§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved by Lord Addison on Tuesday last—namely, That it is of urgent importance both for the successful prosecution of the war and for the establishment of a satisfactory and lasting peace, that the Government should prepare without delay the proposals they intend to make for world settlement after the war.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, the first stage of the debate which we resume this afternoon was remarkable, I think, not only for its interest but for the degree of agreement which it manifested. I except, of course, the speech of the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford, who struck a harshly discordant note. He was not playing the part which he attributed to himself of Socrates, Jeremiah, and an enfant terrible, but rather that of advocatus diaboli, for he has made himself 116 a spokesman in many respects of the most diabolic personality that has appeared in the modern history of the world. But, for the rest, the House was on almost all points of one mind. We all agree that the Government have been right not to declare in detail at the present stage their proposals for world settlement after the war, and that my noble friend Lord Addison had carefully worded his Motion to make it plain that he was not endeavouring to bring pressure upon the Government to do that; for it is obvious that in a war such as this, where many nations are allied together, most of whom among themselves have agreed not to make separate peaces, it must be essential that any declaration that is made should be made in collaboration, not only collaboration with Allies, but with States which are closer to us than Allies—with our own Dominions. And history shows that many wars have been lost owing to divergences between Allies, divergences giving rise to controversy, mistrust, estrangement, open quarrels and ultimate defeat.
Above all, therefore, the Government must see it is their duty to endeavour to march in step with our Allies. And not only to maintain unity among our Allies and Associated Powers, but also throughout our whole nation. There is now a Coalition of Parties, forming a united Government, and too great precision in details of the future settlement might easily give rise to very severe divergencies and acute controversies among the supporters of the Government themselves. The Atlantic Charter, which is a very remarkable statement of principle of war aims, has now been endorsed by all the Allies, all the Dominions, and by all the principal Parties in this country. That is a great achievement—a very remarkable achievement—but controversy has only been avoided at a certain cost, and that cost has been, of course, in the matter of precision. Therefore the conclusion is that the whole House feels the Prime Minister has adopted an attitude of wise caution in not yielding to pressure prematurely, and perhaps in isolation, to make announcements of precise aims after the war.
Particularly is it essential that we should have the fullest co-operation in every step both of Russia and of the 117 United States. The history of the relations of this country with Russia since the last Great War has, of course, been somewhat delicate. At first the events of the Russian Revolution, and the terrible occurrences which took place afterwards, aroused a very strong feeling of antipathy, and the propaganda that was carried on by the Russian State, or by organizations in close touch with the Russian State, in the British Empire and other countries naturally aroused resentment. There was a possibility that this country might then take the same attitude as it took after the French Revolution when the Terror, the execution of the Royal Family, and militant Republicanism in Europe led to a violent reaction here, of which Edmund Burke was the spokesman. That was followed by twenty years of war with France. Now we are taking a very different view, and Russia also is taking a different view from that which was taken by France after her great Revolution. She no longer is engaged in a deliberate attempt to foment revolution in other countries, and the abandonment of the Trotsky policy marks a definite breach with the policy that she adopted immediately after the last war.
Now that we are fighting in a common cause, when the Russian people are bearing for the sake of that cause the most terrible sufferings, when Russia is indeed bearing the main brunt of the war on land on behalf of all the Allies, and when we remember that in future hers will still be the greatest danger of all from Germany—that she has been many times invaded and always under threat—surely we should recognize that our duty is not only to support her in every way in her military effort, but also to associate ourselves with her in the fullest possible measure in framing the course of the world settlement after the war, particularly with regard to the future of Germany. That matter is often discussed as though it were a subject in which we were primarily and almost solely interested, and on which it was for us to declare our views and endeavour to force them on everybody else. Surely it is a matter, above all, on which the views of the Russian Government and people should be clearly heard. They are also most directly concerned with regard to the future of Polard, the Baltic States, and, the Balkans, and that very difficult question which must arise under 118 the conditions which prevail after a war, as it arose in 1918 and 1919—namely, how far it is just and legitimate that frontiers should have regard to strategic considerations as well as to ethnographic.
There is undoubtedly in the minds of some people in Soviet Russia an element of suspicion lest, when it comes to the point, and the war is over and the victory has been won, there will be political elements in this country which would seek to secure a settlement establishing something in the nature of a balance of power between post-war Germany and Russia—a balance in Eastern Europe in which Britain may play the part of makeweight. That I believe is an ill-founded suspicion. I cannot find that there is any serious school of thought, even concealed, in this country of that kind. The doctrine of the balance of power, according to such study as I have been able to make of the history of Europe, has always been a, mistaken doctrine. It never was able to maintain peace for any length of time. In the eighteenth century, when it was dominant, this country was at war for as many years as it was at peace; and any balance of power that might be established is quite easily upset by shifting alliances, and never proves to be stable. It has always been a wrong doctrine, and although it is often said it is a doctrine that Britain has pursued historically in Europe, I do not think a right reading of events would confirm that.
The one doctrine this country has always pursued unswervingly, and always in the long run with success, is that of opposition to the domination of Europe by any single Power. That was her effort in the last Great War, and it is her effort now. Such an aim cannot, I submit, be achieved by any system of clever equipoise, but can only be achieved in the long run by some system of collective security. It is to that, therefore, I believe we must return. If the spokesman of the Government to-day could say anything to remove that suspicion that we may in our hearts be desiring to see Germany and Russia after the war more or less equally balanced in Eastern Europe, and to see the future peace of the world safeguarded by such an arrangement, I feel it would be of service.
The other chief party in the Alliance is, of course, the United States of America. There our hope is that she will consent to 119 take her full share after the war in the leadership of the world, moral, political, economic, and military. Our anxiety is not that she should claim that position, but that she may not claim it. We hear warning voices that the spirit of isolationism is still somewhat strong in the United States. We have to remember with deep regret the course of events in 1919 and their consequences, and we must devoutly hope that the attitude of the United States after this war will not be such as was taken then. Many members of your Lordships' House have referred to the very noble speeches that have been made of late in America by Mr. Wallace, Mr. Cordell Hull, Mr. Sumner Welles, Mr. Perkins, and others. Our friends in America may know that in this House and in this country those speeches have been heard and noted and are most warmly appreciated, and this House would desire nothing better than that we should re-echo the sentiments that were there expressed.
Then there is the position of China in the Alliance. Our defeat in Singapore and Burma has placed China militarily in great peril, and I am sure anything that can be done by the Government to strengthen her hands and fortify her resolute spirit will be welcomed in that quarter, and especially an assurance that in helping to form the peace settlement we shall consider the interests of China in the Far East no less than our own.
There was agreement in the House two days ago also as to the proposals of the Atlantic Charter with regard to disarmament of aggressor nations. In fact I think those proposals have been received with absolutely unanimous approval throughout this country. When the aggressor nations have been disarmed then the world will be able to proceed about its business undisturbed by the threats of those who have made aggression their creed. Hitherto those who believe in war have had the arms for the very reason that they do believe in war, while those who believe in peace have often left themselves comparatively unarmed for the very reason that they do believe in peace. Now in future, if the proposal of the Atlantic Charter is carried out, things will be turned the other way about, and we shall have disarmed warmongers and armed peace-lovers. The world then will be a much healthier place.
120 As to the political settlements after the war, there in some respects there was not quite the same unanimity in the House as on these other matters, and particularly in regard to the future of Germany. Some favoured the suggestion that the United German Reich should be broken up, and that fractions of that Reich should be kept apart forcibly. On the other hand other noble Lords regard that as impracticable. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, on Tuesday animadverted in very strong terms on a book recently written by Professor Carr on the Conditions of Peace. In some respects, no doubt, that book is open to much criticism. But at all events in the section in which that able and provocative writer deals with the question of the breaking up of Germany, he gives arguments against that being made the fundamental part of our policy which seemed to me very convincing. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, is not, I regret, taking part in this debate to-day; he has always impressed us so greatly by his speeches. For my own part, when I have recovered my vision after one of his coruscating speeches, and my eyes, dazzled by the brilliance of his advocacy, are able to see things clearly, I come to the conclusion that his general position is perhaps not wholly wise. I should prefer to accept the policy with regard to Germany that has been adumbrated by Stalin rather than that which we hear propounded by our noble friend Lord Vansittart.
But here, again, in regard to the future of Germany we must above all listen to the views that are being expressed by Russia, and moreover we have also to listen to the views of the Poles, the Czechs and the Austrians who are very directly concerned. Naturally the Government of this country would not wish to arrive at any definite opinion on this gravely important matter before having fully considered all the views of those Allies of ours. In general the problem of the small nations is one of the most difficult that will arise after the war. Here there is an entirely new situation in the world. The invention of the new implements of war, very complicated and very costly, and above all the invention of air warfare, have completely changed the position so far as all small nations are concerned practically in every part of the world. No longer are patriotism, valour, heroism of any avail by a small people neighbouring 121 on a great one, for that great Power within an hour can concentrate air forces from all over its territory which are completely overwhelming against a small Power, and, supported by powerful mechanized Armies, make the position of any small nation militarily impossible. And when this strategic factor is coupled with the complete repudiation of any international morality, which used to guarantee to some extent the interests, and the welfare of small Powers, their position has become indeed desperate.
This has brought about an entire change in the comity of nations. The Foreign Minister of Norway, Herr Trygve Lie, recently said that the Norwegian people have been convinced that the policy of neutrality is bankrupt, and that has received support from spokesmen of other of the smaller nations. The question of the alternative political system that has to be created in Europe is of course one of extreme complexity. We are offered by some of our friends—perhaps my noble friend Lord Davies is of that school—a dilemma between a continuance of anarchy on the one hand, and the creation of a federal system on the other. But there are other forms of international co-operation besides federalism. Federalism means, if it means anything, a composite Government such as the Federation of the United States, or the Federation of Switzerland, or any other Federation—that is to say, a Government dealing with foreign policy and with finance consisting of members of all the federated States, and an Assembly or Parliament elected in great constituencies at a simultaneous poll of the whole area. That is federalism. A unitary Government with a unitary Assembly is not practicable. Without entering into the argument which would occupy me too long, I would only express my own conviction that such a system in the present state of the world is quite impracticable. It is not likely that even one of the British Dominions would agree to federate in that sense, nor is it probable that any European nation would agree to do so.
But, as I say, there are other forms of co-operation and the Governments of some of our Allies have already declared their adoption of one other form—namely, confederation. The Poles and Czechs have formally agreed to the basis of a new Constitution in which their two States will be linked in a Confederation, and the 122 Yugoslavs and Greeks have done the same. A Confederation is, of course, a system of separate Sovereign States which unite together for purposes of defence and foreign policy, and any other matters they may desire to include, with an organ not superseding the existing Governments but formed from the existing Governments and without any simultaneously elected Legislature common to the whole of the group. That is a system less close than federation but closer than an alliance, which may perhaps give us the pattern for large parts of a new Europe. Thus the two pairs of States that I have just mentioned think that other adherents will come into their Confederations, and such Confederations in various parts of Europe, linked together, may perhaps provide us with part at all events of the political machinery that is needed. But let us not forget in considering the post-war world and federations or confederations, that there is already existing a looser but very effective union in the British Commonwealth, which itself is a service to the world, not only on account of its powerful influence for liberty and general peace, but also because it ensures internal peace over one-quarter of the whole area of the world. Let us never forget that in searching for greater unity we ought first to preserve such unity as there is.
Furthermore, there is the question of the revival of the League of Nations, perhaps with wider membership and more limited powers. I was very grateful to hear the kindly Words spoken by my noble friend Viscount Cranborne on Tuesday about the League of Nations, which in these days is usually made the subject of condemnation or even ridicule rather than commendation. After all, the League of Nations did succeed for ten years in maintaining peace throughout the world. It is the first time in modern history that a whole decade has passed without any nation warring against any other nation. It may be that while the armed Powers, particularly the British Empire, the United States and Russia, may by possessing overwhelming forces ensure the peace of the world, under that shelter the League of Nations may perform a most useful part in matters cultural and juridical, some political matters and particularly economic matters.
As to the economic side—if I may detain your Lordships for a few moments 123 longer—that is perhaps the most difficult of all the matters that will have to be dealt with after the war. My noble friend the Marquess of Crewe, who spoke on Tuesday as Leader of the Liberal Party in your Lordships' House, declared very frankly that it is universally recognized now that to abolish every form of restriction and control in international trade, and to establish universal freedom of trade, is impossible in the existing state of the world. Although I cannot speak myself for the Liberal Party, I do not know that there is anyone who would disagree with that view. The classic economics, as they were called, assumed that free competition would be universal, that every individual manufacturer or merchant would compete with every other individual manufacturer or merchant within his own country, and in external trade with all other countries; but we have been for some years now very far from that situation, not only on account of the existence of tariffs, but on account of the growing existence of cartels, of systems of trade such as that practised by Germany with political and military direction, and the Russian system in which the whole national commerce is in effect in one hand. Whatever our views may be concerning the desirability of abolishing restrictions on trade, that fact is not to be ignored.
The fact that a great part of the commerce of the world is directed politically and militarily has got to be recognized, and we have to devise new methods for dealing with it; otherwise the countries of Europe may be tempted to conform after all with the German New Order which has been largely designed to reinforce that system and to extend it. It is not enough for us to say in propaganda statements that the German New Order is being imposed by force and is being conducted and will be conducted in the selfish interest of a Power which is dominant militarily, that that Power will by means of currency and price control drain away the products and the profits of other countries for the benefit of a robber State. That is all true, but we must at the same time not merely have a negative but also a positive. We must propose some kind of alternative which will save Europe and the world from economic anarchy. That is not to be found in the old crude system of tariff barriers, the foolish attempt at one and the same time to stop imports 124 and to increase exports—an obvious impossibility. There we have been put on quite wrong lines by the advocates of that system. As an opponent of the Ottawa arrangements, ten years ago, I may be allowed to express a modest satisfaction that it is now realized that that clumsy method has proved ineffective, that it is largely discredited and rapidly falling to pieces. I do not know whether I am exposing myself to the heavy batteries of my noble friend the Earl of Selborne who will reply to this debate, but let us not fall into an unreal dilemma. Federalism is not the only alternative to international anarchy, and protective tariffs are not the only alternative to anarchy in economic affairs. I think the time has now arrived when all sections of political thought may agree that it is inevitable that there should be some form of rational international economy. The aim should be to combine individual initiative and enterprise and willingness to take risks with some measure of ordered guidance and control of international trade.
We know that the immediate position which will arise after the war is being dealt with by the Government. Steps are being prepared for feeding the population of Europe and Asia and Mr. Sumner Welles has told us that agreements are being made for stabilizing the prices of basic commodities. There will be, of course, after the war a great demand for restocking, for reconstruction, and for repairs. But, after that, with the enormous development of productive power—the increase in the world's production of machine tools alone would immensely increase productive capacity of many industries—and, with the stopping of employment upon the manufacture of armaments in Germany and elsewhere, there seems likely to be the most merciless scramble for international trade after the time is over when stocks are made good and reconstruction has been effected. There is a real danger that two or three years after the war there may be depression worse than that which followed the last war.
Here again there seems to emerge a great measure of agreement expressed in your Lordships' House two days ago, that the only means of avoiding that situation is to secure improved standards of consumption. British agriculture may find its 125 largest potential market at its own doors for dairy production and higher grade agricultural production, asking not for more protection but for less poverty amongst its customers, for the poverty of the consumer can never lead to the prosperity of the producer. China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe and the Colonial Empires of various States may offer abundant markets for industrial countries, such as the United States and ourselves and other industrial countries of Europe, including Germany, and for Japan. This matter has been interestingly dealt with in a remarkable report just issued by the Federation of British Industries, which shows that British industry is well alive to this important aspect of the whole situation.
Reference has been made to a very valuable contribution to this discussion in an article published in The Times two days ago, dealing with the scheme of an officer of the State Department of the United States, expressing not the views of that Department but his own views, and outlining a very comprehensive scheme which would go to the root of the whole question of international exchange as it now presents itself through the breakdown of the international gold standard. These matters are not to be dealt with, and these tasks are not be accomplished, in one year or two or three years. Planning for one country will be a heavy and difficult task, but planning for the planet—for it is nothing else—is a formidable task indeed. These problems, military, political and economic, are not to be settled at once all in a rush. We cannot have another Paris Conference and another Versailles Treaty and we must, I think, accustom ourselves to the idea that the war settlement can only be accomplished by stages. Any fool can make war, but it needs wise and patient statesmen to build a peace which shall be lasting.
I end as I began by saying that we must in all these matters work in closest cooperation with the Allied Nations, and above all, with the United States. Since I have had the honour to be a member of this House in season and out of season I have preached that doctrine, for I believe profoundly that the future welfare of the world depends upon that, on the political plane, more than upon any other one thing. Furthermore, owing to the 126 close economic and other relations of Australia, New Zealand and Canada with the United States, I believe that close cooperation between this country and the United States is in the long run a necessary safeguard to the cohesion of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I said on the political plane, for politics is not self-contained and self-supporting but is based on ethics; ethics is based upon philosophy and religion in its widest sense and, as the most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Lang, pointed out two days ago, it is there, in those factors, that we find the elements that ultimately condition the welfare and the happiness of the human race.
As for the United States, when we remember past relations throughout the history of the United States between that country and ourselves and how it was largely one of antagonisms with Great Britain, how their history begins not with 1066 but with a long and bitter war against the Britain of George III, and the many grave controversies that have arisen since, we may be thankful that in this greatest of all crises these old enmities and misunderstandings have been mitigated. When we recall that another King George, his present Majesty King George VI, was able to go to the United States, where he was widely acclaimed, and, standing at Mount Vernon, alone but personifying the whole British Commonwealth paid his tribute at George Washington's tomb, we may see the most significant act of symbolism in the history of the modern world.
§ LORD BRABAZON OF TARA
My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will not think me unduly precocious in having the audacity to address you after being for so short a time a member of your Lordships' House. But making one's maiden speech is rather like facing a cold bath; the more you look at it, the more terrifying it becomes, and so I have decided to make the plunge. I am fortified by the fact that even in my very brief sojourn here I have found this a very friendly place. I am further fortified by the fact that as I look round your Lordships' House I do find many faces that bear a very strange resemblance to some I have seen opposite me or at my side in another place. I can quite understand many of your Lordships feeling in your hearts that this is rather a dreadful 127 thing: that here is another loquacious ex-member of Parliament who has come to join you. That will not perhaps be expressed vocally because everyone is so polite here, but I have no doubt that many people are feeling it. I would like to give your Lordships this promise. First of all, when I rise I will always be short, and I will never require a lectern.
Now I have in my notes here the instruction to contradict the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, because, after all, we are not making set speeches here. This is to be a debate, and, theoretically, I should contradict him. But I must say that I listened to his speech with tremendous interest because he is a master of language, and I agreed with practically everything he said. I think that perhaps he just got "on the edge," if I may put it that way, in dealing with the Ottawa Agreements, but considering everything there was nothing that I disagreed with.
What I would like to stress is that if we, these great united countries, are to work together after the war, if we, Great Britain, are to work with the United States, with Russia, with China, difficulties of getting to know each other will have to be overcome. We must get to know the people of the Allied Nations as well as their countries, and how it is going to be done, by freedom of access, intercourse by means of broadcasting and so on, will have to be considered. With regard to post-war planning many people are inclined to say: "It is much better to win the war first and then to plan for peace." I think that is a very mischievous doctrine. What are we fighting about? Germany is trying to impose upon us a post-war situation which we dislike and we are fighting to avoid it. So really the whole time both sides are thinking of the post-war position, and, in these circumstances, we have every right, and I, personally, think it is most desirable, to discuss these great problems and to hear each other's views.
It is, I think,-interesting that in most of the expressions of view that one hears the post-war situation is almost always rather coloured with the political views of the speaker. In this debate, for example, the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, brought in a slight Free Trade bias. I was interested to see that he did not quite go the whole hog. But there are difficulties 128 about that. I remember so well that in another place years ago, when Sir Alfred Mond, an enthusiastic Free Trader, was telling the House how we were going to get ships from Germany as part of the Reparations, there was a howl of protest from the Liberal Benches that that would spoil the shipbuilding market. Sir Alfred Mond turned on them and in his rather fruity voice said: "I cannot imagine any freer trade than ships for nothing." And then my noble friend Lord Cecil of Chelwood brought in his favourite world's work, the League of Nations. Although nobody has lost confidence or hope in the possibility that in future another League of Nations will be formed, I hope that he will feel some twinges of conscience in discriminating between the League of Nations and the League of Nations Union, because the League of Nations Union practically did nothing else but teach England, and nobody else, to disarm. Then we had a very, very eloquent speech from the most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Lang, in which again he, barking, so to speak, up his own tree, said that we could cure everything by adopting Christianity. That seemed to be a very quaint idea, because history will not bear out the efficacy of that solution. There have been more wars over Christianity than about any other subject. However, perhaps he meant the adoption of the teachings of the Gospel, which is a different thing. Then we had a very interesting speech from the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford. I wish that he was here to-day. He certainly had some courage, because, apart from his very curious views on Germany, he did something for which I have the greatest admiration: he tried to explain Social Credit to your Lordships. That is a very heroic effort on any one's part! I must say that he did not convince anybody, but it was a bold thing to do.
Not only in this House but outside it people plan according to their own ideas. I have not so far, I must confess, heard a prominent industrialist or financier giving us his opinion on the more intricate theological questions. On the other hand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, ignoring the wise advice to leave '' unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's," has given the world some very curious advice on finance—some very odd advice. In a recent book, Mr. H. G. Wells took up some remarks made by the late Archbishop of Canterbury with which he disagreed, and 129 said he had a suspicion that the Archbishop was "talking through his mitre." That is a very shocking thing to say. I sincerely hope that what was a suspicion in the case of the late Archbishop will not become a fact in the case of the present one.
We have had the Communists pretending that we are fighting this war in order to make a Communist England. I do not believe that any one will think that is a truism. We have had the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, in a somewhat bad temper, giving a broadcast to America on his ideas of how the Jews should be treated in Palestine—not a very pretty piece of porcelain; not, I think, deserving to have the great English name of Wedgwood attached to it. Still, these things go on. The Socialists plan a splendid future for us all, but nobody seems to explain how no one is to have any money, no one is to be allowed to earn it, and yet astronomical figures arc to be spent on social welfare. Perhaps at a later date we might at any rate start to explore the financial reconstruction of the country after the war, because I think that that would be very illuminating, and would possibly clear our minds.
Looking at the matter from a general point of view, England dislikes extremes, and the future, of course, will be decided by what may be termed the Right Wing of the Labour Party and the Left Wing of the Conservative Party. It is there that the great political genius of this country rests. We must not fight too strenuously about silly things like questions of public ownership. That is a shifting line; after all, it goes from the old idea of running wars on a basis of private armies to the nationalization of children. The line of public ownership is a shifting line, although it always tends to be more on the side of public ownership; but this is a question which should be decided as civilization advances.
In dealing with post-war questions, it seems to me that we should take great things first, and the greatest thing for us to consider is how we are to stop war recurring every twenty years; because planning for this and that without dealing with that problem is just waste of time and is nonsense. I think it is a truism to say that mechanical science outstrips political wisdom. We have seen in our time the birth of flight, an invention 130 which promised great good as an internationalizing influence throughout the world; and how have we used it? It has become, so to speak, a Juggernaut which may well destroy civilization itself. We had after the last war supreme power in the air, but so lacking were we in imagination that we threw it away as if we were ashamed of it. As we look at the campaign which is going on throughout the world, of what are we becoming more and more convinced? Surely of the fact that an Army without air support is quite innocuous, and that a Navy without air support is also innocuous. Unless you can provide air support for them, they are practically harmless. We have the key to the future in our hands, therefore, if we deal with the air situation.
I want to plead with the Government to consider at the earliest possible moment announcing to the world that the United States of America, Russia and ourselves intend to take charge of the air throughout the world. Having done that, they will, of course, delegate certain powers to each State, but there will be no more Air Forces. These three great countries would abolish the idea of usque ad coelum by which every country owned the air above its territory. Their international civil air force would be able to go wherever it liked and could see that Air Forces were not to be built up anywhere for future mischief. I want to impress this on your Lordships. You would not be creating an armament; you would be creating a form of transport which is long overdue, and which is much wanted in order to bring the countries together as much as possible. In return for taking this upon yourselves, you would guarantee protection to all the countries in the world, and you would have in your hands, without great Armies and without great Navies, this vast transport service—civil, if you like, in civil times—contributing to the world's welfare, but ready at any time to stop any aggressor anywhere throughout the world.
That seems to me to be the right way of thinking in the future. The idea of the League of Nations, which was a talking shop without any power, we must not indulge in again. Let us start with this overwhelming force in our hands first of all, and then unite it with another League of Nations. I do plead that we should think of this thing now, and that we should get into touch with America 131 and with Russia and try to get them to agree; because, if we leave it until after the war, the world will be tired and lacking in imagination. It will be licking its wounds, and you will never get anything agreed to then; but under the stress of the times now, with people thinking with vision of the future, I believe that you could get agreement. We cannot ask the Minister to say anything at present, but I do hope that he will convey that suggestion to the Government, in order that they may consider it.
In conclusion, I should like to say a word about the speech of my noble friend Lord Addison. I have referred to many people flogging their own horses here, and I have done the same with my pet theory about the air. I should indeed like to see the air harnessed to the good of the world, because I have seen so many friends produce this thing only thirty years ago with such great ideals as to what it was to do, but it has fallen short of them and become such a catastrophe. With regard to Lord Addison's speech, I have known him for many years, and I think his great reputation here was indeed enhanced by the very great contribution which he made in his speech. He did not touch on any extreme political view. He felt the wounds that wanted curing after the war, and I for one am very privileged to give him all my thanks for having been able to listen to him.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My Lords, I never believed in my many efforts of imagination that I should ever be privileged to follow the noble Lord who has just made his maiden speech in this House, and I am sure I shall be voicing the opinion of all your Lordships when I say with what pleasure we have listened to his speech to-day, and how we hope that his contributions will be numerous in your Lordships' House. Those of us who have contributed to debates in this House, and perhaps have not always interested the House in the speeches we have made, can always feel confidence that to whatever subject the noble Lord addresses himself he will exercise an invigorating influence and will speak from profound knowledge. The noble Lord has shone in many walks of life, and when he speaks of aviation we know well that he was one of the great pioneers of that science and deserves much for what he has done in that connexion.
132 This debate is obviously the precursor of a great many debates of the same description, and I feel that it is of the greatest value that your Lordships should have many opportunities of making those contributions which so many of our members can make to the future and to the development of plans on which the future world must rest. We have listened to many speeches of wide range and great variety, every one of them interesting and without a note of controversy, or rather I would say with hardly a note of controversy, in any of them. But I think your Lordships will agree with me—and you may believe that perhaps it is the proper line to take—that, although all sorts of subjects have been mentioned, we have really not arrived at any concrete suggestions. And there is one concrete suggestion that I shall venture to offer later on in the few remarks that I shall make. We have to contemplate in the future a world in complete chaos. The difficulties and the complexities are vast and overwhelming, and are due to the havoc created by the traditional historic aggressor nation. The first step that we shall take is to prevent that aggressor from doing anything of the same kind again, and if that one great danger is removed—how it will be removed I cannot say at this moment, although naturally every one of us has ideas on that subject, and they have been mentioned in this debate—then, and only then, will the world have an opportunity of developing along those lines which are in all our minds.
But I think your Lordships will agree with me when I say that there is no time to be lost, and we do want a concrete character given to many of those suggestions which have been forthcoming in this debate which, as I say, is the first, I hope, of many. It is necessary that we should know what to do, and moreover it is also necessary that we should know what not to do. One feels somehow that one would like to see in the suggestions that are made some vital living inspiration, which seems to be lacking now. Our energies and our activities are all devoted to winning the war—to self-preservatior—which we shall achieve at some date in the future which it would be unwise actually to forecast. But one feels that somehow behind that there is not a great inspiration to enable not only the people 133 of this country but the nations throughout the world to feel that after all they are fighting for something.
I listened with great interest to the speech which the most reverend and noble Lord delivered on Tuesday. He touched on the fringe of a great number of subjects. He spoke of one material aspect, the aspect of finance, which of course is one of those paramount subjects on which the victor nations will have to develop a definite policy. I cannot in the few remarks I am making to-day indulge in my own opinions on that subject, and I certainly am not going to err, like the Duke of Bedford, in speaking of Social Credit, because I cannot understand anything about it, and I shall listen with interest to anybody who develops that point in any speech that may be made. But the most reverend and noble Lord made a second point, and that was when he quoted from General Smuts. I feel that that is a most striking quotation. The most reverend and noble Lord has made many of his own in other places, but I feel that that is a note which will certainly be struck in every debate on this subject which develops in your Lordships' House.
I was sorry to listen to what my noble friend Lord Brabazon said in his speech, and naturally I have no desire to raise a controversy with the noble Lord, especially one concerned with religion. It would be pedantic and presumptuous on my part if I as a very humble layman ventured to do so. But I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he thinks that Christianity has had a chance. It has fought for centuries and it has achieved an immense work; and one feels that if one could adopt the doctrines which are embedded in that religion and the doctrines which are the fundamental basis of all religions, we should be able to provide that inspiration which we are lacking at the present moment.
I listened with interest, as I always do, to the speech delivered by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and I was glad to hear that in no uncertain language he condemned the doctrine of the balance of power. That is a subject which opens up a very wide vista. I think there is one point to which the noble Viscount did not refer—namely, that when we are engaged in carrying out that policy we really spoke as an island in the West of Eurolpe; while, at the present moment. We are speaking 134 in the name of the British Commonwealth of Nations, which I believe makes a great difference. In the last twenty years we can say that the general history of the world has been one of failure and frustration. We remember naturally the hopes expressed after the last war, the ideas that were put forward and the disappointments which succeeded one after another. I listened with great interest to the speech which fell from the noble Earl, Lord Perth. He invariably makes a speech which interests your Lordships and one also which does not err on the side of length. He did a great service. He did what we should have expected him to do—he gave his measure of support to, and explanation of, the League of Nations.
I thoroughly agree with him that in the international order which must succeed we should have some organization which will collect the voices of all the nations and carry out that work which the League did carry out successfully for a certain time, but not long enough. Everyone is inclined to forget the immense work the League of Nations did carry out in all sorts of fields of endeavour. I would not blame the League of Nations itself. I would blame all those people who should have supported the League of Nations and made use of it in those directions in which it could be useful. Whatever the developments may be, I am hoping we shall find that the statesmen of all nations will recognize their responsibilities, and not put the blame on an organization which was asked to carry out duties it was quite incapable of fulfilling. The noble Earl also alluded to the fact that one of the disasters of twenty years ago was the failure of America to co-operate with all of us who were endeavouring to set the world aright. The noble Earl will remember that perhaps one of the most important failures was when both America and Great Britain followed each other in refusing to ratify the guarantee to France. It is quite certain that had France had any idea that that guarantee was not to be ratified, she would have claimed the Rhine as her frontier, which would have made a vital difference to all the grave difficulties with which we have been faced.
The reason I have ventured to address your Lordships is to emphasize the greatest failure of all—one which has resulted in the present situation. That was the 135 failure to observe and conserve the sanctity of treaties. If we go through those fateful years we can remember that Germany, beginning on a small scale and increasing that scale as time went on, was continually making breaches in the Treaty of Versailles. These breaches, for some reason or other, were not noticed. They were condoned and accepted. Lord Vansittart—whom I am sorry not to see in the House on this occasion, as I should have thought this was a debate in which he could have given us a most useful speech—in very eloquent phraseology tells us what is already written large in history, and which every student of history knows perfectly well. We know quite well that the German nation, led and stimulated as they have been in the past, and as they are being led and stimulated by their present leaders, are capable of every bestiality and brutality, with no ideas of civilization—that is really what it comes to. Yet, although we knew this, although we knew that Germany was arming—there was no secret about it at all—and arming in defiance of a Treaty which she had signed (signed under duress, it is quite true), nothing was done to frustrate her in what she was doing.
I never want to trespass on your Lordships' indulgence too often, but after the speeches which we have heard from Lord Vansittart, while we agree with every condemnation he puts forward, I have always wanted to ask him what the Foreign Office was doing, what four successive Foreign Ministers were doing, in condoning and accepting these breaches of the Treaty of Versailles. We know that the whole of our civilization depends on the observance of treaties—on these simple words "observance of treaties." If a great country like Great Britain is prepared to condone a breach of a treaty in any form, it strikes at the root of our civilization and is the forerunner of the anarchy we are seeing at the present time. We had every opportunity. After all, Germany was impotent. I go so far as to say that Germany was impotent up to 1937. They had made a peak for their development—they made no secret of it. We hear a great deal about Germany's secret rearmament, but it was not a secret at all. She had a peak, which was somewhere about 1940, but by reason of the disagreements among the Powers the Germans advanced that date until they were 136 more or less ready in 1939 to fall on the world, as everyone knew they would do as soon as they developed the strength which was at their command.
The great difficulty which I see in front of us at the present time, and which I hope will be overcome as these few months go by, is in relation to what is called by the hackneyed phrase, a "world order." Germany has got a world order. Hitler says to his people: "I will give you a life, an existence, but in return for that I want to absorb the whole of your freedom and the whole of your independence." That is the plan he has in his mind. It is the German plan. It is one which a primitive race like the Germans are quite willing to accept. We should have a world order of some definite kind. We speak of Democracy, and there is no more ardent supporter of Democracy than I am. I believe the great majority of your Lordships accept it too; but we must remember that this Democracy—our freedom and our independence—which it is really very difficult to define, carries with it a sort of suggestion of lack of organization, of muddling through, of hoping for the best and, as the noble Marquess (Lord Crewe) who spoke from the Liberal Benches said on Tuesday, believing it will be "all right on the night." We have got to do some planning. We have got to have an idea in our minds as to what doctrine we want to put forward as our own doctrine, and try by our example to induce other nations to follow us.
We have many acute differences in our own country. That is a sign of the healthiness of our Democracy and of our people, and shows that instead of being at a standstill we are going forward. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, referred to that point. I think he said in effect that each of our Parties deals in exaggeration, and that in between the promotion of our policies there appears to be a rancour and bitterness which foreign countries never understand. Usually it turns out that we adopt a middle course, and that is probably what will happen in the future. I am not going to embark upon the merits of Socialism or Capitalism or anything of that kind now. I would utter this word of warning. I sincerely hope that whils we continue our political controversies, in which all of us have taken part and in which most of us have enjoyed taking part, let us not forget what is going on it the world outside. Let us realize that it is 137 necessary for us to give an example to all those nations who are distracted at this moment and who are being ravaged and destroyed by the brutal tyranny of Germany, which has a plan. We shall be the godfather of an enormous family. We shall have to take all these countries under our wing, and we shall have to assist them for some considerable time. The best service we can render them is to give them an example as to how they should carry on.
There is one final word that I desire to say which I am quite sure will find an echo in the hearts of noble Lords. We have been suffering for twenty years under an inferiority complex. That inferiority complex seems to have proceeded alongside our unilateral disarmament, and it came ultimately to such a pitch that Great Britain never spoke as Great Britain but was prepared to play second fiddle to France and to any other country which seemed to have ideas of its own. I have never had those ideas. I do not think I have an exaggerated idea of the British Commonwealth of Nations, but I am quite certain that, what we should have done twenty years ago we shall have to do in the future. We shall have to take the lead in the world. Our aggression, if you can call it aggression, in the past ha s realty been the pressure of the system which we have adopted. Those responsible for our great Empire did not resort to aggressive tactics and conquest. We really have made our Empire by being able to impress on people that the doctrine of the British mission is one which is infinite and which in the end must prevail. While I am naturally willing that we should obtain all the cooperation that we can from America—and I have no doubt that we shall get it this time—and from that great country Russia, and from all the peace-loving countries of the world, I do feel that our duty lies in taking the lead in all these matters, and propounding the doctrines which we believe in our hearts are essential for the wellbeing of the world.
THE EARL OF DARNLEY
My Lords, I feel most diffident, after having heard so many exports in every branch of life making plans for the future of the world, in adding even a short contribution to this total, and also in delaying still further the healing balm of His Majesty's Government's edict. But I feel all the same even the smallest doubt as to the 138 solidity of the houses they are designing, and especially as to their foundations. I feel perhaps that I am justified in asking you to bear with me for a short time in my attempt to urge a plea for the assured welfare of the principal invalid who has to live in these buildings, and to implore that this time he may be housed, as is his due, on a foundation of rock. I refer to civilization. Not so very long ago the present Prime Minister wrote a book called Great Contemporaries, which your Lordships have doubtless read. In his chapter on Hitler he wondered if Hitler was to be the man who was eventually to launch on the world a war in which civilization would inevitably succumb. Those are trenchant words from a well-informed and intelligent man. The first part has already come true, but the second is still in the melting pot. If the second part of his prophecy is right, then planning for a world settlement is completely useless. You cannot make settlements for barbarism. If he was wrong it seems to me it is absolutely certain that the next war will bring about this result. Therefore I say with the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, whose speech I enjoyed enormously, like everybody else, that postwar settlement appears a useless discussion unless it ensures as its first proviso a means for making this event completely and absolutely impossible, and exploding the myth of its inevitability, at any rate, in all civilized countries.
Your Lordships know that in the past two thousand years there have been many great and gallant leaders who have defeated their enemies and done all manner of doughty deeds in the name of peace and freedom. Their names are all on the scroll of history. There have been many aggressors, many victims to defend and rescue, and every country has been very proud of the exploits of those who have led them to victory. And yet it seems that the net result of the whole is that civilization, that edifice of culture and security which has been built out of so much endeavour and sacrifice, is, in the opinion of one who is amply qualified to judge the age in which we live, on the eve of dissolution and destruction. It seems to me, therefore, that if that is to be said it must have a new doctor and a new treatment. I feel, perhaps wrongly, that there is nothing new enough in this debate.
139 One noble Lord—I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank—referred to Prussia as the cancer of Europe. I would like to take up this analogy. Your Lordships have had the questions of guilt and responsibility vividly debated recently in this House and often proclaimed in Press and pulpit. These bear some resemblance to the process of deploring the frightful manifestations of humanity's most terrible physical disease, and of feeling compelled to mutilate the body to remove the growth without endeavouring, as the noble band of doctors and scientists are now doing, to use them sufficiently as means for finding out its prevention and cure. Surely the establishment of the questions of degree of guilt and frightfulness is most valuable in proving the seriousness of civilization's illness and the vital necessity for its cure, and the absence of any method of effectually producing one during civilization's existence up to the present. The worse the excesses the more necessary for an absolutely new cure.
One of the proposals made by the noble Viscount who leads the House was to use a force similar to our own police force to control nations. I agree with the noble Viscount, but the English policeman does not represent force so much as prevention. His weapons are most rudimentary, his presence itself represents the united agreement formed over a period of one thousand years in the minds of this people that brawling shall not disturb the peace, and this, coupled with the suggestion always given that peaceful ways obtain better results, always give him his value. "You can't do this here" is said to attackers and attacked alike, and both are taken to the lock-up if they do not agree. The magistrate is always at his back to settle quarrels not in the interests of the disputants alone but in the interests of the whole community and to preserve the country's peace. This principle should certainly be well applied to the preservation of world peace and the preventive desire behind it also. But eventually peace is going to be founded on a desire for peace and not on any form of compulsion, and it is that feeling that we must try to create if civilization is to remain.
After all the very necessary preliminaries of restitution and re-establishment, 140 so fully and ably discussed by your Lordships in this debate, have been achieved, some method of continuance will have not only to be found but even to be guaranteed if civilization is to remain. So I assert again that the horror, the terror, the cruelty and atrocities of Germany's attack on the world have as their first lessons the seriousness of civilization's condition, the greater and more alarming violence of each successive relapse, and the need of investigating and curing the methods that have brought it about as doctors are now doing for cancer. The important problem is not to found post-war planning on guilt, however flagrant, but on methods of preventing it developing and thereby ruining the lives of countless innocent millions and bringing civilization crashing round our feet. The world has indeed to be given something that will guard international peace as faithfully and successfully as the policeman in England, but, like him, almost entirely by the prevention of the coming into being of large-scale destruction and its subsequent results of collapse, by demonstrating and producing the better means available.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, referred to the League of Nations and to the fact that it was not supported by America. I would like to suggest to your Lordships that it was not properly supported by anybody, not because it had not the finest of ideas, of sites and houses, but because it seemed to lack authority. Therefore it developed into a babel of officials and material mechanism, and so gave no confidence to anybody, and was deserted one by one by those whom it could have helped. I believe with the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that it can still be used to produce the desire for peace, but in a new guise and with considerable added power. That must be done first of all by propaganda and post-war planning, recognizing the fact that if wars are allowed to continue civilization will go and making that into a phobia of immense magnitude to the world; secondly, by aiming in producing at Geneva a novel method of ensuring its safety and make this so necessary that every nation will be obliged to use it and join it. But this time the League must be made into a much more active and efficacious organization.
I put it to your Lordships that it should be constituted practically and decisively 141 as a board of trustees for civilization. It must consist of statesmen of at least Cabinet rank to give it the necessary weight and importance. The board of trustees must take as their first oath of trust that they will undertake immediately at first hand the impartial examination of every grievance of every country, however preposterous it may seem, and thus secure the abolition for ever of the pompous, note-sending, speechmaking and uttering of veiled threats of pre-war days. It may be a method involving many sacrifices, but if sacrifices can be borne for war surely they can be borne for peace. It seems to me the apotheosis of co-operation and the complete rejection of competition. I maintain that the latter can now be said to have failed and the former to be the first necessity of mankind.
It would be an attempt to show an appreciation of the fact that it is now acknowledged that civilization has reached a crisis which speed and the diminution in distance and space have now brought to a head. It would be an attempt to close the past, which has perhaps been largely a failure by every one and for every one, in favour of a better future. It would save the necessity of those ghastly operations and have all humanity in the investigation department instead of in the operating room. The question of punishment and admission of guilty countries into any scheme is obviously not one of deserts alone, because according to all human laws they are well deserving of punishment—of course they are. But it should be subject to all future action being concentrated on future efficiency, and on how much the dead past can be safely allowed to influence it, and whether any body can function without the free use of all its limbs. It is no use planning treatment for one nation alone. The next would-be aggressor may be quite unsuspected. The cure has to be universally available and applicable. Of course no one can do anything but condemn cruelty, aggression and atrocities, but the lessons that they teach one are manifold.
If such ideas are idealistic and are therefore thought to be unpractical, it is much more certain that realism is one of the doctors who have wrongly treated civilization for ages. There is room for idealism at any rate as a second opinion. Idealism, after all, only says, as we all 142 know, that there are better things in life than those we have all suffered for so long and that we should explore in other directions, and new directions, if we are discontented with the old ways. Are we all content with the old ways—content to say that all the wars and miseries of the past and present are due to causeless and innate evil disposition and that therefore we must continue the old destructive ways ad infinitum? Have force and compulsion ever produced penitence and regeneration? Can we not more hopefully believe that such attacks are more likely due to the aggregate of faulty treatments of man by man and nation by nation for countless generations, which from ignorance and selfishness and pride have produced the various villains in the many tragedies on the human stage, with their permanently-recurring sequels, and feel that such an admission gives the only ray of hope possible for human betterment if it is translated into such action as can supply a radical and complete change of ideas in national co-existence?
I believe that is the only charter that will succeed. I suggest that, whatever is planned for the future, you will have assuredly to face the danger of civilization's collapse prophesied by your Prime Minister if old methods continue. If his prophecy is to be taken with its deserved seriousness, it becomes absolutely vital to find a cure that cannot fail and the answer must be some form of complete co-operative effort. Competition has brought it to its present state. There are no other variants. So there is perhaps no alternative to setting up some form of co-operative world organization which can say to future aggressors and victims alike, like the policeman in my story, "You can't do this here," and which will be able to support this order by making it obvious that for the benefit of the peace of the world the members are fully prepared to give fairer treatment to disputants than they could obtain in their old-fashioned and futile way. I put it to His Majesty's Government that if in their post-war planning they can devise such an edifice and even lay its foundation stone now they could truly say that it was laid on rock.
My Lords, I have the great privilege and pleasure, in company with others of your Lordships who have already spoken in this debate, of supporting my noble friend Lord Addison. My 143 noble friend both in your Lordships' House and in the years gone by in another place has made many speeches dealing with matters of high moment. I venture to suggest that he has never addressed himself to a more vital subject than that of post-war planning. I hope, as has been already said by others of your Lordships who have spoken previously, that he will address us again on this all-important question, outlining his ideas in more detail. I was very interested to hear the maiden speech of Pilot Number One, my noble friend Lord Brabazon, who was followed by another co-pilot, Lord Londonderry. Both of them congratulated Lord Addison—and I join with them in doing so—on raising this Motion.
The British Empire can, by example, play a leading part. In November last, as your Lordships will remember, I was privileged to introduce a Motion in your Lordships' House touching the economic aspects of the Atlantic Charter, and I asked, at the time, what steps were being taken by His Majesty's Government to give practical effect to the fifth and sixth principles of that great instrument for good. My noble friend Lord Addison was unable to be present in your Lordships' House at that time, but he spoke to me with some keenness afterwards saying that it was appropriate that the matter should have been raised. He informed me at the same time that he proposed to put down a Motion for debate on post-war planning at the earliest opportunity. The noble Lord's Motion was first put on the Paper on November 25 for debate on December 16. On December 9 it was put off sine die. In accordance with the custom of your Lordships' House it disappeared from the Paper on March 19, it was reinserted among the Notices Pending on March 24, and on March 25 was appointed for April 21. On April 15 it was again put off, and appointed for debate last Tuesday, the first sitting day after Whitsun. His Lordship has certainly been very persevering and was asked, so I understand, on the occasions aforementioned, by the Leader of the House to postpone the Motion as His Majesty's Government were most anxious, but not, at the time, ready, to give some clear indication of their ideas on these, vital questions.
I am sure that your Lordships will be glad that my noble friend did not withdraw 144 his Motion again as it is of paramount importance that an indication should be given as to the structure—in particular the economic structure—of the post-war world. Nothing, I suggest, could be more heartening to all those fighting aggression than to know of these plans—always provided, of course, that in their making the root cause of the difficulties from which the world is suffering have been faced and tackled in a courageous manner. The fear that this may not be done is ever present in the minds of all, and the older generation have certainly not forgotten the fervent promises that were made during the last war of "a land fit for heroes to live in" and the like, which proved to be entirely illusory. Millions are striving for victory, and that right will prevail we have no doubt. But I would again suggest to your Lordships that we must make it clear to all nations that when fighting is over a new system of world economy, planned and made known in advance, comes into operation which will secure for all improved labour standards, economic advancement and social security. When we see the plans of the new economic structure, which we have it in our power to make, and in which the old and all too familiar difficulties are avoided, our energies to see the end of the war will be more than doubled.
In the debate in your Lordships' House on November 18 last, the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, when replying for His Majesty's Government, said:It is clearly right that we should take thought for the future now, so that as soon as German morale begins to crack, as we hope and believe it will do, we shall be in a position to go straight on to the next phase, the rebuilding of the shattered world.My noble friend also pointed out that His Majesty's Government had set up an organization to consider post-war problems under the guidance of a Minister Without Portfolio, and that a statement in another place would be made shortly. This was in November, but no statement touching matters of an economic character as embraced within the fold of the Atlantic Charter, that were debated in your Lordships' House on November 18, was made by the Minister Without Portfolio; and some three months ago my right honourable friend resigned from the War Cabinet.
On January 29, during a debate, I took the opportunity of reminding the noble 145 Viscount, the Leader of the House, that three months had passed and still no pronouncement had been made, as was promised. My noble friend was good enough to say at the time:I will get into communication with my right honourable friend the Minister Without Portfolio, who deals with this particular subject, and see whether some statement cannot be made.The indication of what might be expected from the then Minister Without Portfolio was fully supported in a personal letter in which he wrote: "I think I shall have some interesting things to say." No pronouncement, however, was made, and, as I have already mentioned, my right honourable friend resigned from the War Cabinet some three months ago and his duties so far as post-war planning is concerned were taken over by the Paymaster-General. I wrote to congratulate my right honourable friend Sir William Jowitt on his appointment, and in his reply of March 20 he indicated that he would give the most careful consideration to the suggestions submitted to your Lordships on November 18. He said:I shall have to make a statement to Parliament on the general proposals for reconstruction, but I think you will readily agree with me that I must be given a little time to familiarize myself with the work which is of vast scope whilst it would be desirable that the discussions with the United States, to which reference is made in the Mutual Aid Agreement, should be given an opportunity of developing.As your Lordships will be well aware, the Mutual Aid Agreement of February 2 sets out certain mutually agreed objectives, including provision for agreed action by the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and is open to participation by all other countries of like mind.
My hopes were high indeed when, at long last, this debate, which opened on Tuesday last, took place, and I expected that in view of what had transpired the noble Viscount the Leader of your Lordships' House, would make an important pronouncement as to these economic questions, seeing that over half a year has gone by since suggestions were submitted in some detail to your Lordships. During that time the, noble Viscount has had, as he has told your Lordships, at least two meetings with the Ministers responsible for reconstruction plans on the issues raised on November 18. I was very greatly disappointed on the first day of this debate to hear but a few cold words 146 fall from my noble friend, who said that it would not be possible for him to go at any great length into these exceedingly difficult questions. Let me remind the noble Viscount that the reply which was promised to the suggestions submitted to your Lordships on November 18 has not been given, and surely six months is sufficient notice. I do not think, therefore, that your Lordships could be accused of being too greedy if you expected something more substantial and inspiring than the few crumbs which fell on the first day of the debate.
As over half a year has passed since the Atlantic Charter was first debated in your Lordships' House, there has been ample opportunity for discussions to take place outside; and perhaps I may be allowed to give some indication of what has happened, from the results of which it is very clear that a keen and growing public interest has been aroused. The representatives in London of the various nations now fighting aggression have shown enthusiasm. Many are friends of years' standing, and others I have had the pleasure of meeting for the first time during the course of the war. All of these statesmen, and other eminent foreigners whom I have met, and who are looking after the interests of the peoples now struggling under the heel of the aggressors, have expressed the keenest interest in and agreement with the plans outlined in the debate of November r8 in your Lordships' House. They realize the enormous potential for good of the Atlantic Charter, and await a lead from His Majesty's Government, so that together a new world economy may be planned in which "all may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want."
Keen interest has been aroused in these matters in the Dominions, and in particular in Canada. In that Dominion, the Official Report of November 18 was reprinted and widely circulated from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. In the United States also interest has been awakened, so much so that the leading banker of the principal manufacturing industry sent for a hundred copies of the Official Report to be dispatched by air, and for copies of the booklet referred to in the course of the debate, A Twentieth Century Economic System. I understand that over 10,000 reprints of the 147 Official Report of November 18 have been sold. Your Lordships have given a lead in this most vital question of the reform of the economic system. Such a reform, rightly directed, will exercise a most profound effect on the future stability of the world.
In the last few months noble Lords, both spiritual and temporal, have given voice in the most definite language to the need for planning and making known a new system of world economy. The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury has stressed this point, and has been followed by others of your Lordships, as well as by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Lord Privy Seal and the Minister, of Production. His Majesty's Ministers are not alone, as the recent speeches, already referred to in the course of this debate, by the Vice President of the United States, Mr. Wallace, the Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull, and the Executive Director of the Board of Economic Warfare, Mr. Perkins, have shown us how very alive these three right-hand men of the President are to this question of the welfare of the human race, so very near to his heart, as all his actions have shown to the world.
Your Lordships may perhaps have read an article in the quarterly publication, Foreign Affairs, by Mr. Feis, the Economic Adviser to the United States Government. He holds a similar position to that held in this country by Sir Frederick Leith-Ross. This article was commented on at some length in The Times of June 2, and has already been referred to in the course of the debate to-day by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. It is clear that Mr. Feis recommends the adoption of a technique similar to that outlined in the debate in your Lordships' House. Although Mr. Feis explains that he is writing as a private individual, and not necessarily committing the United States Government, the trend of informed opinion is extremely significant. It is very interesting indeed to hear from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, words in support of Mr. Feis's suggestions.
As your Lordships know, we are faced with a situation which shows beyond argument that our financial and economic system is out of phase with the world of to-day, the world of power production. 148 We have certain preconceived ideas on financial and economic matters which are very deeply rooted, as they have been held for so long; and I suggest that, unless we face the realities of to-day, and recognize that the forward-rushing world of economic facts cannot be controlled by the ideas of the backward-looking world of economic thought, then of a truth our civilization is going forward to a major catastrophe. Your Lordships will have noticed that Mr. Cordell Hull said recently that if "policies of narrow economic nationalism, such as our extreme and disastrous policy after the last war "are to prevail, then, as Mr. Perkins, who spoke about the same time, said "the tides of life will leave us to one side; and we shall become isolated in a world where men are growing closer to each other."
The unemployment which was so evident in all countries in the years before the war gave rise to acute social unrest, and the seeds of National Socialism were sown amongst the seven million unemployed in Germany; and to-day we are striving against the terrible effects of this canker. Unemployment at home, and the ferocious international struggle for markets, must, I suggest, be eliminated; otherwise the fear, resentment and sense of frustration which these evils have spread over the world will destroy our civilization. The time for small measures has passed, and nothing short of a courageous tackling of the root causes will suffice. The problem is surely one of equating effective demand with supply, whereas hitherto we have aimed at equating supply with effective demand by the scrapping of capital equipment, by the limitation of output, and by the deliberate destruction of real wealth. Mankind will never again tolerate a situation in which those in need of the necessaries of life should be denied the money with which to buy those necessaries because there is a superabundance of them, and therefore their services are not required to produce more. Your Lordships will, I feel sure, be in full agreement, and I ask you to consider for a moment how powerful a weapon of propaganda we should have in our hand were we to offer the world, as we can, an economic system which would guarantee the individual against long-continued and enforced idleness, and all the nations a brighter prospect of the exchange of their goods and services, to their mutual advantage.
149 Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a few words as to the developments in economic thought that have been taking place in the United Kingdom during the past six months. The London Chamber of Commerce, the largest organization in the Empire, with a more extensive and a more varied experience of international trade than any other body of a like kind in the world, has just issued a report entitled "General Principles of a Post-War Economy." This Report, which was referred to on Tuesday by the most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Lang, fully supports, and in fact expands, the suggestions submitted to your Lordships' House on November 18 last. I will not detain your Lordships by quoting from the report, but, were I to do so, your Lordships would become aware of the exact similarity of view. The importance of this fact cannot be overestimated in view of the leading position of the London Chamber of Commerce. In addition, your Lordships will be aware that the Federation of British Industries have issued a report making somewhat similar recommendations, and the Master Cotton Spinners Association's report gives full support to the same ideas as those expressed by the London Chamber of Commerce. These signs are all-important, as they show, as do others, that the world of commerce and industry is becoming increasingly alive to the need of announcing the advent of a new economic system along lines that experience shows to be necessary.
We have been assured by His Majesty's Government that finance is to be the servant, not the master; and I would like to ask the noble Earl who will reply for His Majesty's Government whether in the negotiations now proceeding with the United States the Board of Trade has a predominant voice over that of the Treasury, which is in charge of the bookkeeping. We know how after the last war, when we were capable of producing more real wealth, and were therefore richer, our book-keeping system, which should reflect reality, showed us that we were poorer, but we preferred to believe the book-keeping rather than our senses. The British Empire has, over many centuries, done much for the advancement of mankind, but, if your Lordships will allow me, I say with all due humility that its greatest moment is yet to be. The dawn of peace will give an opportunity 150 for expressing in a practical fashion the high ideals set out in that great instrument, the Atlantic Charter. The United States of America is well aware of the immense benefits that can fall to the common cause of all right-thinking people from the centuries of the background of our traditions. Your Lordships' House has, consonant with its great traditions, given a most important lead on this vital question of the economic structure of the post-war world. The advent of any new-system entails certain sacrifices, but that these will be made once it is known that they are for the common good is beyond doubt, and was made very clear indeed by the Leader of your Lordships' House in his speech on the first day of this debate.
Your Lordships' House has therefore given a directive to the thoughts of economists throughout the world, and my right honourable friend the Paymaster-General, Sir William Jowitt, in his personal letter of a few months ago said:With your general thesis that we have it in our power to lead in the establishment of a new economy suited to the present age;, I am in the fullest agreement. ''Rupert Brooke, who died on active service in the Dardanelles, in one of his poems portrays the passing away of an old standard, perhaps the gold standard, which he likened to Smet-Smet, the Hippopotamus Goddess, and pictured the priests within the temple saying of her:'' She was wrinkled and huge and hideous !She was our mother.She was lustful and lewd, but a god;We had none other.In the day she was hidden and dumbBut at night she moaned in the shade;We shuddered and gave her her will in the darkness.We were afraid.The people without say:She was so strong;But death is stronger.She ruled us long;But time is longer.She solaced our woeAnd soothed our sighing;And what shall we doNow god is dying?I submit that the answer to '' the people without "is very clear. They should study the debates in your Lordships' House of last Tuesday, of to-day, and of November 18 last, and also the small booklet referred to in this debate and entitled A Twentieth Century Economic System, and press for the 151 carrying out of the reforms contained therein. I ask your Lordships very anxiously to support me in urging His Majesty's Government to make a clear declaration on the new world economy. The noble Earl who will reply for His Majesty's Government has many advantages. He has the advantage that comes from the control of large business enterprises, and he will realize to the full the force of these suggestions. Your Lordships will look forward with keen appreciation to hearing what he has to say.
§ LORD CRAIGMYLE
My Lords, I rise to raise in a very few minutes an aspect of this subject which has not been touched upon, but first I shall crave the indulgence of the House to make a brief reference to the speech of my old colleague in another place, the noble Lord behind me. Surely seldom in recent years has a racier and better maiden speech been delivered in this House. It was therefore all the more startling to hear my noble friend describe a mysterious and evil force at work in the world throughout recent history, causing distress and wars among nations, and it was still more mystifying when he proceeded to give to this mysterious force the name of Christianity. One was rather relieved to hear my noble friend go on to treat Christianity as being on one side of the fence and another force, which met with more acceptance from my noble friend and which he called the Gospel, on the other—a contrasting force—and to the latter he was good enough to give some measure of his support. One understood in a way to what my noble friend was alluding, but he will not misunderstand me and other members of your Lordships' House if we ask that he should sometimes bear in mind that in dealing with these matters he is dealing with things to which importance is attached, things which many of your Lordships regard as the highest ideals, and indeed the only hope of human life.
I was much interested in his speech because he dealt with the air. He is one of the great air pioneers not only in this country but in the world. His name will go down to history for all time as a great pioneer of the air. I crave your Lordships' indulgence to say something about the sea. We have had in concrete form a calamitous example of the truth of the principles for which some of us 152 have been for years contending. We have been talking about the air, we have been talking about the land, we have been talking about the West, I wish in the few minutes at my disposal to talk about the sea and the East. There we have had an example on the one hand of a Government which treasured its shipping—the Government of Japan. We have had a plan going on year after year by which the Japanese Government, Japanese shipping, Japanese manufacture, Japanese mechanism for the distribution of products, and Japanese Fifth Column were bound up together in one tight bundle. We went on constantly neglecting it. In June of 1914 the Japanese Mercantile Marine—talking in tons gross—amounted to about 1,500,000 tons. During the last war, when British ships serving India were mostly withdrawn for other purposes, the Japanese crept in, and in the intervening years since the last war we had a succession of Governments which were blind to what was going on.
Japan in the old days had practically no shipping trade with India. The shipping trade between Japan and India was 100 per cent. in British hands, which was no doubt an unhealthy state of affairs; but the state of affairs which took its place and which prevailed in 1936—my figures are for 1936—was far more unsound. This deeply subtle and aggressive nation had, by the methods which I have tried to explain, collared, if I may use a vulgar expression, 80 per cent. of the shipping trade between British Bombay and the Far East and nearly 90 per cent. of the trade in the other direction. Great Britain, the predominant Power in the Far East, was left with only 15 per cent. The Japanese boasted, and correctly boasted, that, taking India as a whole, in 1936 73 per cent. of the trade between India and the Far East was being carried in Japanese bottoms. We called the attention of the Government of India to this and were cold-shouldered for doing so. The Government of India were at that time engaged in trade negotiations with Japan, and we specifically made, here and in India, the point of the danger to our defence of allowing this vast Mercantile Marine to grow up as a training ground for the Japanese navy—a Mercantile Marine which was planned to be four times more than was required to carry Japan's overseas trade.
153 We brought before the Government here and in India this specific question of defence, and nothing was done either here or in India. We went humbly hat in hand to the Government, pleading. We were received with courtesy, it is true, but as a result we got a letter to say that although British ships had served the Indian Empire for nearly ninety years, although the crews were Indian and the services Indian, yet because the ships were not owned by naive-born Indians they washed their hands of the matter. British interests in India were thrown as a sop to Indian extremists. That is a strong thing to say, but I hope that frame of mind has ceased. We built up, largely at the expense of British shipping, a Mercantile Marine in Japan which, instead of being 1,500,000 tons, is well over 5,000,000 tons, and which is the instrument which has carried their Armies and their munitions all over the south-western Pacific. That was the result of having on the one side a far-seeing aggressive Government, and on the other an entirely peaceful, well-meaning Government with its eyes tightly closed to the facts before its nose. What I want to ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House is this. When he talks, as he did in his most able reply on Tuesday, about hammering away at the solution of these problems, is this one of the problems he is hammering away at, and what is going to be done with regard to this matter of British shipping after the war?
Japan is not by any means the only example that could be given. For the sake of brevity I must content myself with only a few figures. In the years between the two wars the Mercantile Marine tonnage of the world went up by 16,000,000 tons—an enormous increase-but the British tonnage went down by over 1,500,000 tons, nearly 2,000,000 tons. I am talking about real ocean-going tonnage. Answers were given in another place to say that these figures were wrong, and it turned out that those who gave these answers were relying on the tonnage of the British Empire and including purely coastal tonnage, and even small vessels on the great lakes between Canada and the United Slates. The tonnage on which we relied sank by over 1,500,000 tons, and, at the commencement of this war we had over 2,000 fewer vessels than we had in the last war. That in any circumstance 154 was a grave factor. When we arc told by the Prime Minister that we had plenty of men and plenty of arms to send to Singapore, Rangoon, to Burma, and he tells us that the commanding factor was not the absence of men or arms, but the absence of shipping, it is no satisfaction to those who were cold-shouldered year after year.
What is to be done about it in the future? It is no new problem. It has an economic as well as a defence side. Our whole history, as your Lordships know—it is unnecessary to state it—has been connected with the sea. Since ever we began to count as a nation it is our sea power that has been the foundation of our strength, and unless we maintain our Navy and our Mercantile Marine we shall just have to drop out of history. We can only maintain the size and output of our population in this way. Our Mercantile Marine is necessary not only to carry the things that our people need, but it is more than ever necessary to pay for them, as your Lordships know. The great reserves we had in foreign countries—the devisen as it is called in financial quarters—were rapidly running down before the war. The amount of our investment was being paid off, it was diminishing from year to year, and at the end of this war it may have gone. We may have an entirely new situation to face. Instead of being a great creditor nation we may be a great debtor nation. It really seems to some of us almost wicked to be raising before our people's eyes the ideal of a most luxurious standard of life when the great object for which we must bend all our effort is to maintain the standard of life, which, by the grace of God, we were able to maintain in the days of peace. We are up against a proposition of a peculiar kind which affects no other Power in just the same way. It is true we must discuss, and I think His Majesty's Government are discussing, these grave matters with the Governments of the United Nations, particularly with the United States of America, but I do trust that in all these discussions they will press that, when we ask for a predominant Mercantile Marine, we do so, not for the sake of predominance, but for the sake of our life as an Empire and as a people.
I desire to make no reference whatever to a matter on which your Lordships' House has had several debates. It would be quite out of place to attempt any sentimental argument with regard to the men 155 of the Merchant Navy. We all appreciate their services, those most I think who are privileged to meet them in the ordinary course of their work, and it is quite obvious from recent debates that these men have no warmer friends than the members of your Lordships' House. But their interests are bound up not with any namby-pamby legislation, if I may put it in that way, but with the future of the shipping industry of this country. And with that is also bound up the lot of every man, woman and child in this country. Therefore I ask His Majesty's Government to hammer away at some concrete solution of these problems. I am not talking about private enterprise or State ownership or State control. These can settle themselves. What I want is ships, for without ships this country and Empire cannot endure.
THE DUKE OF MONTROSE
My Lords, in speaking to this Motion I do not intend to cover the same ground as has been so well covered by noble Lords who have already spoken. There is just one point to which I would like to refer. It was mentioned by my fellow-countryman, Lord Perth, the other day, and it was referred to again to-day, much to my satisfaction, by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. That was that it would be lamentable if the idea got abroad that we in this country were handling the terms of peace by ourselves. I think the idea is rather prevalent in the country that we are playing an undue part in settling the peace terms. If that is so, the sooner that impression is corrected the better it will be. I think it was General Smuts who the other day said that there were twenty-three nationalities associated with us among the Allies, and eleven other peoples who were assisting. That means that there are to-day thirty-four peoples joined together in this great battle for freedom and Democracy. Therefore our people in this country should understand that when the day of peace comes the British voice will probably be just one voice among thirty-four.
Bearing that point in mind, it is very right and proper that we should consider the terms of the Atlantic Charter. When the Atlantic Charter was first made public everyone praised it and recognized it to be one of the greatest historical documents of our time. But public memory is very, 156 very short, and if you asked any man or woman in the country outside to-day to tell you the principles embodied in the Atlantic Charter I doubt whether you would find anyone who could do so. The Government might do a little more in the way of giving publicity to the contents of the Atlantic Charter. I would suggest for the Government's consideration that they might draw up a small poster concerning the Charter to be displayed in every household, and that a suitable leaflet should be provided, not only in our own language but in the languages of all the Allies, which could be obtained with ease at the counter of every Post Office. If that were done I believe the publicity would go a long way to educate the people of the country as to the principles for which we are fighting.
There is one other point. We have heard a great deal about planning. I am not sure who is planning, but the idea very prevalent outside is that those in control of the peace planning are in London, and that the fruit of their labours may be imposed upon the man in the street or the man in the country lane without his being consulted. If I know anything at all it is that the people in the country are looking forward to having a say, and a very big say, in the conditions of the future life under which they are going to live. And why not? The people generally are well qualified to speak of the hardships under which they have lived in the past. They are well qualified to speak of the happier and better conditions under which they are to live in the future. Therefore I feel that the idea that they are going to be consulted should be given to them. I know that foreign policy is vitally important. Whatever is going to happen in Moscow, in Libya, and in Malaya is important, but we must remember that what is important to the average man are the things which affect his own life—better health, better housing, better agriculture, better education. The things which touch the life of every man and woman and child in the country are important, and, while we pay attention to foreign policy, we must not neglect home policy.
I think that the people are determined to have some say in this. There are bound to be changes. There are some wrongs which have got to be removed, and they will be removed. The only reason they have not been removed 157 before is that the Houses of Parliament were choked with business. Before the war, Ministers and Members of Parliament hardly knew where to turn in order to get time to carry out reforms in home policy. If Parliament here was choked with home legislation before the war it will be choked ten times more when we have to deal not only with home policy but with Imperial policy, Dominion policy and world policy and the settlement of peace terms all over the world. How is the Parliament at Westminster going to carry these things through, and at the same time pay attention to home affairs and home policy unless we change our Parliamentary system a little? Before this war the time may not have been ripe to make any alteration in our Parliamentary system, but it may be ripe after this war, and looking to the reforms and the importance of domestic policy, and knowing that speed and rapidity in reform is the essence of peace, I would urge our Government seriously to prepare their minds to consider whether the time has not arrived to undertake some form of devolution, to localize Legislative Chambers to deal with purely domestic affairs, leaving all other affairs to be dealt with by the Parliament here in Westminster. If we are choked with business, and there is delay, and our Service men come back hoping to find conditions better than when they left and do not find them so, we shall just drift again into a miserable, unsatisfactory, unfortunate peace like that of Versailles.
§ LORD DAVIES
My Lords, I intervene with great diffidence in this debate after all the interesting speeches to which we have listened. I do not propose to follow my noble friend who has just pleaded for Home Rule for Scotland. I would only suggest that when Home Rule is given to Scotland we may also have a measure of Home Rule for Wales. May I be allowed to say how greatly we are indebted to my noble friend Lord Addison for having put this Motion on the Paper and for having given your Lordships an opportunity of discussing post-war reconstruction? The fact that there have been so many speeches indicates the intense interest which your Lordships' House takes in this question. We have had two days' debate and I believe that that debate has given a lead in the country. I hope it may be a source of encouragement to the 158 Government to pursue their plans for reconstruction.
In the speeches delivered on Tuesday there was general agreement, except perhaps in one or two instances, on three points. Those were, firstly, that no time should be lost in preparation and collaboration with our Allies—not necessarily resulting in a new Declaration—secondly, that we ought to distinguish between what may be described as the short-term programme and the long-term plan; and thirdly, that there should be a transitional period between the operation of these two plans. I venture to emphasize what the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, suggested, that no time should be lost in setting about this very important work. We all remember that at the end of the last war hostilities finished very suddenly. Very few people—hardly any people, I think—expected that the enemy's collapse would come when it actually did come. It is equally true that the Democracies who were unprepared for the last war in 1914 found themselves also unprepared for the peace which came in 1918. Although unprepared they won the war, but unfortunately they lost the peace. It is equally true I think to say that the Democracies were unprepared for this war. We must hope they will not be unprepared when it comes to winning the peace.
I trust, as my noble friend Lord Samuel said, that there will not be a repetition of the procedure adopted at Versailles. Looking back at that period it seems ludicrous that the statesmen who took part in those proceedings, while labouring under the stress of dealing with political questions at home, could ever have hoped in the course of a few months to legislate and settle the affairs of the world for years and years to come. Therefore it seems to me there is need for a transitional period between what I have described as the short-term and long-term plans. The short-term plan, as we were told by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, in his splendid exposition of that plan, is bound to deal in the main with economic questions. I cannot help feeling that the long-term plan will have to deal mainly with political questions.
In a speech a few days ago Mr. Sumner Welles said he believed there would be a demand that the United Nations should become the nucleus of a world organiza- 159 tion of the future to settle the final terms of a just and honest and durable peace, to be entered into after the passing of a period of social and economic chaos which would come inevitably after the termination of the present war, and after the conclusion of the initial and gigantic task of relief, of reconstruction and of rehabilitation which will confront the United Nations at the time of the Armistice. I gather from those remarks that Mr. Sumner Welles anticipates that there will be a transitional period, and that during that time not only will it be necessary to bring relief to the peoples of Europe, but it will also be necessary to take measures for restoring law and order and giving a start to the Provisional Governments which will have to be established during that transitional period.
Article 3 of the Atlantic Charter says that the United Nations "respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live." If that is to become a reality then it will be necessary in the short-term plan to establish some Parliamentary institution to allow the people to elect their own representatives under a democratic system. How long this first period will last of course no one can say at this moment, but I should imagine that some council consisting of the four Great Powers, the United States, Russia, China and ourselves, would have to be formed to supervise and control in some way the arrangements which will have to be made during this short-term period. It will probably do that through what Mr. Sumner Welles calls the "nucleus of a world organization," through the appointment of Commissions upon which these four Governments will be represented together with the Provisional Governments of the occupied countries. In that way collaboration would be secured between all the countries concerned. When this period is over, and when some kind of international authority is established, the Commissions and the personnel of the Commissions will have obtained most valuable experience, which, no doubt, in an advisory capacity, they will be able to place at the disposal of the new League or authority or whatever it is.
Now, may I, very briefly, comment upon the speech of my noble friend who leads the House, and thank him for the reassuring statement which he made to your Lordships on Tuesday? He told us 160 of the collaboration which is now actually in progress between the Allies, especially in regard to what I have tried to describe as the "short-term period." I am sure that the more the Government take the public into their confidence—and as the noble Duke has just told us it is essential that people throughout the country should understand what is going on and what steps the Government are taking—the better it will be. I was delighted to note that he alluded to the I.L.O. and the economic and political departments of the League of Nations, and that it is proposed to utilize the services of these organizations in the solution of these very difficult problems with which all Governments will be faced at the conclusion of the war.
Next I would say a word about what I call the long-term plan or programme. I entirely agree with what the noble Lord said in regard to unilateral declarations. I think it would be most unfortunate if any of the Allied Governments made pronouncements of a far-reaching character without first of all having secured the acquiescence of the other countries concerned. My noble friend talked about the Fourteen Points and he pointed out that the Fourteen Points had resulted in misapprehension at a later stage, and had given the German Government opportunities, or at any rate a pretext, for attacking the Treaty of Versailles. May I point out to him that there is a similarity, in a sense, between the Fourteen Points and the Atlantic Charter; that both these documents are somewhat vague? Mr. Gathorne-Hardy said that they were capable of various explanations. I think that is profoundly true and that probably the implications that might be derived from the perusal of these documents by different people might not be the same. What a great many people would like, and what we want, is that the implications should find some practical application, and that, as I venture to suggest, can only be done through the closest collaboration between the Governments concerned. But there is a difference between the Fourteen Points and the Atlantic Charter. The Fourteen Points were a unilateral pronouncement whereas the Atlantic Charter was an agreed statement before it was issued. That seems to me to be a very important difference.
In 1918 there was a great lack of collaboration between the Allied Govern- 161 ments in preparing plans; for peace. I remember that, at that time, it was suggested, in some quarters, that there should be an Allied Commission which might be set up at Versailles, and which should try to work out the implications of the Fourteen Points and deal with other subjects which would have to be dealt with when the time for peace came. But that suggestion, unfortunately, was negatived by the authorities in Washington. We had the Phillimore Committee in this country, which for months worked away at a plan which was afterwards submitted to the League of Nations Commission in Paris and was the basis of their discussions. But one cannot help feeling that it would have been a great help if an Allied Commission had been established at that time which, in conjunction with our American and French friends, could have produced an agreed statement, an agreed document, an agreed report which could have been submitted to the Peace Conference in Paris. I remember that at that time it was also suggested that ex-President Taft might come to this country to assist this Commission. He was at that time the President in America of the League to Enforce Peace. But that proposal also was turned down. I only hope the Allies will not repeat the mistakes which, unfortunately, were made on that occasion.
The noble Lord in his speech said that the League was a great step forward. Of course it was; it was a great advance upon The Hague Tribunal, which was the only international machinery which had been devised before the last war. But, as he points out very clearly, there were two great weaknesses—there were others besides, but there were two which were outstanding. One was the lack of any effective machinery for bringing about peaceful changes in the public law, and the other was that there was no overwhelming force to see that that law was respected and upheld. These were the two gaps in the Covenant. They were the two great vital omissions in the Covenant, and some of us, for years, have been endeavouring to persuade our people and the Government that these two gaps should have been filled. I sincerely trust that my noble friend will, perhaps, give his patronage to the New Commonwealth Society, now that he has become a firm believer in our aims and objectives. After all, the need for the 162 provision of these two parts of the permanent machinery of any international confederation or authority surely is elemental. It means that there must be some machinery for settling disputes, some peaceful procedure for effecting changes in the public law, and that there must be adequate policing power behind this organization.
There was a very interesting debate in this House before the end of the last war, when Lord Parker, who was a Lord of Appeal, made a most interesting and powerful speech. He pointed out that the first essential in any system of collective security was that nations should undertake the obligation and the responsibility to suppress international crime. He pointed out that this was the basis of our social structure ever since the days of hue and cry, when every man in the parish was under the obligation to turn out to apprehend a thief or a murderer. That obligation is still a part of the Common Law; there is still an obligation on every citizen to assist the policeman in the execution of his duty. Lord Parker said that that principle must equally apply in international relationships, and the obvious conclusion was that there must be some policing authority.
I observe that in the speech which Mr. Sumner Welles made he said that the United Nations would have to undertake the maintenance of an international police power in the years after the war to ensure freedom from fear to peace-loving peoples, and he said that that must be done until there was established "that permanent system of general security promised by the Atlantic Charter." We may infer, therefore, that this subject of the provision of adequate sanctions is receiving very careful attention at the hands of the Government in Washington. We, must also remember the speech that Mr. Litvinov made on March 17, 1938. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me for quoting from this speech, because we may hope that it represents the views of the Soviet Government. He said:The present international situation places before all peace-loving States, and the Great Powers in particular, the question of their responsibility for the peoples of Europe, and not only Europe. The Soviet Government is ready as before to participate in collective actions which will be decided upon jointly with it, and which would aim at checking the further development of aggression and eliminating the increased danger of a new world 163 massacre. It is prepared immediately to take up, in the League of Nations or outside, the discussion with other Powers of the practical measures which the circumstances demand.Unfortunately at that time the other countries which were Members of the League gave that pronouncement the cold shoulder, and nothing happened. In view of all that has happened since then, one cannot help feeling that the prospects of establishing some international authority which can enforce the rule of law may not be such a mirage as many people told us that it was.
I do not propose to take up the time of the House any longer, except to thank my noble friend Lord Brabazon for the splendid maiden speech which he made this afternoon, in which he told us quite clearly that the real and vital problem for the future is the control of the air, and whether this control can be placed in the hands of some international authority. He speaks with great knowledge and experience in matters connected with the air, and therefore, when he tells us that it is possible to internationalize the air, and to secure the freedom of the air—which is just as important as, if not more import-ant than, the freedom of the seas—I think it gives us a great deal of encouragement, and I am sure the Government will consider very seriously what he has said.
My noble friend Lord Samuel rather jeered at any suggestion that what we call "federalism" should be imported into these discussions of what is to happen in the future. I should like to point out that federalism embraces two distinct branches: federation and confederation. I gather that he dislikes any federal proposals, but that he is not opposed to some form of confederation. I cannot help feeling that perhaps the solution in the end may be a combination of both, because one hopes that the principle of democratic control, the direct participation of the peoples themselves, may find a place in the long-term plan of post-war reconstruction. I believe that, after all, a democratic basis is the best guarantee for a just and durable peace.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, this debate on reconstruction has been mainly focussed on the European aspect of the scene. A notable exception to that was to be found in the speech of the most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Lang. Like other noble Lords this afternoon, I 164 was sorry to hear any criticism of that speech, which to my mind reflected the deepest wisdom and also a most sincere spirit of humanity, which I think is a great encouragement—as was also the recent speech of the Foreign Secretary at Edinburgh—to those who are trying to think out and to give attention to the problems of reconstruction.
The assumption underlying most of the speeches to which I have listened as regards reconstructing Europe has been that our intervention in Europe after this war will be welcomed. I hope that that is so. I hope that the peoples of Europe will welcome immediate proposals for reconstruction. But they may not be in the mood. Very dreadful forces of hatred and revenge have been unleashed in Europe. It has been very noticeable in this debate that every speaker has disclaimed any feeling of revenge, but these feelings of revenge will be afoot in Europe. A great deal has been said about food. It is said that the peoples of Europe will require food, and no doubt that may be thought to be one reason why they will accept our intervention; but I think that even food is a secondary consideration when people are animated solely by feelings of hatred and revenge. And, in any case, are we quite certain where the food is coming from? I have re-read the speech of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, on that subject, and I am not quite clear from it whether we are certain that this food will be forthcoming that we know where to get it and will be able to produce it at the appointed moment.
Again, I noticed in the debate several references to control in Germany, and such phrases were used as "the destruction of the German military system "and" the alteration of German education." These are matters which seem to me to present very formidable difficulties. It is to be hoped that Germany herself will be prepared to undertake these alterations in her methods and mentality, but if not, how do we proceed? In the matter of education, I have heard plenty of stories from parents about their difficulties in regard to the education of their own children. My mind is rather appalled by the prospect of having to alter the educational system of Germany. How do we proceed? Do we send a fraternal delegate from the National Union of Teachers to explain how we achieve semi-literacy 165 at vast expense in this country? Are we going to write their text-books for the Germans, or control the German text-hooks? Then there are proposals to dissect Germany into a large number of States, each with its own economic entity. My reading of history is that these forcible alterations in geography are very rarely attended with successs, and personally I hope to see fewer rather than more economic entities.
But the real and fundamental problem about reconstruction will, of course, be that of the disarmament of Germany, because the lesson of history is perfectly plain—that you cannot trust the German people with arms. If they have arms, sooner or later there will be a war. And how do you proceed to disarm Germany? I think it is very difficult to disarm Germany unless you dismantle her heavy industry, because so long as Germany possesses a heavy industry it is very difficult to prevent her having plans for rearmament, and carrying them through. Perhaps the solution of these matters is a very long period of occupation of Germany.
There has been great unanimity that we cannot go into details about reconstruction, which is, of course, typical of this country, and of our abhorrence of anything in the nature of planning. But I quite agree that, as regards the international aspect of the situation, it is not possible to go into any great detail, because consultation with our Allies and our Dominions is involved. But we have, of course, the Atlantic Charter as a broad guide. It is not entirely devoid of platitudes, but it is a broad guide to what is wanted. May I in passing refer to one point about the Atlantic Charter? A noble Lord opposite spoke this afternoon about the necessity for maintaining our Mercantile Marine after the war. I am sure the noble Lord will believe that I am very sympathetic to anything of that nature, but it is implicit in the terms of the Atlantic Charter that every nation will be entitled to come forward and press its claims for a Mercantile Marine such as it considers adequate to its needs. And under the terms of the Atlantic Charter we shall not be able to press for priority or for any special position in that matter.
§ LORD CRAIGMYLE
I am sure the noble Lord will do me the justice of remembering that I specifically said that 166 that was an important matter to be discussed particularly with the United States of America, and that it was not a matter of predominance, it was a matter of life and death so far as we are concerned.
§ LORD WINSTER
I quite agree with the noble Lord. I do not wish in any way to misrepresent a word he said. But of course many other nations will also come to the council table and say it is a matter of life and death.
§ LORD WINSTER
And they could say so too. But while we cannot enter into the international aspects of the situation in very great detail, I think the domestic side of the matter can be considered in considerable detail. I notice that in a speech made by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, he semed to be in some doubt as to whether the Dominions were being consulted at the present moment. I must say I understood most clearly from the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, that consultations regarding reconstruction were in active progress with the Dominions, and I understood from Dr. Evatt, whom I had the pleasure of meeting over here, and who has since returned to Australia, that he went away considerably happier than when he arrived as regards that particular point. I would like, if I may, to say one or two words about reconstruction at home. Before doing so I may perhaps point out that post-war reconstruction also opens up the question of reconstruction in our Colonial Empire. We must take account of that also. Recent speeches have shown that the whole question of Imperial relationships has recently been lifted on to a very much higher level. There is a new emphasis on social and economic reconstruction, in which the Colonies are being treated as neglected estates, and our responsibility for bringing them into good order is recognized. There is a new interpretation of the principle of trusteeship which, as the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, has pointed out in this House, involves a completely new conception of political relationships with our Colonies. And in this matter of post-war reconstruction certainly due account must be taken of the necessity of embracing the Colonies in it.
167 But if I may turn to the home problem, I should like to approach the problem of reconstruction on the Home Front from what is, I think, a dominant conception in the minds of all of us at present, and that is winning the war. And may I remind your Lordships that, while Labour is in the Government, Labour has announced that it will press for no measures on purely Party grounds. But from the point of view of winning the war morale is all-important: it is all-important as a war-winning factor, and the morale of our people is very largely affected by this question of post-war reconstruction and what they believe to be in the minds of the Government about it. In a previous speech I ventured to point out that some of the nations fighting in this war are fighting very fiercely and very determinedly because they are possessed by a dominant national idea, and I said that I did not think we had quite generated an idea of that nature in this country yet. A noble Lord who spoke after me said that we had the great idea in this country of defending our own homes. I might perhaps be allowed to point out that that idea was not sufficient to save France when France collapsed. But on the other hand it has been the salvation of Russia, for not only has Russia been prepared to defend her own homes, but Russians have been pre-pared to burn their homes and everything else they have got in defence of their country and to repel the invader. I feel that we have yet to generate a flame of equal fierceness as that which possesses Germany and Japan and Russia and China at the present moment.
The most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Lang, spoke about the disappointments after the last war—so many pious hopes and promises. Well, I think it would be a mistake to recriminate about that matter. I think that the hopes were entertained in good faith and the promises were made in good faith. But the hopes were not realized, and the promises were not kept, and that resulted in very great anguish among thousands of our population. And I know from contacts I make when I go about the country how very much this fear of being let down again in a similar matter operates to take the edge off the war effort. Lord Lang attributed the disappointments at the end of the last war to lack of preparation. I do 168 not entirely agree. I think the real reason was that we reverted to an old system, an unplanned competitive system, in which private enterprise and private profit and privilege ruled the roost, and that system was incompatible with the fulfilment of those hopes and promises. We went back to a system under which countries were ruined by having huge stocks of raw materials left on their hands, which millions of men in other countries were paid not to produce, a system in which capital equipments, such as shipyards in this country—for which we should be so thankful at this moment, if they were in operation—were destroyed in the name of rationalization. Under such a system as that it was inevitable that those hopes and those promises should have been disappointed and come to nought.
That was a system which failed by many tests. I realize the great advances which were made in social reform, although they were largely in the nature of palliatives, but by many tests that system failed. It failed to avert war. It failed to prepare for the war, and it failed to switch over from peace to war production with anything like sufficient rapidity when war did come. Consider its fruits in mass unemployment and in the distressed areas. I never read that unemployment was part of the curse of Adam, but we manage to make it the curse of our workers; and if you test that system by its effect on three great communities in this country, the miners, the farm labourers and the merchant seamen, I think it must be admitted that by those tests that system failed. We are certainly not going forward into Hitler's idea of a new world, but I trust we are equally determined not to go back to the old world which resulted in such bitterness, and misery.
If we look at the history of this country in the last fifty or sixty years we should have to say that the machines that Man has invented may be a great tribute to his intellect, but that the use to which we have put them has been a poor comment on our morality, and that Science has nobler ends to achieve than those it has so far attained. I hope our A.R.P. shelters in the streets—a great testimonial to the high pitch of civilization at which we have arrived!—will be a monument marking the end of an era. A very strange era indeed it will be when we come to look 169 back on it, an era in which unemployment and distressed areas disappear in war but appear in peace, an era in which the material assets of our Empire become national assets in time of war and revert to private property in peace, an era in which profiteering is a crime in war but a source of honour in peace. I hope this war will marl; the end of that very strange era with these very strange phenomena. From what I hear as I go about, our working men and women are in no mood to accept any more promises. They want undertakings that cannot be forsworn, and they want to see in all the legislation which is passed an assurance that the old bad things have passed away, that the good of the whole community shall be the determining factor in our Government, and that security and economic freedom shall become our common heritage.
Under the impact of war new ideas are stirring. This debate in your Lordships' House has been good evidence of that. Let us accept these new ideas now, and let them colour all our acts. Let us get accustomed to them because this is not only a war, it is a revolution. There is a revolution going on as well as a war. A tide of new ideas is lapping our shores at the present moment and, we cannot bid that tide recede any more than Canute could. If you defeat Hitler and then endeavour to meet your problems at home with plans based on the old ideas you will only find you have cast out one devil in order to bring seven worse devils into the house. There is great anxiety in the minds of our people about these things: great anxiety lest the Prime Minister should be so absorbed with the military side of the war that the Home Front and such matters as I have mentioned do not sufficiently attract his attention. The departure of Lord Reith and Mr. Greenwood from the Government quickened that apprehension in some quarters, and it is very important that the apprehension should be removed. May I recall to the attention of your Lordships a passage in one of the works of Tolstoy?The power which decides the fate of nations is not inherent in conquerors, armies, or battles, but has quite a different source.Unless we realize that and apply that in our acts now and at the end of the war, history may indeed declare in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Lang, that we have been guilty.
§ THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (THE EARL OF SELBORNE)
My Lords, the debate that is now drawing to a close has been in every way worthy of the wide subject it covers and of the traditions of your Lordships' House, not least because of the brilliant maiden speech which we all enjoyed so much from my noble friend Lord Brabazon, in respect of which I should like to tender him my humble and hearty congratulations. It has been generally recognized that it is impossible for the Government for the reasons explained by my noble friend the Leader of the House to make statements in reply to many of the questions which have been here ventilated. It is quite impracticable to do anything of the sort at this time. We have entered into this war with Allies, we are making the war with our Allies, and the post-war settlement will also have to be made with our Allies and cannot be made without full consultation with them and with the Dominions. That fact, coupled with the fact that the leading statesmen in all the nations of the world are greatly absorbed in the conduct of the war, makes it impossible for any binding statement to be made at this juncture on many of the questions which we have debated. As my noble friend explained, preparatory work can be done—and that is all Lord Addison is asking an assurance upon—and this preparation work is being done. I think, however, that this debate has been of special value. The Government cannot arrive—no Government in a democratic country can arrive—at a solution or settlement of any of these great questions unless public opinion will allow it to do so. Exploratory work has got to be done by the public outside the Government, as well as inside the Government itself, and in that process your Lordships., with your great experience of public affairs, and your freedom from the ties of day-to-day conduct of the war which absorb the Government, can play a great part in guiding public opinion into wise channels on these matters.
My noble friend the Leader of the House explained the nature of the preparatory work that is going on. My noble friend Lord Elibank rebuked him for having made no reference to consultations taking place with the Dominions. I am afraid the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, must have misunderstood my noble friend's speech entirely because, if 171 he will look at the Official Report he will see that my noble friend explained that point most carefully to the House. This is what Lord Cranborne said:I can assure all those noble Lords who expressed anxiety that plans are being hammered out, that exchanges of view are already taking place, and that various aspects of the post-war problem are being considered with the Dominions, with the United States, with Russia and with the other United Nations.And when my noble friend said that, he did not of course mean that all these questions have been thrashed out and that all work has been covered with the Dominions and with our Allies, but that our Dominions and our Allies are being consulted and arc consulting us as this vast field is explored piece by piece. The field that is covered by the words "postwar settlement," when you come to consider them, touches every kind of human activity; therefore the amount of research, of exploratory work and of consultation involved is immense, and, as my noble friend said, it is proceeding to-day in a number of important aspects with the Dominions, with our Allies, and particularly with the United States, and will no doubt proceed on a great many more points as the process continues.
What are these problems? They can, I think, be divided into three chronological categories. There is first the situation that will arise immediately at the moment of the Armistice. Then there are the problems of the peace terms and the problems of the post-war modus vivendi. With regard to the problems that will arise at the Armistice, I do not dissent at all from the diagnosis that Lord Addison gave your Lordships the other day. An appalling problem will at once present itself in circumstances of the very greatest difficulty. As my noble friend the Leader of the House explained, that matter is being most thoroughly and systematically explored at the moment with our Dominions and with our Allies. Some of the ablest civil servants in this country are working out the practical steps which will have to be taken, working them out with the Allied Governments stationed here in London, working them out with our Dominions and with the United States. In reply to the question that the noble Lord, Lord Winster asked, I think I can assure him that so far as can be at present foreseen, if the war ends 172 within a reasonable time, the food should be available to arrest famine if we are only able to get it to the famine-stricken people in Europe. The actual food will be available, the problem will be one of transport. When I say food available I mean food available to arrest famine, not of course enough to give anything like the pre-war standards of living to which nations were accustomed. That will not return for some time to come.
In regard to the peace terms, I think your Lordships recognize that it is impossible for the Government to say much on that matter at this juncture because we are making war with our Allies, and we must make peace in consultation with our Allies. I do not however suppose there is a single statesman in all the Allied nations or in the Dominions who is not giving what thought he can give to the immense problem of how an enduring peace can be built up. I think the difficulties mentioned by Lord Winster are some of the most formidable difficulties confronting us and are unique in history. My noble friend Lord Samuel referred to fears which he says are entertained in Russia lest some people in this country might seek to create a strong Germany to act as a counterpoise to Russia. I am surprised to hear that there are such people in this country. Personally I am not aware of them, but I can assure my noble friend that that forms no part of the policy of His Majesty's Government. I think indeed he will see, if he looks at Article 8 of the Atlantic Charter, that the complete disarmament of Germany is one of the fundamental conditions postulated in that Charter, and a Germany completely disarmed could not be described as an effective counterpoise to anyone.
Personally I have always thought the doctrine of the balance of power was a poor one as far as this country was concerned, because it always involved us in having to fight on the weakest side. It landed us in one series of wars after another. The whole conception of the Atlantic Charter is different. It is a conception of collective security, and it is in that direction that we are bending our thoughts. But there is one assurance which I think I can give on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and I do so because the matter was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Cecil in the course of his speech, and that is that Great Britain 173 will never propose a peace of revenge. Individuals, it has been made clear, who have been guilty of atrocities will and must be punished, but that is not revenge; that is justice.
I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, in this, though I am afraid I do not agree with everything in his speech, that we must treat the German people as if they were suffering from a disease, as you would treat a diseased fellow-being, and must eradicate that disease not only in the interest of mankind as a whole but in the interest of the German people themselves. That is the real problem which faces statesmen after this war. That disease will not be eradicated by vindictiveness or by injustice; neither will it be eradicated by an ostrich policy of ignoring facts or forgetting events. Last time we trusted the Germans to run a democracy peacefully and they failed to do so. They started rearming at once. That fact must not be forgotten, and whatever we do we must not allow them, as we allowed them last time, to rearm. On the other side we must not impose upon them financial impossibilities in the peace terms. That was surely the greatest mistake in the Versailles Peace Treaty. I think Lord Vansittart is right in saying it was in fact no hardship on Germany because it was never carried out, but it did have a most discouraging effect on the German people. Anything of that sort must be avoided. In making the peace treaty for Heaven's sake let us above all things face facts. We must face the facts of nationality, the facts of geography, the facts of history. Any peace treaty made which is not in relation to those facts will be of no more value than a paper constitution. It will not be worth the paper on which it is written, it will not stand the test of experience.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sankey, in the course of a very interesting speech on Tuesday, pointed out that science has killed isolationism, that isolation from Europe is no longer possible for England or for America. I believe that statement to be profoundly true, and it being true it is equally important that Englishmen and Scotsmen should cease being insular. I believe that past misunderstandings between the British people and Continental peoples were very much due to that insularity of ours and that it has been responsible for a great deal of trouble in Europe. We have misunderstood 174 the Germans and the Germans have misunderstood us. When we have tried to be conciliatory they have mistaken it for weakness, and in trying to promote peace we have, on more occasions than one, in fact promoted war. I hope your Lordships in considering the whole problem of peace terms will pay very great attention to the views of foreign countries. We must get out of the habit of considering continental problems from the Anglo-Saxon point of view. We must learn to appreciate the point of view of the Continent.
That brings me to the third category of problems, that of post-war modus vivendi. Our policy there is laid down as far as it can be laid down at present in the Atlantic Charter. The four pillars on which the policy of the Atlantic Charter will rest are the British Empire, the United States, Russia and China. The responsibility will fall on those four great countries for the maintenance of the peace of the world and the implementing of the objects of the peace treaty. These countries cannot disarm, must not disarm. They will have to keep armed in order to maintain the peace of the world, and I am very glad that that was recognized by my noble friend Lord Cecil of Chelwood. We listened, with great attention to what fell from my noble friend Lord Brabazon m that connexion and I hope his advice will be borne carefully in mind in all quarters. If I may say so, what my noble friend Lord Craigmyle said about the Mercantile Marine was equally important. We cannot divorce the welfare of the Mercantile Marine from naval health and naval strength.
Surety when we are considering the four countries, the four pillars, as I have called them, of peace in the future—here I am speaking entirely for myself—we are bound to ask ourselves how our own British Empire is going to stand that test, how it is going to function. The British Empire is in fact a League of Nations. We hear a great deal of optimistic talk nowadays about an organic League of Nations with a force of its own. We hear talk about the federation of Europe and things of that sort. Will it not be wiser to consider whether some organic development of the British Empire itself is not possible? That problem has only to be mentioned for everyone to realize what a difficult problem it is, but it is 175 surely easier than those other steps so lightly spoken of outside. If there is any lesson Singapore has for us it is that there is a need for a combined Imperial study of defence problems, and defence problems carry with them conduct of foreign policy. I hope statesmen in the Dominions and in this country will give their consideration to that problem. The effective and democratic solution of the problem would be the disbandment of this Parliament of the United Kingdom in which we are now sitting and, as my noble friend the Duke of Montrose wishes, to have Parliaments for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with an Imperial Federated Parliament, representing all the Parliaments of the Empire sitting not in this country at all but in some more central place such as Cape Town, responsible for Imperial defence and foreign policy. That is a matter which nobody is thinking about at the moment, but personally I hope that the organic development of the Empire and the possibilities in that direction will be considered by all those who are giving attention to our post-war problems.
On the international plane the principles that govern our policy are laid down in the Atlantic Charter which recognizes the need for constructive measures after the war. I was rather surprised that more of your Lordships have not spoken of the Mutual Aid Agreement concluded with the United States last February, although my noble friend Lord Sempill did make some very interesting remarks about it. The most reverend Lord, Lord Lang, asked for a further definition of the Atlantic Charter. I think he will find progress in the direction he desires in the Mutual Aid Agreement, and I should like to say that the Dominions were fully consulted in the preliminary negotiations that led up to that Agreement. Article 7 of the Mutual Aid Agreement defines certain objectives. It is a declaration of purposes, a rallying point for all like-minded nations to gather round. It defines the basic objectives of the United Kingdom and the United States and provides for conversations on points of detail. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, was rather impatient-concerning the progress that had been made in these great issues. But I would remind him that when you are dealing 176 with matters of the greatest importance concerning a great number of different countries progress cannot be rapid, especially when you are in the middle of a great war.
Now Article 7 of the Mutual Aid Agreement does point the way in which it is hoped that the principles of the Atlantic Charter will be interpreted on the economic plane. Whatever is done as a result of Article 7 can, of course, only be done by agreement, but the design of the Mutual Aid Agreement is to create conditions favourable not only to the signatories but to the whole world. I venture to think that that should inspire hope for the future, without causing any anxiety to our kith and kin in the Dominions. Thought as regards economic policy to-day is moving more and more in the direction of increasing consumption and thereby increasing producing power and increasing prosperity. Modern economists are inclined to believe that we can do that for the whole world without injuring any part of the British Empire, but, obviously, progress in those directions cannot take place, and no change in our economic or monetary policy can take place without very full consultation with our Dominions and with the United States and other countries.
A question was asked—I believe it was by the noble Lord, Lord Sempill—about the Paymaster-General. The Paymaster-General is at work mainly on domestic problems, but there are one or two problems which cannot be described as strictly domestic which he is also tackling. Though his main sphere is in the domestic field—a subject on which the noble Lord, Lord Winster, spoke just now but which I have no time to discuss at this late hour—even in our domestic problems there are many points which interest our Dominions and our Allies, and the Paymaster-General sees that the fullest exchange of information on these matters takes place.
I would conclude by repeating that no settlement in any of these great questions which are going to have so great an influence on ail of us for the rest of our lives can be made by a British Government unless public opinion will endorse that settlement. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships and other political thinkers will continue to canvass these problems, so that the public may be 177 made aware of the immense difficulties that lie in our path and give assistance not only to the Government of this country but to the Governments of our Dominions and of our Allies in reaching a wise and just settlement.
§ LORD ADDISON
My Lords, I am sure that everyone has appreciated the striking, the emphatic, unanimity almost which has characterized the speeches made in this debate, both on Tuesday and to-day, as to the immense importance of being beforehand with our preparations for world settlement, so far as is humanly possible. I hope that His Majesty's Government if they had any dubiety before—which I do not suspect they had—as to the anxiety of the people that the matters referred to in the Resolution should be actively dealt with, will have had that dubiety completely removed by the speeches which have been made during these two days, for almost without exception the same point of view has been expressed by men of all political affinities. I know very well—and, of course, as the noble Lord has said, that is why the Motion was framed as it was—that we do not expect declarations at this stage on matters in respect of which declarations can only be made in concert with the other United Nations, and on that account the word was not included in the proposal.
I thank the Government most sincerely, and so do my noble friends, for the complete readiness with which they 178 have met the spirit and general intention of the Resolution on the Paper, but whilst I recognize, and the noble Lords who are associated with me recognize, too, the impossibility, in many matters, of making declarations, I hope that the Government will not be unduly shy on that account. As a noble friend reminds me on a slip of paper which is in front of me, Mr. Sumner Welles did not find any difficulty in making far-reaching statements. So that when matters have advanced to the stage at which declarations can be made I do hope that the Government will not by shy about making them. I know that what my noble friend behind me said with regard to our people at home expressed a very genuine anxiety, and I know that the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, appreciates what is behind what I am saying. There are one or two subjects which have emerged in the debate which I have thought, as I have listened, might fittingly form the subject of special discussions at some other time, such as finance and currency and important matters of that kind. I believe that I am expressing the opinion of every one of your Lordships when I thank the Government for the spirit in which they have met this Resolution, and I think that the simplest and readiest way of dealing with it is to ask your Lordships to allow me to withdraw it.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned.