, let us remember, undefended, of a country which has a population which is increasing very fast—China's population is increasing at an Asian rate while Russia's population is increasing at a European rate—and also the proximity to a neighbour which has a history of expansion.
Both these things must be causing the Soviet Union great anxiety, but I 1308 suggest that the change in attitude of the Soviet Union is mainly because the Russian leaders have a new knowledge of what nuclear war means. In particular, they have gained that since Cuba. The Chinese still refuse to admit this, but the Russians have understood now that one cannot risk brinkmanship with nuclear weapons because to do so would be catastrophic. Mao Tse-tung still believes that he can threaten with nuclear weapons, but the Russians know better. And this situation, again, is new and of profound significance to the world.
One of my hon. Friends laid his finger on a point which, again, is of immense significance, because this new interpretation by the Soviet Union of Communist doctrine which has hitherto included the use of force, means just this: that the Russians have admitted that the nuclear strength of the West is a deterrent power and is likely to remain so. The second admission is that in their eyes the scale of nuclear power now commanded by the West has made nonsense of the Communist doctrine, which has so far been a religion of the Russians and Chinese, that force is a legitimate instrument to gain political ends.
If I were to make a long-term prophecy—and I go not very far from the hon. Member for Leeds, East in this—and speculate as to the attitude of the Chinese, I believe that they, in turn, will come to recognise, and recognise before it is too late, that the sole result of a nuclear strike by any nuclear power is immediate annihilation by the second strike of another. That is a fact of modern power, and two things about it are worth noting. First, that that situation will prevail so long as there is a threat and so long as the nerve of the West holds. Secondly, that in any threat by China which might start a nuclear war it is worth remembering, as we look forward, that the interests of the Soviet Union and the West would coincide and would be as one.
I hope that we shall never come to that terrible day, when the Chinese might be tempted to use a nuclear weapon which they will acquire. Far better, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East said, that China should be in the United Nations, that there should be increased contact between the West and China and that 1309 China should be gradually weaned away, as we have weaned the Russians away, from this policy of including force in Communist doctrine [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I think that hon. Members opposite will not quarrel with what I am saying, for it is true.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick—
§ The Prime Minister
I will give way, but I want to complete this point first.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick said yesterday that when I spoke of the effect of nuclear weapons and stressed its impact I always stressed its impact on the Soviet Union's thinking but never stressed it on that of the United States. He is mistaken. In another place, in February, 1963, I said:Nuclear power is putting its restraints on national ambitions. Even the giants are not in these days wholly independent. Interdependence is working on them, and if it is true of the Russians and of the United States it is certainly true of us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords. 6th February, 1963; Vol. 246, col. 607.]I said that also at a dinner of the Pilgrims in the United States. I have said it many times, so the right hon. Gentleman does not always think of everything first.
However, that does not imply, if I may follow up what he said—as I suspect it does in his mind and in the minds of his colleagues—that Cuba had an equal effect on the United States and Russia, because at that time, until Cuba, Russia had been advocating a policy of force and the United States had rejected any such doctrine. At Cuba—and this is the important point to remember—Russia tried to upset the balance of power which was keeping the peace and the United States was determined to retain it. So since the purposes of the two protagonists cannot in that case be equated, I suggest that the effects cannot be equated either.
That leads me to put renewed emphasis—and I believe that hon. Members must make up their minds about this, because I believe it to be true—on the fact that it is the nuclear balance of power which keeps the peace. I say 1310 that because hon. Gentlemen opposite so often give the impression that they want to change the balance between the nuclear and the conventional. Let us say—and I think that this is what they would do—that they would add to our conventional forces. I do not know how they would do it without conscription, but, having added to our conventional forces, other countries—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about equipment?"] I am coming to the subject of equipment—would follow suit. But is that not exactly what other countries did before 1914 and 1939, and is this not the pattern of armaments which failed to prevent war twice in my own generation?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said yesterday that if there is a reduction in tension it is not because of benevolence; and that is quite true. I do not know how many serious wars there would not be at present if we had not got the nuclear weapon to deter. In these circumstances, therefore, I feel bound to tell the party opposite that its proposals to discard our nuclear arm and, at the same time, to increase conventional forces would contribute nothing either to avoiding war or to adding to collective security.
§ Mr. Warbey
I should like to follow the Prime Minister's argument that it is the threat of the use of nuclear weapons that has produced a state of stability and the prospect of peace in the world. Has he given thought to the fact that Mao Tse-tung is maintaining his power and, in the view of the party opposite, continuing the threat to the peace of the world, not by using nuclear weapons at all, but by failing to use them?
§ The Prime Minister
The hon. Membe starts with a misapprehension. I have never said that the peace of the world depends on the use of nuclear weapons. What I say is that it depends on their, not being used—on their deterring effect.
I must say that the strangest argument that I heard used yesterday in this connection was that our deterrent is under the control of the United States. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite are apparently willing to discard our Polaris submarines and, in so doing, 1311 hand over the total security of this country to the United States, but they are not prepared to trust the United States to deliver the machinery for the submarines. Not surprisingly, the country finds this attitude very difficult to follow.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) said yesterday, it really does not matter who makes the weapons; it is who controls them that matters. I might point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that when he is increasing his conventional forces—tanks, armoured cars, and all the rest—they are, after all, as is every one of our armaments at present, run on imported supplies. Let him remember that.
The point is that our control over our nuclear arm is absolute—
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
This is a very interesting argument. Would the right hon. Gentleman say how many tactical nuclear weapons we control in Europe that are not controlled by the Americans owing to their control of the warhead? Will he give us the number? [HON. MEMBERS: "Security."] There is nothing secret about it. Will the Prime Minister tell us the types of tactical nuclear weapons—which, in his argument, are of fundamental importance—that we uniquely control in Europe?
§ The Prime Minister
As is well known, we operate under the key-of-the-cupboard system for nuclear weapons—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] As is also well known, when we get our Polaris submarines—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—we shall have our own warhead. I am talking about the nuclear deterrent; the right hon. Gentleman is talking about tactical weapons. If he wants the figure of tactical weapons, I can no doubt supply him with that, but I am now talking about the nuclear deterrent, over which we have complete control and for which we shall have our own warhead—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] That is what I understand the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends are to discard.
The second change that I think the House noted yesterday—perhaps a little less controversial—is that Soviet society is evolving very fast; something, let me 1312 suggest, that those who are hottest to act against other political systems of which they disapprove might do well to ponder. As the Russian people get more, they will want more. What is more, they will be less ready to risk what they have. Therefore, on the evidence before me, I have persisted in my view, put rather crudely, perhaps, that a fat Communist is to be preferred to a thin Communist. These arguments seem at long last to be making some impression on the United States of America. [Interruption.] I did not think that right hon. and hon. Members opposite quarelled with that. I thought that their whole purpose—and in this I believe that we feel the same—is that we should increase trade with Russian, and try to take advantage of the fact that I have recorded that society in Russia is evolving very fast.
The difference, if I may say so—and I believe this to be true—between the Russia of Stalin and the Russia of Mr. Khrushchev is that though one was and the other is a Communist—and we must never forget that—the people in Russia today are able to express their views and wishes. I have the strongest impression that any move by Mr. Khrushchev makes towards conciliation or co-operation with the West, to reduce tension and avoid conflict, will have the strongest support of the Russian people; indeed, that they are urging him on.
This we should mark, and did mark yesterday in speech after speech, as one of the significant features of the new world into which we are moving. Therefore, I welcome the increasing contacts, both political and social, that we are making with the Soviet Union. I want them to be multiplied, and I want them to be multiplied, too, with the countries of Eastern Europe.
Therefore, I feel that the foreign policy of this country—which, for the sake of shortness, I have often described as a two-handed foreign policy, is basically right; strength on the one hand, and conciliation on the other. By strength, I mean total firmness when Communist countries do, or try to do, things they ought not to be doing, and dogged determination to find out, or rather to create, common, ground on which we can agree and co-operate.
The result of the foreign policy of strength is shown, in the N.A.T.O. area, in 1313 which we have not, let us remember, lost an acre or a free man to the Communist countries. There will, nevertheless, be in the N.A.T.O. Alliance arguments as to how many divisions we might wish to put on the eastern frontier of Germany, or what weight of weapons, or penetration of weapons is to be allocated to SACEUR, but those are quite secondary matters.
What matters, and what matters most, is that N.A.T.O. is fulfilling its primary purpose of preventing the invasion and, therefore, the destruction, of Western Europe. The answer to the fuller use of the N.A.T.O. Alliance lies in two things—the fuller use of the Council by the allies and, as I think the right hon. Gentleman indicated yesterday, the fuller use of the nuclear committee both for nuclear planning and targeting and for nuclear matters in general.
To sum up this section of what I have to say, I think that it is the policy of nuclear strength, above all, that is keeping the peace, but that the policy of conciliation is showing results in the marked reduction of tension between the Soviet Union and Western Europe. The House will have marked the contrast between the urgent, strident demands made on the allies on behalf of Germany and Berlin only two years ago—I remember that very well, because I had to sit with Mr. Rusk at a very dangerous time, when Russia was threatening the Berlin Corridor—with the treaty signed the other day with the so-called D.D.R.
There is less tension, too, between the Soviet Union and the United States since the withdrawal from Cuba. The House will have noted that, though the Cuban crisis is only a short distance in time away, the United States is today selling wheat to Russia. We have been able to agree the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty for banning tests in the atmosphere, there is the outer space agreement and the agreement on fissile material. We have been able to develop Anglo-Soviet trade to quite a significant extent and, as I have said, we have been able to increase the official and social contacts between our two countries.
The hopeful thing is—and this is my strong impression—that both in the Soviet Union and in the West we greatly prefer today to yesterday in our new relationship. But, on the evidence before me, I 1314 think it is legitimate to conclude that we are through what I might call the first stage of the trial of strength with this part of the Communist world. A condition of success was that the nerve of the West should hold during the cold war, and it did.
This is no time to weaken the deterrent, but it is time to negotiate, and that, rather than going for the increase in the number of conventional forces all over the world, is the use that I would make of the umbrella of the stalemate of nuclear power. So I claim that we can say that the results of strength and conciliation and diplomacy are with us today, and not the least of the credit for this goes to the British who have played a large part in the N.A.T.O. Alliance.
A number of speeches, particularly from hon. Members opposite, encourage me to say a word about psychological diplomacy when we are dealing with the Russians. We in the West—I think it is worth noting this—are in a hurry for results; the Russian is never in a hurry. I can give several examples of this out of my own recent experience. I have constantly pressed the Russian leaders to tell us what is needed to complete the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, that is to include the underground tests as well. I have suggested to them—I think that this will seem a sensible suggestion to the whole House—that Russian, United States and British scientists should get together to tell the Governments what is required for this purpose. They will not do so; and they will not do so because they are not yet certain that they want it. When the time does come probably we shall have to move with speed, but it is not yet; they take their own time.
It is the same with disarmament. We have come forward with many ideas on disarmament, many of them very reasonable, but so far the Russians have countered them all with the objection that they require inspection—the two right hon. Gentlemen will have found this—and that they equate inspection with espionage. This is an excuse—it is not the reality—and it is, I believe, because, faced with the Chinese, they cannot make up their mind yet whether they want disarmament at all. I judge in this context that, with his problems at home and the difficulties that he has with his friends, Mr. Khrushchev has not a great deal of time to spare at 1315 the present moment for long negotiations with the West, and it would be very unwise, if this is so, to press him. Nevertheless, we must use diplomatic channels to the full and have our plans ready in case the opportunity arises.
Under the general heading of disarmament, and in another field to which the hon. Member for Leeds, East referred, I should like to say a word, because I made a suggestion in a speech at Toronto not long ago and invited the Russians to explore the possibility whether they could not join with the United States and the United Kingdom in joint action to assist the developing countries of the world. I made this suggestion because they are neither members of the International Bank—I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition knew this when he was in Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Well, the right hon. Gentleman did know.
I was going on to say that they are neither members of the International Bank nor are they members of the International Development Association; they are members of neither. I think that it would be a very good thing if they would come into these international organisations and therefore show that they could give disinterested aid to the developing countries.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his interest, I may say that he will find this very fully dealt with in the epilogue to a book called "War on World Poverty", which I wrote in 1954.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman always remembers all that he has written and all that he has spoken and is always able to produce it at very short notice. I am making here a serious point that I believe that it would be a good thing—I hope hon. Members opposite will not dissent—if the Russians were able to join with the United States and ourselves in these international organisations which give aid.
I shall not dwell very long on the individual possibilities in the field of disarmament, but there again, following the right hon. Gentleman's visit to Moscow, I must say that he is less well informed 1316 than I think he is if he is really convinced that the initiatives with which he returned are new. I read them through and through, and I really cannot find any that are new. I would never belittle any suggestions, but I know the frustrations in this field of disarmament. Let me say that, as far as nuclear free zones for Africa and South America are concerned, this, of course, has been before everybody for a very long time, and there is no obstacle except that the countries concerned cannot agree whether they want them or not. This is true of the Middle East. I am perfectly willing to consider if we can restore in this field some kind of regulation of armaments into the area. We tried to get it once, but Israel and Egypt managed to find ways of buying arms.
Then again, there is the question of the bonfire where we could burn obsolete weapons and, we would hope, be able to add to the obsolete weapons some coming off the production lines; but the difficulty here is that it has always broken down, and this, I think the right hon. Gentleman knows, is because the Russians will not allow inspection, and if there is not inspection in this field we cannot possibly tell when weapons are burned that they will not be replaced from the factory the next day.
There again, if I may take another question which he raised, and that is the earmarking of troops for the United Nations, I would only say on this that, in a way, our British troops are always earmarked in that they are trained and at short notice, up to date, ready to be moved to any part of the world at any moment. Should we agree that the purpose of the United Nations is one that we would wish to see fulfilled, we can immediately supply the Secretary-General with troops on any occasion.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
What is the objection to Her Majesty's Government following the example which has been set by the Canadian and other Governments, not specifying particular units necessarily, but giving an undertaking, in effect, to the United Nations that a certain number of troops would be available on call without specifying particular units?
§ The Prime Minister
We have told the Secretary-General that there will be 1317 no difficulty about this if he wishes to have troops on any occasion. What I am doubtful about is earmarking in the sense of saying that they will come out of the German theatre or some strategic reserve at home or from some other geographical area. That I am not sure is a good thing to do.
The right hon. Gentleman is interested in this. I think there are two suggestions which are worth following up and which we have been at a long time but, nevertheless, on which I hope there might be progress one day. The first is observers against surprise attack. This is practical. It also has the attraction that it is, I think, the only way to create enough confidence to arrive at the thinning out of forces at some later date. I think that if there were observers in position that people on both sides of the frontier would begin to say, "Why do we need so many troops here for so long?" But one cannot get a definite plan unless one first has observers in position. The difficulty about that is that the Russians equate anybody in East Germany with spies.
On non-dissemination, whatever the real Russian reason is for rejecting non-dissemination arrangements, I think that it cannot be because of the possibility of a M.L.F. at some future date. I think that the right hon. Member for Smethwick agreed yesterday that the only result of the M.L.F. would be that with this proportion of the deterrent one would have more fingers on the safety catch than one has at present. I tried in New York to persuade Mr. Gromyko to go ahead. I believe that we must go to the Russians and ask them seriously to consider non-dissemination arrangements and that if the multilateral force ever came into reality we could fit the multilateral force into the arrangements, because there is no question of the multilateral force disseminating nuclear weapons to other people.
I cannot leave this question and the subject of the United Nations without one reference, and I regret it, to the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) last night. He accused Britain of paltry, ridiculous, mean contributions to the United Nations. I seldom in politics feel the emotion of anger, and I hoped never to do so with the right hon. 1318 Gentleman, but I feel bound to support the protest of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew), because the right hon. Gentleman was grossly unfair to this country.
The assessment of our contribution to the United Nations is 7.58 per cent. of the total United Nations budget. Except for one item, out of 22, on which the right hon. Gentleman picked, the United Kingdom contribution exceeds what is required of us by a very considerable percentage. It is sometimes up to 15 per cent. The one on which the right hon. Gentleman picked was the contribution to U.N.I.C.E.F., which deals with assistance to children. We cannot feel guilty as a party and as a Government on this when we take into account, for instance, United Nations operations with which we did not wholly agree and when I tell the right hon. Gentleman that for the Congo operation, for example, the United Kingdom produced £10 million and that the total annual contribution of the United Kingdom to the United Nations runs at around £24 million a year.
In the one case on which the right hon. Gentleman picked, I agree that our percentage is 5.2, but when his party was in power the contribution which it gave in 1949–50 under this head was nil. It rose to £100,000 in 1950–51, and then it was reduced to nil again in 1951–52. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Right hon. and hon. Members opposite cannot possibly fling in our teeth that we are ungenerous to the United Nations, and the most charitable thing that I can say about the right hon. Member for Derby, South is that he had a very bad off-day.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Far from withdrawing, I repeat that a country like Great Britain, which is the second richest in the world, ought to be setting up much higher standards for other nations. Many of the contributions which I quoted last night, like the £35,000 for U.N.E.S.C.O. for education in Africa, are a shameful sum. I believe that the Prime Minister is quite wrong in saying that our total contribution is £24 million; it is £12 million, and much of that goes towards 1319 liquidating responsibilities which we had in the past. The sum of £2 million goes to help Arab refugees. Who ruled Palestine for 30 years?
§ The Prime Minister
With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he has his figures wrong. The 12 million that he is quoting are 12 million dollars and represent the contribution which we made under the United Nations bond system. The annual sum which we expend towards the United Nations budget is £24 million or thereabouts each year.
There is only one other subject arising from speeches made from the benches opposite yesterday on which I should like to say a few words, and that is the question of South Africa. Our emotions on this side of the House—and I ask hon. Members opposite to credit us with reasonably human emotions—are just as deep and just as concerned as theirs with the enforcement of the policy of apartheid under arbitrary laws. But when we come to ask what in addition to what we are doing in protest we can do, I find myself very largely in agreement with the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). I do not believe that we should employ sanctions, and for the reasons which he gave. I hope that his Front Bench will be as explicit as he was. [Interruption.] I am glad to hear it. I am glad to know that the Socialist Party does not believe in sanctions.
§ The Prime Minister
When they talk about an arms embargo on South Africa, I beg hon. Members to remember, before they commit themselves, that an arms embargo would be the end of the Simons-town Agreement. I beg them to ask themselves, if we get involved in a war in the Persian Gulf or in the Indian Ocean or in Malaysia, how we can get to that war if the Suez Canal is closed, which is likely, without staging posts for the Navy and the transport routes which we have today under the Simonstown Agreement.
§ Mr. Wilson
I shall be dealing with this if I catch your eye tonight, Mr. Speaker, as I have dealt with it many 1320 times. Will the Prime Minister now give the House an assurance that during his premiership no arms have been shipped to South Africa other than those specified in the schedule to the Simonstown Agreement?
§ The Prime Minister
We do not export arms to South Africa, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, which we think will be used in any way—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—I am asking the right hon. Gentleman before he goes the whole hog and says that his party will put an arms embargo to consider the strategic position and strategic interests of Britain.
I shall not deal with Europe today. I have answered so many questions on this, and there is no political issue now. I am doubtful whether there will be a political issue in the next Parliament. I tell the right hon. Gentleman that when he goes thrashing about outside on this question he is beating a dead duck and I do not think that he will get a quack out of it.
On the evidence then, I think that we are justified, looking at the international situation as a whole, in being optimistic, but we must guard against euphoria. I have always thought that one of the great tragedies of history was that the beginning of the Communist Revolution coincided with the emancipation of the colonial territories, because Communism became identified with the struggle for self-determination and independence when in fact, of course, it is the biggest suppressor of both. I think that as the situation has worked out the feature which is prevalent today, as far as the independent countries are concerned, is not so much of allegiance to Communism as to nationalism. I follow the point very closely made by the right hon. Member for Smethwick yesterday and touched on by the hon. Member for Leeds, East, which has been very much in my mind for a long time.
The danger is that, as we move out of the Soviet-Western conflict, Russia, because she cannot drop the habit of subversion, and China, because she desires it, and both because they are rivals for leadership in the world and see in subversion a card which may be advantageous to one or the other, will play this card ruthlessly and cause total confusion in Asia, and perhaps in Africa. But the danger of this is, 1321 perhaps, not quite so much nationalism as this total confusion which will result in a racial division of the world.
I think that there are plenty of people abroad who would delight to see such a division and would do a great deal to promote it. I have been thinking in particular—[An HON. MEMBER: "South Africa."] Certainly South Africa is one country in which the habit of apartheid contributes to this racial feeling. I have been thinking in particular of the poor nations and the coloured nations as against the rich nations and the white nations, but that is not the only division. There is the division between negro and Indian, which we see in British Guiana, and between Arab and Jew, which we see in the Middle East. This is why this rash of trouble, to which the hon. Gentleman referred and of which he saw a lot in his tour of the Far East and Middle East, is so deeply disturbing to anyone who looks to the peace and stability of the world.
The hon. Gentleman asked the question, perhaps a little rhetorically, because he answered it a good deal in his speech, why do we send our own men overseas? The answer is because we have treaty obligations in S.E.A.T.O. to keep the stability of that area, and because we have obligations to Malaysia. He did not actually say because of our obligations, but it is really because of our defence obligations that we send them overseas. We have an obligation to Malaysia and we have a rather more unwritten obligation to the members of the Commonwealth who ask for our help.
Finally, we are seeking a political settlement with Nasser, and it should be possible to make a political settlement for him to withdraw from the Yemen; and with Sukarno it ought to be possible to make a political settlement so that he ceases confrontation on the frontiers of Borneo. Unless we get these settlements there is no alternative but for British troops to be out in the field defending our obligations and helping those to whom we have a duty. Of course, as long as they are there, we shall see that they get the tools for the job, including the helicopters about which the hon. Gentleman spoke.
While we must, of course, do our duty, we must use our influence to divert these 1322 national racial energies from sterile strife and try to produce co-operation for the common good, and Britain is particularly well qualified for this rôle. In Geneva we made a supreme effort. When hon. Members see the White Paper which my right hon. Friend is going to produce they will realise that we made a crucial contribution persuading the developed countries at Geneva that they must cooperate in trade policies that well help the economies of the developing countries both to expand and to earn; and to do something to persuade the developing countries that they must produce a climate of confidence if investment is to thrive in their countries.
We have made a promising beginning and will follow this up in the United Nations. At the end of a long meeting—and I think that we should mark this in this foreign affairs debate today—the gain was that North and South produced a practical programme of work rather than airy resolutions which sound well and mean nothing.
Finally, we have, of course, the Commonwealth, and again I think that we should do well to mark that the Commonwealth consists of coloured and white, of rich and poor, and of the powerful and the weak. It consists of countries with experience in harmonious living, and on this we must build. We will try very hard to do so at the coming Prime Ministers' Conference, attempting to increase our service to each other and, collectively, to give an example of stability and peace to the world. I hope that the July meeting will result in definite progress in this way.
I have spoken of broad things. All of us are searching for peace in a more peaceful world. While there is danger, strength will be maintained. I repeat that we cannot escape the fact that it is the nuclear weapon which holds the peace, although I balance that by saying that the spirit of conciliation today is abroad. To those who say that Britain has lost her way, I would say that Britain has played a crucial rôle in lessening the East-West conflict and is playing a crucial new rôle in averting conflict between North and South, the developing and the developed. These are our aims. If people are searching for a new rôle for Britain, this is it.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
One of the hopes which we all had in the House as we contemplated the advent of this foreign affairs debate was that we would get away from the over-simplicity of analysis which has characterised debates on foreign affairs ever since the cold war began and try to analyse in depth the real changes which have taken place in the world since the last major foreign affairs debate in the House.
I can only say, after listening to the Prime Minister, that he has produced more and more dangerous new myths than any we had in the past. Somehow, the cold war having subsided, the right hon. Gentleman confides to the House that it was his steadiness of nerves during the difficult years that frightened the Communists and he is happily now able to report to the House that the troubles are over. If we keep nuclear weapons which the Americans will supply to us—and which we do not produce ourselves and cannot even test ourselves—then in this way the peace of the world can be maintained.
I think that the House will lose a great opportunity if it limits itself to the narrowness of the analysis which the Prime Minister has given. If he underestimates Mr. Khrushchev as much as he under-estimates my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, it is very unlikely that he is as frightening to Mr. Khrushchev as he thinks himself to be. Did the right hon. Gentleman by any chance tell Mr. Khrushchev that the Russians were not in the World Bank?
The point is that there have been some fundamental changes, and I want to begin by trying to give a slightly different angle on the way in which these changes have developed. The first one is, of course, that the two colossi have become very much greater relative to the other countries of the world and much more powerful than they were only five or 10 years ago. The argument which the Prime Minister produced, that it was the possession of British nuclear weapons that brought the Russians to the new sense of reality of the world situation, is, I think, to overestimate the rôle of British nuclear weapons.
1324 The fact of the matter is, and nobody is surprised at this, that for this Government to maintain a nuclear posture they have to go to the United States. They claim that in getting the Polaris submarines from the United States they will establish independence from the United States. I only want to put to the right hon. Gentleman a point which ought to be in our minds today and which we all very much hope will not take place, the possibility that Senator Goldwater might become President of the United States in the autumn. Is it then conceivable that a British Conservative Government, depending on President Goldwater for the supply of Polaris submarines, would be able to pursue an independent rôle at all in world affairs? Of course not. Indeed, President Goldwater's first ultimatum would be, "Do not send the buses to Cuba or you will lose your Polaris submarines." The realities of the world make it clear that the two super-Powers are themselves maintaining the balance and that whether this country has Polaris submarines is largely irrelevant to it.
The second point is that the détente of which the Prime Minister spoke is more than a détente. It is a recognition by both the United States and the Soviet Union of a common interest in certain clear items of policy. One is the test-ban agreement. That is why it was brought about, because it was in the interests of the United States and the Soviet Union. Similarly, the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons is in the interests of both those countries. It adds point to the rather curious postscript to the Cuba story that the Americans may be a bit safer if the Russians stay in Cuba than if they leave, because the Russians have to some extent exercised a moderating influence on the excesses of the Cuban Government.
The next development which the Prime Minister should have mentioned is that the break-out of argument in the Communist bloc is paralleled by an equally fervent argument in the Western world as well. If Mao Tse-tung does not accept the Test Ban Treaty, neither does Senator Goldwater, who voted against the Test Ban Treaty in the United States Senate. A man who is capable of coming as close as he has done to the Republican nomination for the 1325 American Presidential elections this year is a force to be reckoned with.
What we want to know from the Government, and what we have not had during this debate, is a clear indication of the way in which they intend to strengthen the forces inside both East and West which are now dedicated to developing the detente and carrying it a stage further. I greatly regret that the Prime Minister has not done what his predecessor did in March, 1959, when he went to Moscow. It was not popular with the Americans at the time, but the Russians recognised that the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) was trying to use British influence. It had electoral advantages for him as well, but he was genuinely trying to use influence to develop and build up the possibilities of detente.
When the Prime Minister talked about polycentrism, he confined himself entirely to Eastern Europe. We are all familiar with the story of Eastern Europe—of Tito's break with Stalin, the Polish moves to liberalisation and the interesting potentialities of Rumania. The Prime Minister, however, was able to make a foreign affairs speech without once mentioning General de Gaulle. The blindness of the British Cabinet towards the realities of French policy in the world astonishes me, particularly when I remember that the Foreign Secretary yesterday, in one of his many bromide phrases, said that although we were kept out of the Common Market, we were doing all that we could to see that policies between this country and Western Europe did not diverge. There is hardly any point on which British and French policies are in agreement. Polycentrism in Western Europe is infinitely as interesting and as important in the development of British and world policy as the polycentrism in Eastern Europe.
If we really are to look at the new situation of a Western Alliance that is no longer united in this sense, or an Eastern Alliance that is no longer united, we must consider the implications of alternative courses of policy. It is all very well the Prime Minister saying that the multilateral force does not involve dissemination of nuclear weapons. He had that wonderful phrase which he used in another connection about our tactical 1326 nuclear weapons in Europe being kept under what he called the key-of-the-cupboard theory—a nursery tale analogy. If, however, the Russians are convinced that the multilateral force means a German-American nuclear force which makes it that much easier for Germany to acquire control of nuclear weapons, they may well take the view, which the Americans took at the time of Cuba, that this goes a stage beyond what they are prepared to tolerate.
The Prime Minister makes a great mistake if he thinks that there would be a wide body of British or Western European—and certainly not Eastern European—opinion that would be prepared to see a German-American multilateral force set up against bitter Russian opposition. The Russians would have the opportunity in Europe of conventional pressure of the kind that the Americans had around Cuba at the time of the 1962 crisis. Nothing of this was said by the Prime Minister. All we had was merely an assurance to the Russians that if they signed the anti-dissemination agreement now, they need have no anxiety about the multilateral force.
The question of the Oder-Neisse line was not mentioned by the Prime Minister, and yet anybody who knows anything about the fears of the Eastern Europeans recognises that the anxiety that the Poles and the Czechs have about the feeling of the Germans that they must get back to their pre-war frontiers is one of the greatest forces which keep the Eastern countries under the Russian umbrella. Although the British have been very negative upon this, General de Gaulle has said that for his part the Oder-Neisse line represents the eastern frontier of Germany. That has not prevented General de Gaulle from entering into close relationships with the West Germans.
One of the causes of paralysis in our European policy is still the fear that if we do anything it might weaken our capacity to get into the Common Market. I could understand this in the past. A rabbit sitting in the way of a motor car might be paralysed by the headlights, but the Prime Minister must be the only rabbit who is paralysed by the tail lights of a receding vehicle. It would be different if British entry into the Common Market were to become a reality, but the 1327 Prime Minister said that it was a dead duck. I did not know whether that was an autobiographical phrase.
What is wanted in Europe is a British initiative. Whatever one may say about General de Gaulle—there are many aspects of his domestic and foreign policy which I do not like—he dreams of a world in which Europe holds the balance, of the Six dominated by France, led by General de Gaulle. That is his view, and I understand it. But his policy in Asia and in relation to China, however, is a lot more realistic than that adopted by our Government, who on this issue, as on many other issues, are ambiguous.
The third development which the Prime Minister never mentioned in his analysis of the world was the growing importance of the non-aligned States as a force in their own right at the United Nations. It is a great mistake to think that this is the end of the anti-colonial battle, because the anti-colonial battle is not yet finished. One of the consequences, however, of the deadlock in the Security Council was that power passed increasingly to the General Assembly.
If I try to analyse the point in time at which the Prime Minister began to have doubts about the United Nations, it would be the point at which, owing to the arrival of new members of the General Assembly and the failure of the Security Council to be effective, power began to move more and more towards the General Assembly. That was not the idea of the United Nations that the Prime Minister had in mind.
It is interesting to see the way in which the controversy about the United Nations has altered since the war. At the end of the war, it was thought of as a continuation of the League. It was primarily a white organisation with an international civil service in the League tradition. We hoped that it would work better. That was what Lord Avon meant when he spoke about "humanity's last hope". The United Nations has, however, evolved in a quite new way. At every stage, the Government have been stepping back stage by stage reluctantly accepting the development of the United Nations.
The things that the non-aligned countries care about in the world are the remaining anti-colonial issues. Southern Rhodesia united the whole of Africa 1328 against the stand that our Government have so far taken on the Southern Rhodesian issue. Issues like the British support for the French in the Algerian war are the issues that the non-aligned countries care about. They reflect their anxieties and their power through the United Nations. The racial issue, to which the Prime Minister referred—in Mississippi, South Africa, Rhodesia, Notting Hill and Smethwick, and all over the world—is the predominant one. It is on these issues that the British Government are, at best, neutralists.
One cannot justify the continued supply of arms to South Africa without, at the very best—but this is the kindest thing that can be said—being neutralist on the question of human rights in terms of colour.
The next great development since the war has been the way in which the United Nations has been able to make itself felt even against a major Power. It was not the United Nations itself which stopped the Government at Suez, but the United Nations was the only body capable of taking over from us. Hon. Members opposite say that the United Nations has never scored any successes against the Soviet side, and they cite its ineffectiveness in Hungary. I am not so sure about that. The Soviet Union suffered enormously as a result of its actions in Hungary in 1956. It also suffered a major defeat on the troika. Mr. Khrushchev had set his mind on three Secretaries-General and came up against the united opposition of the non-aligned world and had to capitulate in favour of their pressure.
The United Nations is a reality in the world today, and one of the tragedies about the British Government is that they do not see the opportunities which the United Nations offers for the exercise of British diplomacy. They think of the United Nations as being a separate and outside body and not a forum where British ideas and initiative can be well deployed. I say nothing against Sir Patrick Dean, but nobody in London takes very seriously a permanent civil servant, sitting at the end of a telephone line, in the United Nations. We take him seriously in the sense that he is a man capable of transmitting messages both ways, but not as a man capable of negotiating in the sense in which the 1329 Foreign Secretary will be able to negotiate when he goes to see Mr. Khrushchev in Moscow this summer. Would it be as good to send Sir Patrick Dean on this mission which the Foreign Secretary is to undertake? Clearly not. Why? Because what is required is negotiation and discussion at the highest level.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in saying that he will send a Cabinet Minister to the United Nations, will be doing the first essential. He will be putting there a man whom other nations will wish to consult about all the issues which come before the United Nations.
The second thing is to strengthen the Secretary-General. If we do not recognise fully the rôle of the Secretary-General, the non-aligned countries do. One of the things which impressed me most when I visited New York not long ago was talking to an official at the Secretariat about the hot line. It is well known that this country wanted to be on the hot line. It presented its V-bombers and said, "Look, we have a ticket on the hot line between Moscow and Washington", and was disappointed to discover that this nuclear ticket did not get us an extension on that telephone line. However, if we had used our influence to try to get the hot line to go through the Secretary-General's office, we could have succeeded, because the non-aligned countries want to be consulted if ever the world reaches the brink. If Britain, which had its own V-bombers, had thrown itself in with those countries which wanted to see that there was some international check on the last words of goodbye said between the White House and Red Square, it would almost certainly have succeeded.
I now turn to the question of peacekeeping and the mockery poured by hon. Members opposite on the idea of the British Navy having a special United Nations rôle while, at the same time, entering into discussions on a multilateral mixed-manned nuclear force. What is wanted is a mixed-manned peace force—that really would make some sense—in which the United Nations adopted the multilateral idea in order to make available forces which were genuinely international in character. Until such a thing can be developed, the next best thing is that Britain should make available on a 1330 much more regular basis forces which might be needed for peace-keeping operations. Hon. Members opposite say that the United Nations acts too slowly. If our forces were always available, it would be able to act almost as rapidly as if we were acting on our own.
The final function of the United Nations is to provide a place where people can talk. The Prime Minister has rather played down the idea of regular Summits, saying that they do not do any good. Listening to debates here, one sometimes wonders whether they do any good in the sense of reaching agreement. But the continual dialogue, argument and discussion and getting to know each other is one of the most essential developments in international affairs as the United Nations increasingly becomes a sort of Parliament.
I come now to the rôle of China. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) referred to it in his speech. If ever there was a time when the Chinese issue had to be looked at seriously, it is now. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary, in their analyses of the new factors in the world, took account of the enormous power of China in her own right. They said that there was a split between Russia and China and seemed inclined to the view that this was all to the good and that in a way it made things easier for us that there should be disagreement between them. But what is important is not only the disagreement but the fact that China should be beginning so clearly to stand for certain things in the world.
I hope that we do not under-estimate the Chinese: revolution and its technical capacity for development in the way in which the West consistently underestimated the Russian revolution from 1917 onwards. I was in America just after the first Russian Sputnik went into orbit. It was like a hammer blow for America to realise that Russia had the technical Capacity to put a satellite into orbit. Why? Because the American Press, for years, had convinced the American people that Communism was not only evil but was also a total economic failure, and they were not led to appreciate what was happening.
Although China has many difficulties, such as crop difficulties, and has not 1331 developed as fast as she would have liked and is losing her help from Russia, we should not under-estimate her capacity to be a major force in a short period of time. The challenge to Russia is partly ideological. It is also about co-existence and whether it is possible to co-exist. But no one seems to ask why China doubts the value of the coexistence policy. The answer is that she does not enjoy the benefits of coexistence. There is that part which the British Government recognise as part of China, Taiwan. The Cairo Agreement, signed by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), said that Taiwan should be returned to China. If there is an American force there maintaining a defeated army in a civil war, why should the Chinese believe in the possibilities of peaceful coexistence?
If we allow China to be isolated, what possible advantage can that bring us, even if we accept—and I do not accept it—the crude language of the Prime Minister about fat Communists being better than thin Communists? Does not this apply to China too? Or does China come into a separate category? What justification is there for maintaining a much more comprehensive embargo list against China than against the Soviet Union? The only answer is that the British want, on this issue, to keep in step with the United States.
I think that it is time that we tried to help the Americans to overcome some of their own mythology about China. Perhaps one of the best ways to do it would be to refer the Americans to the State Department memorandum handed to President Truman when he took over the Presidency in 1945. He quotes it in his book "Year of Decisions". This is what it said about China:Political. Towards both the immediate objective of defeating Japan and the long-term objective of peace and security, we seek to promote establishment of a broadly representative Chinese government which will bring about internal unity, including reconcilement of Kuomintang-Communist differences, and will effectively discharge its internal and international responsibilities.That was the first reference. But there were other references, too, one of which said: 1332We are also seeking to bring about vitally needed Chinese military unity through integration of the Communist forces with those of the National Government.This was the view of the American State Department and of President Truman in the summer of 1945.
It still remains true that, unless we can, somehow, solve this problem of Taiwan and bring China into the United Nations, she will remain outside threatening the whole conception of United Nations solutions and winning increasing support from those nations which, because of their population explosions and difficulties of development, are doubting whether they can develop by peaceful means.
It is therefore urgent that at the General Assembly this year the British Government should make more than just friendly noises about China and should try positively to campaign to bring her in to her rightful place.
There is a very good prospect of this for two reasons. One is that General de Gaulle has now had the sense to recognise the reality of China—and he has done it the whole way. He has a Chinese ambassador in Paris and a French ambassador in Peking. We do not have an exchange of ambassadors because we have a consul in Taiwan. We heard yesterday from the Foreign Secretary that the consul is accredited to nobody. He is there just in case people want to pop in and see him. Yet for that reason we lose the enormous opportunity and advantage which might come from full diplomatic relations with Peking at ambassadorial level.
How do we solve the Taiwan question? The Chinese themselves reject the concept of two Chinas. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East mentioned the move for self-determination for Taiwan, but we must not forget that if there is one thing on which Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung agree it is a refusal to subscribe to any idea that Taiwan does not belong to China. They agree that there is only one China, made up of the mainland and Taiwan.
What makes the position doubly difficult, of course, is that the Americans are very deeply committed to the Chiang régime and are reluctant to abandon their support at this stage. However, we are fortunate in the fact that the meeting 1333 of the General Assembly has been postponed this year until after the American presidential election, so that it will take place when President Johnson is beginning four years of office and when the Americans will be escaping from the electoral dangers which surround any discussion of China. It may well be that a solution might be found along the lines of that found in 1945 for the admission of the Ukraine and White Russia to the United Nations.
Under such a solution, a representative of the Peking Government would displace the representative of Chiang Kai-shek at the United Nations and consideration could be given to the idea of Taiwan occupying a place in the General Assembly pending a solution. Its position would be similar to that occupied by the Ukraine, which is a part of the Soviet Union and, as such, is represented by the Soviet delegate, but also has some independent representation of its own. I would think it unlikely, if the Peking Government were admitted to the Security Council, that Chiang would for long wish to hold out against some sort of settlement with the mainland.
If one looks at this situation from the point of view of British self-interest, I find myself, in looking to the year 2,000, asking whether we shall be any safer in the world if China is still isolated from the world community. By then she will have a population of 1,500 million. She will have her own nuclear weapons, since she accepts every one of the present Prime Minister's arguments about the need for nuclear weapons. Will it be a safer world in the year 2,000 if we merely repeat the follies and mistakes that we made in our relations with Russia in the early revolutionary years when we deal with China as she struggles with her immense development programme?
The new situation in the world opens up new possibilities and new dangers. What depressed me about the rather complacent analyses we have had from the Front Bench opposite—the Minister of State's was best of the three but his was the exception—is the failure to identify major issues and the rôle Britain should play. Should we not be trying to strengthen the East-West détente? What is our line to be on the dominating race issue, especially in South Africa? What are we to do about the United 1334 Nations in order to make greater use of the forum to bring knowledge, wisdom and understanding to bear on the problems of the world? And what relevance has a British Polaris to any of this? Finally, what possibility is there for a British initiative to bring China into the United Nations this year?
I think that there has been a measure of agreement across the Floor of the House in this debate. The extent of the disagreement which exists lies at least as much in a differing analysis of what is happening as in recommendations as to what should be done in any area of policy. Despite the new look given by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, I suspect that they do not understand or even wish to understand the full significance of all the changes that have taken place in East and West. They do not understand the new freedom movements that have developed from the anti-colonial struggle which evoked the most bitter opposition from hon. Members opposite. They always cheered when they learnt of British troops going in to restore order and of political leaders being gaoled—men who later were accepted by the Government and appointed Prime Ministers of their countries.
On the benches opposite there is lack of sympathy with the new world and certainly a lack of faith in Britain having any influence without having the power to use or having available the Polaris missile. It is the fundamental defeatism of the party opposite that distresses me. When we on this side see the great opportunities in the world that exist for this country and urge the great rôle that Britain can play, we repeatedly find hon. Members opposite coming back to the same insistent plea that Britain is finished without an American-supplied nuclear weapon. That is really the heart of the Government's foreign policy. I do not accept it for a moment.
The traditions of this country are those of compromise, improvisation, energy, adventure and many other qualities which we can bring to bear in the new world. Our parliamentary traditions alone give us a special advantage in the United Nations, which is an embryonic Parliament of man. All these are opportunities that we want to see exercised and utilised. I find little in the speeches from right hon. and hon. Members opposite to 1335 suggest that they have any faith any longer, even in themselves.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)
The ordeal which faces anyone speaking for the first time in this place is well-known. It is not made any easier for me by having the additional problem of following in the wake of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). I know that the House traditionally affords indulgence to newcomers, and I ask that this should be granted to me today. In exchange, I realise that I must avoid all matters of controversy, although this will not be easy in view of some of the views I have heard expressed.
The subject I wish to cover primarily is the peace-time use of our Armed Forces as instruments of British foreign policy. But before dealing with this I would like to say a few words about the constituency which I am so proud to represent. Winchester was for centuries the capital of England, long before London had any such aspirations. Winchester is the seat of a bishop: it has a world famous cathedral: it is the headquarters of the Green Jackets Brigade and the Hampshire regiment; and it has the oldest public school in England. Moreover, Winchester is an entirely non-controversial public school because it has provided many distinguished Members of this House, on both sides.
Many of my constituents are smallholders, horticulturists, dairy farmers, retail shopkeepers, young married couples in need of homes, or retired people living on small fixed incomes. Many of these people, as the House knows, have their own special difficulties in these days which one might expect would diminish their interest in foreign affairs, and preoccupy them to some extent, but I do not find this to be the case. In parenthesis, I think that this may call for a tribute to my distinguished predecessor, Mr. Peter Smithers, who has now gone on to fresh fields in the Council of Europe.
I think that this interest in foreign affairs may also call for a tribute to the Press, radio and television. If this tribute is deserved, I am very happy to pay it, but with particular reference to their news and documentary features.
1336 To come to what I have to say about the employment of our Services in support of our foreign policy, what are our principal assets here? First and foremost, there are the sterling qualities of the British fighting man. There have been no fewer than 49 occasions since the war when British soldiers, sailors and airmen have been called in to restore that very basic commodity, law and order, in various parts of the world, all too often in conditions of danger, heat, discomfort and embarrassment. Tribute to these men has already been paid by several hon. Members in this debate.
Our second asset—and very valuable it is—is the support which we still receive from many countries of the Commonwealth. Perhaps Australasia provides the best example: Australian and New Zealand forces have worked, and still work, very closely with our own in the Far East. I like to recall the words of Mr. Robert Menzies, as he then was, at the time of Suez, when he said, in the House of Representatives in Canberra:Well, I do not know too much about this; but if Britain is in it, we are in it.I am bound to say that that was a great deal better stuff than one heard from—perhaps I should say, some individuals in this country at that time.
In India and in many other Commonwealth countries I have found a wonderful reservoir of good will towards the British Raj. In a remote mountain fort on the North-West Frontier, an officer of a Pakistani regiment showed me with great pride an entry in the visitors' book which read:Archibald Wavell, Captain. 1912.Field Marshal Lord Wavell now lies buried in the cloisters of Winchester College
Turning to Africa, at the end of 1961, I took my ship to the Tanganyika independence celebrations in Dar-es-Salaam. Since then, Tanganyika and other countries in East Africa have asked for, and have immediately received our military help in times of temporary difficulty—what the hon. Member for Leeds, East called times of political instability. The fact that these requests were made to the British, of all people, is not only the highest compliment which could possibly be paid to us and to our colonial 1337 record, but is also a very great tribute to the generosity of thought, the com-com sense and statesmanship of some of these newly independent régimes. We might have to help these people again, and I hope that we shall be very ready to do so.
Our third asset in this context is the strength of our various international alliances, such as N.A.T.O., CENTO, S.E.A.T.O., and ANZAM. In particular, great progress has been made by the military committees within these organisations, and military co-operation and understanding have reached a level in this way which would hardly have been considered possible 10 or 15 years ago.
Fourthly, it is fair to say that our Service Ministries have been very forward-looking in developing new methods and new equipment. The concept of commando carriers landing Royal Marines by helicopter in cold war conditions, the re-equipment and the great efficiency of Transport Command of the Royal Air Force, and the jungle fighting techniques developed by the Army, as seen in Malaya and Borneo, are all excellent examples of what I mean.
To these concrete assets it would be fair to add two others, namely, British experience and "know-how" in this sort of arena, and the overwhelming material power of our firm friends and close allies the United States of America. I sometimes think that one of the things that Western man least clearly understands about Eastern man is the presence of physical fear in many parts of the world today. We supposedly civilised nations have advanced beyond the stage at which if we disliked, say hon. Members opposite, we would go at them with half a brick; but that condition still prevails in many parts of the world: and there is no doubt that many individuals and many small countries appreciate the friendship of a strong and well-armed Power.
I have discussed our assets in these cold-war conditions, but there is another side of the balance. I believe that we have some shortcomings, and that there are some ways in which we might be more constructive and more imaginative. As we have heard from both sides of the House, there are plenty of constructive tasks to be performed. I know 1338 that many commanding officers find this a perplexing problem, because they realise that the threat against which we should be preparing is not the straightforward threat of armed aggression—practically nowhere is that the case—but the threat of subversion and political infiltration.
For instance, I once heard a commander-in-chief make a most urgent plea for a radio station in Aden so that we could stand up for ourselves and counteract the poison which, as we all know, has been disseminated from Cairo Radio for so many recent years. What a curious thing it is to hear the generals and the air marshals—leaving the admirals out of it for a moment—asking not for more jets or more tanks, but more radio stations! Unfortunately, the ledgers in Whitehall have appropriate columns for tar and hemp, and muskets and bullets, but not for radio stations.
This whole subject of the deployment of our resources in the cold war is most difficult, but the great gleam of hope lies in the reorganised Ministry of Defence. This now has the opportunity of bringing all three Services together in their organisation and training, and of shaping our expenditure to meet those threats which really face us—perhaps most important of all by gearing our military activities much more closely with those of the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the B.B.C.
This being now in progress, I am convinced that the Armed Forces of the Crown will continue to play a most effective part as instruments of our foreign policy, and in helping to preserve the peace of the world.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
It is my pleasure as well as privilege to offer not merely my own congratulations but, I am sure, the congratulations of the whole House to the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) on the admirable maiden speech which he has just delivered. He has delivered it with care; he has delivered it with preparation; he has delivered it with lucidity; and he has avoided what was obviously a great temptation to throw a few half-bricks himself, resting in the confidence that by tradition of the House no one could throw the other half back.
1339 We have listened to the hon. and gallant Gentleman with very great interest and respect and we shall be happy to hear him again. Whether we shall hear him again in a debate of this nature in this Parliament may be a little doubtful, but perhaps next time he will prepare himself on some other subject which we might be able to get around to before next October.
I should like to offer an observation or two of my own. I do not propose to do what it is so tempting to do in a foreign affairs debate, and what I suppose in the more important speeches is esential in such a debate, namely, to go to the different points of conflict, or to conflicting policies all over the world, and advance my own notion of how they should be dealt with.
I am sorry that the Prime Minister left the Chamber before I had time to say this. I found his speech a most depressing affair. I think that it is almost humiliating to have the Prime Minister of this country making a long and important speech, in what he presumably thought was an important foreign affairs debate, when he was obviously so ill-equipped and ill-prepared to do it. It was about the most politically illiterate speech that I have heard on this subject for many years.
But that, perhaps, is natural, because this really is not a foreign affairs debate in Parliament at all. We have a Prime Minister who has never really been a Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of a Government who very shortly will not be the Government, and are not really functioning as a Government now, in a Parliament which very shortly will not exist. The only real comfort to be derived from the Prime Minister's speech is that when next we have a foreign affairs debate, at any rate he will not be expounding the views of the Government.
It is fashionable nowadays to say, and it has been said repeatedly in this debate, that the world is virtually at peace, that we do not really have to worry any more, that there is an uneasy equilibrium, which, nevertheless, will be maintained, that a nuclear war which may have been a real threat at one time has long ceased to be a threat, that the areas of disagreement are narrow, and 1340 that all can be tided over, or compromised, or dealt with in some fashion so that no longer need we fear a world conflict, and that a world war will never happen again.
The Prime Minister himself gave us the most implausible reasons for taking that view. He seemed to be saying that the real reason why the world is at peace, and will remain so, is that the Soviet Union has so many nuclear weapons. He did not say it in so many words, but that is the clear implication of saying that peace is being preserved by an equilibrium, by a balance of power, by a balance of forces, and that one must not disturb the balance of those forces. Of course, there could be no balance of nuclear forces if the Soviet Union had not got any. What he is really saying, therefore, is that our reliance on the preservation of peace depends on keeping the Soviet Union strong.
I do not share that view. It does not seem to me that peace can be preserved in the world by a balance of forces, or by a balance of armaments. There has never been an occasion when an armaments race to maintain the balance, with first one side and then the other seeking to get the edge on the other, has not ended in what was for that day ultimate catastrophe, and there is no reason to think that the same causes will not produce the same effect, although it may be delayed a little by the greater forces available and by the greater arms to be used.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that wars have been caused by an imbalance?
§ Mr. Silverman
That was not an imbalance. There was a Conservative Government in power the whole time. The House of Commons voted every penny that they wanted for every rearmament plan which they had. It may be that hon. Gentlemen opposite can say that we opposed them, but, if we did, we opposed them ineffectively. They were 1341 not without money. They were not without rearmament powers. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that they wasted them, he is throwing against them a greater indictment than they deserve. The greatest imbalance in my time was when the United States had nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union did not.
When people talk about the danger of the Communist threat to use nuclear weapons and that kind of thing, it is at least fair to remember—and historically accurate to remember—that the only country which has ever used nuclear weapons in the history of mankind is the United States of America, and that it used them without notice and without warning on two open, unarmed cities, against an enemy who was already defeated, and was at that moment suing for peace. Those are the facts which we must remember.
What are the causes of war? They lie much deeper, as we all know When people say that we are not in any danger of war now, they must be saying, at least by implication, that there are no deep-seated causes of conflict or dispute in the world. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that British forces were engaged in warfare all over the world to a greater extent than can be recalled by any of us in peacetime. That is the fact.
In Europe, there is an uneasy balance, based on an abnormal situation which everybody hopes will last for ever, and which nobody will ever disturb. It is an abnormal situation. One cannot really suppose that there is any normality, or any stability, or any permanence, in a Germany divided in this way, but divided particularly in such a way that half of one of its main cities is deemed by one side to be part of a country whose border is 200 miles away. I am not suggesting what the solution is; I am only saying that some day there must be one. It is an abnormality which is fraught with continual danger, and it is a task of wisdom to make every possible approach to see whether there is some way of normalising the situation.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that our forces should be withdrawn from every sphere in which they are engaged?
§ Mr. Silverman
I am not suggesting anything at the moment. I am only inviting the noble Lord and other hon. Members to realise that a divided Berlin, 200 miles inside a divided Germany, is not a situation on which one can rest hopes of peace in Europe. Some day something will have to be done. In those circumstances, is anything done to tackle the prbolem of pretending that West Berlin is part of Federal Germany, knowing perfectly well that nobody in the world, except Federal Germany, accepts that, and knowing that there is no legal or juridical sanction or basis for it?
This is particularly so when the Federal German Republic is still disputing the frontier even of a reunited Germany. Supposing it had its way and could incorporate East and West Germany in one nation, where would the frontier be? There has been no intimation by those who most insistently claim that East Germany is part of Germany, and that the Federal Government is the Government of Germany, that if they had their way the frontier of that reunited Germany would not remain a source of ultimate conflict and disturbance in Europe.
Ways of dealing with this problem have been suggested. I am not discussing them now. I am only saying that, given that situation, anyone who regards peace as secure, stable or inviolable merely because his country has atomic weapons, is living in a fool's paradise.
What about other parts of the world? Does anyone think that the Middle East is an area of peace, stability and security? It can flare up at any moment; perhaps it will. Let us go to the Far East. Here we have a situation in which war is at any moment inevitable.
§ Mr. Silverman
I should not have said "inevitable". I should have said that war is at any moment possible.
People talk about the way in which to deal with the situation—about who will yield, and who will make agreements, and they ask how it can be dealt with by neutralising it. Nobody has defined what neutralising it means, or what being neutral means, in those circumstances. Nobody remembers that 1343 if the 1954 settlement at Geneva had been supported by all the prestige and ability of the United States of America there would have been no trouble in that part of the world today. The only reason why the attempt at neutralising this part of the world failed is that although the United States undertook that it would not seek by military means to upset it, it nevertheless would not support it. It did not support it, and never has supported it.
Let us go to other places. In South Africa we have a situation that could set Africa ablaze from end to end if the policy there is not ended. Let no one think that this would be a small or localised war, or that we could contemplate it with any kind of equanimity.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Wedgwood Benn) talked about what the situation might be in the year 2000. I do not know; in all probability I never shall know. But I am familiar with the situation not 50 years' hence, but 30 years' back, and when I consider what the state of Europe and the world was in the first four years that I spent in the House of Commons, and the debates we had then about international affairs, I find very little to distinguish that state of affairs from the present one. If we are not careful to realise that this is so we may find that this is the inchoate stage of a third world war, instead of the heralding of a millenium of peace—because then, too, we had quarrels, disputes and difficulties all over the world, in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Abyssinia, Albania and Spain.
The present Foreign Secretary was then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and when, the other day, he was called upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) to defend his record, and asked whether he had not an uneasy conscience about it, he said "Not at all", that what he was doing was trying to keep this country out of the Spanish war. He kept this country out of the Spanish war, but what kind of war did he land us in as a consequence?
Throughout all those years people were saying, as they are saying now, "Do not worry. War is unthinkable. War will never happen. War is too destructive. War is too murderous, too dangerous. We 1344 shall find a way through. We will make an accommodation here, and a compromise there, and a forestalling action somewhere else. We shall have a disarmament conference now and again, at which, at any rate, we shall keep people talking. Nothing will happen." The result was that it did happen. I do not see any great distinction between the state of Europe and the world in the early 1960s and what it was in the middle 1930s.
What is it all about? The noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) made an extremely interesting speech yesterday, in which he said that the world was fighting a kind of civil war. He did not use that expression; he quoted Abraham Lincoln talking about civil war in the United States of America. He appeared to forget that Abraham Lincoln, at Gettysburg, was speaking 100 years ago. and that he would come out of his grave and make another speech if he could realise what his successors, as the spokesmen and leaders of the great Republican Party in the United States, are saying today—because, whatever may be true of other men, in the real civil war that is going on in the world, Senator Goldwater is on the wrong side, and we shall be his allies if he becomes President of the United States.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
Why should one presume that Senator Goldwater stands any chance of success at the convention?
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not know whether he will or will not, but he may. At the moment, the chances are that he will. This is being said by a confident and, at the moment, a leading candidate for Presidential nomination in the United States. It is not possible to say whom the American people will elect.
What is the real civil war? The noble Lord said that the world was divided between those who believed in personal freedom and those who did not. That is not the real division. We are in an age in which one world is dead and another world is struggling to be born. This was true 50 years ago as much as it is true today. In all these widespread sources of conflict all over the world it is not only a question on which side nations will align themselves 1345 in the eventuality of war between the two main blocs. It is not only a question of defensive arrangements or military possibilities.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East was quite right in saying that it was a great mistake to suppose that all these conflicts were inspired or originated by outside Communist forces. By what are they originated? What is it that these people who are in revolt want? What is it that they want in Indo-China, in Vietnam and in Laos? What is it that they want in Africa? They want to be free of the old world. They want to be free of the feudal land system and from the tyranny of landlords. It is not only a question of their country being backward and that they need aid from the well-to-do nations. Naturally, we should help because we are rich and they are poor. That alone would entitle them to our assistance.
It is also a question of what keeps them poor. Why are these countries underdeveloped? Because their social forces have never been developed; because their natural resources have never been developed. They are struggling for freedom. What Abraham Lincoln said which is apt to our present situation was that it is impossible for a world to remain half-slave and half-free.
No doubt one of the causes for alarm in the Western world is that these countries have accepted assistance, not always altruistic assistance, from Communist countries. But why should not they accept such assistance? If they are struggling to overset the internal systems that deny or are inconsistent with any kind of social justice, why should not they take aid from any country in the world which is ready to grant it? Is there something so very wrong, wicked or shameful about accepting the assistance of a Communist country? We did not refuse it.
The Soviet Union was our ally and we were glad of that alliance in the days of our Gethsemane. If any of these people wish to bring what they call social freedom and justice—we may not call it that—to their country, and can get no assistance elsewhere, why should not they get it from China and the Soviet Union? Believe me, there is no difference on this between the Soviet Union and China. We know why not. It is because it alters 1346 the balance of force and we must not alter the balance of force, because on the balance of force, the Prime Minister tells us, rests the peace of the world.
Ought not we to have made clear long ago that we are on their side? When my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East talks about the Yemen and Radfan, does not he realise—I am sure that he does—that it is the social causes behind this unrest which are the important things, and not whether Nasser has or has not troops in the Yemen? My hon. Friend talked about the security of oil supplies; and certainly they must be secure, and we must pay for them. We do pay for them. But have we no interest at all in what becomes of the money? So little of it is spread among the inhabitants of the country whose material resources are represented by the oil.
There are things about which we cannot be neutral. We can be neutral between two armed forces in the event of an imminent conflict—and the more countries which remain neutral in such a situation the better for them and for the world—but we cannot be neutral, between right and wrong. We cannot be neutral between the oppressed and the oppressor. We cannot be neutral between justice and injustice. We cannot hold the balance even between the two. There is a natural weight which comes down. Neither can one for long go on, as was once said of a liberal English writer,Playing on your fuddled fiddle somewhere in the muddled middle.The Labour Government which came to office in 1945 had an opportunity to do something about this, when all the world was looking for a new lead, and most of it was looking to the Labour Party in this country to give that lead. We did not give it. Between 1945 and 1950 the Labour Government, so far as their domestic policies were concerned, were a remarkable Government. They were constructive, progressive, and far and away the best Government that this country had ever had—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, certainly they were, and I always said so. If they had matched their international policy to the springs which motivated their domestic policy, the world would have been a different place today, and my right hon. Friends would never have lost office.
1347 By the time we next nave a foreign affairs debate in this House it may be that my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) will be the Foreign Secretary. Certainly, he will be a member of a Labour Government. So, I have no doubt, will my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East. My appeal is not to this Government, it is not to those hon. Members ranged behind the Government, some of whom will be back in the next Parliament but who will be sitting on the benches on this side of the House. They have nothing to do with it any more. They have had 12 years in which to do something with the situation, but everything that they have touched they have made worse—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations travels about the Commonwealth and sets everybody by the ears and then comes back and stands at the Dispatch Box and demands that my right hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench provide the plan which he has not been able to imagine for himself. That has been the Government's record. Nothing that they have touched has been improved, abroad or at home.
I hope and beg that in approaching this question—I know that there are difficulties, that we cannot always job backwards, or begin from the beginning, and that we shall be faced with the embarrassments and inhibitions which have been historically produced during the last 20 years—my hon. Friends will approach it in a new spirit. No one expects them to overturn things at one throw. But we all hope that the problem will be approached in a new spirit; that they will not hold the reins or even the balance, but will assist the new world in its birth pangs.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod (Enfield, West)
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) started with some graceful words about the maiden speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles). With that part of the hon. Member's speech at least, I should like to concur. We all agreed very much with what he said. We were very glad to listen to my hon. and gallant Friend. From the philosophy which permeated 1348 the rest of the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, and particularly his concept of the balance between war and peace, I think that I found myself very nearly as distant as did right hon. and hon. Members on his own Front Bench.
Considering that this is a two-day debate, and on the Adjournment, I think that it has been a coherent one in that the number of themes have been limited. I should like to start, as so many others have done, by saying a little about Aden, both because it is the most topical of subjects because of the conference, and also because it is a complex in which defence, foreign affairs, Commonwealth relations and many other subjects meet. The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) today, when talking about Aden and, more widely, about the reasons generally why we had bases abroad, said that in his view the interests of the free world were the main reasons for our being there. I agree very much with him. I think this comes far in front of any considerations about oil or even of our relations with the rulers of those territories, although of course we have treaties with them which we must keep.
I am not sure that the argument, so much developed—I am not talking so much now about his speech—is soundly based. I think many people feel that, because of the swift and successful exercise in East Africa when we were called in by newly independent States, a new rôle has come for Britain, envisaging this country as a sort of combination of "Dixon of Dock Green", on the one side, and an amateur fire-fighting organisation on the other coming to the aid of those countries at their request. The idea of this bush fire theory will prove, I think, in time to be unsound.
For this reason the two most remarkable things about this exercise in East Africa were that we were called in and then went out. In many ways it will be the second which will be held to our credit. As Mr. Mboya said, it required a great deal of courage on the part of the newly-independent countries to call in British aid just at the moment when they were freeing themselves from so many years of colonial rule, but, having done the job, we went away again. Everyone knows that if the Russians are called in to a territory they do not go away again. There are people who, perhaps 1349 unfairly, would say the same about the Americans. I am convinced that even after the exercise is itself forgotten it will be remembered that we did a job in the service of those countries and then left.
Is it right to expect this sort of situation to go on? If perhaps a newly independent country—or a country which has been independent for some years, for I am looking a little ahead—is involved in a tribal dispute, will we wish to go in and take sides? It does not seem at all likely. The hon. Member for Leeds, East said he thought the Aden base was essential to the part we played in Africa and the Middle East. I have a feeling that is more important still to the rôle we have to play in Asia. The Leader of the Liberal Party said yesterday that we first went to Aden to protect from pirates our routes to the Far East. That, of course, is true in part. The other reason is that we went there to use Aden as a coaling station. If for "sea" we now read "air" we are coming closer to the original concept of the Aden base.
The Leader of the Opposition, when he came back from Moscow, said that the Opposition would reserve for this debate some of their comments on Aden and the Government's attitude towards the Federation itself. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) touched on this yesterday, but there was one thing missing from his speech. That was a condemnation of President Nasser for the subversion which in my view is the true threat to Middle East stability. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition would like to touch on this matter when he speaks tonight.
I want to go back to a very fine maiden speech made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). He mentioned in particular, when considering American thinking at present, the name of Senator Fulbright. I think he had in mind a speech which many hon. Members will have read, made on 25th March this year, in which Senator Fulbright drew a distinction between the myth and the reality in American policies. He allowed himself to think what he called "unthinkable thoughts" about a number of subjects including Panama, China and most particularly, Cuba.
1350 It was interesting that as he thought these thoughts and carried his argument to a logical conclusion, he happened to move nearer to the point of view which we in this country hold. This was true of Cuba and also of China. I wonder whether there is a lesson for us in this, because if it is possible to move towards American policy I believe that this is a great gain for the future of the alliance.
I think that we might permit ourselves for a moment to think unthinkable thoughts about President Nasser. I share the feeling—some people would call it phobia—that many people have about President Nasser. I remind the House, before anyone gets up to remind me, that I was a member of the Cabinet at the time of Suez. I agree, incidentally, wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), who said yesterday that President Nasser's policies are inimical to ours. If we consider President Nasser's position and if we follow Senator Fulbright's example we need not find this an obstacle to the attainment of our objectives.
I want to read one sentence which, I think, is the key sentence from Senator Fulbright's speech. Perhaps hon. Members listening to me as I read will translate, that is to say, they will substitute for "Cuban Communism", "Arab nationalism", for "Cuba" read "the U.A.R." and for "Castro" read "Nasser". This is what Senator Fulbright said:I think that we must abandon the myth that Cuban Communism is a transitory menace that is going to collapse or disappear in the immediate future and face up to two basic realities about Cuba: first, that the Castro régime is not on the verge of collapse and is not likely to be overthrown by any policies which we are now pursuing or can reasonably undertake; and second, that the continued existence of the Castro régime, though inimical to our interests and policies, is not an insuperable obstacle to the attainment of our objectives.There are many Nassers, the Arab Nationalist and also the man who lives on the continent of Africa who can hardly have been exhilarated by Mr. Chou En-lai's comment that revolutionary principles were exceedingly good in Africa and also the believer in his own form of system who cannot have liked hearing Mr. Khrushchev saying to all who listened to him that Communism 1351 was for them a quicker way home. If we allow ourselves to let the same thoughts that Senator Fulbright had about Cuba at least pass through our minds about President Nasser it may be that in the fullness of time we shall move closer to American policy in the Middle East.
The next subject on which I want to touch is the subject of the M.L.F. The right hon. Member for Smethwick dealt with this to some extent yesterday and I think he called for a clear statement of Government policy. I have no doubt that that statement must and should await the experiments now being carried out, particularly the extremely interesting one on the U.S. "Biddle". In that, contingents from America, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey and this country are joined. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that there are differing opinions on this side of the House. Of course there are. This is such a big issue, such a complicated issue, the kind of issue in which defence and foreign affairs are completely intermingled, that it would be strange if there were not.
My own view is that on balance—and I have moved increasingly towards this view—the decision to take part was right and, secondly, there is much more to be said on the political side at least for the development of this force than I thought when I first started examining it. When I was in the United States almost a year ago, at a time when we were contemplating taking this decision, and therefore at a time when I had long discussions with members of the Government in the United States, I remember using a phrase to President Kennedy which, I think, was first used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) about democracy—a phrase which the hon. Member for Leeds, East, may recall that I used on another occasion. I said, "Like democracy, it seems to be the worst of all answers except for all the others."
We must agree that there is a dilemma, and perhaps there is a solution. I should like to draw the attention of the House to a speech—a very important speech—made by Mr. Gerard Smith, Special Adviser to the Secretary of State, at Annapolis on Wednesday, 22nd April. 1352 This is how he stated the dilemma, and I do not think that anyone would disagree with him:How can the United States share strategic deterrent responsibilities with its N.A.T.O. allies without promoting independent national nuclear forces?Here, at least, I think that we can all agree. He discussed three possible answers. One of them would be the provision of M.R.B.M. He dismissed that almost at once, and so do I.
There remained the question of increased consultation, which in basis is what the Labour Party would like to see, and the M.L.F. This is what he said about consultation:If consultation about Alliance strategic forces remains imperfect, it is not for lack of good will or machinery. Rather it is because the consultation is one-sided. So long as consultation means other countries advising the United States about what to do with American strategic power, to which they have made little contribution, I have the feeling that it will, while useful, remain limited in effect. The effectiveness of consultation is apt to be in direct proportion to the degree of participation, by the consulting nations, in the operation they are consulting about.In other words, if one can reduce that to an epigram, "No consultation without participation ".
We on this side of the House have always thought that it could not make sense to try to barter a weapon—particularly a weapon which was denigrated in the way in which the Labour Party have denigrated our deterrent power—against increased consultation when one is oneself not a participant. If the Labour Party will not take that, as I think, simple point of view from these benches, perhaps they will take it from an official speech from a senior American adviser.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
What deduction does the right hon. Gentleman think that President de Gaulle or the German Government would draw from the point which he has just made?
§ Mr. Macleod
It is exactly that point which arises. I did not want to read all the quotation, but immediately after the sentence which I quoted Mr. Smith went on to say:Moreover, participation in nuclear matters within Europe is unequal. Some countries already have national nuclear weapons programmes. … For all these reasons, European leaders are likely to find nuclear consultation 1353 with the United States an inadequate substitute for a rôle of active participation in the operation of strategic weapons.There is this problem still, because I think that the right hon. Gentleman is right when he says that there is a strong feeling in America that they intend 8 possible to go on with this project. I think that we must judge our participation and the weight of opinion which we give to the military considerations against what is, to me at least, the overriding importance of trying, if we can, to keep this great issue one of agreement between America and all her allies.
Lastly I should like to make a brief reference to the journey which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—I am sorry that he is not here; I gave him notice—and the right hon. Member for Smethwick made to Moscow. I am sure that both of them will take my remarks in the amiable sense in which they are made, for the last thing I want to do is to stop them from making those robust speeches on foreign affairs which have aroused such enthusiasm below the Gangway. All these remarks, particularly some of those by the Leader of the Opposition, pay a double dividend; they are useful abroad and they madden at least 50 per cent. of the Labour Party.
I see. that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has returned. [HON. MEMBERS: "Say it again."] I was encouraging the Leader of the Opposition in well doing and particularly in the robust speeches which he has been making. For example, he made an extraordinary statement about our using our heaviest tanks in Cyprus and urged other countries to do the same. This is probably against the United Nations directive. The heaviest tanks which we have are in B.A.O.R. and could scarcely be available. For the purpose which he had in mind, bulldozers plus covering fire from armoured cars, which are in Cyprus, are infinitely preferable. Heavy tanks would ruin the roads—and the heavy tank is not a very suitable vehicle for conciliation. Apart from that, it is a splendid idea.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
I am sorry that I was out. The right hon. Gentleman has had his fun. As for the suggestion being contrary to the United Nations directive, 1354 I said that we should immediately raise with the United Nations the need for a new directive to enable these things to be done. [Laughter.] This is really not a laughing matter. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the whole of that speech in context—a few hon. Members opposite might take the smiles off their faces—he will realise that what I was referring to was the fact that British troops were in cross-fire between Turkish and Greek frontiersmen. I said that it was important that they should be given any kind of protection, by armour or any other means which would save their lives, so that they could do the job. Would the right hon. Gentleman address himself to that point?
§ Mr. Macleod
Of course. I have the quotation here if the right hon. Gentleman would like me to read it to the House. He directed this point specifially to road blocks and gun emplacements, and so on. I was merely pointing out that there are already in Cyprus far better methods for dealing with this sort of thing.
The moist interesting proposal of the right hon. Gentleman's 10 or 11 or 14, or whatever it was, in the Moscow visit, was that for annual Summits. It was not answered by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister this afternoon, perhaps because Shakespeare answered this very point 400 years ago. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman, when thinking of bringing together the great men of the earth to this sort of consultation, remembers the boast of Glendower and the retort from Hotspur. Glendower said:I can call spirits from the vasty deep.Hotspur replied:Why, so can I; or so can any man:But will they come, when you do call for them?
§ Mr. Macleod
And very good sense, too. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to continue his voyage, he might go to Colombey les-Deux Eglises and ask that particular spirit there.
It is not surprising, with these sorts of views, that when the Leader of the Opposion and the right hon. Member for Smethwick went to Russia, President Khrushchev treated them in much the 1355 same way as President Johnson treated his beagles. He lifted them by the ears. They then come back to tell us his reaction to a series of proposals. We find that Mr. Khrushchev warmly agreed with all the proposals that suited Mr. Khrushchev and rejected all those which did not. It is not a very remarkable conclusion, it was not worth a journey, and it is just one more proof that when the Leader of the Opposition comes on to the stage of world affairs he treads those boards always as a party politician, never as a statesman.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Did the right hon. Gentleman prepare that part of his speech before he knew that the Foreign Secretary was going to Moscow?
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
I am very glad to have the opportunity to follow the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), though I thought that the latter part of his speech obscured the admirable first half. I must confess to the House that the other day I went to sell an article about the Middle East to an admirable periodical presided over by a distinguished editor. To my surprise, I found that the editor was in entire agreement with my views about President Nasser. I was glad to hear those views reinforced today in such revealing terms.
During the course of this debate there have been a number of speeches. Some have dealt only with specific issues and some have attempted to achieve some form of grand design. There was, for instance, the remarkable maiden speech of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) yesterday. I should like to add my congratulations to those which have been given to him from both sides of the House. I would like to follow in the general pattern of the wider grand design. Perhaps I may say a few words which are rather wider than those which have been uttered so far in the debate.
A great deal of the discussion has been about the situation as it is today. Very little has been said about what the situation might be tomorrow or what steps the British Government of the day 1356 should be taking in the next Parliament. Therefore, I would like, first, to say a few words about the basic principles of British policy and the limitations of each, secondly, a few words about the conditions in which this country must operate in the next decade and, thirdly, about certain steps that we should be considering and the general pattern of our effort for the future.
First, the basic principles of British policy. Earlier this afternooon my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) spoke about the United Nations. I should be the last to criticise the basic concept of the United Nations, but I think that in any consideration of British policy being based upon the United Nations we must remember always the limitations of the United Nations as well as its advantages. The last two or three years have shown very clearly the grave limitations on the efficacy of the peacekeeping police operations of the United Nations. This is for a variety of reasons. It is partly because of the administrative arrangements. It is partly because of the political climate in which United Nations police forces have to operate and the kinds of countries which are the only acceptable countries to send forces for many of these operations.
But in the last analysis it comes down to the actual structure of the United Nations. A central theme of British policy in the years ahead must be directed to getting this structure right. The fact is that the present administrative control of the United Nations, resting as it does in the present arrangement of the General Assembly and the Security Council, is unsatisfactory for all the tasks which the United Nations is asked to discharge, except one, which is that it is a deliberative assembly which acts as a meeting place of the countries of the world.
The present arrangement—the voting arrangement, the present loading of the voting arrangement, the present membership of the United Nations—is an unreal factor in world affairs. On any of the major issues with which we have been confronted during the last few years, the classic example of which was the Cuban operation in 1962, the United Nations itself ceased to be an effective instrument at a time of crisis. It was by-passed by the Major Powers. This is not a criticism of the concept. It is an acceptance 1357 of reality; and a recognition of the conditions by which British policy must be guided in the future. We must face the fact that in present conditions a country of a few hundred thousand people, newly emergent with its independence, which has the same voting rights and the same authority as the United States and the Soviet Union is an unreal factor. It is as unreal in the world pattern of democracy as the system of this Parliament in the days of the Rotten Boroughs, before the 1832 Reform Bill.
Our second basis of foreign policy is the Commonwealth, but the Commonwealth that we knew no longer exists. The hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) referred to how the Australians used to say, "If Britain is in it, although we do not know too much about it, we, too, are in it". That concept of community in the Commonwealth exists no longer. We are now a Commonwealth which has shed the membership of the South Africans. It is a Commonwealth which still retains the membership of Ghana. I personally do not accept the principle of double standards in international affairs. An inhumanity to a man done by a black man is just as bad as when it is done by a white man.
Therefore, we must be realistic about the lack of political efficacy of the Commonwealth as it stands today. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference, which is to be held shortly, will have to face many of these problems. Whilst this country must preserve and conserve that which is good and rescue all we can, we must also recognise the limitations of basing our foreign policies on the wider myth of the Commonwealth, because it is basically a myth.
There is the third aspect, which is our Anglo-American Alliance. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds spoke about it, as did the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). Other references have been made to it. This special relationship is passing, if it has not passed already. The Anglo-American Alliance stands or falls on the contribution that Britain makes to the alliance and the importance that the United States attaches to the British aspect of the alliance. The special relationship which we had through vital years of history is now 1358 changing and much of the emphasis is passing within the Western Alliance in terms of American evaluation to other countries, due to the increasing importance of Western Germany.
Many of those who, I regret, on the extreme Right and on the extreme Left, decry Anglo-German friendship fail to recognise that one of the most important ways of retaining our influence within the Western Alliance is by enhancing that Anglo-German friendship rather than by denigrating it. We must work within this wider framework.
There is, finally, the whole concept of Britain's relationships with Europe. I am disturbed in this period of hiatus in British politics when we tend to avoid many of the basic arguments because an election is facing us. We are too often concerned with electoral advantage and too little with the longer-term national interest or national perspective. I am concerned about the anti-European attitude of those on the extreme Left and Right. This country is part of Europe. It is inconceivable that we could be other than in association with Europe if we are to exercise an important influence in international affairs.
These are the wider thoughts, but we must consider in what kind of world we are operating. Reference has been made to the ending of the cold war, but it is premature to say that it is ending. There have been traumatic changes, as the Prime Minister said in his wide-ranging speech. These traumatic changes have been partly internal and partly brought about by external events. The consequence of these is that, from the point of view of the Soviet Union, over a period of time there has been a gradual easement and acceptance of the second half of the twentieth century. The Soviet Union has begun to emerge into the realities of the modern world.
This has led to conflicts with China. The present conflict with China in itself has compelled the Soviet Union to consider her position in Eastern Europe and to grant greater easements and independence in Eastern Europe. There is a direct parallel between the Chinese relationship with the Soviet Union and the Soviet relationship with Marshal Tito. When Marshal Tito has been persona grata in Moscow, 1359 the Chinese have been persona non grata and vice versa. The reason is that Marshal Tito is the outrider, the focal point of Eastern Europe, to which they can turn. In all these happenings there will be many changes. Therefore, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) when he said, "I believe in looking into the future, but I do not believe in looking further than I can see".
The first possibility in the Eastern European scene is that we have great potentialities and opportunities of trade, new relationships and contacts.
But, next, we face a serious problem of containment in regard to China. If one looks down the map of South-East Asia and at the unstable political situations in the Far East one can see the possible dangers, stretching into the early 'seventies, of the expansionism of the Chinese in South-East Asia and the possible dangers to Australasia as well. This may be one of the major problems which may face us in future. These are the problems to which we in this House, in the next Parliament, will have to address ourselves in considering British policy in the Far East.
These are part of general patterns which exist. When we come to specific issues, one can consider the situation in Europe, in the Far East, or the situation in the Middle East. Perhaps I might borrow from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West and look for a brief moment at the Middle East.
A good deal has been said about Aden and the internal arrangements of the South Arabian Federation. I do not propose to deal with the internal arrangements of the Federation. By an accident of history and the circumstance of geography this country has been left with an important political position, even today, in the Persian Gulf—or the Arabian Gulf, as some people like to call it. It is easy for us to decry the importance of the British position from 5,000 miles away, but if one looks at it from inside—and different parts of the world look different from where you stand—one gets the proper picture. As the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, the British landings in Kuwait in 1961 may have been decisive in preserving the stability 1360 of the Persian Gulf, certainly for three years, perhaps longer.
This happens to be an area which is the central reservoir of all the basic energies of Western Europe. It is possible that Britain might withdraw. That has been considered by a number of people and many people have said that we should concentrate entirely on commercial interests and forget about everything else. The truth is that the case for the British presence is not related to the price of oil or its actual extraction. It is related to the political stability of the area. It happens to be a highly valuable area because of the great prizes available.
If Britain were to withdraw we would find a power vacuum which could be dangerous to world peace. The Kuwaitis might be seized by Iraq, as General Kassim threatened in 1961, or Buraimi might be seized by Saudi Arabia. Bahrein might be seized by Persia. A British withdrawal there in the present circumstances of instability—and I am by no means saying that we should stay there for ever; I would be the last to suggest that—would represent an abdication of responsibility and a grave dereliction of duty by this country. It could lead to the first volley of the next Sarajevo.
Our interest there is not British in the narrow sense. Nor is it even a Western European interest. In the long run it is a generally Arab interest, too, because, as is recognised, many of the responsible rulers in the area—and this is nothing to do with the social arguments about which we may be divergent in our views, or the progress most of us want to see—accept that this is their interest.
This brings me to Aden. Like many other hon. Members, I have had the opportunity to visit that area during the last few days. I had expected, on arriving there, to find a beleaguered base, like Cyprus was in 1958. I found, instead, an air-conditioned, relaxed community. I had expected to find in the Radfan a large-scale war comparable with the number of newspaper column inches devoted to the subject here. Instead, I found a small operation, a difficult one, but fundamentally small, on the pattern of the old North-West Frontier. I had expected to find a large-scale political move for the removal of the British base. Instead, I talked to a wide spectrum of the People's Socialist 1361 Party, the ruling sultans and others, about the British base, and I found nobody who advocated the immediate removal of the base.
This is all in direct contradiction to many of the thoughts one reads in many newspapers and the climate which is hotted up in many circles. Of course there are problems in Aden, social and constitutional, but, fundamentally, the Radfan fighting has nothing to do with the Aden base. The constitutional talks have nothing to do with the Radfan fighting because they were decided upon beforehand. And the Aden base has nothing to do with either, or the price of oil, as has been suggested in some irresponsible Sunday newspapers.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Yes, the Observer.
The plain fact is that the problem is much wider. It is more important and more serious than these narrow considerations. The truth is that the problem of Aden is not basically military. In the last analysis it is a problem of will—and the answer must be given here, in London. I repeat, this is one area where the British will still counts and where a British decision must be one of determination and no vacillation. In addition, we must have wider thoughts in other respects.
Now I should like to return to another subject for a future defence debate. It is outside the basic terms of reference of this one, but I wonder whether the next Parliament will be able indefinitely to discharge the obligations we are now considering without some form of selective National Service. My own view is that it is not possible. If we propose to play the rôle in the world that I would like to see, I do not think that it can be done without National Service. We in this House have to accept the responsibility, and have the courage to say so. There is no point in evading this issue—it is far more important than any question of votes and elections. Much more important than winning elections is governing the nation.
This brings me back to the first thoughts that I uttered. They are very much on the lines of those of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West. We can 1362 do certain things, in a limited form, up to a certain point, in distant areas, but we can never do them alone. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the multilateral force. I am aware of the military arguments against that force. I am aware that the efficacy of the multilateral force is questioned, but the right hon. Gentleman advanced a very powerful argument indeed.
In my view, any British Government which stayed outside the multilateral force, if it were to come into being, would be a Government acting in opposition to the long-term national interests of the country. It is a watershed of decision as important as the Common Market. We cannot afford to be outside again. We must have the perspicacity to take the long view.
These are the general thoughts. Perhaps I might conclude with one other thought which is related to this. If I may detain the House with it, it is a personal story. Some time ago I visited a friend who lives in the Wiltshire hills. He is a former Member of this House, whom we all know and like regardless of party views. It is one of the better things of one's life that party issues depart and personal friendships remain, because, at the end of the day, personal friendships are more important than any other consideration. What matters is one's friends, and little else.
As I was leaving my friend, I drove down into the village, and turned my car to drive further westwards to Wales. In the village I passed the statue of an earlier Foreign Secretary, a man of an earlier era—basically a Foreign Secretary, although a Royal one—and a man who came from those parts, also. On the statue were inscribed some words. Where they come from, I do not know, but they are not a bad text for the next Parliament, and for the future direction of British foreign policy. They read:For him, a sinking nation's fame to save,To foster latent worth and patriotic zealAnd build on virtues based, a nation's common weal.This may be the last foreign affairs debate of the present Parliament. "For him a sinking nation's fame to save" is not a bad motto for hon. Members of the next Parliament to consider in the years ahead.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
I have listened with interest to yet another robust speech from the benches opposite, and I have listened with some measure of agreement. This is not a defence debate, so I will not give my reasons for agreeing with what has been said by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) on the subject of manpower and the need for a measure of selective service. I have given my reasons so often in the last seven years that I need not repeat them now.
I thought that the hon. Member also had some very pertinent things to say, not only about the need for British troops in a great many different parts of the world but about the changes that there have been in the world and, in particular, in the Communist world. The first of those changes is in the character of the Communist bloc. It is a bloc no longer. It has ceased to be completely monolithic. Cracks have appeared in the monolith. Deviations have occurred to left and right. Revisionism is rampant.
There are now two "Romes" in the Communist world—Peking and Moscow—and satellites all over the world have a choice of which to turn to and, by the very fact of that choice, have acquired a certain, though limited, independence. Polycentrism, instead of being a rather obscure theory of the Kremlinologists, has become a reality, and what has been happening in Rumania in the last few days is an illustration. No wonder that the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) was greeted, in his own words, as some kind of Rumanian "Beatle"—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I was only quoting the Daily Herald which, I thought, should be a reliable source of information.
The second change has been in the character of the Soviet régime itself. It is a change that has been reflected to a greater or less extent in most of the other Communist countries. Stalin believed in taking no risks. He allowed no freedom in the Soviet Union. He allowed no contacts with the outside world. He shot first and asked questions afterwards.
1364 When I first went to Moscow, 27 years ago, I found a reign of terror unparalleled in the whole bloodstained history of Russia. Fear and suspicion seeped in everywhere. It was the reign, as Khrushchev himself has said, of a homicidal maniac, and one cannot really better that description. Foreigners, in particular, were "bad news." To have any dealings with a foreigner was the biggest risk a Soviet citizen could take.
That is not the case today. The Soviet Union is not, of course, a free country, and the standard of living is not high by Western standards, but, by comparison with Stalin's Russia, there are enormous changes. The average Soviet citizen does not go in fear of his life, and an even more important change is that, within strict limits, he has a chance to express his views and his personality. Finally, and I think most important of all, he is permitted, up to a point, to have indirect, and sometimes even direct, contacts with foreigners and with the outside world.
"Under Stalin", Khrushchev said some years ago, "the whole machine was beginning to seize up." Partly deliberately, and partly because he could not help it, Khrushchev has changed all that. He saw that they could not operate a modern technological society with a lot of cowed, brainwashed helots. He took a tremendous gamble, and relaxed the pressure. There was not an explosion and, to a great extent, the gamble has paid off.
Khrushchev's position, of course, is still not easy, and he needs all his very considerable skill to maintain it. He has China to worry about. He has agricultural troubles and economic pressures to contend with. At home, having once relaxed the pressure, he finds himself on very much of a slippery slope. In fact, he could not turn the clock back now even if he wanted to. He has to maintain a balance between those who want more freedom and are crying out for it all the time, and those who warn him against giving too much freedom. In short, human nature is beginning to assert itself, and human nature, given the chance, can in the long run make hay of any ideology or political system, especially one like Communism, which does not take sufficient account of it.
That is what is happening in the Communist world today. Stalin by terror 1365 and by immense force of character managed to arrest the normal workings of humanity, the normal processes, for over a quarter of a century. Khrushchev could not do it now if he wanted to. The result has been the emergence from the drab uniformity of Stalinism of a whole lot of highly coloured human phenomena, some of them not particularly edifying but all of them intensely human. There is youth in rebellion; Mods, Rockers, Beatniks, Teddy boys—the lot—in spite of the régime, in spite of the party and the police. There is an intelligentsia with a craving for knowledge of and contact with the outside world. I remember bringing Alan Sillitoe and the Russian poet Yevtushenko together. I did not particularly agree with either of them but was interested to see the pleasure it gave the two of them to meet, having only heard of each other before. Then, of course, there are the women, craving for foreign fashions, for cosmetics and for status symbols and, like women everywhere, somehow managing to get them.
There is now for the first time in Russian history and I say advisedly "Russian" and not Soviet history, a self-perpetuating upper class of which anyone who goes to Moscow will be very conscious. I remember being on a pleasure steamer in the Black Sea. As we were coming in there was a message over the loudspeaker system which said, "This is to inform Alga Ivanovna"—and a little teenager got up—"that her car, her chauffeur and maid are waiting at the quayside" On the Clyde that might have caused a certain amount of comment, but it did not cause any comment at all in the Soviet Union. Then there are the guards regiments with officers who behave with the same more or less effortless superiority as guardsmen the world over. There are politicians and officials with an eye to the main chance. There is a flourishing black market and, last but not least, something that has not been known in Russia for 30 or 40 years, and not really then, there are the makings of a public opinion. If one goes among the Russians and talks to them in Moscow and elsewhere one becomes very conscious of all these things.
What is there in all this for the West? What are the implications for us of these changes? In summing up a situation of 1366 this kind there are two main dangers. There is the obvious error of failing to notice that there has been any change and there is the other less obvious error of failing to notice that certain factors have not changed but have remained constant and must, therefore, be constantly taken into account.
To anyone who like myself knew Russia in Stalin's day, the changes are so staggering that one is disposed to assume that this is a different animal altogether. That assumption would be premature, to say the least of it. Today the declared aim of Soviet policy remains just the same as under Stalin and under Lenin. That aim is to impose a Soviet system and Soviet domination on the rest of the world. That is what Khrushchev meant when he said, "We will bury you". "The struggle continued by other means" is his definition of peaceful co-existence. That is something that we have to bear in mind the whole time.
As for the Chinese, their chief complaint against the Russians is that they are too half-hearted in the pursuit of their revolutionary aims. They too want to bury us, only sooner and deeper and faster. They too are racing the Russians for power in Africa, Asia and even in South America. That is something again which we cannot leave out of account. "The revolutionary prospects in Africa are excellent", said Chou En-lai with commendable frankness, on his recent visit there. And to judge by what is happening at this moment in Zanzibar, I think that there may be something in what he said.
That is why, however encouraging some of the signs may be, we must on no account lower our guard. I was glad to find that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was also of that opinion. The West must retain an effective nuclear deterrent. As the Prime Minister said, it is the nuclear balance of power that keeps the peace and nothing has ever been more fundamental than that. We must do that to prevent a hot war, and in order to play our part in the numerous cold war situations that are forced upon us we must have adequate, and I mean adequate, conventional forces. They too, as the hon. Member said, are a stabilising influence.
1367 In the course of the past 15 years or so, since 1949, the Western Alliance has achieved many, perhaps most, of its purposes, but the fact of its success is no reason to jettison it now. N.A.T.O. in particular is as necessary today as it ever was. So are CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. and so are our own garrisons overseas. It would be a fatal mistake to weaken any of them. What is needed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) said yesterday in what I thought was one of the best maiden speeches I have heard in the House, as was also said by my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), is a much closer integration and co-ordination of allied policy, so that we and our allies—and our American allies in particular—do not constantly find ourselves pulling in different directions in different parts of the world.
Meanwhile, against this very real background and against the balance of terror and the cold war, there are without doubt very great new opportunities for an active and constructive foreign policy. The cold war is largely a war of ideas. Stalin, who realised that, was not taking any chances. He was not going to allow his people to be exposed to the contagion of Western ideas, hence the Iron Curtain. Khrushchev, much more of a gambler by nature, is prepared to take a chance. He is prepared in this respect to meet us on equal terms and try out his ideas and his system against ours. This is a challenge which we cannot possibly refuse. We are bound to accept it if we have the courage of our convictions. We must accept it in the political, economic and cultural fields, and I believe that we have nothing to fear from such an encounter.
Whatever some hon. Members opposite may say, Marxism has had its day. It is nothing but a busted flush. Our own ideas are better and stronger, and I say of them, as the Russians say less correctly of Marxism, that they are bound to win in the end. That is why I am not afraid of any contacts with the Russians. In fact, our ideas are winning already. When Marshal Tito introduces, as he recently did, commercial television into Yugoslavia it is high time that the party opposite—and I do 1368 not mean the Liberal Party—began to revise some of their early nineteenth century political thinking. Mr. Khrushchev's speeches are already beginning to read more and more like Tory Central Office pamphlets. To paraphrase Karl Marx, a spectre is haunting the Communist world today, the spectre of freedom, the spectre of freedom and free enterprise.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Can it not be that Tory Central Office documents are getting more and more like the speeches of Mr. Khrushchev? As to the hon. Member's analysis of Marxism, does he not forget that this country is rapidly moving towards monopoly capitalism which shows that we have a great deal to learn yet from Karl Marx?
§ Sir F. Maclean
The hon. Member has that, as so many other things, the wrong way round.
I think, for all these reasons, that the Government have been absolutely right to neglect no opportunity of talking to the Russians at all levels. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once said in a memorable phrase, "Jaw, jaw is better than war, war". I welcome what the Prime Minister said on this subject of contacts and conversations today. In 1959 my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) took what the Leader of the Opposition recently described as an inspired initiative—and I think that for once the Leader of the Opposition was right—of going to Moscow and talking to Krushchev. It did not produce any particularly spectacular results at the time, but it broke the ice and opened the way for further talks. He was accompanied, I believe, by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) but even that did not hinder him.
Last year the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary went to Moscow to sign the Test Ban Treaty. A couple of weeks ago my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland came back from a highly successful and extremely interesting and significant visit to Moscow to see the British Agricultural Exhibition. They found the Russians most ready for contacts and exchanges and collaboration in 1369 agriculture and in the technical field generally. There have been other successful talks this year at Ministerial level in the fields of foreign trade and aviation.
§ Sir F. Maclean
Yes, and I am sure once again that the Russians had more to learn from Mr. Chambers than he had from them, especially about fertilisers.
All this is something which can be and will be no doubt extended to other fields where mutual interests exist, and it is very good news indeed that the Foreign Secretary is shortly to go to Moscow.
Nor does this apply to the Soviet Union only. We should also seek contacts with the satellites. There is the example of Rumania. The fact is that States which have a common ideology are not necessarily indissolubly bound to each other—any more than the Christian States have ever stayed united in history for any great length of time. The development of Soviet-Chinese relations has shown this well enough, and there is also the encouraging example of Yugoslavia. If these countries want to trade with us, why should we not trade with them provided that there is mutual advantage in it and we do not supply them with arms to use against us?
Finally, there is China. I recently went there and found an atmosphere of centralised control out of touch with the outside world which would have made Stalin green with envy. I say this without fear of giving offence to anybody. The Chinese like to be thought Stalinist and Stalin, in the modest little tomb to which they have consigned him outside the Kremlin wall, would no doubt like to hear such news of the Chinese. But the fact remains that, boycotted by the Russians and the Americans simultaneously, the Chinese are bound to seek other contacts with the outside world, and the Chinese being just as human as anyone else, if not more so, in the long run these contacts with the outside world are bound to have the same emollient effect as they have in the Soviet Union.
How should we in the West regard all this? I would say with cautious optimism. Whatever the leaders may want, the ordinary people of the Soviet Union and of China certainly do not want 1370 war, either hot or cold, and the more say they have in the conduct of their own affairs the less likely they are to let their countries become involved. Therefore, it seems to me that our best hope of peace and humanity's best hope of survival lies in the gradual evolution of the Communist world, of Russia and China in particular, into something a little less difficult to live with than it is at present. This is a process which, however slowly, has already begun and which we should do everything on our part to encourage.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
Like the rest of the House, I have listened with fascination to the speech of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean). T hope he will forgive me if I do not follow him, except in seeking to emulate the moderate tone with which he always addresses the House.
I want to say a few words about Cyprus, a problem and a place with which I have become very familiar since I first went out in 1956 in the very curious circumstance of a double invitation to do so from Sir Anthony Eden, as he then was, and the Archbishop. I have been to Cyprus very frequently since, and I have been there twice in the course of the last five months. I want to start by emphasising how dangerous the situation in Cyprus now is and how rapidly it has deteriorated in the last few weeks. Unlike other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate, I want to urge the need for a radical and final settlement and to warn the House that in my opinion any new time-buying promise could only lead to more bloodshed, more instability, and grave new dangers.
The fact that a United Nations Mediator is now at work seeking a settlement does not mean that new initiatives are not needed from the British Government and the other N.A.T.O. Powers. On the contrary, if a settlement is to come quickly, as I think it must, it can come only from the combined efforts of the United Nations and the Governments most immediately concerned, Greece, Turkey, the Republic of Cyprus itself, the United States, Britain and the other N.A.T.O. countries. Indeed, the United Nations and N.A.T.O. should be working simultaneously by different methods though seeking the same objectives, but 1371 with the efforts of the NA.T.O. Governments mainly directed to easing Greek-Turkish relations and preparing Athens and Ankara for a final settlement.
The British Government, of course, have now lost the preponderant position which they had until recently, even after the independence of Cyprus. British policy is now only one of a number of influences which can decide the outcome. There are the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his mediator and his military commander. There is the Secretary-General of N.A.T.O., with his watching brief, and there are the United States Government and the United States Sixth Fleet, which at this moment is the predominant military factor in the situation. There is President Johnson's new approach to the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, which we all hope will have good results. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom continues to have special responsibilities towards Cyprus, particularly because of our relationship in the past with the island and because of past mistakes and because of the military foothold which we still retain in the island.
During the past two weeks I have had a series of private discussions with a number of the people most directly concerned with the problem—United Nations officials, N.A.T.O. officials, the Government of Cyprus and senior representatives of the Greek, Turkish and American Governments. In an article published yesterday morning, which some hon. Members may have seen, I set out some of the conclusions which I have reached. My main conclusion is that there is now only one possible basis for a settlement of the Cyprus problem in the interests of all the parties concerned, including Turkey, and that is the union of Cyprus with Greece. I believe that a way has to be found to implement that union with the least possible delay. I do not believe that any new interim settlement, any fresh compromise or any new formula can restore peace and stability to Cyprus or protect the proper interests of the other parties concerned, including Turkey.
I am well aware that some hon. Members may think that I am specially sympathetic to the Greeks, and, of course, 1372 I am, as anybody whose family has had connections with that country since the days of Lord Byron is bound to be, and as anybody would be who had studied British-Greek history since that time and thought about the last two world wars. I have a special affection and a special appreciation for Greece and the Greeks. Nevertheless, I have always tried to keep very much in mind all the other interests concerned—first, of course, the interests of our own country and of our N.A.T.O. allies, and then the interests of the mainland Turks and of the Turkish minority in Cyprus, some of whom I visited only a short while ago in their beleaguered sector of Nicosia. There are also—and this is, perhaps, the most important of all from the point of view of world peace—the interests of the United Nations.
There are also the interests of the Greek Cypriots themselves, who represent four-fifths of the total population of the island and who have their own rights and aspirations, which often seem to be overlooked, as they were with such disastrous results in the settlement which was imposed upon them in 1960, which has now proved unrealistic, unworkable and unjust. I was one of the few hon. Members who said so at the time when we were discussing the settlement then made.
What are the alternative solutions for Cyprus other than union with Greece? In the past, Conservative Ministers and others used to threaten partition. I will not repeat the arguments against partition, because the Prime Minister himself, publicly and categorically on behalf of the British Government, has rejected it. No hon. Member has commended it during the course of this debate, and I believe that all the parties concerned in this problem, except Turkey, and all the other members of N.A.T.O. and of the United Nations have now come to accept the fact that to try to implement partition would be perilous in the extreme and that it would be impossible to do so.
If one eliminates partition, one is then left, apart from union with Greece, with some new form of independence. There are two kinds of independence. There is real, genuine independence with no strings attached, which must include the right of free self-determination for the majority. That, of course, would lead directly to union with Greece, because 1373 that is what four-fifths of the population have wanted, still want and will continue to want and to struggle for whatever obstacles are put in their way.
Full independence would be a quick step to union with Greece. Any other kind of limited independence, independence with strings or independence which excluded union with Greece, would simply mean attempting to perpetuate the disastrous Zurich agreement which led directly to the present breakdown. It would not be tolerated either by the Greek majority in Cyprus or by the Turkish minority, whose fighters would continue to wage war on each other. In the case of the Turks, they would continue to seem to provoke intervention from the Turkish mainland. Therefore, I do not believe that limited independence is a possibility. Full independence would certainly lead to Enosis at once.
But if there were to be some attempt at a compromise solution perpetuating in some form the present arrangement, it would not only be from Turkey that intervention would come. Quite apart from the inevitable Greek counteraction if there were a Turkish invasion, there is also the grave and urgent threat of intervention in Cyprus from other Powers. As the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) said yesterday, Cyprus is terrifyingly full of arms—small boys with tommy guns and sten guns. It is difficult to exaggerate the situation. Not only is the island already full of arms, but there are offers of more from all kinds of quarters. When N.A.T.O. Ministers speak of the danger of Cyprus becoming a Cuba in the Eastern Mediterranean, that is no idle speculation. It is a real and immediate threat, and it will happen unless a radical and final solution is implemented very soon.
During the debate, a number of hon. Members have spoken about the need for strengthening the United Nations force. Like my right hon. parent the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), who wound up the debate yesterday for the Opposition, I certainly want the United Nations to be strong and effective wherever it acts. It can only be effective, however, if behind the United Nations force there are plans for a settlement which are fair, just and 1374 democratic and which are accepted by the parties concerned.
When we speak of strengthening the United Nations force—and I have seen it at work and discussed these problems with its commander—we would do well to remember that we are talking about 7,000 United Nations soldiers and that for a number of years in the days when we had colonial Governors like Lord Harding and Sir Hugh Foot in Cyprus, we had 40,000 troops and police reinforced by everything from informers and police dogs to aeroplanes and naval craft, deployed against a small handful of fighters with, perhaps, one-thousandth part of the equipment that is in the hands of the Cypriots today. At the end of that struggle, we had totally failed to disarm and pacify the island.
Therefore, one should not expect too much of a United Nations force of 7,000 or 14,000 or even 24,000 men. They will not be able to do it unless they are operating m the context of a settlement which is accepted by the majority of the people of the island. This is another reason why union with Greece is the only practicable solution, because I cannot imagine any other force, national or international, which could in practice disarm the Cypriots and restore real law and order to Cyprus except the Greek Army and the Greek police.
Let me state two other principal advantages of union with Greece as a solution. First, I believe that it would ensure proper protection for the Turkish minority in Cyprus in precisely the same way that the Greek Government has protected the large, peaceful and contented Turkish minority which now lives in Greece. One of the few heartening features about the situation is the way in which, in spite of what has happened in Turkey and in Cyprus and in spite of the riots in Istanbul in 1955, the Greek Government has never fallen to the temptation to take it out of the Turks living in Greece. They have continued to live happily and peacefully, represented by two Members in the Greek Parliament, and no one has ever complained about their treatment.
The second further advantage of union as a solution to the Cyprus problem is that it would automatically bring Cyprus into N.A.T.O. It would finally dispose of the Turkish military fears by making 1375 it possible for Turkey to participate directly in the defence of Cyprus and it would make it possible for the United Kingdom to share our so-called sovereign bases with our allies. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), speaking from the Opposition Front Bench this afternoon, restated the simple fact that one cannot have military bases that are any use unless they are on the territory of friendly people. The only context in which I can see our military installations and facilities continuing to be effective in Cyprus is in the context of an arrangement which brings them into an alliance.
I know that in public at least the Turks still continue vehemently to oppose any mention of union of Cyprus with Greece. Nevertheless, I do not believe that any responsible Turk would willingly risk a Cuba in Cyprus to prevent it. It is true that some Turkish spokesmen have lately been threatening that if we displeased Turkey over Cyprus they would go neutralist or perhaps pro-Russian. It is true that some Western diplomats have been saying that the Government of Turkey is so unstable and insecure that it may collapse at any moment to be replaced by some kind of Nasserite revolutionary régime. This does not fit very well with the story which we were constantly told by Mr. Lennox-Boyd, as he then was, and other Conservative Ministers, namely, that we could not displease the Turkish Government at that time because Turkey was so loyal and stable.
But, of course, there is a problem. If Turkey is to be persuaded to repair her relations with Greece and other N.A.T.O. Powers and accept the only possible final settlement of the Cyprus problem, clearly her Government is entitled to expect some understanding and help. What other advantages could we offer the Turks, apart from the military security, the protection of the Turkish minority in Cyprus and the pacification of Cyprus, which would result from union with Greece?
There was some talk in this debate yesterday of possible territorial readjustment. The possibilities here are so limited—I know that they have been examined by the United States Government and other people—as to have only 1376 a very small but perhaps symbolic significance. But the possibility of a further exchange of populations to supplement and complete the exchange made after the First World War is something which could be explored. It is very sad to have to admit in 1964 that in some cases the only way to deal humanely with minorities is to remove and exchange them. Nevertheless, this may be part of the solution.
It might be enough to offer an optional resettlement in their motherland, perhaps under a scheme organised and financed by the United Nations, only to those members of the Turkish and Greek minorities in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus who desired to leave their homes. Personally, I doubt very much, if it came to the point, whether very large numbers of Turks, even Turks in Cyprus, would wish to do so, particularly if, as would certainly be acceptable to the Greek Government, some special arrangement for supervision of remaining minorities by the United Nations could be made in Cyprus and, perhaps, in Greece and Turkey as well.
I wish to say a brief word about the position of the United Kingdom troops in the United Nations force and in the base areas. I have listened carefully to everything that has been said about them in this debate. I spent some time with these troops at the beginning of the peacekeeping operation, and I should like to echo everything that has been said about the patience and devotion of the British troops in Cyprus. I still believe, however, that it is quite wrong to have a United Kingdom contingent with the United Nations force. I hope that it will be withdrawn and replaced as soon as replacements can be found.
I also believe that our bases and facilities will be rapidly rendered useless for the strategic purposes for which they are ostensibly required, unless they become allied bases on the territory of a friendly allied power. I hope that one day we may not need to have allied bases of this kind and that perhaps they, or part of them, can become a headquarters for United Nations forces in this area. We have not reached that moment yet.
So far, I have argued for a radical solution of the Cyprus problem through union with Greece on practical grounds—because I believe that it is the only possible 1377 solution which can protect the legitimate interests of the various parties concerned, can restore their friendship and bring back peace and stability to the Eastern Mediterranean. But to these arguments must be added one more, which is the most important of all. Four-fifths of the inhabitants of Cyprus are Greeks—Greeks by religion, Greeks by language, Greeks by culture and Greeks by a great hellenic tradition going back into the mists of pre-history. To seek to protect a small, weak, retarded Turkish minority left in Cyprus by the Ottoman occupation is certainly a very important duty. To grant freedom and self-determination to the overwhelming Greek majority is not only expedient; it is also common justice.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Sir Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) speaks with authority on Cyprus based on personal experience. I only wish that I were qualified to take up some of the points which he made. He said that all of us were anxious to find a lasting settlement, and I suppose that many of us are worried that in that lasting settlement the Turkish minority may not receive just treatment. Would they be happy, with all the bitter memories of the civil war, to accept union with Greece? Is another solution partition of the island, or the repatriation of the Turks to the mainland of Asia Minor; or would they be willing to exchange an island for Cyprus with Greece?
I should like to take up briefly one point made by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly). Having connections with the United States myself, I was particularly interested by his references to our special relationship. I could not help recalling a story of the Secretary of State of President Theodore Roosevelt, in the early part of the century, who came to our ambassador, Lord Bryce, and said, "The trouble with you British is that you seem so damned superior", and then, after a short pause, added, "And what is far worse, you damned well are". We cannot take that, superiority for granted. We have to work hard for it.
I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), in his admirable speech. The great asset of dealing with the Americans is, first, complete frankness 1378 and then their respect for success based on economic and political strength.
I want, very briefly, to come back to a scene far nearer home, namely, to France and our relations with France. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once defined our policy as three intersecting but complementary circles—the first circle the Commonwealth, the second circle the United States, and the third circle Europe. I am afraid that the third circle has, for the moment at any rate, become disjointed from the others. How can we get it back? Perhaps it is the duty of some of us who love France and her people, and admire her history and achievements, and yet see her from the other side of the Channel, to try to explain some of the loyalties, motives and policies not only of the people of France, but, perhaps more important still, of the great man who presides over French policy, President de Gaulle.
I do not think that any of us question President de Gaulle's passionate love for France. When I read of his achievements I often recall the words written by Lord Rosebery about our own great Chatham, "He loved England with intense and personal love. He believed in her power, her glory and her public virtue until England came to believe in herself". I believe that we must admit that President de Gaulle has achieved the same thing for France almost single-handed. He has given her back her self-respect.
I think that this feeling, this love, for France draws its main strength from what the French call the civilising mission of France. It is interesting to note that a great many Frenchmen throughout history have had that same instinct. Perhaps hon. Members recall a fascinating passage in Lord Keynes' "The Economic Consequences of the Peace," when he described the aged Clemenceau, "the Tiger", sitting at the conference table, apparently old and exhausted, with closed eyes but always ready to pounce when the vital interests of France were at stake. As Keynes wrote, he felt about France what Pericles felt about Athens: she had unique virtue in her.
There is surely some jusification for this faith of President de Gaulle in France. After the experience of the 1379 disasters of 1940, when the German armoured columns had torn the French armies apart, when the Vichy Government was the prisoner of Berlin, and the uniforms of occupying soldiery were seen in every city and village of France. France never lost her prestige as a centre of cultured living. I believe that General de Gaulle and Frenchmen, see this worldwide mission in terms of civilising mission because they conceive that, owing to their geographical position and their history, they have been able to evolve a synthesis, a junction, between the two great tides of European thought and European culture, the one coming from the Mediterranean and deriving from Rome and Greece and the other from the North.
If I may use an architectural simile, France combines within her borders in the south the Roman Maison Carré at Nimes and in the north the Gothic cathedrals of the Ile de France. This explains President de Gaulle's intervention in South and Central America. This is not inspired by hostility to the United States, but from knowledge of the history of Central and South America. What is that history? The Portuguese and Spanish people there overthrew the original kingdoms, they left behind them their religion, culture, but a distrust of the former colonial Powers. Central and South America have, unfortunately, remained disjointed, weak and politically unstable.
Perhaps Simon Bolivar, the great liberator, felt the truth of this when he said, "America is ungovernable. Those who promoted independence merely ploughed the seed." The people of South America looked northward to the success of the North American peoples, where a great country with a vast, ingenious, active population has been able to achieve unity, even fighting a great war to do so. That is the basis of the great American power.
I remember talking to Dr. Trevelyan, late Master of Trinity, Cambridge. I asked him his opinion on Herbert Agar's book on American Presidents. I said that Lincoln wanted to save the Union and did not know why. Dr. Trevelyan said that Lincoln intuitively wanted to save it because he knew that the future would bring America power, as has 1380 been proved by her successful interventions in two world wars. In South America, the great success of the North has cast a shadow and, in spite of the immense generosity of the American people, has left a certain amount of jealousy.
This was expressed in the phrase of a great Mexican President, "Poor Mexico. So far from God, so close to the United States." What has happened? To these divided and weak poor States has come a new challenge, the challenge of Communism in the form of Castro. T think that President de Gaulle feels that there need be no direct challenge between American capitalism and the Communism expressed by Castro, that there could be a third alternative—the help and interest of Europe in South America—we know that, although Spanish and Portuguese are the presiding languages, always the intellectuals have looked to France for their inspiration. President de Gaulle is, I believe, making an effort to try to offer a third alternative to the people there.
What other qualities do we denote in his policy? First and foremost, the love of the military art. His first objective is to build a position of strength from which he can launch his operations. Hon. Members will remember his great speech in Westminster Hall, when he came here a few years ago. He talked almost with envy of the safe political base from which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford was able to operate.
I believe that President de Gaulle is trying to build up a position of strength first by healing the age-old rift between Germany and France and ending the appalling Algerian war, a fratricidal war in which every French family sent a member to fight and which, like all civil wars, left behind great bitterness. I also believe that he is also trying to build a position of strength for two reasons. The first is to see that the United States, at some future time, does not reach an agreement with the Soviet Union at the expense of Europe. We have to admit that the memories of Yalta and the exclusion of the then General de Gaulle from the Yalta Conference have left bitter memories. I believe that France, whose fields were fought over in two world wars, dreads 1381 the possibility of a third world war, when American help might come too late.
I think that President de Gaulle feels that a strong Europe could help draw Russia more effectively towards itself. He sees Russia with an eastern frontier facing nearly 1,000 million Chinese and perhaps he recalls Napoleon's words about China, "Let the dragon sleep. When it wakes it will shake the world." I think that he feels that, sooner or later, the Chinese will explode on the line of least resistance—on those hundreds of miles of Mongolia and empty territory. He feels that this threat by China and the revived strength of Europe will make it possible to deal with Russia, which, in turn, would lead to a measure of greater relief and liberty to her present satellites.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
We are listening with great interest to the diverting and eloquent speech of the hon. Member, but I am wondering, because I know President de Gaulle, where we come in in view of our relationship with the President as an individual and the French nation when we were standing alone.
§ Sir H. Kerr
I take the point. I am trying to argue that we can sympathise with many of the President's objectives, but that, perhaps, we are unnecessarily offended by the manner in which they are presented. I think that, if President de Gaulle had come, during the war, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford and had said, "I know that you love my country and I rely on you as a man of honour not to take advantage of the weakness of France", my right hon. Friend would have done anything to maintain that trust. But President de Gaulle chose a different approach and Yalta was a result.
I will not accept the present coolness towards France as a permanent thing. Our peoples share too many memories together. Our soldiers fought side by side on the battlefields of Flanders, Picardy and Macedonia in the First World War. They fought side by side in France, North Africa and Italy in the Second World War. Not only soldiers but civilians fought together as well. Let us not forget the heroic French resistance, the secret parachute drops, the showing of the V-sign 1382 for scattered farms, the help for those escaping from the Germans. There are ample memories and affectionate cause for our friendship for France.
Let us try to do four things. First, let us try to keep our personal friendships alive as much as possible. Secondly, let us, as much as we can, collaborate in such great enterprises as the construction of the Concord. Thirdly, let us collaborate in Africa, where the new nations of the French Union stand side by side with members of the Commonwealth. Finally, let us give ungrudging praise to the genius of President de Gaulle. I remember those wonderful words, which I translate perhaps inadequately, at the end of his history of the war:Old France, over-borne with history, shattered by wars and revolutions, coming and going without pause between glory and decline, but refreshed from century to century by the genius of revival".
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Dick Taverne (Lincoln)
This has not been a real debate. It has roamed far too widely over too many subjects. We have had a fascinating insight into life in Russia from the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) and a most eloquent and interesting speech from the hon. Member for Cambridge (Sir H. Kerr). I will not follow the hon. Gentleman because, I repeat, too many issues have been raised and, too often, speakers have tended to deal with a little here and a little there and to give a global survey without going into detail.
Perhaps some time we could have separate debates on the various aspects of foreign affairs instead of such a wide ranging discussion which only touches on topics here and there. Perhaps we could separately debate the Middle East, the Far East, Europe and our relations with Russia. These odd references with a few minutes spent on each subject do not reflect much credit on the House and do not take us very far with those subjects.
I wish to return to the subject of Southern Arabia. The future of Southern Arabia is not unimportant to us, because it affects our relations with the whole Arab world in which we have interests of great importance, but the future of the 1383 Federation of Southern Arabia is something which it would be unwise to discuss at the moment, as a conference on this subject is now taking place in London.
However, there is one comment on the conference which I should like to make. Clearly, Aden's rôle in the future Federation will be of the greatest importance. First, Aden is the main reason for our presence there. Secondly, Aden is a viable State which is expected to subsidise and does subsidise the rest of the Federation. Thirdly, Aden is economically, politically and educationally much the most advanced State.
Elections are bound to take place in Aden by 24th October. One of the questions is who will win the elections in Aden. There are different assessments about that, just as about other elections which are to take place in October, but one of the two main parties which may well win the elections, or certainly emerge as the largest party and which may well form the Government of Aden after October, is the People's Socialist Party. It is certainly the party representing by far the largest number of people living in Aden, which include many not Aden-born who do not qualify under the very restricted franchise.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Can the hon. Gentleman assure us that there will be elections in Aden and that the news that there will not be and that elections will be forgone for a new constitution is not correct?
§ Mr. Taverne
I have not seen any news of that kind. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has any inside information. I cannot give an assurance, because, unfortunately, this is a matter for the present Government, but I understand the position to be—and we have certainly had a number of assurances from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in the Government—that there will be elections and that they will take place before the end of October.
If these elections take place and if, as is perfectly possible, the P.S.P. wins them, what is to happen about the results reached at the present talks to which the P.S.P. has not been invited and in which it is not participating? This is something which requires careful explanation. If the results of the talks 1384 are not acceptable to what is to be the future Government of Aden, if the party winning the election in Aden objects to the results of those talks, what will then happen? It would have been very much better not to have had the talks in those circumstances, for we will then have a choice of forcing whatever conclusions are reached at the present conference on the people of Aden against the will of their elected Government, or of holding new talks, with the result that other parties to the present talks will feel that there has been some sort of breach of faith by the British Government.
Whichever course we take, it is quite likely that the result of the present talks will not help the situation in the South Arabian Federation but be more likely to hinder progress. It should at least be made quite clear that if the elections are held and a new Government is elected which does not accept what has been settled at these talks, this is not something which we will force on the people of Aden against their will.
My second comment relates to our own vital interests, as they have been called, in the area, what has been frequently referred to in a recurrent theme of the debate, namely, the base. It is said that the base is vital or essential. This is a statement more often badly made than defended by reasoned argument, but from time to time there have been arguments advanced as to why we should stay in the base.
The first point to make is whether we really mean what we say when we refer to the base as vital or essential, because if we mean it—and in the past we have often said it and then been shown not to mean it—presumably that means that we intend to stay there come what may at any price, wanted or not wanted. However, I presume that that is not what we mean. Let us consider the base and think some unthinkable thoughts, in the words of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod). Let us consider the justification for the base and how far it goes.
There are four ways in which the base is justified: first, by reference to oil in general; secondly, by reference to Kuwait in particular and to the other Gulf States; thirdly, by reference 1385 to Aden being needed as a staging post for the Far East; fourthly, it is said that Aden is needed as a centre for other operations bordering on the Indian Ocean. Let me take those considerations one by one.
One thing which is clear is that our military commitment in the area to defend oil cannot prevent the nationalisation of British companies. No country has any right in international law—and no country has recently tried to enforce any such right in international law—to prevent any other country by force from taking over companies owned by foreign Powers. That is perfectly legal if compensation is paid. The factor which restrains the nationalisation of oil companies is the structure of the oil industry, and in particular its marketing arrangements which mean that no greater profit, no greater revenue, would be obtained by the producing countries themselves if they took over the oil themselves. Many of them realise, and this is why there has not been any take-over in Iraq, that nationalisation of the oil companies with the present structure of the international oil industry would not secure them more income.
It is also clear that our military commitments in the area would not stop the flow of oil. As the Arab leaders have actually admitted, they cannot drink the oil but can only sell it. Western Europe is their best client and it is inevitable that if we approach the matter not on a basis of military commitments but on the basis of commercial relationships, we will be in a position to buy oil just as these countries will want to sell it.
The third point is that our military commitment in the area is often not so much a safeguard as an irritant, often leading to a conflict with Arab nationalism, and that it would be a lesser threat to our oil interests in the area if our military commitment were withdrawn. It is not very likely that the countries producing the oil will cut off the flow of oil and deprive themselves of their incomes. It is perfectly possible that countries like Syria, or others through which the oil pipelines pass, at a moment of excitement, when there is a clash between Arab nationalism and Britain, would cut the pipelines and the flow of oil.
1386 Again, the point of view, which is sometimes held, that a military commitment in the Middle East is necessary because it somehow keeps off the threat of Communism is an argument which will not stand examination, because it is clear that a conflict between British interests and Arab nationalism would be likely to drive Arab nationalism into a closer association and alliance with the Soviet Union than would be the case if the military commitment were withdrawn, when there would be a much greater tendency for Arab nationalism to follow its natural course and remain one of the non-aligned forces in the conflicts of the world.
The second way in which the argument has been stated—and it was put this way by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), among others—is that our presence is necessary for Kuwait and stability in the Gulf. It is clear that the smaller Gulf States do not require a major military commitment and the presence of large forces, because there is no threat to them by any modern army. The case therefore rests on Kuwait.
It is perfectly true that we have an agreement with Kuwait to go to its assistance if asked, but the difficulty about using Kuwait as a justification is that the Kuwaitis themselves strongly refuse to be used as any such justification. They have said themselves that they do not intend to ask us, that they do not see the 1961 position recurring, that they have no fears of Iraq, and that they will not have us use them as a reason for our presence in Aden and keeping the Aden base.
If we are: really going to use that argument, we are driven to the somewhat uncomfortable position of saying, "We are going to protect you, whether you like it or not". That is an utterly unjustifiable position. The 1961 situation is not particularly likely to recur especially with the present position of Kuwait within the Arab League. With the wealth at its disposal, it is possible for Kuwait to maintain its position by diplomatic means. History does not repeat itself, though military planners do.
Thirdly, there is the argument about the staging post. It is said that Aden is the vital staging post to the Far East. 1387 This argument undoubtedly has a certain point, though to my mind a lot of the talk about such bases is to a large extent a psychological hangover from the days when we thought in terms of the lifeline of Empire. I would accept the commitment in Malaysia. But the world is round, and, as even Columbus realised, one can travel westwards as well as eastwards.
There is a possible alternative route to Singapore, and that is via Canada and the Pacific. It is true that this route is more expensive, but there are a number of points to be made about it. One point is that it is politically much more safe. There are a number of possible difficulties about air access routes through the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Another point is that it may become less expensive in the future when we have new forms of transport planes with larger pay-loads and longer ranges. The last point is that if the eastwards route demands the maintenance of expensive bases, then the west-about route is very much cheaper.
Fourthly, there is the argument that we need Aden as a centre of operations for other areas in the Indian Ocean. Again there is something in this, but it is undoubtedly exaggerated, and here I agree with the point made by the right hon. Member for Enfield. We tend to think in terms of what has happened before. The fact that we have been called on to assist in East Africa before does not mean that we shall be called on again. In fact, one rather doubts whether the leaders of East Africa can survive, and not become far too vulnerable, if they have to admit that once again they are dependent on British assistance. One wonders whether, if they had to call on British assistance again, they could continue to maintain their status as self-respecting African nationalists.
It may be that we will be called on again, but the question arises whether in future this kind of commitment is not more likely to be a United Nations commitment. If it is, the question arises whether Britain should form only a proportion of such a force, rather than supply the whole of it. Cyprus has shown too clearly the dangers of Britain being dominant in an area where she 1388 recently claimed interests, and in an area where she has had a history of close association, which has not always been fortunate, though in East Africa it has been a happier association as a whole.
It is sometimes suggested that Aden would be the centre for operations in such places as India, yet during the Indian-Chinese conflict, although the Indians were only too ready and glad to receive arms from the West, there was never a whisper of any contribution of forces from the West.
My conclusion is that while undoubtedly there is a rôle to be played, it is one which is exaggerated, and that leads me to my conclusion on the value of Aden as a base. I do not say that it is valueless—certainly not—but I do say three things: first, that Aden as a base is not vital but useful; secondly, that in the area as a whole we are over-committed; parts of our present commitments are not justified, and, in general, they are exaggerated; thirdly, that there are alternatives, particularly for operations in the Indian Ocean, admittedly to start with at slightly greater expense. There are feasible alternatives in the way of the Seychelles or Mauritius.
From those three conclusions a number of effects on policy in the area of South Arabia follow. The first of these is that Aden, or the continued interest which we would seek in Aden, does not justify operations of the Radfan type. I wish that I could share the confidence of the hon. Member for Pembroke that there is no connection between the base and the Radfan operation. There is a connection between the base and the Federation, and there is a connection between the maintenance of the Federation and the operations of the Radfan, because what we have tried to do is to force into the Federation areas which were previously unadministered, and which did not want to be part of the Federation.
We are now following a policy which the Foreign Secretary announced, and which I found disturbing. He said yesterday:… we shall fight subversion wherever we find it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th June, 1964; Vol. 696, c. 1136.]Subversion does not always have the meaning in Southern Arabia which it 1389 might have in other contexts. If we try to force into the Federation areas which are unadministered, and which do not want to be part of the Federation, we shall find our military commitments overstretched. It is already the fact that, apart from our own military commitments in the area, out of the £4½ million subsidy that we give the South Arabian Federation, we are spending £1.8 million on the Federal Army, and more than £1.2 million on the security forces, the Federal National Guard.
§ Mr. Taverne
The hon. Gentleman and I are at one on this.
Secondly, we should look for possible alternatives. It has been pointed out by several speakers that there is no great opposition to the Aden base by any of the parties in Aden. That is true. If we say that we accept the principle that it must be freely negotiated, that it may be subject to certain terms of not being used for offensive operations against other Arab countries, it may be possible to negotiate an agreement, but a price will be asked, and I think that we should bear in mind that we do not want to pay too high a price. For that reason, I think that we would be wise to look for possible alternatives.
In conclusion, I say that once our relations with all parties and people in Southern Arabia are on the basis of give-and-take in free negotiation, and once we have become disillusioned of the idea that our interests conflict with Arab nationalism, the whole future of the area becomes one of hope, and once our general relations with the Arab countries are put on a commercial basis, it may be that an unhappy chapter in our relations with the Arabs will come to an end.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne) concentrated his remarks on the current crisis in Aden. I do not want to follow him too deeply on that subject. As I see it, the present constitutional crisis is a struggle for power between, as the hon. Gentleman would put it, democratic Aden and the reactionary Federation. Omitting those two adjectives, I agree that that is what is happening. He would like to see a strong Aden. In the Aden political 1390 parties Yemeni influences predominate, and they are to some extent controlled by the Egyptians.
I, on the other hand, would like to see a strong federation. I believe that the rulers of the Federation have the training and experience to use power, and that in the long run they would make a better show of the Federation—indeed they have done pretty well so far—than would the politicians of Aden. Whichever course is followed—whether Aden comes out as the strongest member of the Federation, or whether the sheikdoms come out on top—I believe that in five, six or seven years' time the National Guard or the Arab Army will take over from the squabbling politicians and run Aden themselves on the modern pattern of Arab nationalism and Socialism. In those circumstances, the immediate crisis that we are discussing may not be so vital as we think.
Hon. Members are sometimes criticised for spending too much time, in foreign affairs debates, talking of the present and the immediate future of the immediate crises which make the newspaper headlines and which occur almost daily. This criticism may give rise to the view—I think it is a wrong view—that the foreign policy of both sides of the House tends to be built on short-term expediency rather than long-term planning. I want therefore to consider what I believe to be a fundamental question, namely, where we in Britain shall stand in ten years' time.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) often referred about three complementary and interlocking circles, of each of which Britain was a part—the Commonwealth, Europe and the North Atlantic. I want to examine those three circles and try to estimate what Britain's position will be in each of them in ten years' time.
First, I want to deal with the Commonwealth. As the Prime Minister has pointed out in many speeches, the Commonwealth is the only effective bridge which exists today—and, as far as I can seee it, it will probably be the only one that will exist in ten years' time—between rich and poor, strong and weak, white and coloured. The Commonwealth has great intangible strength, but the greatest supporter of the Commonwealth—and I count myself as one of its strong 1391 supporters—could not claim that as a bloc with a common voice or even a common purpose. As the Commonwealth continues to expand and it expands every year, I wonder how its shape will change. It certainly does not look at though it will form a cohesive force in ten years' time, or that all Commonwealth countries will adopt the same world policy.
As for Europe, it looks as though as long as de Gaulle is President of France Britain will not enter Europe. It becomes increasingly obvious that the Common Market is a tightly-knit, inward-looking organisation. In ten years' time after there has been ten years of French leadership I wonder whether we shall have found a place in the European Economic Community? Then, what about Russia? It is possible that the thaw in the cold war, which has been talked of so much tonight, may diminish tension to such an extent that Russia will become part of Europe. Can Britain compete on equal terms with a Russia that is part of Europe?
It seems to me that it is to the third circle that we should look. Let me speak aloud some unthinkable thoughts. Very often our policy and that of the United States of America seem to be based on rivalry instead of partnership. In many parts of the world our respective policies act in opposition to each other, as has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Viscount Lambeton). I wonder whether we should not direct our thoughts during the next ten years towards creating greater unity between the United States, Britain and the members of the old Commonwealth.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand are already entering the American econofic and, perhaps, political orbit. The object of the Common Market countries is to create a common Parliament. Should not we in ten years' time think of creating a common Parliament, consisting of the Americans, ourselves and the English-speaking countries of the old Commonwealth? I believe that British influence in such a union of the English-speaking nations would be far more powerful than British influence in a United States of Europe.
What would the Americans get from such a common Parliament? I do not 1392 want to go into the matter in detail, but America would for one thing have the world dispersion that she needs together with access to raw materials which do not exist within the confines of the North American Continent. That thought may be unpopular in some quarters, but in thinking of the three circles to which I have referred—the Commonwealth, Europe and the North Atlantic—we should concentrate much more than we have in the past on the third and consider our relations with the Americans. If the Common Market ultimately means a united Europe, we should be thinking of unity with the United States of America.
I now turn to a more topical subject and would ask what is the basic threat in the world today. The debate has shown that hon. Members on both sides agree that East-West differences are dying down. It has been stressed from my side of the House, that this diminution of the cold war is due largely to the success of the nuclear deterrent. This country has had many enemies in the past—Spain, France and Germany—and, I suppose, Russia, but if we were asked to think ahead and name the Power on the horizon that seems the most potentially hostile, I suggest that we would name China. China, not only because she will be a nation of 1,000 million people at the turn of the century, but because she is the greatest country in the undeveloped world. She is the great "have-not", an Asiatic and agricultural country.
It seems to me that the real problem which we always have before us in the world today is caused by the existence of the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Our efforts must be directed towards closing this gap. Is it possible to do so? A short time ago I was talking to experts in Paris on this matter and I put the question to them; if the developed countries of the world, including Russia, doubled their present programme of governmental and private enterprise assistance to the underdeveloped countries, what would happen to this gap between the rich and the poor nations of the world? The answer I got was that the gap would remain exactly where it is and that if we did not double our aid the gap would widen. That seems to me to present a pretty appalling prospect.
1393 In this country we have managed to close the gap by evolution rather than by revolution—
§ Mr. Wall
The hon. Member may not think that we have closed it tight enough. But he will agree that the "two worlds" of Disraeli are now one world, which we achieved without a revolution. Our task now is to see whether we can close this world gap by evolution. If we fail we shall have revolution on a world scale. The information to which I have just referred, which I obtained from experts in O.E.C.D., does not present a very good augury for the future. For the remaining part of my speech, I wish to refer to this objective and to what must be the responsibilities of a Government faced with the problem of closing this gap. First and obviously, they must do everything possible to lessen the disparity between rich and poor. We may under-estimate that task. We are giving Government aid and help to the under-developed countries to the tune of something like £220 million a year, and there is, in addition, £300 million going in from private enterprise and private investment. That is a pretty good sum for a country of 52 million people, but it is not even closing the gap, only just maintaining the same level.
I believe that the Geneva Economic Conference which has just ended—in which such a prominent part was played by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development—shows the lines on which the world should move. I doubt whether the world will move fast enough. We have to face the fact that the developed countries, excluding Soviet Russia, are, by and large, democratic countries. They are controlled by the vote and by the voice of the taxpayer. We talk about doubling the present amount of aid, but the taxpayer will have something to say. There are, therefore, restrictions. Our emotions may wish us to equalise as rapidly as possible, but there are definite restrictions on what the richer nations of the world can do to close this gap. I do not want to labour these points merely to point out how difficult is our task. Many other 1394 right hon. and hon. Members are thinking about this issue and probably know far more about it than I do.
If we fail to close the gap and secure evolution in the world, we shall be faced with a revolutionary situation. Surely it is the responsibility, indeed the duty, of any Government to make the necessary preparations. These must be to guard against the final dying kicks in the conflict between East and West. They have also to prepare for the possibility of a North v. South conflict led by China.
I cannot attempt to cover all the world crisis points in the short time that remains for me in which to speak, or describe all the preparations which I think should be made, but I will mention three areas which I know well. First, the Middle East. There we are concerned more with the old East-West conflict than the new North-South conflict. I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), who has spoken many times in this House about Cyprus. Today he managed to speak on that subject for practically the whole of his speech; he hardly mentioned Turkish rights and interests. All I would say is that Turkey is the link between N.A.T.O. and CENTO and that any solution reached in Cyprus must be acceptable to the Turks. Whatever happens in Cyprus, it would create a far more serious situation in the Western world if as a result of the Turks feeling that the allies had let them down Turkey turned to neutralism. That would mean the collapse of Persia and the Russians would have access to the Persian Gulf, a dream the Tsar have had for many decades.
I shall not touch on the question of Aden, because I referred to it in my comments on the speech of the hon. Member for Lincoln. In referring to Middle Africa, I would mention Zanzibar, which I visited a few days ago and which is now a Communist State with the Chinese and the Russians vying for leadership. The strength of Chinese Communism in Africa is underestimated. Generally the African is not Communist and is not interested in Marxist philosophy, but the Chinese come in and say, "We are Asiatics. We are coloured people. We are the largest 1395 'have-not' nation in the world. We are an agricultural nation and we have come to help you." That is very effective.
The Chinese have the largest delegation in Zanzibar and are sending plane loads of Zanzibaris to visit Peking. They are not interested in the direct government of the country as are the Soviets or Germans but they are interested in agriculture. They send many tractors and it is said that each has a driver and an interpreter. Evenutally the tractor and its crew merges into the countryside. Not only has Chinese Communism penetrated into Zanzibar, but it is penetrating in Tanganyika; it exists in strength in Burundi and the Congo and Kivu where Pierre Mulele, its local leader, is making considerable progress, and it is strong in Brazzaville. It has penetrated across the African Continent from Zanzibar to Brazzaville.
I beg the House to treat the question of southern Africa as a whole not so much as a question of emotion but of what are our real interests. Of course we want to see an end to the racial policy of the present South African Government, but we do not want to go so far as some organs of the Press and the public and to ask for economic sanctions. If we support sanctions we may have to go the whole hog and prevent oil being landed. That could only be by Powers with aircraft carriers, that is, Britain, the United States of America and France, and it would mean war with South Africa. To suggest that because apartheid is wrong and because of this we and other countries should go to war with South Africa seems to me to be arrant nonsense, but it is an argument which was advanced in at least one responsible Sunday newspaper. There are four million white people in southern Africa and they will not be eliminated.
I believe it is in our interests to see that white leadership—not domination—remains in southern Africa, because I believe that southern Africa will be absolutely essential if we ever have to face the catastrophe of a racial war. Otherwise how could we bring aid to Australia? How could we replace the 70 per cent. of the Free World's gold which comes from South Africa? If we could only get a combination of the Portuguese attitude to 1396 race and a non-racial social system, the Rhodesian attitude to government and local government and the South African attitude to economic matters, we might be able to restore some form of stability to that part of the world. I am not for a moment advocating apartheid. I believe it is wrong and that it should go, but let us face the problem that southern Africa is a key area of the world realising that if we let our emotions take charge we shall create a bloody revolution which will be to no advantage to this country or to any race in the African continent.
In conclusion, may I repeat my basic question? Can Britain continue to stand alone in ten years' time? Can the unity of the North Atlantic be better achieved through Europe or through the union of the English-speaking world? I believe that such an Atlantic union would make it much easier to close the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" and that if things went wrong and we were faced with a world racial conflict we should be better able to stand up to China and her allies. I believe that time is not on our side and that among the statesmen of the world only the Prime Minister seems to have faced up to these immense problems.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
This debate has been made remarkable by two maiden speeches. I should like to add my tribute to those of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) and the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). As the Prime Minister said, the reputation of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has preceded him in this place. Now that we have heard him speak, what puzzles some of us is how the gold of his eloquence was transmuted into the base lead of the speeches which we heard from the Prime Minister.
This has been a wide-ranging debate. There have been far more issues for debate than in any foreign affairs debate which we have had for a long time and no one has been able to take up more than one, two or three of the issues which have been raised. I must begin by expressing my profound disappointment with the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday, which the Conservative Press told us was to be a tour de force. Whatever 1397 it was, it was not that; but he has another chance tonight. All we had yesterday was a weary and sterile speech from a very weary and sterile Government who have no ideas of their own. It is a Government who are reduced both in Parliament and in the country to discussing our ideas. Even the Conservative Press devotes more acreage to what we think than to what the Government think.
The Prime Minister's speech this afternoon was, I thought, rather more philosophical than the Foreign Secretary's speech. Some of it, perhaps because of being foreshortened a little, seemed rather compressed in its argument and a little crude in its analysis. The Prime Minister's philosophy, which we get week after week—
§ Mr. Wilson
I want to deal seriously with the very serious arguments of the Prime Minister if I have half a chance from the hon. Member.
The Prime Minister's philosophy is that because of our nuclear deterrent the Soviet Union has renounced force, though, of course, we must be vigilant, and has taken to subversion. As usual, he manages to confuse the question of whose deterrent it is which has achieved this state of affairs. "Our deterrent" is what he says. Sometimes he means "we, the West ", and sometimes he means "we, Britain ". We get this grateful allusion all the time to Western nuclear strength.
Of course, it is the American strength which is responsible for the Western contribution to the nuclear stalemate. The right hon. Gentleman is always trying to suggest that the British nuclear deterrent is responsible for all this, but no one outside the right hon. Gentleman and some rather uncritical Conservative audiences think that it adds anything to Western nuclear strength. More and more as the weeks go by the right hon. Gentleman is claiming for the British deterrent what belongs to the Western deterrent, which, in terms of credibility, is the American deterrent.
However, I agree with much that the Prime Minister said this afternoon about the Soviet Union. Perhaps he will allow me to put the analysis rather differently, 1398 although with many of the same conclusions. I feel that the more relaxed attitude of the U.S.S.R. and the greater prospects for conciliation today are probably due to three things. First, there is the rift with China, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. That is right, but I think that it is highly dangerous to keep trading on it. To say to Mr. Khrushchev, as I think the right hon. Gentleman was in danger of saying, that the wind from China is blowing Mr. Khrushchev into our arms is the one way to ensure that it does not happen.
Again, the right hon. Gentleman said—I think that he was right to say—that there is popular support in the Soviet Union for conciliatory moves by the Soviet Government. I think that is right, but we must not forget the elements in the Soviet Union who take a different approach to these things, elements which, in Washington terminology, would be called the hawks as opposed to the doves, I suppose, and who are very suspicious of any moves towards the West. These are not, as far as we can tell—there is a lot of mystery about this, obviously—just the old Stalinists. There are some younger men high up in the party hierarchy who view with grave suspicion Mr. Khrushchev's flirtation, as they would see it, with the West
This is why, as some of us have frequently urged, it is very important, where it can be done without dropping our guard or giving away any vital Western interest, to help Mr. Khrushchev to get agreement, so that he has some answer to give to those who are criticising him for being conservative. About this I am sure we all agree.
The second factor is the one to which the right hon. Gentleman rightly drew attention—the acceptance of the fact that neither side can now obliterate the other in a single stroke, what the West call the balance of terror. I felt, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) felt, when talking to Mr. Khrushchev, that this produced a feeling almost of security, almost of cosiness, in the way he described the situation. The Prime Minister tends to dramatise this in terms of Cuba, where there was a very dramatic nuclear confrontation, though, once again, I think that he will agree that it was not our V-bombers and 1399 free-falling bombs which were at issue. It was the Americans'.
The right hon. Gentleman suggested this afternoon, I am sure because of compression, that Cuba converted Mr. Khrushchev, as it were, in a blinding flash of Damascus-road enlightenment. It was a spectacular confrontation, and things cannot be the same again after Cuba. We all recognise that. But I believe that the acceptance of the nuclear stalemate, or whatever one calls it, has developed over a longer period. There was, for example, as we all know—the right hon. Gentleman was Foreign Secretary at the time—a confrontation over Berlin in 1961.
However, I think that it is important not to underrate the fact that the Russian feeling is partly based on growing Soviet confidence in the pacific intentions of the United States under the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, as compared with the days of John Foster Dulles and the loose American talk of massive unilateral use of United States nuclear power. At that time I think that the Soviet Union, or many of the Soviet leaders, were genuinely afraid that this would happen and that even a small move would be met by this kind of massive development.
I think that the third reason lies in the changes in the Soviet Union. Again, the right hon. Gentleman touched on this. I refer, first, to changes in the Soviet Government and, secondly, to the change in Soviet society. The change in the Soviet Government, above all the replacement of Stalin by a more genuinely collective leadership, is one of the keys to what has been happening, which has been a progressive change over the past few years.
Some of us, on, I think, both sides of the House, saw this as long ago as 1953 after Stalin's death. Some of us said so. I shall refer in a moment to something said by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). If hon. Members will turn back in any leisure moments they have to the debate on German rearmament in this House, which was a very serious and probing debate, in March, 1954, they will, I think, find that some of us at that time said that the change from the Stalinite system to the collective leadership would have a 1400 very marked effect on relations with the West, but it needed, as the right hon. Gentleman fairly said, these other developments to consummate the possibilities.
From March, 1953, onwards there was a different team, in fact a different generation—not, as Stalin was, hagridden, suspicious, neurotic and obsessional. There was a team of men who were constructive rather than revolutionary, a team of men of a new generation more able to reflect the new nature of Soviet society—the technocrats, the businessmen, who, as many hon. Members know from business and other contacts with them, are highly sophisticated and intelligent and could not be treated as Stalin used to treat the Russian people before 1953.
There is also in Soviet society the importance of the consumer. If the House will permit a short personal reference to the right hon. Member for Woodford, in May, 1953, I was invited to the Soviet Union by Mr. Mikoyan. For several years none of us had been there. It was one of the worst periods in the cold war. The occasion of which I speak was two months after Stalin's death. I was talking to the right hon. Member for Woodford, who at that time was not only Prime Minister but in charge of the Foreign Office, because Sir Anthony Eden was ill.
The right hon. Member for Woodford said to me, "This is very interesting. You will hear a lot there which we cannot get through the ordinary channels. What I would like to know is what Russia intends to do about expanding consumer goods and increasing her standard of living". That was a revealing question and on that occasion, not for the first or last time, the right hon. Member for Woodford was speaking of a real problem, for he realised that once the Russians started to go for a higher living standard, conditions for conciliation would exist.
On other aspects of the Prime Minister's speech, I welcomed his very frequent references to the North-South problems these days and also to his recognition, which he stated clearly, of the unique power of the Commonwealth through its multi-racial character in the contemporary post-colonial world. This 1401 is to be welcomed because it was the emphasis on the multi-racial character of the Commonwealth which was the main theme of Hugh Gaitskell's historic speech at Brighton in 1962, although that speech did not secure very much acceptance by a Government who, at that time, were hell-bent on getting into the Common Market on terms which would have virtually destroyed our relations with the Commonwealth, certainly in economic terms.
§ Mr. Wilson
Hon. Members opposite say, "Rubbish", but I have asked the Prime Minister to tell us whether it would be his intention at any time to try to seek entry on those same terms. It is interesting to see so many hon. Members opposite regarding those terms as acceptable, which we would not. But I will not pursue that matter today because it is difficult to get answers from the Prime Minister on this subject. There will, I hope, be another occasion.
As I have said, this has been a wide-ranging debate and I do not propose to follow my right hon. and hon. Friends on the subject, for example, of Laos, on which, as far as I can see, there is complete agreement on both sides of the House—indeed, between ourselves and the United States and ourselves and the Soviet Union. The subject of Vietnam was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), and on the question of Cyprus there has been a full discussion.
All I would do is underline the warning about Cyprus given by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East, which was echoed by several of my hon. Friends, the discussion about which was started by the Foreign Secretary yesterday and which was followed in an extremely interesting speech of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley)—on the problems of the position of British troops and the conditions under which we should be prepared to stay in Cyprus and the conditions under which we should not be prepared to stay in regard to the policing rôle.
There is only one question on the problem of Cyprus which I wish to put to the Foreign Secretary, and I hope that he will give me a reply. Will he comment on Press reports to the effect that Her Majesty's Government have now decided 1402 to evacuate the sovereign base there over a period of time? This was prominent in some Sunday newspapers and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us whether or not that is the decision.
I turn to the issue of British Guiana. This is not strictly within the scope of a foreign affairs debate, but the situation there has deep overtones, going far beyond the very grave internal position. This is no time for an inquest on what has happened; the position is too grave for that. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) put our views clearly and with great restraint in the debate on the matter a few weeks ago.
In addition to what he said, I deeply regret that the Government, a year ago, did not accept our proposal for a Parliamentary delegation of one or two senior Privy Councillors on each side of the House to go there to see and report to the House. Things have gone too far now for that to be done, for the reasons my right hon. Friend stated. However, I wish to urge a new initiative on the Government which I hope they will consider. All of us have for long realised that there is not, and is not likely to be, the confidence or trust for a simple British Guiana solution, least of all on the basis of what we regard as a fiddled Constitution; fiddled by the right hon. Gentleman.
Because of this very fact we have at various times suggested a Commonwealth presence to guarantee human rights, and to guarantee the independence of judiciary and police, perhaps by a Canadian or West Indian Chief Justice and Police Commissioner. The same thought, of course, underlay the imaginative initiatives taken some time ago, and again very recently, by the Prime Minister of Trinidad.
Tonight, I would make this suggestion to the Government. They should put this on the agenda of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference. They should propose that a high-level Commonwealth mission, consisting of, let us say, representatives of Canada, Trinidad, Jamaica, India, and a West African State, should go there—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ghana."] This is not the time for pursuing hon. Members' prejudices. This is a very serous situation. The mission should go there to attempt to work out a solution, including whatever ultimate 1403 Commonwealth presence may be necessary. I hope that we shall be told that the Prime Minister is prepared to consider that suggestion.
I want now to come to one of the central issues of the debate which has been taken up by a number of hon. and right hon. Members—Aden and the Middle East. During the height of the fighting in the Radfan mountains, I made a statement on the situation—about a month ago; an interim statement—looking forward to this debate. The first thing I said then was that while that fighting was at its height, and fighting in the most intolerable conditions of heat, acute thirst—and, indeed, tribal brutality—we would not raise the wider issues of why the troops were there and what were the wider foreign policy aspects at stake.
But, committed as they were, I felt it right to say that the Government were right to back them with air power. I said that. This did not express support for the bombing of Harib, which we have condemned, as has the whole of world opinion as expressed through the United Nations. [Interruption.] That is a very different thing. That was an entirely separate operation—[Interruption.] It was crossing the frontier, and bombing another country. The support I gave in that statement was for the use of air power to back up our troops fighting in the Radfan mountains within the Federation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where would you stop?"] Where would I stop? I would stop at the frontier. It is quite simple. It is one of the simplest points in defining the whole concept of international aggression.
In my statement, reserving the wider comment for this debate, I also referred to the question of the base in Aden. Our position on bases is this. We believe that the peace-keeping rôle, which will over the next generation be the main contribution of this country to world affairs—peace-keeping on behalf of the Commonwealth, of the Western Alliance and of the United Nations—will mean a very big rôle for this country east of Suez. I believe that many of our allies in the Commonwealth, and the United States, are coming round to a view I have heard expressed at the highest level, and no doubt the Prime Minister 1404 has, that, at the margin, another 1,000 troops deployed east of Suez is a bigger contribution to world peace than another 1,000 in Germany.
This means bases where we can get them, not by force but by agreement, and in my statement—[Interruption.]—these are really important matters—I stressed, and I repeat:In the long run, the security of a base depends on the willingness with which it is accepted by the local population.Surely we have learned our lesson over the years—that a base held against the wishes of the local Government and the local population is not only morally indefensible but militarily indefensible as well.
Which bases do we need? Frankly, until an Opposition becomes the Government it does not possess—[Interruption.] Well, this Opposition is trying to become the Government in October, but until then the Opposition does not possess the secret military information required, nor do back bench Members opposite—[Interruption.] If hon. Members will listen they will, perhaps, follow the argument.
I have just said that until an Opposition becomes a. Government, it does not possess, for example, information on what other bases we are to have within reasonable distance. Indeed, no one, including the Government, can forecast our position a year ahead in Libya. On the other hand, no one, a year ago, would have forecast that the independent Government of Kenya would now be asking us not to take troops out of Kenya.
Again, one has to have knowledge of the range of our transport aircraft: if we are to rely on the Hastings and the rest, so many of which had to refuel at Nice or Malta in the Christmas airlift to Cyprus, obviously one needs bases, or at least landing strips, at more frequent intervals than if one can provide Transport Command with planes with a very much longer range. Again, an Opposition have not, as a Government have, or we hope have, knowledge of over-flying facilities and conventions governing them, many of them obviously secret. So, in opposition, as I have said frequently, one cannot take a final line on which bases we shall need and, even 1405 when the Government, one has to be flexible and adaptable about it.
I therefore stick to what I said in my statement—that on all the information available to us, and subject to what may be found on the issues that I have just mentioned, I reckon that we do need Aden. [Interruption.] It would be more helpful in a debate on vital issues, affecting men's lives, if hon. Members opposite who have not been here throughout the debate would listen to those who have.
So far as one can see, we need Aden as an essential centre for peace-keeping operations in a wide area around it, and as the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said, it is an essential staging-post in our communications with the East, particularly India and also Malaysia, to whose support against external aggression we are as fully committed as are the Government.
This has nothing to do with oil imperialism. We shall get our oil on a commercial basis or not at all, and we have already, 7½ years ago, seen one desert pipeline broken and spluttering in the sand. But, as I have said, no base is viable if it is not acceptable to the local population.
This brings me to the third point of which I gave notice a month ago, which is the whole basis of the Government's policy in the area. The first question I want to ask is this. I am sure that this is a question that the Foreign Secretary repeatedly asks himself as he sits on the Isle of Mull and watches the Colonial Secretary operate in such areas of great sensitivity with all the finesse of which he is capable.
The question that I ask the Foreign Secretary is: where are we heading in South Arabia? We have hastily committed ourselves to a Federation dominated by feudal rulers in the Protectorates and to a Government in Aden who are almost certainly totally unrepresentative, elected on a Constitution which is now superseded, and who are retained in office by the last resort of a beaten and discredited British Government—postponement of the election.
The totally unrepresentative Parliament which was elected—in Aden, I mean—in 1959 was due to go four years 1406 after that event, but its life was extended by the 1962 Constitution to January, 1964, and extended a second time to July, 1964. I hesitate, in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman, to remind the House that the Aden Government had, in fact, been kept in being not just by defying all precedent in running their full statutory term, but actually by extending their statutory term beyond the normal limit. I really hesitate to mention this to the right hon. Gentleman lest he should start thinking on these lines.
The Aden 1962 Constitution, which contains a section guaranteeing human rights, provided for a Legislature of 16 elected members, elected on a more representative franchise than the present Constitution provides, and six nominated members. The present Legislature, therefore, is quite unrepresentative, and I cannot understand why the Colonial Secretary in this London conference should base the representation on the 1959 Parliament and thus exclude the P.S.P. and by that fact almost certainly fail to represent the majority of the Arab population.
What is needed in Aden is elections on the new franchise and a new Constitution, and a clear declaration that progress towards democratic rule in Aden is not going to be retarded by the backward nature of some of the Protectorates. The Government tell us that we are bound by treaties with the feudal rulers, but we must ask why British troops have had to be used to bring under the control of the rulers areas like the Radfan which have not bean under them before. Our obligations to the rulers related to their territories, to their writ at the time of the agreements, and not to extending them. In the case of the Radfan, we are told, there is the added point that the tribesmen had repeatedly petitioned the British Government not to force them in under the ruler of Dhala. If that is so, it may well be that the rebellion is not quite so sinister as has been sometimes suggested by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by the more jingoistic sections of the Press, as having been originated by the Yemen with gold and munitions from Egypt and originally from the Soviet Union. It may well be to a large extent a matter of tribal loyalties.
1407 I ask the Foreign Secretary to answer clearly a question of which he has had notice. Did the tribesmen petition the Crown and, if so, what answer did they get? Is the story in The Guardian true that their emissaries, who had gone to present the petition, were arrested and the fighting started next day? We want a clear, unequivocal answer to this. If we cannot get it, we should should ask for an impartial inquiry. Lord Devlin is free, anyway.
I have said that progress in Aden should not be slowed down to the pace of the slowest ruler. Another point to which I drew attention in my earlier statement concerns our relations with the Yemen. Our recognition of the Yemen is a matter of who is in control. This has always been our traditional test, but, pending recognition, we are asking for trouble in an already disturbed area by our conduct of Anglo-Yemen relations. We do not any longer supply arms to the Imam, we are told, but it would be interesting to know when that stopped. [Interruption.] The Prime Minister does not always speak for Egypt, but he does speak for our colonial position there.
Can we be told whether there are in Aden itself recruiting depots, ostensibly passport offices, for the Imamite forces? Is it not a fact that charter aircraft fly recruits via Beihan to the Royalist forces? If we really seek peace and stability in Southern Arabia and in the Middle East generally we shall have to come to terms with the facts of Middle Eastern life, which include President Nasser. I agree fully with the right hon. Member for Enfield, West, who, tonight, was laboriously working his passage back, in what I thought was the best point in his speech, when he was taking Senator Fulbright's speech and applying it mutatis mutandis to the Middle East. What he said there should be taken to heart very much by the Prime Minister.
My last point on the Middle East relates to economic aid. Our answer to Yemeni pressures—and I do not believe that A1 Asnag or his followers want to come under Yemeni suzerainty—is to make Aden a shop window of economic advance. There is no time now to read a number of things which I wanted to quote, but the Daily Mail for example, according to its man on the spot, reports 1408 that the Colonial Secretary, when he was in Aden, seems to have realised this, a bit late.… with a bit of luck",says the correspondent,Britain has just enough time left to atone for a lamentable lack of foresight in this part of the Arab world. I understand Mr. Duncan Sandys has admitted that the British Government failed to provide the economic stimulus essential to the success of the South Arabian Federal Government.'If the right hon. Gentleman reads that cutting—perhaps his missed it when he was away—he will find a long succession of failures in quite small economic help.
As the Sunday Times put it:Despairing irrigation engineers here are idle from lack of the few thousands of pounds by which vast areas could be transformed in a year.We are told by the Federal Foreign Minister thatIn the 130 years we have been under British protection only 11 miles of tarmac road has been built"—a pace of road building which only Scotland, I think, can match.
If any of us needs proof of the importance of economic advance, we have had our warning with the presence of Mr. Khrushchev at the opening of the Aswan Dam. That was a triumph for him. As the Daily Telegraph said:Nobody can deny Mr. Khrushchev his great hour at Aswan.It was a triumph that the West let him have through the petulance and lack of foresight of John Foster Dulles and our support of him and the whole duplicity and lunacy of Suez. I hope that we have learned the lessons of the Aswan opening and that we recognise the need for more imaginative policies than those which we are pursuing. I hope that we all recognise that the individual bravery of our troops in the hills, and that all the Hunters, rockets and 1,000-1b. bombs will not do the job that economic advancement, aid and development can alone do.
Before I conclude, I want briefly to refer to one or two other points which have been raised in the debate. The first is South Africa. The reaction of all sections of opinion in this country to the outcome of the Rivonia trial and all, that it means transcends the ability of any of us to find words to express what we feel about this situation. The 1409 Government voted for the resolution which pledged all nations to do everything in their power to put pressure upon South Africa. We are bound by that resolution. I hope, equally, that all of us, as a nation, will throw our whole weight behind the proposals of the United Nations special committee for a national convention in South Africa.
Mere protests and diplomatic démarches, however, are not enough. The Opposition have never supported, and do not support, the idea of unilaterally-imposed economic sanctions. I have always felt that the idea of an international blockade, too, would be appropriate only in conditions in which South Africa by external action endangered the peace of nations, whether vis-á-vis Southern Rhodesia, the Protectorates, or South-West Africa.
One thing however, is clear. The equivocal position of Her Majesty's Government on the export of arms is steadily lowering our influence, both in the Commonwealth and in a wider setting. When I called for an embargo, 15 months ago, I was violently attacked by the Tory Press and Tory Ministers in this House. It was only after the United States had imposed its embargo, in common with almost every Commonwealth country, and after the United Nations voted clearly against arms shipments, that Ministers then began to claim that this had been their policy all along.
The Prime Minister clings now to two lines of defence. The first is a distinction between arms supplied for internal repression and those supplied for defence against external attack. Two years ago, I demanded from this Box a ban on the shipment of tear gas and tear gas making equipment, but I was refused by the right hon. Gentleman. Was that required for defence against external aggression? What about helicopters, the troop carriers and the small arms used at Sharpeville?
The Prime Minister's second line relates to Simonstown. As I have made clear a number of times, we have never sought to denounce Simonstown. The Prime Minister knows well, however, that the schedule of supplies under the Simonstown Agreement expired in December, 1963, and there is no more left to ship. Nor did that schedule 1410 include aircraft or supplies for the Army or the police.
I asked the Prime Minister this afternoon, but he did not answer me—I hope that the Foreign Secretary will tell us now—whether, during the period that the right hon. Gentleman has been Prime Minister—I will not press him about the period when he had a direct responsibility as Foreign Secretary—no arms of any kind have been shipped to South Africa outside the list specified in the schedule to the Simonstown Agreement. I think that we are entitled to an answer to that.
While I am on arms, I turn to the singular agreement Her Majesty's Government have negotiated, or are in the course of negotiating, with General Franco. Before the war there were deep differences in the House about the Spanish civil war, and it so happens that the three most senior members of the present Government were strongly and personally identified in those days with the point of view which this side of the House, and, I think, a substantial number of people in the country, regarded as wrong.
But that is all a quarter of a century ago and perhaps right hon. Gentlemen, in common with many other features of the landscape, have changed. They may have, but Franco has not, and all of us on this side—indeed, I believe on all sides—look forward to a change which cannot now be long delayed. When that occurs we shall be ready and willing to welcome Spain into the comity of nations. To supply valuable information about naval vessels, radar and other equipment to a democratic Spain is one thing. To supply it to Fascist Spain is quite another. The Government's policy towards Spain should be the same as it is to Eastern Europe and Cuba, where we support the line that the Government take. Trade, yes. We do not use trade boycotts to underline dislikes or differences. But arms, no.
A few months ago right hon. and hon. Members tried to create trouble about what a London newspaper had inaccurately reported in a speech of mine about transferring the Navy to the United Nations. This particular plot came unstuck. But now, apparently, naval secrets are to be sold to Spain. 1411 Are we as hard up as all this? Must a country whose economy, according to the Prime Minister, has seldom, if ever, been stronger sell drawings and details of frigates to a Fascist country for a few million pounds? It is not even creating much employment in British shipyards. We are building up the Spanish Navy at the very time when right hon. Gentlemen have allowed the Royal Navy, in terms of effectiveness and number of vessels in commission, to sink to an all-time low. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Yes.
In our last debate on the Navy Estimates we were told that the total naval strength in the Mediterranean was three destroyers or frigates, four small wooden coastal minesweepers, two submarines, used for anti-submarine training, six more minesweepers and an antisubmarine frigate in reserve—all these and the commander-in-chief's yacht. So low have we sunk as a result of Ministers' nuclear posturings that all we can do now is to try to get money by an arms deal with Spain.
I ask the Foreign Secretary one last question before he speaks. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We agreed the time between us. Let the right hon. Gentleman tell us—[HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] Hon. Members opposite are taking time out of the Foreign Secretary's speech. I am prepared to stay here until I have finished. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] You are taking the right hon. Gentleman's time.
§ Mr. Wilson
Has the right hon. Gentleman received from the Franco Government a withdrawal of their claim on Gibraltar? Has he made that a condition of the arms deal? The House is entitled to an answer to that.
Now I yield to the Foreign Secretary, so that he can make his speech. I hope that we shall have from the right hon. Gentleman an answer to that question and an answer to the questions on South Africa, the mixed-manned force and the Common Market. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are taking the Foreign Secretary's time, not me. We should like an answer—[Interruption.] I intend to finish this sentence. We should like an 1412 answer to the questions which my right hon. Friends and hon. Friends have put to the right hon. Gentleman in what is the last foreign affairs debate in this 13-year-old Conservative Administration.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. A. Butler)
First of all, I would like to pay my tribute to the two maiden speakers who took part in the debate and if I do not say more about them it is because I have very little time in which to reply. I assure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) that we greatly appreciated his references to the British Armed Forces in peacetime, which, as he said, form an important part of our foreign policy. The Leader of the Opposition, in his somewhat electric speech, did at least pay tribute to our Forces, as he has done before, and has not been put off that important recognition. We ourselves recognise that, throughout the world, our Forces have performed vital service.
In answer to the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Healey), I will refer to helicopters, for I must take all the points quickly as they come. We are taking steps to augment our tactical lift capacity which, by the first few months of next year, will be approximately half as great again as it is at present. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation announced on 18th March, we are buying 150 light helicopters which, I am sure, will have their effect in supplementing the Forces where they are most needed.
In relation to the Leader of the Opposition's point about the diagnosis of the debate, I think that there has been general agreement. I am glad to see that he agrees so warmly in his diagnosis with the diagnosis I myself gave yesterday. The only diagnosis I do not accept is when he refers to the fact that there is preoccupation with Labour policy. I hope that there will be more preoccupation with Labour policy between now and the General Election. The more we study it and the more we explain it the more certain we are to be returned.
We accept the right hon. Gentleman's diagnosis in relation to the Sino-Soviet dispute, to the changes in the Soviet Union, to his remarks about my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford 1413 (Sir W. Churchill) and to consumer demand in the Soviet Union. All these I included in my opening speech yesterday, about which he made such pejorative remarks. I need say no more about them now, particularly as I referred to the very thing that the right hon. Gentleman referred to—the de-Stalinisation of the Soviet régime, which he himself, with his marked ability, pointed out was one of the great features of the Soviet Union. I therefore do not need to dwell very much upon the right hon. Gentleman's opening remarks because they followed so closely my own of yesterday in opening the debate. I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says about Laos. We are still in discussion with the Soviet and Polish Governments about the Polish proposals.
I would like to make some remarks about Cyprus, but first I would say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman's question about British Guiana, that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has assured me that his request will receive consideration. This being a foreign affairs debate, however, I will not go into further detail about British Guiana.
I noticed that, despite the forecast of his speech—and he referred to forecasts of mine—the right hon. Gentleman has not devoted any time at all to the Common Market or Europe. Having prepared a very voluminous reply I shall not need to use it at all. All I need say is that we are not committed to Europe in any way. I have attended two meetings of the Western European Union and two of the N.A.T.O. Council, and the matter of our rejoining the European Community is not practical politics and not open to us.
§ Mr. Butler
The situation, therefore, is that if this matter is ever raised by Europe, we shall come to the House and make our statement to the House in the way that we ought to do. We shall do that if the matter is raised again and request the agreement of the House on all aspects of the matter before we take any further action.
I would only say that we remain—and I should like to make this clear at the outset of my remarks—keen and ardent Europeans. We believe that European unity is vital to the success of the West, not only in nuclear strength but in economic 1414 and political strength. I have made it quite plain that if there is to be any political union in Europe, we wish to be in on the ground floor and to be in on any discussions which may take place on that subject.
I had also prepared a most invaluable portion of my remarks, which I can also jettison, on the right hon. Gentleman's journey to Moscow, which, after all the éclat of that journey with his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), I had thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have referred to in a speech of nearly 40 minutes. However, I am afraid that he has not given us the benefit of his advice on the matter of disarmament, raised by the Prime Minister, or on any others. I am glad that the right hon. Member for Smethwick gave us at least the benefit of his advice on these matters. I will say only that the right hon. Gentlemen followed the proper tradition of keeping the Government of the day fully informed of their activities, and we are very grateful to them for telling us about all their episodes.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick raised several matters, namely, European security, Indo-China—where I am co-Chairman with Mr. Gromyko—disarmament, non-dissemination, minimum nuclear deterrent, collateral measures of disarmament. I shall attempt to pursue these matters in the course of my visit to Moscow at the end of the Session.
I want to make one or two references to Cyprus, not mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, about which he asked me one specific question and which has excited a great deal of interest in the House. I should like to answer his question immediately. There is no question of the evacuation of any of our sovereign bases in Cyprus. This issue has not been raised, has not been discussed, and we are not prepared to discuss it.
I have been much impressed by the anxiety expressed on both sides of the House about the situation in Cyprus and in particular the manner in which the mandate of the United Nations is being carried out. The United Nations force is in Cyprus by virtue of the resolution of 4th March, and the directive to the commander I placed in the Library at the request of the House.
1415 In view of the pile-up of arms, the obstruction of roads, the lack of ability of the force to take any effective action, I have decided that further representations should be made to U Thant, the Secretary-General, before the resumption of the mandate takes place. I have decided to convey to him the feelings of the House as expressed in this debate. Being himself a good parliamentarian, I think that he will understand the strength of our feeling.
I have also been asked about the disappearance of Major Macey and his driver, Driver Platt. We have made representations not only to the United Nations, which is primarily responsible for finding him, but to President Makarios. This evening, I have had from President Makarios a message to say that he regretted that he did not let us know sooner his regret at this event and his determination to try to find Major Macey and to investigate this matter. That is the latest news that I am able to give the House, and I assure the House that we shall follow this up. I say that, in particular, to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who raised this matter in the course of the debate. We are also particularly upset by the apparent inability of the Cypriot authorities to control their own extremist elements.
It is against that background that we have been considering the future of the United Nations British Force in Cyprus. We have informed U Thant that before entering into a firm commitment to provide a British contingent for a further period we shall wish to be satisfied that its continued presence is desired in the island by all those concerned. I should also like to inform the House that we shall not take a final view about the British contingent continuing when the mandate is renewed until we have answers to all the matters that I have put to U Thant.
With regard to the future settlement, my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) raised all the different possibilities in the course of the debate. They were raised also by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley), and by others who have taken part in the debate. The House 1416 will not expect the British Government at this stage to opt for any particular solution. Conversations are to take place in Washington between Mr. Inonu, Mr. Papandreou, the Prime Ministers of Turkey and Greece, respectively, with the American President and Administration. What the British Government want to make sure is that arising out of those discussions some extra force or power may be able to be given to the mediator, and that the mediator then may be able to perform his normal function in coming forward at the United Nations with a solution which is both lasting and fair.
During the course of the debate we have had many references to the Turkish Government, and I think that we should try to remember that there are two sides to this problem. The Turks are in the minority, and as such should be respected, but it is also important to find a solution which satisfies the aspirations of the island. It is in our view, therefore, essential that the minority wishes should be respected, that something practical, and if necessary physical, should be found to provide satisfaction for them, and that at the same time the mediator should come forward with a solution which is lasting in this unfortunate and unhappy island.
I now come to the right hon. Gentleman's reference to Aden. As the right hon. Gentleman made reference to Fort Harib, the only answer that I shall give is that since that episode, in which we showed our determination, there has been no repetition of the invasion of our territory, or any incursion whatever. Whatever views may be held on that subject, I think it proves that we acted in the right way.
The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that he accepted the base in Aden, and I should like to say that we are very gratified that so much support has been given to our base in Aden, for one reason or another.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to my absence in Mull. Perhaps in future we can exchange post-cards between us, between the Scilly Isles where he resides, and the Isle of Mull. I should be glad if we could exchange reminiscences about the means of transport from these islands. Perhaps we could do something with our various right hon. Friends to make them better.
1417 As regards the situation in Aden, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, a conference is sitting of the rulers of the Federation. The rulers of the Federation—sheiks; as they are called—have themselves put forward proposals for constitutional advance and constitutional improvement. This, I think, is an advance. I do not think that I can go into details about the conference which is at present sitting in Marlborough House, but in regard to Aden itself, one of the reasons why the Aden Legislature is not fully representative is that certain elements boycotted the last election, and people who boycott an election cannot complain if they are not represented.
Elections are to take place in Aden this autumn, in the same way as other elections are to take place in this country and America. I hope that as a result of that there will be more political fluidity to please the right hon. Gentleman.
I turn now to the question of the Radfan trouble, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Leeds, East. Obviously it is the wish of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary that the tribes of the Radfan should return to their normal cultivations now that the war there has been virtually won. I have to tell the House that the Federal Government are paying subsidies and subsistence to the refugees from the Radfan area. That is an indication of the wish of the Federal. Government to help the refugees who have had to leave their lands in that area.
The right hon. Gentleman himself referred to the need of a massive programme of economic and social development in the whole area. That is being undertaken under the guidance of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, not only in respect of roads, but also health, education and other subjects. I agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, East in his long speech on the subject this afternoon, that we should make this a vital feature of our policy in the Federation.
I want to answer the question raised about the petition. I have read the article in The Guardian today, and I must deal with it in full. It is alleged that in the autumn of 1963 the British High Commissioner in Aden brought pressure to bear on the Radfan tribes 1418 to swear allegiance to the Amir of Dhala, thereby bringing them into the Federation by the back door. In fact those tribes swore allegiance to the Amir of Dhala at the time of his accession in 1955, and were not asked to renew their oath at any time thereafter.
Shaikh Seif Hassan, who is alleged to have protested that he was forced into the Federation, is one of the representatives of Dhala in the Federal Council, and is still receiving a salary as such. Since the article appeared in The Guardian and the matter was raised at the Box this afternoon there has not been time for me to trace the petition that had been referred to, but I have been assured that it has nothing to do with the shaikh's arrest. His arrest was ordered by the Federal Government after the interception of a letter from him and other Quatabi leaders to President Sallal of the Yemeni Republic, in which he offered to join in the rebellion provided he was sent sufficient arms and money.
The general suggestion that this alleged incident in October provoked the outbreak of the Radfan rebellion is obviously untrue, since the trouble started several months earlier, in July. That is my answer to this allegation.
I do not want to leave out any matters raised by the right hon. Gentleman, so I shall now come to the question of arms for South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman asked the Prime Minister whether any arms were allowed to go to South Africa from this country other than those listed in the Annexe to the Simons-town Agreement, and for purposes of greater accuracy I have brought with me a copy of the Agreement. It relates only to certain naval vessels, which are not mentioned in the Annexe but are in Paragraph 3 of the Agreement, and attached to the letters. Anyway, I have it here, and we can exchange views on it afterwards.
We reserve the right to supply arms to South Africa for the purpose of self-defence against external aggression, under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and for the defence of the sea route round the Cape in order to fulfil the purposes of the Simonstown Agreement. We do not supply South Africa with arms for the purpose of the enforcement of apartheid.
1419 If the Simonstown Agreement is regarded as important—and my hon. Friends and I regard it as important—and if our view is that the strategic needs for it remain strong, we must obviously continue to be prepared to provide arms which are necessary for the support of Simonstown and for the self-defence of the country. It is unreasonable to think that we can have a total arms embargo of arms to South Africa and still expect that country to continue with the Simonstown Agreement. That would be quite impossible.
Our answer, therefore, is that the arms are not limited—and this is answering the right hon. Gentleman's question directly—to the Schedule in the Agreement, but are related to the arms necessary for the defence of South Africa under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. The right hon. Gentleman—
§ Miss. Castle
Can the Foreign Secretary give the House an assurance that this country is not supplying any spare parts of the Saracen tanks or other equipment that is clearly related to the South African Government's policy of apartheid?
§ Mr. Butler
I made inquiries before coming to the House this evening. We are not exporting tanks and so I presume that we are not exporting parts. If I may, I should like notice of that question so that I can give an accurate reply.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to arms for Spain. Of course, what strikes us on this occasion, as on many occasions in the past, and in the days when I used to be Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, the right hon. Gentleman persists in confounding British policy with Labour prejudices. This is not the way to conduct the foreign policy of a great country.
In answering Questions yesterday, or rather on Monday, I referred to the Spanish arms deal and I made quite clear then that we follow exactly the same rule in sending or delivering arms to Spain, or giving facilities for arms to Spain, as we do with any other country in the world.
§ Mr. Butler
We follow the same rule. In Eastern Europe we are banned by the arrangement against strategic delivery. In the case of Spain we follow the same rule as we do for countries not within the bloc. That is the right policy to adopt and it is taken on the understanding that these arms are not likely, or intended, to be used against other countries or for aggression. I say firmly to the right hon. Gentleman opposite and to his hon. Friends that if we had not accepted to go in for this engagement, our competitors even among our allies would have had the job instead of us That would have meant a loss of many millions of pounds to our Exchequer.
I appeal to the House on this before I conclude. My appeal is that the arms for Spain deal has not yet been concluded. We have received no final arrangement or answer from the Spanish Government and I only hope that this exchange in the House will not make the deal impossible.
It is natural that many speakers should dwell upon our difficulties rather than our successes. As the House will have realised—
§ Mr. Butler
As regards Gibraltar, I will answer that immediately. There has been no raising of the Gibraltar question in relation to this deal. We still adhere to our attitude to Gibraltar in relation to Spain—
§ Mr. Butler
—but the matter has not been raised in the course of these negotiations. Those are the facts. The right hon. Gentleman asked what are the facts. As I am responsible for any exchanges in foreign policy I can tell him what the truth is, and that is the truth.
The House will realise from my opening remarks that we are deeply conscious of the changing world scene which flows from the great events of West and East—de-colonisation in the West and de-Stalinisation in the East. Many sections of the House have, I think, shown broad agreement on the general lines of British foreign policy and this debate has, therefore, been of 1421 considerable encouragement to the Government. We have found that we have the broad support of the House as a whole. We find in the negotiations with Moscow that on nine of the eleven points we were already making progress before the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition took them to Moscow himself. There is, therefore, considerable identity of view whether in relation to the Moscow visit or whether in relation to foreign policy as a whole. All I would say now, at the conclusion of a foreign affairs debate wound up by the Foreign Secretary, is that the more we can assume a national posture in our foreign policy the better, and for such I am obliged to the House.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.