§ 2.37 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the International Situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in rising to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper, I should like to take the opportunity to express our sympathy with the Foreign Secretary who is incapacitated, and to hope that he will make a speedy recovery. I have no doubt that he is chafing at the fact that he is not able to attend to his responsible duties at this very important period. We all hope for his speedy return, fully restored to health.
§ Since we last surveyed the world situation, in two great countries there has been the end of an era. The inauguration of Mr. Eisenhower as President of the United States has ended the era of Democratic Administrations which lasted twenty years. In the Soviet Union, the era of Stalin's rule, which lasted even longer, has been ended by his sudden death. Both of these are momentous events which cannot fail to influence the course of history. Because we are all, I think, agreed that close co-operation with the United States has been, and must remain, a cardinal point of British policy, many of us felt some apprehension at some of the pronouncements that were made during the course of the American election campaign. But, as all free democracies know, allowance has to be made for what may be said in the heat of an electoral battle, and when the American electorate had made its choice 1136 we were all ready and anxious to establish the same friendly relations and the same cordial understanding that had existed between successive Governments of this country and the old Administrations. Moreover, the new President is a man whom we have reason to admire, to respect and to trust.
§ However, I think it should be said frankly that in the early weeks of the new Administration some of the omens did not seem propitious. Apprehension was renewed by some pronouncements in a similar vein to those made during the election campaign. There was to be a new and dynamic foreign policy: the policy of containment was to be superseded by a policy of liberation, and some of us were not sure what was meant and what would be involved. The neutralisation of Formosa was ended. There is no question that the United States Government were entitled to take this action. The American Government had put the fleet there; it could also take the fleet away. Nor did it seem that this action, by itself, would significantly affect the situation in the Far East. What was disturbing was the possible implication that this might represent a new departure in the foreign policy of the United States which would resurrect the great debate which had raged over General MacArthur.
§ On the question of the Government of China, we have not seen eye to eye with the United States. We on these Benches are gratified that Her Majesty's Government have continued the policy initiated by their predecessors with regard to the Government of China, because it is the only one which fits the facts. For the same reason we hope that the differences between ourselves and the United States on this point will eventually be resolved, because, as the current negotiations demonstrate, it is with the Pekin Administration that a Far Eastern settlement will have to be reached. I will come to this point again later.
§ That brings me to the developments which have taken place in the Communist camp since the death of Stalin. In this connection, let us beware of the argument, "Post hoc, propter hoc." I have heard that some circles in the United States have allowed themselves to be misled by this fallacy, and argue that, because the recent developments in the 1137 Communist camp followed some new departures in American policy, to which I have referred, those developments have been caused by American policy. Similarly, there is a tendency to assume that, because those developments followed the death of Stalin, it was his departure from the apex of the Communist hierarchy which caused them. In my opinion, there is more substance in the latter view than in the former; but the true cause, or at any rate the main cause, lies deeper. The main cause is to be found, I believe, in the policy of building up the defence strength of the free world by means of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The departure of Stalin seems to have occasioned the new developments and may well have been a contributory factor; but let us not lose sight of the remarkable achievement of the West in creating conditions which seem to have caused the Communist rulers to think again. The developments in the Communist camp appear hopeful. I seem to recall a phrase used, I think, by the Prime Minister about a certain development during the war, which he described as "the beginning of the beginning." Maybe we are at "the beginning of the beginning" in a new process that will bring the world into a new and happier era.
In making an assessment of developments to date, there is one striking feature which may be more than a coincidence. It is that on the Pekin account there are several definite items—the release of civilian internees, the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war and the agreement to negotiate about the remaining prisoners, apparently accepting the principle of voluntary repatriation. As this was the sole obstacle to the conclusion of a truce, the prospects of an end to the fighting in Korea are much brighter. On the Russian account to date the items are less definite. There is the use of their influence to secure the return of the British internees. There is their support of the United Nations resolutions on Korea. There is their support of the appointment of a new Secretary-General of the United Nations. There is their expression of regret at the loss of lives due to the wanton shooting down of an unarmed British plane over Germany. There is the cessation, for the present, at any rate, of vituperative propaganda
against the West. There is also the declaration by Premier Malenkov that
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Government consider that the most correct, essential and just foreign policy is a policy of peace amongst all peoples based on mutual trust, on realities, and on facts, and supported by facts;
and his further statement that
in the present, and in the future, there do not exist any troublesome and unsolved problems that cannot be solved by peaceful means.
It is, I say, in the Far East that the definite steps towards peace are actually being taken. I should like to mention just two points in this connection. One is that the Indian Government seem to have had reason to believe that their recent proposals on Korea, which were endorsed by the vast majority of the United Nations, would, be favourably received by the Pekin Government, and that it was the Soviet Union which first rejected them. The other is that, even in the lifetime of Stalin, Mao Tse-tung ranked almost equal in the Communist hierarchy, and there is none amongst Stalin's successors who can claim seniority over the ruler of China. Other points could be mentioned which also suggest that the Moscow-Pekin axis is not necessarily so firm as it has seemed in past years. If Western policy were based on the assumption of complete identity between Pekin and Moscow, it would be in danger of making serious errors which might have grave consequences. I submit that such an assumption should not be made unless and until such an identity has been conclusively proved to exist.
§ I mention this point because it may have some relevance in the light of the momentous statement made by President Eisenhower last Thursday. I feel sure that I shall be expressing the sentiments of the whole House in saying that the President's speech was worthy of the man and the hour; and that it expressed the deepest hopes and aspirations not only of the American people but also of the whole free world. The theme of the speech was true and total peace throughout the world. It makes clear that in the view of the West also there is no disputed question that cannot be solved by peaceful means. It points a highway along which all peaceful nations can travel together, and indicates successive steps that could be taken along that highway. The Prime Minister has associated 1139 Her Majesty's Government with President Eisenhower's ideals and aims, and we are led to understand, from the statement that he made in another place, on Monday, that he is going to make his own contribution to the top-level declarations which are commanding the attention of the whole world. We welcome this intention. It is important that Britain's voice should be heard and British initiative displayed at this juncture, because this country also has a responsibility to play its own distinctive part in efforts to lead the world to a more secure and brighter future.
One thing is clear, and that is that the President delivered his speech in no "take it or leave it" spirit. It is to be regretted, therefore, that on the following day the United States Secretary of State, should have made the remarks attributed to him in the Press. He is reported to have said—here T quote from The Times of April 18—that the speech created:—
a situation where it is very obvious that unless there is a very prompt response by the Soviet Union it will be quite apparent it will be necessary to move ahead on all fronts….
Frankly I do not know what that means; but, whatever it means, I suspect that it was an unfortunate utterance in present circumstances.
§ As I have said, the theme of the President's speech was true and total peace. The keynote was an appeal against the waste of resources imposed by the necessity for rearmament, and a clarion call to dedicate the energies, resources and imagination of all peaceful nations to a new kind of war—a war on the brute forces of poverty and need. Surely it was impolitic, to say the least, to follow this moving appeal the very next day with an implied threat. However, I do not want to give undue weight to an obscure remark couched in an unfortunate manner. Of outstanding importance, in my view, is the tone and tenor of the President's statement, particularly the stress which he placed on the need to tackle energetically the economic problems of the world and the prospect which he held out to the poor and needy under-developed countries of a place in the sun of economic prosperity and social welfare.
My Lords, I have said that we may be at the beginning of the beginning. Certainly it has been made clear on both
sides of the Atlantic that Communist overtures will be met half-way. All of us will agree with the Prime Minister that nothing should be said anywhere
which will check or chill the processes of good will which may be at work.
The Prime Minister went on to say that his hope is that they may presently lead to conversations on the highest level, even if informal and private, between some of the principal Powers concerned. Whether the Prime Minister had in mind conversations with Premier Malenkov, or also with Mao-tse Tung, is not clear, but I do not propose to ask the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who I understand is to reply to this debate, to elucidate the statement, because I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will himself elaborate on this and other ideas that he may have in mind when he speaks in another place next week. There are, however, a few observations which I wish to make.
I do not believe that there is any disagreement that the first great step must be the conclusion of an honourable armistice in Korea. President Eisenhower restated the United Nations aims when he said that this means
the immediate cessation of hostilities and the prompt initiation of political discussions leading to the holding of free elections in a united Korea.
He also said that it should mean the end of direct and indirect attacks upon the security of Indo-China and Malaya. It cannot be doubted that the invasion of Laos could not have been undertaken by Viet Minh without the arms and assistance which they have received from outside Communist sources. There cannot be an over-all peace in the Far East so long as Communist aggression and armed invasions continue in any part of that region. What we all want to see is the end to fighting, bloodshed, and the human misery it causes.
But peace in the Far East will call also for decisions by the free nations. There are two matters that will have to be faced. The first is the question of China's seat in the United Nations. We can be sure that in peace discussions Pekin will demand the recognition of her claim to occupy China's seat. The final decision will rest, of course, with the Member States of the United Nations. But what should be the attitude of Her Majesty's Government when the matter comes up
for discussion in the political negotiations? Hitherto, the British Government, while recognising Pekin's right in principle, have not supported Pekin's claim, on the ground that she was named an aggressor by resolution of the United Nations and because we could not agree to a Government "shooting its way" into the United Nations. But when a Korean peace settlement has been agreed, hostilities will have ended and aggression will have ceased. Surely it is both logical and a recognition of the factual position in China that the Pekin Government should be accepted to occupy China's seat in the Security Council and to take her place in the United Nations' Assembly. This, so it seems to me, would be in harmony with two of President Eisenhower's five precepts—with No. 3, which states that
any nation's right to form a Government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable,
and No. 4, which declares that
any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of Government is indefensible.
Her Majesty's Government recognise the Pekin Government, and there can surely be no doubt that, following a Korean peace, it is the Government's intention to support the admission of Pekin representatives to the United Nations.
§ The second problem, the problem of Formosa, is more complex and presents special difficulties. The Pekin Government claim it. The Chinese Nationalists occupy it. It may be that the Formosan population, as distinct from the Chinese Nationalists, have their own views about the future of their island home and may claim the right to self-determination. I have also seen the suggestion that Formosa should enjoy a period of trusteeship under the United Nations. What, in fact, will be the future status of Formosa is a matter which will be settled in negotiations for a Far Eastern peace, but if peace throughout Asia is to be (to use President Eisenhower's words) "true and total," one clear decision seems to be called for—that is, that Formosa cannot be allowed to continue to be used as a Chinese Nationalist base from which to carry on civil war and to build up and launch armed attacks on the Chinese mainland. I hope, therefore, that when this matter comes up for decision, Her Majesty's Government will oppose any 1142 such use being made of Formosa, and that they will support the neutralisation of the island in this respect as part of a Far-Eastern peace settlement.
§ Let me turn now to Europe. President Eisenhower has said that there are certain specific actions which the Soviet Union could take as evidence of its sincerity, instancing the signature of the Austrian Treaty and the release of prisoners-of-war still held in Russia. I feel sure we shall all concur with these views. In the case of the Austrian Treaty, the Western Powers have long ago gone much further than half-way. The draft Treaty is ready for signature and for years the Western Powers have been ready to sign it: only the Soviet Union has held it up. There can be no doubt that Russia would give cause for much satisfaction if she were to put her signature to the Treaty and thereby make this small country free again, after years of occupation going back to the pre-war period. I hope that a new and early effort will be made to bring this matter to completion.
§ The problem of Germany is more complex. Our policy has always been the creation of a unified democratic Germany, for which the essential condition is free and secret elections throughout Germany—by which is meant Federal Germany, Berlin and the Eastern Zone. President Eisenhower restated this objective in his speech. Because this, too, has been blocked by the Soviet Union, and because of the need to strengthen Western Europe, the six countries—France, Italy, Benelux and Federal Germany—with more or less encouragement from the other Western countries, have gone ahead with the creation of a limited Federal Union among themselves. They have set up the European Coal and Steel Community; they have signed the Treaty for the European Defence Community, which is awaiting ratification; and they are considering a European Political Authority.
President Eisenhower in his speech stated that the free and equal partnership of Western Germany in the European Defence Community—here I quote—
for Germany is the only safe way to full final unity.
While I sympathise with the intention of this statement, and feel strongly that nothing that has happened so far warrants any relaxation of our efforts towards
European unity—on the contrary, it confirms the rightness of the policy that the West has been pursuing—I wonder whether the logic of this statement will be immediately apparent, particularly to the Germans. I was interested to read that the prospect of Four-Power discussions with Germany has prompted Herr Ollenhauer, the Leader of the German Social Democratic Party, to say that the Government and Opposition in the Federal Republic should, if possible, agree on a programme for Four-Power negotiations. He regarded it as
crucial that the Federal Republic should be brought into the preparatory stage of the negotiations proper.
This seems to me to be a wise suggestion and a proper claim.
§ Supposing the Russians do put forward new proposals on Germany, in which they offer to agree to free all-German elections under international supervision, it is not unlikely that one of them will be that a unified Germany would not be bound by any existing obligations to either the East or the West. In other words, a united Germany would not be able to be a partner in either the European Coal and Steel Community or the European Defence Community. In that event, what would be the response of the Western nations? If it were merely negative, they would be in danger of appearing, above all in German eyes, to be obstructing the reunification of Germany for the sake of Western defence and Western integration.
§ The real problem, as I see it, is this: Is a reunited and democratic Germany, following free elections, to have equality of rights? Or is it to be a sort of second-grade nation, with special restrictions on its sovereignty? It seems to me that the problem of Germany will not be satisfactorily solved until that country has obtained a status of full equality, including membership of the United Nations, and freedom to enter into other international agreements that are in conformity with the United Nations Charter. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the Federal Government and the Opposition will be able to agree on a programme that can be regarded as expressing the point of view of Western Germany, so that there can be no doubt what they consider to be an acceptable basis of reunification. It is important that German democracy 1144 should be strengthened and not weakened—important not only for Germany, but for the whole free world. I cannot imagine, therefore, that there can be any doubt that the Federal Republic will be brought into direct consultations at the preparatory stage of negotiations.
§ My Lords, I said in the Defence debate last week that nothing, in my view, has occurred yet to lessen the need to carry on with the building up of the planned defence of the West. It seems to me that the question of Western defence, in all its aspects, as also the question of Communist military power, can be dealt with only under the ægis of a Treaty for disarmament on the lines suggested by President Eisenhower, or on other lines that would be equally effective. Such a Treaty would be in the interests of all nations, Eastern and Western alike, Communist and free. I know of no other way by which the present oppressive burden which growing armaments impose on the peoples can be reduced or lifted. The progressive easing of world tensions by political conferences and negotiations will gradually restore confidence and increase the sense of security throughout the world; but true and total peace can become a reality only when both East and West are convinced that neither side has the means to commit aggression. Protestations of good intentions will not satisfy either side, and the West have learned from experience that unilateral disarmament is perilous. I profoundly believe that President Eisenhower is both right and realistic when he urges that, as world trust and confidence are strengthened by political agreements, we should proceed concurrently with the task of reaching solemn agreements for the reduction of the burden of armaments.
§ He asked this question: Is the Soviet Union prepared to act in concert with others upon serious disarmament proposals. Mr. Malenkov has said at least twice since he became Prime Minister that the Communist world and the free world can co-exist. If they can live together in peace, and there is no unsolved problem between them that cannot be settled by peaceful means, there is surely no need for the massed armaments that are being accumulated, at a staggering cost, on both sides of the Iron Curtain. How will Mr. Malenkov answer the President's question? A favourable 1145 reply from him, and the United Nations Commission for Disarmament can get down to the serious business of preparing the details of disarmament programmes.
§ I should now like to turn for a moment to another troubled area of the world—namely, the Middle East. We on these Benches welcome the agreement which has been reached with Egypt on the right of self-determination for the people of the Sudan. The acceptance of this principle was what the Labour Government continually sought to obtain from successive Egyptian Governments, and I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on having succeeded in achieving agreement with the present Egyptian Government on this matter. We all realise, of course, that even with this agreement difficulties may arise in its application. Indeed, there have already been differences in interpretation of the meaning of independence, and it is well that this question has been clarified. There may be other difficulties in the transitional period. It now seems unlikely that preparations will be complete, or that the Electoral Commission will make recommendations for the holding of elections before the rainy season sets in, which would mean the postponement of the elections until some time in the autumn. This may be a pessimistic view, but perhaps the noble Marquess, when he comes to reply to the debate, may be able to tell us what are the prospects about the elections. If there is to be delay, the interim period is likely to be a trying one in some respects, especially if the negotiations with Egypt on the other major issue do not go smoothly or expeditiously.
§ With the conclusion of the Sudan Agreement, we have got, as it were, halfway, or nearly halfway. The question of the Suez base and the general defence of the Middle East constitutes the outstanding part of the problem. In this connection, the Suez Canal itself no longer seems to hold the position it once occupied in Middle East strategy. We were deprived of its use in the last war and managed to get along without it. There seems to be a consensus of opinion that it is very vulnerable. Nor does the Suez base appear to give us any effective say in the passage of shipping. Egypt has for some 1146 time closed the canal to cargoes bound for Israel, and representations have had no effect. The question, therefore, turns on the value of the base itself.
§ I think, looking back, there will be general regret that the Sidky-Bevin Agreement was lost, mainly because of our inability to get the Egyptians to agree to a separate settlement on the Sudan. Clearly, the most desirable outcome would be to relieve Britain of the sole responsibility for this commitment, which we can ill-afford, and, by obtaining recognition of the true function of this base in the general defence of the Middle East, transform it into an international commitment. A Middle East defence organisation, based on the Charter, which would include as equal partners Egypt and the other Middle Eastern countries, is still the right answer. However, negotiations are about to open, and I do not want to say anything which may have any sort of prejudicial effect. What we should welcome would be an agreement in which the special Egyptian point of view and the international defence considerations were reconciled, to the mutual advantage and satisfaction of all concerned. In following this course, the Government may be charged by some of its extreme supporters with "scuttling," but we hope that they will not be deterred thereby from getting a practical and constructive settlement, in harmony with the realities of the situation. What has to be kept in mind is that time is running short. The Treaty expires in three years. We on these Benches support the efforts of the Government to obtain an agreed solution of the questions at issue now, and we hope that the negotiations will be successful.
§ Let me say this in conclusion. Our hopes are being raised by the top-level exchanges that are taking place in public. We must all trust that we are witnessing the opening stage of a genuine peace offensive that will bring concrete results. But I am sure we all realise that a difficult road of hard negotiations lies ahead. Progress, if it is made, is likely to take the form of a series of limited advances from one agreement to the next. We should not expect too much, too quickly. What we can and do expect is that Her Majesty's Government will seize every opportunity and spare no effort to get fair 1147 and just agreement on some of the problems to be solved. In that effort they will have our encouragement and support. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, every one of us must re-echo the hope expressed by Mr. Churchill in his statement, which was read in this House on Monday thatthe processes of good will…may…lead to conversations on the highest level….If they do take place, there is more reason now than at any time in the last five years to hope that they may lead to an easing of the tension between East and West. For my part, I base a very cautious optimism on what has happened inside Russia, rather than what has happened internationally. A change of attitude towards the West might be—I do not say it is going to be—very short-lived, but events such as the release of the fifteen doctors, accompanied, as it was, by blunt condemnation of the methods hitherto adopted under the Stalin régime to extort confessions, must seem like a revolution to the people inside Russia.
There almost appears, one dares to say, to be a gleam of hope of a little individual freedom, some slight lifting of the ever-present fear of arbitrary arrest. Even the Soviet Charter of 1936 has been brought out of the pigeon-holes and dusted. All this suggests strongly that the Russian people have been feeling more deeply than has been commonly supposed the pressure of the régime, and at all events that Stalin's successors evidently think that a loosening up of the tyranny is the surest and best way to gain the popular support which they need to reinforce their new régime. But whatever the motive of recent events, it certainly is devoutly to be hoped that we are witnessing a permanent change of front; for unless we can find the way to a state of peaceful co-existence we face for an indefinite period the prospect of a state of twilight war wasting the world resources, imposing an intolerable strain of high taxation and poisoning international relations, even if it does not blaze up into a full world war. We must be very careful, therefore, in this debate, to follow the Prime Minister's advice and say nothing which might prevent or in any way check these conversations.
1148 Mr. Churchill also said thatit is…as yet too soon to consider any relaxation of our efforts for collective defence.I do not think this view will be challenged—indeed, it was supported in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. It is surely self-evident that the present approaches would not have been made had not the Western World taken steps some three or four years ago to strengthen its own defences. Our best chance of peace is to carry on with our preparation until we can meet with Russia on more equal terms, and if by negotiation the level of these more equal terms can be lowered, then indeed there will be hope for mankind. But the salvation of the free world is not to be found in military strength alone. We have still to build the peace on firm foundations, and the core of this problem of building the peace, for both political and economic reasons, is to put an end to the chronic weakness that stems from the divisions of Europe. After all, if that problem can be solved, and adequately solved, it will ease every other international problem throughout the world.
The emphasis laid by President Eisenhower, in that eloquent and inspiring speech to which Lord Henderson has paid worthy tribute, on the need for European unity was timely in that respect, for the change in Russia's attitude may weaken the will of the Western countries of Europe to press on with unification and, in particular, may prevent the linking up of Germany with the West. Indeed, this may be its real purpose. Now, I would comment in that respect on a few sentences of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. There are before Germany many options; one or other of them may emerge from the Four Power Talks. It may be that West and East Germany may remain divided: that Western Germany may join the West without the East. It may possibly happen that they will join with the East—but if I were a Western German I should hope beyond everything that the thing that would not happen would be that Western Germany should be drawn into such a position that it could not join with the West. We surely must not do anything to bring that situation about.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I hope there was nothing in my speech to create such an impression in the noble Lord's mind.
§ LORD LAYTON
I did not imply that the noble Lord had any clear intention of that kind, but I was just expressing the various possibilities, because I wish to emphasise most emphatically that we must make it possible, whatever may happen in these discussions, that Western Germany, if it so decides, may join with the West here and now.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I hope the noble Lord will allow me to say that that is precisely the burden of my own argument. I put it, I thought, in the clearest terms.
§ LORD LAYTON
I was not controverting the noble Lord but I wanted to underline and emphasise the point I was making. It may be that the Russian move may delay that—and it may be even that that was one of its main purposes. With French public opinion in its present mood, this could conceivably happen. But it must not be allowed to happen. If we are to be given a temporary respite in Europe we must make use of it. If, to quote Malenkov's own words, we are in fact about to enjoy a period ofpeaceful competition between the Communist and Capitalist worlds".we must see to it that we are really in a position to compete. I am convinced that in Europe we shall find the way to do this only in the movement towards union which has provided the main if not the only constructive stimulus to international affairs in Europe since the war. The way of integration may affront vested interests and call for new methods of behaviour by Governments, but it is the only way that fits the times. It is only up to date in the sense of being historically up to date, sensible, international policy. I have spoken several times on this theme and I shall not weary your Lordships with another dissertation on the subject but I wish to suggest today that this is a moment when the Government can help forward this crucial development.
I should like to explain why I say that. It is common ground that it is desirable to bring the E.D.C. into operation. The Minister of Defence said that very emphatically in his speech in this House 1150 last Wednesday. It is common ground that E.D.C. is needed as an integral part of the North Atlantic Treaty organisation. That statement has been made again and again by the Council of N.A.T.O. But France still hesitates and puts the blame on the aloof attitude of Great Britain and Scandinavia. Unwillingness to go forward without Great Britain is certainly widespread in France. But this objection sometimes conceals quite other reasons for France's delays, based on her long history as a sovereign Power and her national pride. We in this country fully understand and respect these sentiments but we also understand the compelling force of the other considerations that led France at the outset to take the initiative in these matters three or four years ago.
The E.D.C. and the Coal and Steel Community, however, are only component parts, though they are very important parts, of any complete organisation for Europe. There is wide agreement—it was evident from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that he shared it—that these specialised organisations, in any sound, practical, efficient organisation of Europe, must be responsible to a single European political authority, and that the immediate task is to see whether it is possible to bring into being a political authority of the right kind. The draft Statute that was completed at Strasbourg a month ago is a carefully considered answer to this need. Though it can no doubt be improved in detail, its basic principles are sound and its purposes much more fitted to to-day's mood in Europe than any previous scheme of similar scope that has been put forward since the war. In the first place, it does not attempt to set up any-think like a fully-fledged Federation, but embodies what is called in the jargon of Paris and Strasbourg a "minimalist" solution—that is to say, a solution which brings only the minimum association and action that is necessary for certain purposes; and in doing that it is right, because Europe will advance quickly on the road to unity only on the basis of an acceptable compromise between international authority and national sovereignty, and it is that compromise which the draft Statute seeks to find.
For example, the lower House of the proposed new Parliament, the new 1151 People's Chamber, is to be elected by universal suffrage. On the other hand there is also to be a Senate appointed by the existing national Parliaments, in which it is expected that national viewpoints will be strongly represented. The two Chambers are to have exactly similar powers in legislation and it is the Senate, again representing the nations rather than some new force, which is given the right to nominate the President, or, as one might call him, the Prime Minister of the new Constitution. Again, the Executive, which will be nominated by the President, just as the Prime Minister appoints his Cabinet, will be a Cabinet for Europe. But by its side there will be a Committee of national Ministers with many important and clearly-defined powers, including control of the Budget. If you look at the functions of this body, again you see the same kind of compromise. Its most specific function is to absorb and direct the Defence and Steel Organisations. The Coal and Steel Organisation has some supra-national characteristics, but on the other hand international affairs will be treated by the new grouping, not in any way involving any supranational control of international policy, but giving the new body responsibility to organise constant, regular, and permanent consultation on international affairs. The Authority is in certain cases given definite powers; in others it is a purely consultative body. In short, the draft is in no sense a theoretical construction but a realistic attempt to fit an organisation to the actual state of Europe and to the state of national opinion.
§ EARL JOWITT
I should like to ask one question, to get the matter quite clear. Is the noble Lord advocating that we should come into that organisation?
§ LORD LAYTON
I was going to give an answer to this question. My first point is that here is a creation which is a deliberate attempt to meet the complicated state of Europe. A second and equally important purpose of the Statute is to create an institution with which States who are not ready to become full members of the authority can become associated by sharing some of its tasks; and, where the link-up is of sufficient importance, sharing also in the formulation of policy and in control. For example, that has already begun at Luxembourg 1152 where a British delegation has gone to reside at the seat of the Coal and Steel Pool. We do not know exactly what the form of that particular association is going to be, but it is evolving. When an agreement of association has been made, it is provided that in appropriate cases representatives of the associated countries may sit in the Senate with "full or partial powers," according to the nature of the association. Thus, this system brings associated powers as well as those who accept full membership into the political authority.
Finally, there are a series of most important provisions which will keep this "Little Europe" and its institutions under the umbrella of the Council of Europe, though I will not detain your Lordships by referring to them in detail. I would only say that, if full use is made of the system of association, it should give France, Italy and Benelux confidence that they will not be over-weighted militarily and economically by Germany; and the clauses regarding the Council of Europe guarantee that Western Europe will not be further split. This issue will be put to the test almost immediately, for this draft will go on May 12 to the Committee of Ministers of the six countries who may decide; and, indeed, the guess may be hazarded, with some assurance, that they will send it to a full-dress conference of the six Governments. I feel sure that Her Majesty's Government, like the American Government, take a favourable view of this conception. They are fully cognisant of what has been going on, and there is no doubt that an expression of approval would have a very considerable influence on the course of events in May.
At the final session of the body which drafted this Statute for a Political Community, the Conservative British observer, speaking for his Socialist and Liberal colleagues as well as for himself, expressed approval of the draft for the reasons that I have just given to the House. He thanked the Assembly for the helpful and constructive efforts they had made to meet the British point of view and, in particular, welcomed the fact that the door to association had been left wide open. These opinions in no way commit Her Majesty's Government, but the appreciation with which they were received made it quite clear that there 1153 is still a widespread belief in Europe that the British Government are not really in favour of this Six-Power development. Only an official declaration can remove that suspicion. It would also be most helpful if it were made known in the proper quarter that Her Majesty's Government, if invited to do so, would be ready to send an official observer to the discussions of the six Foreign Ministers in May. It is, I think, generally agreed that it would have been of benefit to this country, as well as to the six Member States, if Britain had been parties to the negotiations at which the Schuman Plan was drawn up, instead of making terms with the Pool after it was set up. The argument applies with redoubled force where it is a case of drawing-up the political Constitution of Western Europe.
To exercise our full powers and influence, however, we must not only approve in theory; we must also show by our actions that we intend to be as closely associated as circumstances permit. What are we prepared to put into this bond? It would go far to convince our neighbours that we meant business if it were known that we desire in principle to share in the common European market for coal and steel, by conforming to the rules adopted by the High Authority. And lastly, on the side of defence, I would repeat the suggestion I made a year ago that we should attach at least a token force to the European Army. We have already taken very far-reaching commitments in the matter of defence which will in any case put us in the category of a close associate of the Defence Community. But if there were some part of our military forces, however small, that could be removed from Europe only after the same process of consultation that applies in the case of other members of the Defence Community, the psychological effect would, I am sure, be very far-reaching. I hope that the noble Marquess who will reply for the Government will be able to say that Her Majesty's Government may take some steps in those directions.
The Russian developments carry with them, as I have said, the danger that a weary world will sit back and let things drift; but I believe that by action of a kind such as I have suggested, Her Majesty's Government has it in its power to see that Europe does not miss this time the tide that should be taken at the flood.
§ 3.39 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, I feel that I owe your Lordships some apology for taking part in this very important debate. I am well aware that the essence of debate is the discussion of the different points of view of those who join in it, so that, by the clash of controversy, the real nature of the problem and its solution may be disclosed. My contribution to that process is necessarily limited. I cannot pretend to argue what I understand, mainly by guesswork, to be the points of view urged by the noble Lords, Lord Henderson and Lord Layton; I am sure that I shall not be able to do them justice. Still, I have thought that so long as I am a Member of this House I have a duty to communicate to it any result of my experience which may seem to be of service.
Let me begin, then, by saying that it is still the case, as it always has been, that in foreign policy the greatest of British interests is peace. Nor is that true of this country alone. On the contrary, peace is the greatest interest of every civilised country in the world; and, as we all agree, there is no more urgent obligation on the Government of this country than that of maintaining peace. That does not mean that I am against what is called rearmament. So long as other powerful nations continue to build great farces, we should be mad if we did not make it clear that such forces can be used for attack on us only at very great risk to themselves. That is the first precaution we can take against war, and it follows that, large as the preparations may be for a possible attack, our precautions must follow suit. But, by itself, rearmament is not enough. We want peace, and not only victory. That is why for centuries past men have sought for some international organisation by which peaceful settlement of international disputes should take the place of war. Indeed, it may be said that after every considerable war in recent times some proposal of that kind has been made. That was the origin of the League of Nations, and when that failed it was followed by the United Nations Organisation.
The central problem, however, remained unsolved. How can prevention of war be combined with recognition of national sovereignty? The scheme of the Charter was to prohibit aggression by 1155 requiring all the United Nations to combine against an aggressor. For this purpose, your Lordships will remember, a Council was created consisting of five permanent member nations and six other elective members, with the responsibility of using the elaborate permanent machinery which was to be in the Charter, though in fact it has not been set up under the Charter, for preventing war by forcibly stopping aggression. To prevent misuse of this formidable power, and for other reasons, it was provided that all decisions of the Council except on procedural matters should require the agreement of all the five permanent Powers. That precaution was inserted, I believe, on strong representations made by more than one of the five. Its effect, of course, has been to give to each of them a Veto on any proposed decision of the Council, except matters of procedure, and it is thought by some people to have deprived the Council of any practical power under the Charter of preventing aggression.
To my mind, that is a misapprehension. The truth is that no sovereign, independent nation can be compelled to take action of which it disapproves, except by one thing, and that is war. The Korean struggle illustrates this proposition. In that case, for reasons which have never been fully explained, none of the five permanent nations resisted the application of forcible prevention of North Korean aggression on the South. But, in actual fact, such preventive action has been taken only by those nations which approved of it. Indeed, Russia and China have done their best more or less covertly to assist the North Koreans, and no one has suggested the practicability of using the machinery of the Charter to compel those two countries to take an opposite course. That result does not depend on the construction on any particular provisions or phrases of the Charter, but on the broad fact that independent, sovereign nations cannot be compelled to take any action they disapprove, except by war. It is true that they may be persuaded or induced, by economic or moral pressure, to modify the attitude which they have taken up in particular cases; but that must be a matter of persuasion rather than compulsion. It is obvious that to try to compel 1156 them by force of arms to take military action against their will is rarely a practicable proposal.
To my mind, therefore, it was unnecessary to insert in the Charter elaborate provisions to compel all the United Nations to take action against an aggressor. It would have been better to have condemned aggression in terms, as indeed is done in Chapter 1 of the Charter, and to have authorised, but not compelled, those who accepted the Charter, to take steps necessary in particular cases to make that condemnation effective. Your Lordships will remember that the same difficulty faced the League of Nations. There was nothing in the Covenant of the League which set aside the old proposition of international law that a sovereign and independent nation cannot, except by war, be compelled to take action in accordance with the opinions of other countries. Indeed, by the Covenant no decision could even be made by the Assembly or Council of the League except unanimously. When, therefore, early in its career, a certain proposition was approved by a majority of the Assembly, but not unanimously, the President declared that the result must be regarded not as a decision but as a recommendation by those who voted for it, and it was left to them to carry it out.
On those lines the League carried on its work for several years with, as I think, a considerable measure of success. The members of the League were not compelled to stop aggression, and, I must admit, the system eventually failed. Why? Because the countries that composed the League were not prepared to give it their support. I will not try to discuss why that happened. It is enough for me to say that, quite apart from the history of the League, it is of the essence of national sovereignty that independent nations cannot be compelled, except by force of arms, to take action of which their Governments disapprove—and that remains true, whatever may be the terms of any general agreement they may have made. No elaborate or ingenious organisation will alter that fact
Does that mean that the international organisation of peace is useless? Not at all. It enables the nations which join it to take action against an aggressor without incurring the reproach that by so doing they are themselves being guilty of 1157 aggression, as, of course, happened in Korea; and the general condemnation of aggression remains as a warning to all the world to keep the peace. It is a powerful argument by which world public opinion may be concentrated against an aggressor. I venture to say that that is a very valuable force. But it is—and so long as the nations which have formed it are sovereign and independent, it must be—in the domain of persuasion, and not compulsion. It is, of course, possible for certain of those who form the United Nations to join, as has been done in the case of the Atlantic Charter and is proposed in the case of the European Defence Community, in more express obligations of mutual defence. That, indeed, may be or become simply a revival of the old device of alliances supporting the balance of power. From this point of view it might have been preferable to have a more direct connection between the Atlantic Powers and the United Nations.
But there is another point. In essence, any plan for the international organisation of peace must rest on a foundation of common agreement, the strength of which depends on the acceptance of certain basic propositions which together form the way of life we know as Christian civilisation. That, to my mind, is the feature essential to any successful international action for peace. There must be some fundamental agreement on which it can be based. For that reason we must recognise that we are in the presence to-day of a great crisis, not only in our own history but in the history of the world. For the last two thousand years we have seen the gradual growth in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Oceania of a way of life which we know as Christian civilisation. Its growth has been imperfect and irregular, but it has never stopped.
In this year of rededication we British especially insist that in our own country, from the days of King Alfred to the present time, Christian civilisation has been responsible for every improvement and every advance that has been made Certainly there have been pauses and even setbacks, but I believe most people will agree that, comparing each century with that which preceded it, the health and happiness of our people have improved. More than that, I think we may say, without undue nationalism, that other countries have followed our example in basing their policy on the same 1158 general principles. And now, for the first time, a formidable attack has been made, not by fanatical savages, but by a highly developed community, upon the very corner-stone of our system. For that is what the Russian dialectical materialism really means. Unless recent events have changed it its central tenet is that there is no such thing as the spiritual nature of man, or, if there is, it should be ignored or stamped out as speedily as possible; and this view is said by some people to have been adopted by the present Government of China as well as Russia.
It seems to me a pity that we talk so much of Communism, which I understand to mean the abolition of private property. That embodies an economic theory which I believe to be dangerous and impracticable, but it is quite a different thing from dialectical materialism. If you ignore or abolish the spiritual nature of man, you destroy the foundation on which rests all truth, justice and freedom, except such as can flow from the love of money or what money can buy. It is the very antithesis of the saying that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. This, then, is what I believe to be the central doctrine of Bolshevism; and it has been put forward—do not let us forget this—with all the apparatus of a new religion. Its creed is, I understand, alleged to be contained in the writings of Marx and Engels as developed by the teaching of Lenin and Stalin and now by the present Government of Russia. Its familiar name is the "Party Line," and any "deviation" from it is treated as heresy. "Deviations" by any Russian Government official, whether in Russia itself or in any of what are called the satellite States, has been a capital offence, and even though abjured by the most abject self-confession it used to be punishable by death. It is, nevertheless, true that from time to time interpretations of the party line are put forward by the infallible authority of the Russian Government. Obviously you have here many of the worldly attributes of a religion, though a godless religion.
One of the consequences of this system is greatly to increase the executive power of any Government which adopts it, and that power is not only used against the freedom of its individual subjects but is 1159 also applied to the strengthening of its military forces. To defend ourselves, we and other non-Bolshevik countries have adopted, quite rightly, as I have said, a policy of rearmament. That is the only way to prevent the menace of immediate attack. What the extent of rearmament for that purpose should be is more a military than a political question. But to fulfil its object it should evidently be too much rather than too little. However that may be, the policy of rearmament is subject to this old-fashioned limitation: that force is no remedy. Force may be a protection, but it will not be a cure. What more, then, can be done? Here there is grave difficulty, and I can only say that I wonder whether we have proclaimed clearly enough the position which we hold. After all, we have a tremendous case, as I tried to indicate just now. We live in a small Atlantic island. At the beginning, we were repeatedly overrun by Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans. We developed a fine race and a still finer civilisation. We thus survived, and then, largely by the help of our Constitution and our Sovereigns, we produced a literature, an industry and a wealth which stretched throughout the world.
Do not let us forget that this splendid structure was built on what I have called Christian civilisation, with its fruits of truth, justice and freedom, not for this or that race or nation but for all mankind. And Christian civilisation is the only real alternative to dialectical materialism. It seems true that Russian policy has been recently modified, and, with President Eisenhower, we all rejoice at and welcome that change. But the principle of materialism, as far as we know, remains. Unless and until some radical change is made in that principle we may hope that greater co-operation between East and West may be possible, but I do not see how we can have any permanent security for peace.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, it is a responsibility and a privilege to rise immediately after the noble Viscount who has just spoken. We have missed him, in the last few months, from our debates in this House. He knows full well that when he comes back here he is greeted with affectionate regard from all quarters of the House. There is no other 1160 man living who has contributed as much to peace as the noble Viscount, and we are all proud that we have the opportunity of listening to him and of learning from him. Speaking for myself—and I am sure for all of us—I entirely believe with him that the real solution of our difficulties, and the difficulties of the world, is a closer and more constant application of the Christian ideal. And I suppose it is the fact that if we try to set that forth in our lives, in our national life too, there is a better chance that it may spread to all quarters of the globe. I am sure that I am speaking for the whole House when I thank the noble Viscount for addressing the House to-day and giving us such an inspiring message.
The next thing I should like to say is a word of affection and good will to the Foreign Secretary. Mr. Eden has many admirers on this side, as well as on his own. We think that, broadly speaking, he has the right instincts—indeed, we feel that the time may come when we on this side may have to defend him from the extremists on his own side. I am sure that, here again, I speak for the whole House when I express the hope that he will soon be restored to full health. I should like the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, to take a message from this House—at any rate from this side—for his rapid and complete recovery.
It is common knowledge to those who take part in debates on foreign affairs that for those who speak for the Government that there has never yet been a convenient moment for a debate on foreign affairs. Mr. Bevin used to tell me that such a moment would never arise. I must say, about the present debate, that I cannot imagine one more unfortunately timed for the noble Marquess who is to reply. Recently, there have been happening events of great pith and moment, and next week the Prime Minister is to make some pronouncement on these matters. Moreover, only a day or two ago, in another place, he said that he did not want to be hurried into making that pronouncement; that he wanted to give due care and consideration to exactly what he should say. Therefore if the Prime Minister is not prepared to make a pronouncement now, I think it is unlikely that the noble Marquess will be prepared to make any announcement to-day. Indeed, it would be unreasonable for us to expect that he should do so.
1161 On the other hand, it is fitting that we should have this opportunity of a debate, for it is long since we had our last foreign affairs debate. In my view, debates in this House can be of great value, if only for the reason that we have speeches from noble Lords with vast experience, such as that to which we have just listened. It would be wrong to criticise the noble Marquess on this occasion if he cannot say very much, but, having said that, I must add (though this charge might well have been levied against me) that I think in this House Ministers in charge are too frightened to make any pronouncement in case they go wrong. We may get into the position of the man who is so frightened of putting his foot wrong that he cannot move at all. That would be a misfortune, because in the past debates in this House have been of great value.
I want to-day to raise one or two matters, in order that they may be considered. I have not given the noble Marquess notice of them, and therefore I shall not be surprised if he cannot answer. On the last occasion that we had a debate of foreign affairs, on November 6 of last year, I asked a specific question to which the noble Marquess was going to reply. That question was about the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. Your Lordships will remember that that Treaty, to which this country is not a party, and which was brought into being during the lifetime of the last Government, imposes a defence obligation relating to the Pacific. The noble Marquess knows the circumstances in which the last Government had to assent to it. Australia and New Zealand are perfectly free to make what Treaties they like, but I, for one, expressed the view that it was unfortunate that that Treaty should have been made without our being a party to it. After all, the relationships between this country and New Zealand and Australia are so close and intimate that it was a sad thing to me that we were left out of that Treaty. When I asked the noble Marquess this question on the last occasion he said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 179, col. 145):I will say nothing beyond this…the Foreign Secretary is proceeding to-morrow evening to New York. No doubt he will be meeting there the Ministers of External Affairs of New Zealand and Australia and may well hope for, and obtain, opportunity to have talks together.1162 If the Foreign Secretary had any talks with them, and if he has anything to tell us about that meeting I, for one, should be glad to hear it. I think it is a matter of some importance.
On that last occasion the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, made a most interesting speech. He raised a point which has not been raised to-day but to which the noble Marquess may now be able to give some answer. The noble Viscount stated (I am paraphrasing what he said) that the weakness of the United Nations was that their membership was not complete enough. There might be good reasons for it, but the Russian satellite States were not members, because they were obviously in breach of Treaties that contained provisions about civil rights, and there were various countries that we sponsored who were not members. Altogether, there are a considerable number of States who are not members. The noble Viscount said that we ought to take a definite stand on that matter. That seems to me a matter of first importance. On the last occasion that there was a vote on this matter in the United Nations Assembly—in February, 1952—when a resolution was put forward proposing. substantially, that all countries which had been excluded from the United Nations should be allowed to come in, thirty-two votes were cast for the resolution, twenty-one against; and there were sixteen abstentions. Among the abstentions was this country. I very much hope that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will be able to tell us that, if and when that matter comes up again, this country will not be among the abstentions, but will be amongst those who vote for it, because, though I do not seek to condone wrong things that have been done, I am certain that the United Nations are more likely to achieve the peace of the world if all the States are there represented round the table. I believe that to be a matter of absolutely prime importance, and I hope that on this matter we shall take a line.
I do not want to talk about Korea because my noble friend Lord Henderson, in a speech of extraordinary ability, has already dealt with this matter, and it would be foolish of me to add a few ill-considered words to what he has already said. I would, however, say one word 1163 about Burma. Before now, I have pressed the noble Marquess to do what he could to secure the withdrawal of Chinese Nationalist troops from Burma. I believe that to be a matter of great importance, and I observe with no little satisfaction that within the last few days the United Nations, the Nationalist China and the American authorities have all expressed the view that everything should be done to remove these troops. I am sure that if that is done one source of real anxiety and danger in the Far East will go.
In regard to the Middle East, my noble friend Lord Henderson spoke about the Sudan. I wish we could hear that elections were likely to take place very promptly. We must not drag our feet in this matter. I do not think we wish to, and we must not appear so to do. I wish that the noble Marquess could give us some words of encouragement—I think the situation has in some respects brightened—with regard to the relationship between the State of Israel and the Arab States surrounding it. That is a grave danger point at the present time and one which we should try to clear up.
I should have said very little about Europe had it not been for the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Layton. I very much hope that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will not commit himself too deeply to the fly which was so attractively placed before him by the noble Lord, Lord Layton. I have been about Europe a good deal, and I have said that I do not believe this country will ever adopt, or accept, a federal solution—when I say "ever," I mean for a very long time. I believe that our history, our connections and the fact that we are an island make it impossible. If the federal solution is not accepted, then I feel it is much better to say so, as Her Majesty's Government have done, and not leave an ambiguity, or leave people thinking that we are prepared to accept it. So far as I have gone, I know that the noble Lord, Lord Layton, will agree with me, because he said so. I think he said so a little reluctantly, but he did say so, and I am satisfied so far.
§ LORD LAYTON
If the noble and learned Earl will forgive me for interrupting, I have been making that case at Strasbourg for the last five years.
§ EARL JOWITT
I am glad to hear it. But having heard the noble Lord a good 1164 deal, I still feel that, though he may have said so, he said so very reluctantly. If the noble Marquess does not accept the federal solution, I hope he will not have a kind of pseudo-federal solution. I hope he will not get us into all kinds of organisation where we have nothing precise to do, so that people may think that, after all, this has the facade or the appearance of a federal solution. I do not think that is the way to treat our European friends. I believe that if the Government are going into the thing they must go in with both hands and both feet. Otherwise, they should get out of it altogether; there should be no ambiguity about it. But having said that, if we do not accept the federal solution, what I would accept entirely is the fullest co-operation. I believe that to co-operate is what we have done, what we are willing to do and what we should do in the future. It is on those lines that I want to say a few words at the present time.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, talked about Germany and the position of Germany, and I should like to say something about that matter also. Before doing so, I would say a few words about France. France is an old Ally. The disasters that overtook Europe were due to the fact that we and the French got out of step and out of sympathy. Let us learn from that lesson. Let us, whatever we do, so far as we possibly can, carry the French with us. In so far as we are talking about co-operation, I would agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Layton, said, if only he would leave out all this talk about the European Army, which we are not going into. To put it much more simply, I should like to ask: Is it possible or practicable that we should agree that a proportion of our forces—for instance, those forces at present stationed in Germany—should be committed on the Continent, their partial or total withdrawal in peace time being conditioned, except in the case of emergency in British territories overseas, by an agreement with the appropriate organs of the European Defence Community?
On the other hand, by all means let British representatives sit on the various organs of the European Defence Community, and let them have a full vote on all matters concerning common interests. I believe that that is the right method 1165 of approach. There is not much difference between the noble Lord, Lord Layton, and myself in the result, but there is all the difference in the way in which we arrive at the result. I would have nothing to do with our troops being part of the European Army, but I would have everything to do—subject to the considerations which may override this—with co-operation, and giving security and satisfaction to France, so that France may not feel undue anxiety about the future position in regard to Germany. That I believe to be something which we might well bear in mind.
What is the position in regard to Germany? I have travelled there, and I have found. I suppose naturally enough, an immense desire to have again a united Germany. After all, Germany is in two, and if any of us were Germans we should want to see Germany united. There is one thing we must not do: we must not appear in any way whatever to be standing in the way of Germany's being reunited. That would be a profound mistake. If Germany is to be reunited, I take it that it will be a democratic Germany; it will be a Germany who is a member of the United Nations; and it will be a free Germany, able to work out her own destiny and make her own agreements. I sincerely hope that that Germany, free and united, will decide to take her part, freely and voluntarily, as a good neighbour, in supporting the peace of Europe. But I do not think we can have any illusions that we should condition our consent by what she will do, or anything of that sort; I believe that that would be unreal. In the present emergency I believe that we have got to trust to the good sense of a German democracy. I can hardly expect the noble Marquess to make any pronouncement on that matter to-day, but f thought it might be useful if I told him what I believe to be the views of a considerable number of noble Lords on this side of the House.
President Eisenhower has, within the last few days, made one of the great speeches of all time; it is a speech which may be remembered and put side by side with the speech of President Lincoln—the Gettysburg Oration. There is one other man who is of the stature and capacity to make an equally great speech, and that is our Prime Minister. I sincerely 1166 hope that within the course of the next few days, the Prime Minister will make some comparable speech, so that this country may regain the initiative—because, believe me, my Lords, this country has a profound part to play in the present exceedingly difficult times. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister is going to make such a speech, so that at long last the hunger for peace, to which President Eisenhower referred, may come to this sorely stricken world.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, the thought has passed through my mind, as it has, no doubt, through the minds of many others of your Lordships, whether, in the light of recent developments at the highest level, a debate to-day on foreign affairs is entirely prudent. That thought has already been expressed by other noble Lords. Personally, I think it is right that we should have this debate; but there is no doubt that what is stirring in what I may call the political stratosphere does dominate the whole situation. In addition to that, I believe there is to be a debate in another place next week, and that, too, certainly affects the whole of this discussion to-day.
I have three specific points which I wish to bring up to-day. The first is in connection with the Far East, particularly in connection with Japan. I have been looking up facts and figures, and I think I am right in saying that four-fifths of the population of the British Commonwealth live in countries which touch the Indian Ocean, or in the islands in the Indian Ocean. For that reason, if for no other, the question of the Indian Ocean is one of vital importance to us strategically, politically and also economically, for there you have the main source of the world's supply of jute, copper, tin, rubber and so on, which come to us through that waterway. I need not labour the importance of the Indian Ocean as a Commonwealth waterway; it is perfectly clear to all of us.
In the past a fundamental of our policy has been the maintenance in the Indian Peninsula of a military strategic reserve. I have again been looking up figures, and I find that before the war there were 57,000 British troops in India, and 159,000 Indian troops, making a total of 216,000. Now, unfortunately, as we all 1167 know, there are differences of view and public policy in India. In the old days, this strategic reserve there had to be employed for the protection of Indian and British interests. Now, the situation is very different, and, most regrettably, there is a division of interest in the Peninsula itself. We no longer have these forces available, not automatically, anyway. The first thing we must all devoutly hope is that any differences between India and Pakistan will be smoothed over. The present disagreement drags on and on, and until in some manner or other that is overcome, I do not think that on that we can look for any real durable organisation on the lines of participation in an organised system for the preservation of the peace and security of this Imperial waterway—the Indian Ocean.
I may also mention that we used to have Indian military units as part of the permanent garrisons in Malaya and Hong Kong, and that, of course, is no longer the case. I mention these points to work up to my main point: that we must look at this matter from a realistic angle. Taking it from that point of view, surely you are inevitably driven to look up further North East, to see what is available and what the potentialities there are. We have been engaged in the West, and have been doing so for a long time past, building up a protective system of self-defence. I often feel that people here in Europe do not realise that the issue in the Far East may be just as important as the issue here in the West. Personally, I sometimes think that it may be even more so, because the spark, if there is to be a spark—which God forbid!—might just as well start there as here. True, it is a long way off, and people here do not even know the names of many of the personalities out there, or, indeed, the names of the countries concerned.
Be that as it may, there are great similarities in many other ways. We are very busy building up here in the West a system of self-protective collaboration with Germany; I maintain that we should do the same with regard to the Far East, with Japan. I know that that idea may not be acceptable to a great many people, but unfortunately we have to be realists and not sentimentalists. 1168 Japan's past could not be worse—let us put it that way. I believe that they are conscious of it. And I fully sympathise with the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact—that is to say, the guarantee given to New Zealand and Australia by the United States, one of the conditions which led to the signature of the Peace Treaty with Japan by Australia and New Zealand. I believe that in that, Australia and New Zealand were wise and correct, if I may say so, for it is perfectly natural that they should be nervous on the score of Japan. There has been a suggestion of a little soreness in Great Britain, that we have not been included. I personally share that view, but I can understand why. The Pact was concluded for a specific purpose. If it had been open, others as well as ourselves—the Philippines, the French and others—might have claimed to be included. So that, although one may be regretful, one can understand why. However, to come to the point, my argument Is that what applies to the inclusion of Germany in our protective system in the West applies with just as great force to the inclusion of Japan in the Far East. I will leave it at that. I do not doubt that these things are being fully considered, but having the opportunity to mention it, I do so. I do not doubt that the Government are paying attention to this question of bringing Japan in on the same ideological side as ourselves in the Far East. That is made all the more important by the defection of China—that is not the right word: by the absorption of China with the other side.
The next item I wish to mention is the question of the Sudan. The Agreement has been signed and came into force on the date of signature, about which, of course, some of us were a little sore. We thought we should have had an opportunity for Parliamentary discussion which we did not get. Surely, the important thing now, we should all agree, is that the election should be held at the earliest possible moment; that the Sudanese, through their own constitutional organisation, should decide for themselves what they want, when they want it and how they want it. The House will agree on that. At the same time, I doubt whether any noble Lord here is entirely happy at the way in which the Agreement was put through. If ever there was a case in which we had a perfect case, it is in the Sudan—fifty years 1169 of hard, solid work, a record which, in all our proud record, has never been surpassed anywhere. It does not do any good to cry over spilt milk, but at the very end we were hustled and bustled and shot into something which, somehow or other, left a nasty taste. The resultant Agreement is a patchwork affair—I think everybody will agree on that. It is a very involved document. If you wanted to shoot it to pieces it would not be difficult to do so; but we do not want to do that. The important thing is to make it work—to back up the local officials, the Governor-General, and the people who have to work the Agreement, and make it as easy for them as we can.
I do not think we should normally be proud of it, or of the manner in which we were hustled into it at the last minute. It is not what it is; it is the way it was done. For it guarantees to the Sudan people what we promised them years back. In 1922 we made Parliament a formal declaration of British Government policy which was summed up in the statement that:They"—that was, the Government—have contracted heavy moral obligations by the creation of a good system of administration; they cannot allow that to be destroyed; they regard their responsibilities as a trust for the Sudan people; there can be no question of their abandoning the Sudan until their work is done.That was our Trusteeship. We declared our rôle as trustees. I hope we shall find that this recent Agreement carries out that self-appointed task. We must certainly all try to make it do so.
Before I leave the Sudan, there is one specific point I should like to ask, and I ask it for one reason—that it would ease the position in some respects. Under Article 10 of the Agreement there is a provision as follows:Detailed preparations for the process of Self-Determination, including safeguards assuring the impartiality of the elections and any other arrangements designed to secure a free and a neutral atmosphere, shall be subject to international supervision. The two contracting Governments will accept the recommendations of any international body which may, be set up to this end.The point I should like to put to the noble Marquess is this: supposing it were to prove that after the three years allowed for complete Sudanisation the Sudan Government themselves wished to continue 1170 in office certain specific officials of the existing régime, would it be possible for that to be done'? I do not know whether the noble Marquess can answer that question; it is rather a technical one. I know that at the time the Agreement was signed there was a good deal of interest shown in another place on this point, and it would be helpful if he could say something on the subject.
The last point I want to touch on is the Middle East. In its widest sense what is our policy in the Middle East? It is obviously to have an area that is stable and peaceful. Unfortunately, and it is a tragedy, that is not the case. We have only to look to the Arab States and their neighbour Israel to see the hostility, a hostility that is not even veiled, towards Israel. What a tragedy it is! So far as one can see there is no vestige of daylight; no let-up at all. And yet, surely, we want to be the friends of both. We do not want to take sides. One thing we must avoid in foreign policy is to have our attitude labelled as "govvy-govvy"—to teach other people what we think they should do. Nothing can be more irritating whether it is done publicly or privately. Meantime, there is a blank. We have arrangements with. Turkey; then we come right down to Egypt, and in the interval there is a blank which is dangerous from every point of view It is not only regrettable; politically it is very dangerous.
That brings me to Egypt, and here I want to say just a word or two. There is not a member of your Lordships' House or of the British public who did not heave a sigh of relief when General Neguib came into office and took over after his successful coup. There was a general feeling that the whole situation was eased, that it was taken out of a state where everything was chaotic and corrupt, and that really Egypt was going to have a good chance. I would say that up to date, by and large, that feeling is still maintained. What one hopes and prays is that General Neguib will not overplay his hand—it is an easy thing to do; it has been done so often before—especially just now, when a very contentious matter is coming up.
I am in two minds whether I should talk about this matter or not, but I have no present responsibility and I hope I am not going to say anything harmful. I 1171 refer to the question of the Canal. In law we have a case which cannot be refuted under the Treaty—it is one to which I would commend your Lordships' attention, and to two Articles in particular. The first is Article 8 of the Treaty of 1936, under which our troops are there and which provides that they are there with full authority, without any impairment of the sovereignty of Egypt. We know that. The second Article which is currently so much talked about is Article 16, that is the one providing for the duration of the Treaty. It is commonly assumed that the Treaty automatically expires twenty years after it came into force. The ratification took place on December 22, 1936, so that brings us to December22, 1956. It is currently assumed that if it is not renewed, it automatically lapses. I do not claim to knowledge of international law—I am not a lawyer—but surely it does not mean anything of the kind. What it says is this:At any time after the expiration of a period of twenty years from the coming into force of the treaty, the High Contracting Parties will, at the request of either of them, enter into negotiations with a view to such revision of its terms by agreement between them as may be appropriate.…In case they are unable to agree:…the difference will be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations for decision in accordance with the provisions of the Covenant in force at the time of signature of the present treaty or to such other person or body of persons for decision in accordance with such procedure as the High Contracting Parties may agree.Then—and this is a significant phrase:It is agreed that any revision of this treaty will provide for the continuation of the Alliance between the High Contracting Parties in accordance with the principles.…So that when the Treaty was signed it was certainly never contemplated that it was going to lapse, automatically or otherwise. I make that point because the law is the law: and expediency and policy are sometimes not quite the same thing. There may come a point where politics dominate. But at the same time it is surely an enormous strength to know that you are right, morally and legally.
I do not want to say a word which is going to make the task of our negotiators in any degree more difficult. Far from it. After all, who wants to have 1172 an antagonistic Egypt? Who in his senses can want it? I speak with feeling, for in the last war I was in Cairo. In the previous war to that—that of 1914–18—I was not. In the 1914 war Egypt was hostile, but in the last one—that of 1939–45—Egypt was friendly and an Ally. It makes all the difference. Who in his senses, then, could want unnecessarily to rub up the backs of the Egyptians or hurt their susceptibilities or otherwise disturb them? No; on the contrary; what we want is a friendly agreement with Egypt. Sometimes we think we have more common sense than others have. That is a common failing. But it is the fact that in 1936 we were able to come to a perfectly friendly and willing agreement and it was signed by the leader of every political Party in the country: thirteen of them. When they say—as they sometimes now say—that it was dictated, it is just not true. I should have thought and most certainly hoped, and even believed, that there was still an opportunity of coming to some workable and acceptable solution of this extremely difficult problem. But I cannot believe that the way to do that is to throw on the table at once all the cards you have in your hand and give up—or, to change the metaphor, to allow the other man to drum you out of it. That is not the way of negotiation with anybody; nor in this present case.
I repeat, I particularly do not want to say anything which will make the task of the negotiators more difficult; but I hold that we should not give any indication that we are prepared to give up our rights until we are offered something which is at least equally good, or, if one may be optimistic, something which is better. I am not convinced that there may not be such a thing. Who knows? The whole conception has changed. But the protection of that particular area remains as vital as ever. Incidentally, I was very sorry when the offer made to Nahas Pasha with regard to the Middle East Command was thrown in the mud without its having even been looked at.
It is easy to speak when one is not in office, and has no authority of any kind, but if I may venture a word of advice, I would certainly show no signs of giving up a single right until the other side show they are going to meet us in a proper spirit, and until they stop rattling she sabre. That, I am sure, is not the way to achieve success. My Lords, I have 1173 spoken quite long enough, but there is one further point that I should like to make, apropos of the Sudan. The other day I was reading that classic, The River War, a book which was first published, I believe, in 1899. I was reading a reprint, published in 1932, and came across some very arresting words in the last paragraph of the introduction to this reprint of 1932. Perhaps I may be allowed to read these words to your Lordships. They are as follows:It is my hope that the story which these pages contain may be of some help and encouragement to those young men and women who still have confidence in the destiny of Britain in the Orient. They may learn from it how much harder it is to build up and acquire, than to squander and cast away.The date and place of the writing of those words was Chartwell, in November of 1932; and the signature at the foot was that of Winston S. Churchill. In my opinion, my Lords, those words are just as true to-day as they were twenty-odd years ago.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I have listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, with the eager attention which his great experience and knowledge must inspire; and I think there is general agreement with most of what the noble Lord has said. I do not want to discuss either Egypt or China at any great length, because there are negotiations in hand in Egypt and events are going forward in Korea. I want to make two points very briefly. I think it is a great pity that General Neguib, who seems to be a man who can be very reasonable inside the conference chamber—it seems to be possible to negotiate and do business with him quite well inside the conference room—should, when he gets outside the conference room and is in the presence of a large and possibly excited crowd, tend to lose his discretion and coolness and address meetings brandishing a sword. It seems to me very difficult to carry on negotiations in those circumstances. I wish very much that General Neguib would realise that when negotiations are going forward the duty of all the negotiators is to keep the temperature as equable as possible.
In regard to China, the only comment I wish to make is this. I hope that at no very distant date we shall arrive at some degree of reality concerning China. 1174 The present situation seems to me to be utterly unreal. Her Majesty's Government are in relations with a Government of China which resolutely declines to have anything to do with us and is not represented in the United Nations. The American Government, on the other hand, is in communication with what I regard as a pseudo-Government of China, which is represented on the United Nations but which is completely unable to speak for China in any respect. It seems to me that this situation is completely unrealistic, and I hope the time is not far off when we shall achieve some reality in this matter.
I noted the remark of a previous speaker to the effect that Foreign Affairs debates are rarely opportune. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has encountered a great many difficulties—inevitably, he will agree—in bringing forward this Motion. I sometimes wonder whether the Foreign Office have ever considered a Foreign Affairs debate to be opportune. I think they would like to conduct the foreign affairs of this country walled up like Chinese students in that wonderful Palladian building of Palmerston. I remember a man who said that fox hunting was the finest of sports if it were not for the hounds who were always getting in the way. I sometimes feel that the Foreign Office regard both Houses of Parliament as a grave drawback to the interest which they would otherwise feel in conducting our foreign affairs. But they are foreign affairs: they are not private affairs; and, strange though it may seem to the official mind, I am sure that foreign countries find it quite as important to know what public opinion thinks as to know what the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office officials think. In fact, on more than one occasion there have been unfortunate results owing to the misjudging of the situation by foreigners because of their ignorance of what "John Citizen" was thinking about it.
As regards the general outlook in foreign affairs, I am bound to say that there are not many signs of improvement on the horizon, There are some: Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia have entered into better relations. I was particularly glad to hear—and I do not regard it as a small matter—that the question of Greek children abducted into Yugoslavia is on the way to settlement. 1175 Yugoslavia and Austria, too, seem to be getting on better terms. I do not know whether the subject of Malaya is relevant to this debate, but I must say that when I was listening to Mr. Eden's last broadcast there was too much "We hope" in it for my taste: "European Defence Community Treaties—we hope"; "A N.A.T.O. for the Middle East—we hope"; "The Persian Oil Dispute—we hope"; "Trieste—we hope"; "Israel, and the Arab States—we hope." All through that broadcast these words were on Mr. Eden's lips on every turn. But, my Lords, hope tells a flattering tale, and you cannot build up a settled world on hopes.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said something about "the end of an era." I think we have seen the end of one era: we have seen the end of the era of gunboat diplomacy. We heard the last splutter of it here in this House. When the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, as Lord Chancellor, said something from the Woolsack about Abadan, it was apparent in some countenances opposite that he had raised hopes that perhaps we were going to have an exhibition of gunboat diplomacy. But the noble and learned Earl quickly showed that a wrong construction had been built on his remarks in regard to Abadan; and, with that explanation, as I say, I think we saw the end of gunboat diplomacy. We must admit that gunboat diplomacy had its victories, but it is a technique which cannot be practised by a pillar of the United Nations. The trouble about it—in fact, I think this trouble runs persistently through our foreign affairs at the present moment—is that we have to deal by enlightened methods with some very unenlightened nations which understand gunboat diplomacy and very little else. But there can be no justification for our reverting to that particular technique.
The other day a most experienced observer, after a tour of Europe—I must say, he is supported by much evidence—saidThere are emerging again all the old sectionalisms, jealousies and national rivalries.I was very depressed to read those words. I could not reconcile them with the recent assertion by Mr. Eden:There has been a steady sense of improvement in the security and confidence among us.1176 With all my heart I wish that that were true, but I am afraid there is not much evidence to bring in support of that statement. We shall not get peace without the political consolidation and military unity of Western Europe. The Prime Minister who, when in Opposition, was a red-hot European, seems to me to have cooled off, and the decisive lead does not come from him. There is one argument I should like to put to the noble Marquess. I am never quite clear about what I would describe as Mr. Eden's view that we must "hold our horses" in Europe—I quote his words—because our interests are world wide. We are first and foremost members of the Commonwealth and Empire.Let me say at once that that does not seem the argument which inspired those who concluded the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact on the other side of the world. I am not putting this argument forward in a spirit of criticism, but I should be genuinely grateful to the noble Marquess if he had time to say something which would clear my mind on it, because no doubt it is my own stupidity which leads me into a misapprehension.
Surely these "world wide interests." of the value of which the Foreign Secretary has spoken, may be compared with a chain—and a chain, of course, is no stronger than its weakest link. Marshal Juin considers that Europe at this moment would lie helpless before Russian aggression, and, if that is so. Britain would go under with the rest, after getting the full weight of nuclear weapons in the process. It seems to me, therefore, that we are not a very strong link in the Commonwealth chain; and what becomes of the Commonwealth if this link snaps? Surely Mr. Eden's "world wide interests" would be served, and not disserved, by our doing all we could to strengthen European morale and buttress European defences. For the life of me, I cannot see how that in any way weakens our connections and relations with the Commonwealth. I should have thought that the stronger Europe was, the more we lent our weight to make it a stronger Europe, the better would be the result to the Commonwealth and those "world wide interests."
Mr. Eden spoke of a triple thread—first, Britain in the Commonwealth; secondly, Britain in Europe; and thirdly, 1177 Britain in the Atlantic Community. It seems to me that we go rather slow on numbers two and three—Britain in Europe and Britain in the Atlantic community—in favour of the first: Britain in the Commonwealth. Surely each strand of a three-stranded rope must be equally strong or the rope will never stand the strain. As I say, I cannot for the life of me understand why buttressing the position in Europe should in any way conflict with our links with the Commonwealth. We are sometimes told that we are the bankers of the sterling area. I have always understood that a banker owes it to his clients to keep his premises as secure as possible; and only by wholehearted co-operation with Europe can we make our premises as secure as possible.
Now one or two words about Russia. Really the Sphinx of Moscow is making the Sphinx of Egypt look like penny numbers. The Sphinx of Moscow is certainly not Oscar Wilde's "sphinx without a secret." But what is the secret? I am not sure that it is not largely a waste of time to try to guess what the secret is. I think that Russia conducts her affairs in the most inscrutable manner, and it is hard for us to understand or to follow the mentality which influences the conduct of her affairs. But Stalin did not follow in Lenin's footsteps and it is most unlikely that Malenkov will follow in Stalin's footsteps. He had quite evidently planned several new moves long before Stalin died, and the breath was hardly out of Stalin's body before Malenkov put them into execution. It may well be that, while Malenkov is as cool and as cunning, as resolute and as ruthless, as was Stalin, he may also be much cleverer than Stalin; he may be a much more intellectual type than Stalin and, therefore, may prove the more dangerous man.
When looking at the assorted bundle of olive twigs which are being offered to us at the present moment, I think we shall do well to recall Mr. Dulles' recent reminder that the Soviet Union remains a heavily armed totalitarian State which knows no moral restraint, and nothing has happened which lessens the danger of the Russian threat to the free world. We may remember also that her history shows that Russia more than once has thrown a policy into reverse in response to some inward tension of which the remainder 1178 of the world has been in complete ignorance. I think that our line should be not to smack Russia down every time she makes a move, or to bustle her unduly. After President Eisenhower's speech, I thought that Mr. Dulles made a mistake when he said that Russia must "get oh with it" and give us an answer practically over the counter. That is not always the way to deal with the Oriental and, in any case, you do not encourage a child's first faltering footsteps by urging it to run.
I think we must methodically take each proposal or move in good faith at its face value and test it out. If we do that, it seems to me that the Russians will, to some extent, be put into a cleft stick. The moves will be found either to be perfectly bona fide and genuine, in which case the Russia of Lenin, Stalin and Marx has gone, or they will be found to be the old "double talk" and Russia will remain the dangerous wolf, bent on the violation of all human rights and on aggression, in the pursuit of the enslavement and domination of other races. Only by taking the proposals at face value and testing them out honestly in that way shall we arrive at what Russia is really after at the present moment.
I doubt if it will be found that Russian objectives have very much changed, but I think that the strategy and the dictates by which Stalin pursued those objectives may be found to change in the hands of Malenkov. But, after all, substituting Malenkov for Stalin will not resolve overnight those internal schisms which Stalin could not or would not heal. The Party and the Government machines are not suddenly going to begin to synchromesh, any more than the Army and the Police will suddenly become "old buddies" together. The new and the old Bolsheviks will remain oil and water. Russia is not a national unity; it is a country which seethes with racial hatreds, and at any moment the internal tensions may become very fierce. Stalin seemed to be able to handle all this. He was very tough. He boasted that he slept better at night if he disposed of an enemy during the day. He was what Tolstoy always said that he feared—Genghis Khan plus a telephone. Even so, it took Stalin fourteen years to become unquestioned dictator, and finally to become a god.
1179 Malenkov has a long way to go to achieve the same position, and it would be rash to assume that his position will not be challenged. Lenin warned his disciples not to start guillotining each other after his death. But that is not advice which rings like sweet music in a Russian leader's ears. There may be those who see great point in resorting to the guillotine where rival leaders are concerned. There is one last point I think we should consider in regard to Russia. China and Russia now represent such a vast area that Malenkov can afford to smile at a policy of containment. The Communist world is now far too large to contain, and if it can hold on to what it has got, then it will have won. If there is any hope anywhere in the matter, it is more in the policy of liberation than the policy of containment.
My Lords, I should like to associate myself with the messages of respect and affection and good will which have been conveyed to the Foreign Secretary. Once again the Foreign Secretary has proved that, above all things, he is a most admirable negotiator. He deserves the greatest credit for the way in which he has handled the negotiations about Korea which have resulted in the release of prisoners of war. I think that the credit for that result is almost entirely due to Mr. Eden and his fine powers of negotiation. In fact, I must make the noble Marquess blush by saying that I think that at present we have got a very good team indeed at the Foreign Office. They are sometimes a little hesitant, sometimes a little indecisive. There have been times when the Foreign Office has reminded me of a story Sir Henry Drummond Wolff used to tell, of a constituent who wrote to his Member of Parliament at a time of indecision in the last century, when we were trying to hold Russia off Turkey's prostrate body, without any very great success. This constituent wrote to his Member of Parliament to ask if he could tell him where Lord Palmerston was buried, because, he said, he wanted to dig him up and present his backbone to the British Government.
It is perhaps not for me to intrude my comments about how foreign affairs should be conducted, but on reading a book on the late Lord Salisbury, who was three times Prime Minister of this country, 1180 I see that he used to say that if there was anything he despised it was a meddling and ineffective foreign policy. These were his words:In foreign policy what we have to do is simply to perform our own part with honour; to abstain from a meddling diplomacy; to uphold England's honour steadily and fearlessly, and always to be rather prone to let action go along with words than to let it lag behind them.To those words I would add two or three words from the late Lord Rosebery, who, of course, was also Foreign Secretary. He laid down another guiding principle. He it was who laid down originally the principle of Party unity and continuity in foreign policy, for he said:Foreign statesmen and foreign courts"—there are not so many of them now, but this is speaking of some time ago—should feel that they are dealing, not with a Ministry, possibly fleeting and possibly transient, but with a great, powerful and united nation.My Lords, so long as we adhere to the principles laid down by those two great statesmen, Lord Salisbury and Lord Rosebery, I feel that, in spite of all the difficulties with which we are confronted, the Foreign Office will bring us safely through and restore this country to her great position of influence and prestige.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, it is with considerable diffidence that I join for the first time in a debate in your Lordships' House on foreign affairs. My excuse for doing so is that I have recently returned from a month's lecture tour in the United States, which I was privileged to carry out under the auspices of the Foreign Office. During that time I visited New York and Washington, and all the large cities in the Eastern States, and I spoke to audiences of many different kinds, which represented, I think, a fair cross-section of the American public. This odyssey gave me some idea of the attitude of American public opinion, under the new Administration, towards us and the Commonwealth; and in view of the crucial importance of Anglo-American relations I thought that it might possibly interest your Lordships if I were to report some of my findings to the House.
I think the first impression of any speaker who goes to the United States is one of extreme friendliness on the part 1181 of American audiences and an insatiable appetite for information about us. In spite of all the differences between the two nations, they still regard us as their best and most reliable friends in the outside world. In spite of this underlying friendliness, which one finds everywhere and which I think is rooted in our common way of life and in our agreement about the main objectives of policy, there are many matters (and I think they should be frankly recognised) about which we disagree with them, and they with us. What I think is essential to an even better understanding between our two countries is that the causes of these differences and disagreements should be brought into light and clearly seen. In so far as the differences are due, as is often the case, to misunderstanding and to insufficient knowledge of the facts, they can then be completely removed.
Now, my Lords, wherever I went the main complaint I found about British foreign policy was that we have been dragging our feet in the Far East. As I am sure most of your Lordships are fully aware, especially those noble Lords who have visited America recently, the war in Korea is far more real in America than it is here, because there are so many more young Americans serving in the battle zone. The Americans tend to judge their friends and Allies by the amount of help given in this direction There is a feeling, which I encountered at many meetings, that the military effort of the Commonwealth compares badly with theirs, and that our diplomatic and trade relations with Communist China make us unduly tender in our dealings with the Pekin Government.
There are, of course, answers to all these criticisms, and they cannot be repeated in the States too often. But I think we here sometimes fail to realise how deeply Americans resent any suggestion, founded or ill-founded, of half-heartedness about our efforts, and these of our friends in the Commonwealth, in the Far East. If this impression of American opinion is correct, nothing could do more to improve our relations with the United States than a truce in Korea. So long as the fighting continues we shall be suspected, at any rate, of doing less than we should to end it. The moment it is over, there will be a tremendous increase of good will in America 1182 towards us and our policies, and this will at any rate bring nearer the possibility of a general settlement in the Far East.
Another deep-seated grievance, which I am sure many of your Lordships have encountered in years past in America, is the old resentment about: British "Imperialism" or "Colonialism," and as I was dealing mainly with Commonwealth and Colonial affairs this was a grievance which I met on many occasions. There is a tendency, I found, to place our policy towards Egypt and Persia, as well as our dealings with our own Colonies, under this broad heading. But I learned that opinion was nothing like so hostile in this respect as it used to be before the war. The gathering momentum of self-government in the Commonwealth since the war, particularly the independence of Palestine and India, has at last convinced American opinion, for the first time, that we are not paying lip-service to freedom for dependent peoples. I feel that we might overcome the lingering suspicion that still exists about the motives of our Colonial policy if we could get the right sort of publicity for our case. What is needed is not merely wider publicity in America for the facts about self-government in the Commonwealth, and about the advance already achieved towards self-government; no less important that the facts is the method of putting this information before the American public.
Much useful work has been done by our fellow-countrymen—former Colonial servants, British officials in America and visiting Members of Parliament. But I believe that the case could be put far more effectively by spokesmen from the Colonies and the Commonwealth countries. Malays or Chinese should be asked to talk about Malaya, West Africans to talk about West Africa, West Indians to talk about the West Indies. These are the people who are most likely to convince the American people when they explain British policy in our Dependencies—a policy for which I believe we can claim the utmost credit, and for which we shall not get the credit we deserve unless the right people put it over in America. I very much hope that the Government, when any of our Dependencies are attracting the limelight of publicity, will consider inviting representatives of those Dependencies to speak 1183 or broadcast, or whatever it may be, in the United States about their countries.
There was still a good deal of misunderstanding, I found, about our commercial policy. There was a strong suspicion that we still want to obtain American goods or credit without payment. It was twice suggested to me, in the course of my wanderings, that the real motive of the Prime Minister's visit in January was to obtain goods of one sort or another—in Pittsburg it was steel—from America. It cannot, therefore, be too much or too often emphasised that what we want is "trade, not aid." That slogan was really a miracle of ingenuity, from the point of view of its effect on the American public. But on the American side, one of the main difficulties about doing more business with us is the serious doubt which still exists about the viability of our post-war economy. Can we, Americans ask, really balance our foreign trade in an increasingly competitve world market, or shall we continue to face world crises which oblige us to go on cutting our imports? It is therefore vital to stress the recovery of our economy since the war and its growing strength and stability.
I come to my last point, for I want to be as brief as possible. The most serious American misconception I found about this country is the widespread view that we are riddled by Communism, and are quite oblivious to the degree of Communist infiltration into our national life. That may sound surprising, but it is a view that is extremely widely held. Why, Americans ask, do we trade in the way we do with Russia and China, and other countries behind the Iron Curtain? Why do we allow Communists in certain key positions in the trade unions, in our universities—even in the Church of England? I regret to have to record that I found that the Dean of Canterbury is far better known in the United States than is the most reverend Primate. Americans further ask why do we not prevent Communists from getting into Government service and holding important posts there. It should, of course, be remembered that Americans regard the Communist Party as a fifth column, and tend to measure the reliability of their Allies by the degree of their immunity from Communism.
This raises an issue of very great and general importance, and I cannot help 1184 feeling that we could do more than we are doing to counteract this false impression of the strength of Communism in this country. We need speakers of real authority—for example, trade unionists who have had a lifetime's experience of dealing with Communists—who will give Americans the real facts about the Communist movement in this country. They need to be told how little support it really has in any section of our national life; how our methods of discrediting Communism by free criticism and open discussion and ridicule, are, if not so drastic as the American methods, equally effective in checking the growth of Communism here. Indeed, I think our methods have one distinct advantage. We have not driven Communism underground. As it has not been driven underground, it is far more easy to deal with Communism and Communists. So I think we have a very good case to put if we can get the right people to put it.
In conclusion, my Lords, I should like to pay a sincere tribute to the information services of the Foreign Office in the United States. I believe that our British Information Service is unequalled among foreign information services in that country. Their efficiency is admirable. When I was in New York a distinguished American editor told me that when he wanted to get information about a foreign country the only foreign information service to which he went was the British Information Service, because, as he said, he wanted facts, not propaganda. I am sure that any of your Lordships who have been in contact with the work of this organisation realise its extreme efficiency and the real impact which it is having on American opinion.
§ 5.20 p.m.
My Lords, it is likely that anyone taking part in this debate to-day must feel that he is standing on the brink of a turning-point in history, a point from which we shall either go forward into an era of peaceful progress, slow though it may be, or backward into strife more terrible, perhaps, than has ever been witnessed in the history of mankind. Certainly these feelings are prominent in my mind, and will be in the course of the few remarks which I propose to address to your Lordships' House to-day. The discussion has roamed to-day over the West, the Middle East, 1185 and the Far East. I propose to confine myself to problems connected with the Far East. To begin with, may I say that Far Eastern problems have always been considered with great understanding by the noble Marquess who represents the Foreign Office in this House? I feel sure that, in any discussions which take place in future, he, and also the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, will view these problems broad-mindedly and sympathetically on all occasions.
The general settlement of the problems of the Far East is likely to be more difficult and the results more far-reaching than that of the West. When, after the death of Stalin, Chou En-lai, the Chinese Foreign Minister, went to Moscow to Stalin's funeral. I wrote to a friend of mine in the United States and said that I should not be surprised to learn that Chou En-lai, when he went to Moscow, delivered a message from Mao Tse-tung to the effect that China wanted to get on with her industrial and economic plan and proposed to adapt her foreign policy accordingly. A remarkable confirmation of that statement of mine came four days later in the Observer of April 12, from Mr. O.M. Green, who all will admit is an authority on Chinese and Far Eastern affairs. Mr. Green wrote:Reports are reaching London from various sources that Chou En-lai's apparently conciliatory proposals for renewed peace negotiations in Korea were not dictated by Russia, but were spontaneously insisted on by Chou…when he went to Moscow for Stalin's funeral.If that be true—and I think we ought to accept it from Mr. Green as having the substance of truth, to put it no higher—I suggest that that is a new fact in the world's political set-up to which we ought to have regard in any discussions of problems arising out of the truce in Korea, which we hope for and expect.
I was interested to read in The Times a despatch, dated April 17, from their Hong Kong correspondent, in which he gave, with the authority that comes to him from his responsible office, his summary of the Chinese attitude at the present moment. If I may, I should like to quote it to the House. This is what he wrote:…it is improbable at this stage that China would respond to an appeal for a general settlement…China is very conscious of being a Power newly emerging on the international scene, and even more conscious of her rights to be recognised as a negotiating 1186 Power. In Korea this recognition exists, if only de facto, and hope for peace in the Far East must depend on step-by-step negotiationIf that is so, if that represents the attitude which China may take, and if we assume that an armistice is agreed after the present negotiations for the return of the prisoners-of-war, I suggest to your Lordships that we must have before us as a picture the general historical and geographical background in the Far East around which the negotiations for an armistice will have to take place.
I have ventured to say in your Lordships' House before that Korea is not merely a peninsula jutting out into the sea and in which a war is now taking place; but it has been a centre of strategic conflict for many centuries. It has been a centre around which have revolved the strategic desires of, chiefly. China; next, of Russia, and thirdly, of Japan. The new China, the democratic China, in which the Tuchuns have become as extinct as the feudal barons of Europe, has as one of her objectives today, apart from the desire to progress with her industrial and economic plans, the securing of her boundary against all possible corners. She leas had too many examples in the past of being overrun from the North and from the East—first when, in the 16th century, the Japanese used Korea as a stepping-stone for the invasion of Manchuria; next, when, despite protests, the territory of Kiaochow and the port of Tsingtao were illegally taken over by the Japanese at the time of the First World War. If I may say this without presumption, in the debate which took place on the Treaty of Versailles Bill, I asked the Peace Conference to expel the Japanese from the Shantung Peninsula. I said that unless their expulsion took place, the Japanese would use their occupation of the Peninsula as a pivot round which they would swing into Manchuria and the Northern Provinces of China. Exactly that took place. China does not desire again to see a position in which Korea can be used as a jumping off point for an invasion of Manchuria and the Northern Provinces of China.
So far as Japan is concerned, Korea, if occupied by a Western Power, must always be a dagger at her heart. As to Russia, she used Korea in her southward journey to Port Arthur in order to obtain what she is perennially longing for— 1187 namely, a warm water port, that having been denied to her in the 1860's in the Mediterranean. I mention these historical and geographical backgrounds as showing that this question of a settlement in the Far East must be extremely difficult, to put it no higher, and must, in my view, revolve first and foremost round the provision to be made in respect of Korea. Before passing from that, I would say that one of the vital problems to be taken into account in relation to a settlement in the Far East is the growing population of Japan. One of the reasons why Japan set out in the Pacific was in order to try and solve that problem of population.
I come now to the question of the admission of China to her rightful seat on the Security Council. I am not going to enlarge on that point; it has been dealt with to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in the admirable speech with which he opened the debate, and has been underlined by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. We all know that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, in his reply will not be able to make any specific statement on the subject, but I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take an early opportunity of boldly proclaiming that they desire to see China obtain her rightful position on the Security Council. I was interested to see the following passage in a leading article in The Times of April 17, dealing with the great speech of General Eisenhower:…but many others besides the Russians and Chinese will ask whether the United States, seeking a 'true and total' peace in Asia, is ready to follow the sequence of events further and contemplate, as the talks progress, the recognition of China and her admission to the United Nations.It may well be that if Her Majesty's Government are able in due course to express themselves favourably on the admission of China to the United Nations that, in itself, will help the United States Administration.
§ LORD AILWYN
Would the noble Viscount add to those words, "at the end of the existing war in Korea"?
I did not want to refer to that in detail, because I did not want to detain the House, but it leads me to say this. The noble Lord will remember that I wrote a letter to The Times on this subject, which appeared in 1188 the issue of February 21. In that letter—which led to correspondence in which the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, wrote some admirable letters—I brought forward as my authority the Hong Kong correspondent of The Times and The Times itself for saying that when the Yalu was threatened by General MacArthur the Pekin Government had the excuse for crossing the Yalu into Korea. The noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, as he will remember, admitted that the Pekin Government had some excuse for crossing the Yalu when her power stations there were threatened.
§ LORD AILWYN
I am sure the noble Viscount does not wish to misrepresent me. What I said was that it was possible to understand a case being made for the Chinese having crossed the Yalu at that time. I made no admission that they crossed it correctly.
I am sorry I have not the correspondence here, but my recollection is that the noble Lord did admit that there was some excuse. However, I do not want to detain the House by pursuing that matter. I went on to say that, having crossed the Yalu—if there was that excuse, as the Hong Kong correspondent of The Times and The Times itself said, in view of the possible attack by General MacArthur—then they had every right to stay there until a settlement was reached. I do not agree with the point made by the noble Lord that we should wait until the end of the war in Korea. I believe that China is entitled to her seat on the Security Council now. That was a point made time and again by my noble friend the late Lord Perth; and it has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and underlined by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, to-day. The noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, may dissent, but that is the case I put forward now.
We have had an interesting and instructive speech to-day from the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on his recent visit to the United States. Here I should like to quote an interesting reference to the situation in the United States by the Washington Correspondent of The Times. It appeared on April 9, 1953, and is as follows:It is already evident that the new Administration is beginning to realise that the stick that was so useful for beating the Democrats 1189 has now become a rather embarrassing possession. If the clock could be turned back there would he an inclination…to be less enthusiastic about Chiang Kai-shek.…There already seems to be a dawning recognition that a real solution of Far Eastern problems will entail eventually the admission that the Communists are the Chinese Government and, while Formosa can be set up as an independent State, it cannot any longer be encouraged to think of itself as having a future on the mainland. No Republican Administralion—and, indeed, no Democratic one—would at present enjoy having to explain this to Congress.That is probably so, but it would seem to me to be unutterably sad if the lives and fortunes of hundreds of millions of human beings were to rest upon whether or not the present Republican Administration can explain that they have been in the wrong, even if they do not enjoy presenting another case to Congress. It seems to me all the more important, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government, having made up their minds that the admission of China is a right thing, even if it comes after the truce—I agree that if we are going to have an early truce it cannot come before—should put that proposal forward, as the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, said, and maintain that position.
I do not wish to keep the House any longer. All I would say is this. Having been in the Far East front the earliest beginnings of the stirring of the witches' cauldron, perhaps I realise and appreciate as much as anyone the difficulties of a Far Eastern settlement. I know the problems that lie before not only this country, but the world in general, in finding a settlement of these age-long, difficult questions. I know the difficulties which face Her Majesty's Government. My feeling is that Her Majesty's Government have the right view. I do not think they objected when the late Mr. Ernest Bevin—a great Foreign Secretary, if ever there was one—recognised China de facto but not de jure. My recollection is that Her Majesty's Opposition at the time did not take any exception to that—certainly no strong exception. I am told that they "groused," but I do not think they divided the House against it, or anything like that. At any rate, they have accepted it, and they would not go back on it now. I feel sure that, taking the right line on these problems, as I hope they will, they will have behind them all men of good will in this country; and, so far as I am 1190 concerned, they certainly have my warmest wishes.
§ 5.43 p.m.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, I had no intention of intruding upon this debate to-night, and I will not take more than a few seconds of your Lordships' time. The excellent speech which was made by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, made me wish to rise and support him to the full in what he said. I have just come back from the United States. I have had the privilege of going there on business for the last four or five years, and I substantiate to the full what the noble Earl has said. As I understand his speech, the basis of his remarks was the importance of getting the right people across to the other side of the Atlantic to explain the point of view of this country. Nothing could better promote a friendly feeling between the two countries than that, if we could bring that about.
I can assure your Lordships that those ambassadorial London buses that went across to the United States did as much good as all the rest of the work put together. It would be well if we could arrange for somebody like the taxi-drivers of London to go across, meet the taxi-drivers of New York, be their guests, and learn something about the complexity of their problems and of the difficulty of putting across a point of view. One has only to fly to the Middle West to realise how difficult it is to put a point of view across in that country. Adding that to the value of the work done by the productivity teams which have gone across, one begins to realise that somehow or other we have to try to overcome this difficulty of finance and allow not only one section of the community but all sections to go across and mix with the Americans. The Americans come over here, but we do not go over there because we are unable to. The more we can get the right people over there to put our point of view and study the American point of view, the sooner we shall come to an understanding.
§ 5.45 p.m.
My Lords, may I support the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, in what he said about opinion in the United States and the need for sending suitable people over there to explain our policy? We have had some 1191 excellent ambassadors over there in the exchange of clergymen, school-teachers and students, and the idea should be extended. I support also all that my noble friend Lord Listowel has said. This has been a very harmonious debate, so far. My noble friend Lord Henderson succeeded in satisfying me completely and also, apparently, my noble friend Lord Pakenham, which is quite a feat, because on foreign affairs we take somewhat divergent views, though we see eye to eye on domestic affairs. Of course, I have no desire in any way to disrupt the harmony on this very delightful occasion. I only wish to make an observation or two about the main subject of this debate which must be foremost in the thoughts of all of us—that is, the prospects of peace.
As my noble friend Lord Henderson has said, there have been tremendous events in the last few weeks since he originally put down his Motion. Stalin has died. He will always take an immense place in history, whatever misdeeds can be put to his score. He was a tremendous figure, and he made the Russia which was able to defeat and throw back the immense military might of the Hitler invaders. He will always be remembered for that, as well as for many other things. With his going apparently there has been one of those great changes of political climate in the world, which I hope may last and develop. Ientirely agree with what the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, has said: that either we go forward from now on to an era of peace and progress, or we go backwards into barbarism and destruction. We really stand at a moment of history of the greatest importance.
I have noticed that there has been some alarm in certain quarters at the prospects of peace—a lowering of the international temperature; a raising, if you like, of the temperature of the cold war—and the vista that is opened out of settling the great questions, referred to by my noble friend and by other noble Lords in this debate, that have divided the Eastern group of Powers in Europe from the Western group of Powers and the United States. There seems to be some alarm at the prospect that this would lead to economic dislocation, and I suggest it is most necessary that this alarm, which is 1192 natural enough, should be assuaged. We have had one great attempt at that in the remarkable speech on April 16 last by President Eisenhower, which has already been referred to in this debate several times—that part of it in which he pointed out the immense opportunities, indeed the immense duties, of the advanced industrial nations to help forward the backward nations and to remove the terrible stigma and suffering of extreme poverty in vast areas of the world.
The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, referred to the growth of population in Japan. There are far greater problems within the Commonwealth, especially in India. The Indian population, thanks to peace, better hygiene and slightly improved living standards is increasing at the rate of 5,000,000 a year, and there is not enough land to maintain the extra people. The result is that vast millions of the Indian population are living below the poverty line. The people of Wall Street, Threadneedle Street and Throgmorton Street who talk about the falling off of orders and contracts for munitions, of sudden unemployment and the recession of trade, must realise that there will be immense opportunities for the whole productive capacity of the Western world in relieving the backward areas and in modernising their irrigation, sanitation, agricultural and transport systems. There will be work for everyone, so far as we can see, for decades. That was stressed in the speech of President Eisenhower.
There is another argument which can be used. During the cold war there has been an artificial barrier in the way of commerce cutting right across Europe and right across Asia. You have not only the Iron Curtain around Eastern Europe but around China and Siberia. China needs engineering equipment for its industrial modernisation. The present artificial prosperity in the U.S.A., brought about by the arms programme, could be forgotten if we could get agreements whereby trade could be resumed across these two Iron Curtains, not only between Eastern and Western Europe but between the vast area of Asia and Europe and America. I think these things should be stressed. I am sure that I am speaking with the sympathy and support of the noble Marquess who will be replying to this debate. He has expressed himself in very eloquent terms in the past along these very lines. I would suggest that 1193 the Government, publicity machine might be geared up or diverted to trying to remove the fear of unemployment, recession and slump which the cessation of the cold war and the cutting down of the armaments programme is expected, or supposed, to bring about. In other words, a great deal of education is required now, at once, in this country and on the other side of the Atlantic, to assuage these fears. Before the only other matter to which I wish to refer, may I thank the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, most sincerely for what he said about Middle Eastern problems and particularly with regard to Israel and the Arab States, another sore spot—which we hope to be able, in a general settlement, to relieve.
The only other matter to which I wish to refer is to ask a question of the noble Marquess about our diplomatic relations with China. I do not want to repeat the arguments already used: all noble Lords on this side of the Chamber are agreed, I think, with regard to our relations with China. But what is it, after all this time, ever since Mr. Bevin took the step of recognising the revolutionary Government of China, when it had acquired the control of the whole of the mainland, that has prevented the exchange of full diplomatic Missions between Pekin and the Court of St. James's? I understand that it is not exactly the fault of Her Majesty's Government. We have been prepared to exchange Ambassadors and full diplomatic Missions with the Pekin Government. The advantages of our having an Ambassador in Pekin at this time are self-evident, particularly now, when important but delicate negotiations are in progress. The advantage, I should have thought, of having a Chinese Ambassador in London would also be very great. The fault seems to lie with the Pekin Government. But there must be some reasons. I do not know whether the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, understands them. He is one of our great experts on Chinese affairs.
The noble Lord says that it is only de facto recognition. Why is it not made de jure recognition?
I understood the noble Viscount to say that it was 1194 de facto, but I had always thought it was de jure. What are the reasons put forward by the Pekin Government for not carrying the matter forward a little further? At one time there was trouble over a score of aeroplanes that had been grounded at Hong Kong and to which the Nationalist Government in Formosa and the Government in Pekin both laid claim. That surely cannot be the reason now. What are the reasons? There must be some causes for this holding up of the complete restoration of diplomatic relations. I repeat, and I am sure the noble Marquess will agree, that on balance it would be an advantage to everyone if there were a British Ambassador in Pekin and a Chinese Ambassador in London. Delhi is fully represented, and no doubt the Indian Ambassador in Pekin has been of great value and service to us; and I believe that we have a very able Chargé ďAffaires in Pekin, who I am sure has done his best. But that is not the same thing as a full exchange of diplomatic Missions.
I should also like to see Consular services, ready for when the present restrictions in trade between our country and China and other countries of the West and China are removed. I apologise to the noble Marquess for not giving him longer notice of this particular question, but I believe that it is an important one, and I think the public would like to know the answer. I have never seen it explained anywhere, and I have studied the papers fairly carefully. I have seen no reference to it and I do not think we have had an explanation, even in another place. If the noble Marquess would give us some information on this matter I believe it might help. I am sure that if there is any information he can give us he will be only too willing to do so.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, a good deal of interest has gone out of this debate and most of your Lordships are probably anxious to see it come to an end. I should, however, like to say a few words in support of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. He has made practically all the points I wanted to make, and made them much better, and quite a number of other points, also, in a clear and forcible way. However, it is sometimes possible from the Back Benches to 1195 be rather more emphatic than those with the responsibility of speaking from the Front Bench can be, and I should like to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" of some of the remarks which he has made. In the first place, I share most warmly his anxiety to see this country occasionally taking a lead in a situation such as that in which we are involved at the present time. It seems to me to be all wrong that we should have to wait for quite a long time before President Eisenhower enunciates the views of the Western world.
I remember making a speech shortly after the death of Mr. Stalin in which I said—of course it was quite obvious, and I am not claiming originality for it—that that tremendous figure having been removed from the world situation it was an obvious opportunity for a getting together and for an exploring of the peace situation. I made the point, in my own way, which President Eisenhower made with such wonderful eloquence in his great speech last week: that the Russians were wearing themselves down in piling-up armaments, just as much as we were, and that they were hindering their tremendous experiment in social development, just as much as our great experiment in the Welfare State is being held up because such a large part of our resources is going into armaments. I do not think anybody has ever put that point as effectively as President Eisenhower put it last week; and in the admirable way of the American Press it was emphasised in American newspapers of all sorts. For instance, the New York Times made the point pictorially that one of these new great bombers cost the equivalent of thirty schools or of power stations for two great towns, and many other such social projects.
In my speech I asked the Government to take the initiative, because, after all, we are still the head of a great Commonwealth of Nations, and it is not for us to wait until someone else takes the lead. In the result, the initiative has come from the Communist Powers—and I must say that I think that is all wrong. We in the West ought not to wait in a situation which has been so radically changed as the world situation had been by the death of Stalin, to see what the other side are going to do. Lord Henderson and other noble Lords have welcomed President 1196 Eisenhower's great speech and I would pay my tribute to it, too—although I must confess that when I read the opening passages my heart rather sank, because the earlier part of the speech, in its claim that the situation had deteriorated since 1945 entirely because of the Russians; that they were 100 per cent. to blame; and that America and we in the West bore no serious responsibility for the situation which had been allowed to develop, seemed to be leading up to a flat refusal of the offer. That is no way to try to take up a challenge for peace. I suggest that blackguarding your opponents is no way to start peace negotiations.
Whenever I think back on the situation as it developed after the end of the war, the point which always comes first into my mind is the stopping of lease-lend, which was done immediately. The Russians were relying on lease-lend for the rehabilitation of their great devastated provinces in the Ukraine and elsewhere. We ought to try to put ourselves in the shoes of other people and look at the matter from their point of view. How did the Russians feel about it? Indeed, how did we in this country feel about it when, as soon as it was known in the United States that a Labour Government had been returned to power in this country, lease-lend was withdrawn? It was an even more tragic situation in Russia, because the devastation which the German armies had wrought throughout that vast area could be believed only by those who had seen it.
But I fully agree that President Eisenhower, in the later passages of his speech, atoned for what I regard as his initial mistake. I think it is right that one should be quite frank about these things. Americans do not respect one if one is not frank. Actually, they are always annoyed if one does not agree with them too; so that while they invite you to be frank, they are apt to be very touchy about it if you are. But I must say that a good deal of the value of President Eisenhower's admirable speech seemed to be taken out of it by the lamentable speech made next day by his Secretary of State. Lord Henderson commented on that as forcibly as no doubt was tactful for one who, in perhaps quite a short 1197 time, may have to deal with Mr. Secretary Dulles as a Minister of the Crown. Not being in that position myself, I can say quite frankly that it caused great depression and dismay to me and to Millions of other people in this country. As The Times said in a remarkable leading article, I think on the following day or the day following that, it was very difficult to reconcile a great deal of what Mr. Secretary Dulles had said in that speech with the speech of his leader. I cannot imagine, in a British Cabinet, with a sense of solidarity and responsibility, two of the most eminent members of the Government contradicting each other so flatly.
The whole of Mr. Dulles' speech breathed a truculent antagonism to Russia and the Eastern Powers, including China. In effect, he said that as far as China was concerned, it was to be a condition precedent to negotiations that the Chinese should agree to a united Korea. Surely, that is not the right method of going into peace negotiations. And when the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, asks why the Chinese are so difficult about receiving an ambassador and so on, the answer surely is that the Chinese, who have been treated in the most shameful fashion by almost every Western Power for the last 100 or 150 years, are exceedingly sensitive; and that is quite understandable and justifiable.
Lord Strabolgi asked a question about the recognition of China. It is quite right to say that China has been recognised de jure by the Government of this country, and quite properly recognised. But what they find so difficult to understand is that the country which has recognised de jure this Chinese Government maintained their consul in Formosa, which is in the hands of a party whom they regard as a rebel party. Even in Western Europe, with our standards of common sense and lack of sensitivity to these points, we should be able to understand the People's Government of Pekin being rather worried about this sort of thing. We must try to understand the attitude of the other fellow; and if we are to go into these peace negotiations with any real hope of success, we must go in with a much greater will for peace and with more understanding and sympathy than was displayed by Mr. Secretary Dulles in the speech to which I have referred. 1198 We must go in with the determination—to recall a memorable phrase of the late Mr. Bevin in one of his noteworthy speeches at the Foreign Office—to "grow together" with the Soviet State and the other States who work with her.
If we are agreed upon that, then I think, indeed, there is the prospect of peace; but we must be prepared, as the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, emphasised in his speech, to work out these problems in detail as well as to work them out with good will. We must not think, as Mr. Dulles said, that America has improved the situation which existed a few months before, when she has instructed her fleet to defend Formosa and it is no longer instructed to protect the Chinese Communists on the mainland. In other words, at this very time when good will, understanding and sympathy are required, Mr. Dulles said: "We have altered the position as it was a few months ago and altered it in favour of Chiang Kai-shek and against the Pekin Government." If that is to be the altitude, how are these peace negotiations to be successful? I think Mr. Malenkov deserves all credit; I think that the present Russian Government deserve all credit. It must have required enormous courage on their part, considering the tremendous prestige which the late Mr. Stalin had throughout that vast area. It must have required great courage on the part of Mr. Malenkov and his colleagues to take this completely new line. I must say that it is a great disappointment to many of us in this country that Mr. Dulles should have taken the opportunity to go back on his leader in this way.
My noble Leader, in a speech which he made yesterday in a very different context, referred to the man who produced an olive branch often being beaten over his head with it. I hope that there is no danger of that occurring in the present context. Possibly our own Government have the matter in their hands. If they exert the whole of the influence, which they undoubtedly still have, on the side of peace; if they make it clear that it is the substance of President Eisenhower's statement and his great and eloquent plea with which they are in agreement and which they will support, 1199 and not Mr. Dulles' outlook and the outlook of those people who cannot take advantage of the olive branch, then I think indeed there is a prospect of peace.
§ 6.14 p.m.
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF READING)
My Lords, as the noble Lord who opened this debate said, it is now some considerable time since we have had in this House a discussion upon foreign affairs, and during that interval the tide of events has flowed with considerable speed. Some of the occurrences, indeed, which have taken place in the interval have now been left high and dry by the swiftly-flowing waters that have passed them. I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, should have suggested that the Department which I have the honour to represent in this House is reluctant to have debates on foreign policy. Those of your Lordships who have been in that Department will agree that, although there are moments when it is inconvenient, although there are subjects which cannot always be discussed in public as fully as one would wish to discuss them, at the same time, speaking, I am sure, for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, as well as for myself, we are anxious to give Parliament the fullest information that we possibly can, consistent with our responsibilities not to spoil our case by divulging matters in public before they are ready for public disclosure. Subject to that principle, we are, as I say, always ready to give the House the fullest information. If there is any suggestion that the pause which has taken place since our last debate is due to any reluctance on the part of Her Majesty's Government to have a debate on this subject, all I can say is that it is entirely in conflict with the actual facts and circumstances of the situation.
The debate which has taken place to-day, no doubt inevitably in the circumstances, directed its main attention to the developments which have taken place in the recent past, and are still taking place, in relation to the recent actions and reactions of the Soviet Government, and also the Chinese Government. I observed that a day or two ago the most reverend Primate the 1200 Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking elsewhere, said in reference to what he called a startling change in the world's scene:For my own part, I could wish that papers and politicians were not compelled to talk so much about what all this means or does not mean.From my own personal point of view, I entirely share the most reverend Primate's view, but the situation has arisen, and rightly arisen, in which we have to discuss these matters in this House. As was said by one noble Lord—I think it was the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowittit—it does give us the opportunity of hearing, on these matters of great contemporary interest, the views of noble Lords who have had actual personal experience of handling affairs in responsible positions in those countries.
I remember saying to this House a few years ago that never had so much good will been so wantonly thrown away as was done by Russia in the years immediately after the war. It is within the memory of all of us that when the fighting ended there was in this country an immense store of admiration for the tremendous achievements of the Russian Army, and a great sympathy for the fearful sufferings of the Russian people. It was indeed tragic that, in the succeeding years, the effect of Russia's policy should have been to alienate those general and genuine sentiments. But we now appear to have reached a point, unexpected, I think, by all of us only a few weeks ago, when we may perhaps be justified in looking optimistically at least a little way ahead, instead of looking pessimistically backwards into the past. We have a right to turn our thoughts to the prospective rather than the retrospective scene, but clearly it is as yet too soon to attempt in any way to assess the full scope and scale of recent events. Indeed, there is so far no indication as to whether these events are a series of advances, welcome in themselves but incomplete in themselves, or whether they are, so to speak, an iron-curtain-raiser to a more sustained and spectacular drama. As the Prime Minister said only a few days ago in another place (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 514, No. 91, col. 649):…patience is needed rather than haste. In my opinion no one can measure the extent or purpose of the change which has become apparent in the Soviet mood, or even perhaps in their policy.1201 He added:…no single hope, however slender, should be cast away. Time may well be needed to enable a sure judgment to be made.Those are surely prudent words of counsel at this moment, and they are words which, so far as I am concerned, I shall certainly endeavour to follow. Therefore, for the moment, so far as these changes go, so far so good.
We have had the gratifying and visible evidence of a change of mood, and perhaps even of a change of policy, provided by the arrival in this country yesterday of the civilian internees from Korea, whose release, as your Lordships have been reminded to-day, was obtained by the intervention of the Soviet Government at the request of Her Majesty's Government. It is a further comfort to know that those arrivals in this country were not only in good spirits but in reasonably good health. I am sorry to say that on their arrival they confirmed the reports of the death in captivity of two of their number, application for whose return had originally been made—Father Hunt, arid Sister Mary Clare, who were originally interned in, I think, 1950; and they were able to give no information as to the whereabouts of one other British subject, Father Lee, of whom nothing had been heard since the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, But, my Lords, there at least is that group of persons now returned to their homes. In Korea, too, the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners has begun. Your Lordships will remember that the only outstanding unagreed item amongst the long list of paragraphs of the armistice terms which have been drawn up was the one which had reference to prisoners-of-war. The negotiations between the two sides on this one remaining question of prisoners-of-war are, as your Lordships know, due to begin on Saturday next, the day after to-morrow, and your Lordships will not expect me to say anything more about them at this stage than to wish every success to those who are handling the responsible task.
I would say only this as to the sick and wounded prisoners. It may have occurred to your Lordships that the number of prisoners being returned by the Communists was small in comparison with the number being returned by the United Nations. But in that connection one has to take into account the total number of 1202 prisoners on each side and to see what the appropriate ratio is between the two figures. If your Lordships realise that the United Nations hold some 132,000 Communist prisoners, of whom they are returning just under 6,000 as sick and wounded, whereas the Communists hold only between 12,000 and 13,000—that is, about one-tenth of the numbers held by the United Nations—and are handing over 600, a little mental or even physical arithmetic will reveal the fact that the proportions in those two cases are practically identical. There is satisfaction in the report which I have seen that the figure of 600 whom the Communists have undertaken to return is now said by them not to represent the total number whom they propose to restore, but that others from amongst those more recently captured will follow in their wake.
My Lords, Article 60 of the draft armistice agreement was the one which laid down that there should be in due course (I think it was within three months of the actual signing of the armistice) discussions on a political settlement in Korea. It has always been the view of Her Majesty's Government that the most hopeful course was to try to settle the Korean question first, and thereby to prepare the way for the settlement of the many other serious problems which require discussion and negotiation and, one hopes, for ultimate agreement in the Far East as a whole. These are in many ways eventful moments, because not only is there, as I say, the resumption of these negotiations at Panmunjom on Saturday but, as has already been said, there is the inauguration of discussions with Egypt, timed to begin on Monday next.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in the course of his speech, dealt with a number of subjects, including the subject which we have discussed a good many times from a good many angles, the position of Austria and Germany. With what he said on those two topics I am in close agreement. One cannot help feeling that one of the surest tests of the ultimate responsiveness of the Soviet Government to Western approaches and their desire to indicate a change of long-term policy would be revealed by their willingness at least to conclude a Treaty with Austria. All the more important points of a draft Treaty which was designed to restore to 1203 Austria the full independence which she was promised by the Moscow declaration in 1943, were agreed upon as long ago as 1949. But ever since, unfortunately, the Soviet Government, on one pretext or another—introducing all sorts of extraneous matters like Trieste and the re-fortification of Austria—have refused to conclude a Treaty. We, in conjunction with our friends, have many times made it clear that we want to end the occupation of Austria and thus lift from the Austrian people the unfair burden which they have been carrying during these years. We have offered to negotiate either on the basis of the original long Treaty or on the basis of a subsequent shorter Treaty which was put forward as a possible solution of the deadlock. At the last meeting of the Treaty deputies which was held only in February of this year, it was made clear that we were ready to discuss at any time all and any of the matters relevant to the early conclusion of a Treaty.
On Germany, to which, I think, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, also referred, I think the position of the Western Powers has been made equally clear. Your Lordships will not forget that as long ago as last September, in a Note to the Soviet Government by the three Western Powers concerned with Germany, we proposed that there should be an early meeting of representatives of the Four Powers, and that the prime purpose of the meeting should be the discussion of conditions in which free elections for the whole of Germany should be held. To this day, we have never had any reply to that Note. But it remains open, as freely as on the day upon which it was delivered. The free and secret election of a really representative democratic Government for the whole of Germany is, in our view, an essential first step towards a solution of the whole German problem.
There is no real disagreement about this, I think, either in Germany or in this country, because only in this way can Germany be reunited in acceptable conditions of true freedom, and only in this way, and by these means, can a German Government be formed with which a final peace settlement can be freely negotiated. We shall go on pursuing this matter in consultation and in co-operation with the 1204 United States and with our French Allies, and also with the Government of the German Federal Republic. But although we shall be ready to go a long way to meet any genuine Soviet attempt to reach a settlement, until that moment is reached and until we are sure that the future is secure we must proceed steadily and relentlessly with our task of strengthening the co-ordinated defence of the West.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, passed, I think, to discussion of Egypt, and made some reference as well to the Sudan, and the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, out of his great personal experience of that part of the world, made a welcome contribution to the debate in regard to events in those two countries. I was asked a question as to the proposed date of the elections. We should like to see those elections take place at the earliest date, but the decision is in the hands of the Election Commission.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Yes; it was the Sudan elections I was asked about. We should like to see them take place as soon as possible, because we want to reach a moment when the Sudanese are in the position of guiding their own destinies. That, throughout, has been the motive which has animated us in everything we have done. But, as I say, the matter is in the hands of the Electoral Commission, which comes into being under the Agreement, and I understand they are giving it close attention with an eye upon the local meteorological conditions in order to decide whether it is possible in the time available to carry out elections over the whole country or whether it may, unfortunately, be necessary to delay them, on account of the rains, until the Autumn. I think that no final decision has yet been arrived at.
In regard to the position in Egypt in general, I propose to say little or nothing, for what are, I think, very obvious reasons. These negotiations are opening on Monday. They are negotiations in which we shall be represented, as your Lordships know, by the British Ambassador and, associated with him, Sir Brian Robertson, who, as your Lordships are aware, has recently occupied a high military office in that part of the world. It 1205 would obviously be undesirable, with these negotiations coming on, that we should enter into any detailed discussion here. With respect to the question which the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, asked me on the subject of Article 10 of the Agreement, I would only say that the purpose of that Article was to enable matters to advance steadily in a calm, serene and peaceful atmosphere, in which all the various stages contemplated by the Agreement could be carried out, and to introduce safeguards which would make it as sure as possible that that condition of calm and security did obtain. The Article, I think, speaks for itself. So far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, they are satisfied that the safeguards which have been introduced into the Agreement are adequate for the purpose.
I was rather sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, expressed the view that we had been hustled into the Sudan Agreement. If we had delayed longer, we should have been told—perhapsfrom the same quarter—that we were being unnecessarily dilatory. When you are conducting negotiations, it is no had principle to bring them to a conclusion as early as you can, provided the result of the negotiations is what you regard as satisfactory. That was the position. I think that the suggestion that we were in any way hustled into a position which we should not have desired to take up does not accord with the actual facts.
§ LORD KILLEARN
I must make it clear that it was not the position I disliked, because we are all in full agreement with giving the right of self-government to the Sudanese as soon as possible. It was the method I criticised, because we were, so to speak, at the last minute bustled—I think I must repeat the word—into this thing. We were rather pushed along, and there was a lot of intrigue and so forth.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, the fact that the noble Lord has altered the word from "hustle" to "bustle" does not alter the point he made I do not accept in any way his criticism on that point.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, dealt with certain other points which I think in the main I have covered, except 1206 that he raised two points about China and Formosa. But I have expressed the view, with which I think he will agree, that these are matters which, as we have constantly said, are for discussion when we come to a conference table at which a general settlement of Far Eastern affairs is to be considered and, we hope, arrived at.
The noble Lord, Lord Layton, raised various questions in regard to the position in Europe, and was to some extent taken to task by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. The noble Lord was anxious that we should come out in strong and open support of the scheme for a European Political Community. We have made it abundantly clear that we have no intention of entering that Community. I think the House will conclude that we are right in that decision. But there are six nations which are proposing, if they arrive at a satisfactory arrangement as to the constitution of this new Community, to enter into relations with each other, binding themselves within the confines of any proposed constitution. It is true that we sent a delegation to what was called the ad hoc Assembly which has been discussing and indeed contriving this decision, but it is now a moment when the Ministers of these countries have to come to a conclusion about whether they are going to accept the recommendations of the Assembly in their present form or whether they require amendment or rejection. I suggest that it would be quite wrong for us to intervene with advice to these six countries at this moment when they are going to have the responsibility of calling on their people to carry out the terms of their agreement, whereas we are only, but quite genuinely, prepared to give general assent, co-operation and encouragement to the movement.
The noble Lord also asked whether we should be prepared to send an official representative to the discussions. There, again, I think, without in any way wanting to be lukewarm about this movement, that, as a matter of general politeness and courtesy, the invitation to us to send an official representative to that meeting must come from the countries which are parties to the agreement they are going to discuss. If they send it, we shall certainly give it consideration, but at the moment I could not say that we 1207 are going to or want to send a representative.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, I did not suggest that we should say we wanted to send a representative or should take the initiative. But if we are invited to send observers, as has happened up to date, I suggest that Her Majesty's Government should say they would be willing to do so.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I think we must consider the invitation for what it is when it comes. But I am certainly not rejecting any suggestion that we should do so if, in due course, we are invited to attend. Another point which the noble Lord raised was the question of our participation in the Coal and Steel Community. The common market for coal has just come into operation and the common market for steel is not yet in operation and will not be until May 1. That being so, at this stage of the development of the project we are not prepared to commit ourselves to doing more than we have done. And we have done a good deal in fact, because we have sent to Luxembourg a permanent, high-powered delegation, which represents us there and reports to Her Majesty's Government what is going on. It is our purpose and policy, and I think rightly—because here, after all, we are dealing with a more or less uncharted area—to proceed in this matter empirically and see how the situation develops before we finally commit ourselves.
On the question of Lord Layton's suggested provision of what he called a token force to the European Defence Community, I confess myself in more difficulty in following him, because the essence of the European Defence Community is that the countries which are parties to it merge their whole forces in the Community. How you suddenly attach, for what purpose you attach and to what degree you attach, what is called a token force to that Community, I fail to understand. In any event, why? After all, here is the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, commanding the N.A.T.O. forces in Europe, to which we contribute the most powerful armed force of any contingent in that force. Why we have to attach some token number of armed persons—soldiers, airmen or whatever they may be—to the European 1208 Defence Community, in order to show our sincerity in the defence of Europe, I find it difficult to explain, in view of our situation in regard to N.A.T.O. But that we should not be prepared to do.
The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, suggested that we might enter into some sort of commitment in regard to the retention of certain forces in Europe. Again that is not an easy proposition to accept, although, of course, our intention is to participate in the defence of Europe to the fullest possible extent, should it become necessary. What disturbed me about Lord Layton's remarks on this aspect of the matter was that he suggested that there was still a suspicion in Europe (and he seemed to think there was some justification for it) that this country was against the formation of any kind of federal grouping in Europe such as is envisaged in the European Political Community.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, I do not wish to give the impression that I thought that this country had been backward in this matter. I have spent much time trying to defend the attitude that has been taken up. But in Strasbourg the other day it was clearly to be seen that that feeling is very persistent. It is not possible for unofficial people like myself, or people who are speaking for a Party not in power, to dissipate any such feeling. That is why I thought it might be possible for Her Majesty's Government to help to do that.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I am obliged to the noble Lord for his intervention; I did not want to saddle him in the matter with any responsibility which was not his. Frankly, I thought we had time and again, in every conceivable way, made the position perfectly clear, that if those countries desired of their own volition to enter into an arrangement of this kind, such an arrangement would have our support and, so far as lay in us, our co-operation. How we can take it beyond that I am at the present moment unable to see.
§ EARL JOWITT
Before the noble Marquess leaves that point, may I say that he did just refer to the point I made as to an agreement with the French for the retention of some of our forces, which I feel would do something to reassure the French. That I believe to be fundamental to the whole problem. I 1209 know it is difficult, but has the noble Marquess anything he can say about that?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I would rather say nothing with regard to that particular point. But, as the noble and learned Earl knows, in connection with E.D.C. the French have raised various points on which we have had discussions. Those discussions have been proceeding, but any arrangement arrived at as a result of them would, of course, in the first place, have to be discussed with and agreed by the other parties to the European Defence Community. I do not think I can take it further than that at the moment.
The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, in the remainder of his speech, asked, amongst other things, what was the position about the admission of further Members to the United Nations—a question which, as he reminded us, was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, on a previous occasion. I think the position is that we would support the admission to the United Nations of those applicants who, in our view, are qualified by possessing the requirements demanded by the Charter—that is, of being peace-loving people, and so forth—but that we are not prepared to vote for States which, in our view, do not possess those qualifications, or to make admission contingent upon conditions which may not be contained in the Charter at all.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Can the noble Marquess be a little more specific, as this is important? Is he saying now that certain States which he described as not qualified—I will not name them, but one can think of them: small States in Eastern Europe—are not to be supported by Her Majesty's Government if their names are put forward in conjunction with the general list?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
If the noble Viscount means by "the general list" an inclusive bringing into the United Nations of every country now outside, that might be a different situation. What I am saying at the moment is that we might not find ourselves able to support some individual applications. As your Lordships will remember, the United Kingdom delegation supported the setting up of a special committee the whole point 1210 and object of which was to study the problem of new admissions to the United Nations. Two of the countries we particularly desired to accept membership of that committee, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, were unwilling to serve, although they had originally been nominated to it. Your Lordships will remember that some time ago my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary expressed himself categorically in favour of increasing the number of member countries of the United Nations, if that could be properly done. You may also remember that there have been two opinions given by the International Court on the subject of the illegitimacy of any form of bargaining as to the lists of countries to be admitted to the United Nations.
§ EARL JOWITT
I should like to say one word further. If I remember rightly—I may be wrong—the Resolution of February, 1952, which was propounded by Russia, was a Resolution to let in the whole lot. It is that Resolution I am so concerned about. I should like to know whether, if that Resolution comes up again, tier Majesty's Government are prepared, not to do what they did last time, to abstain, which was rather unsatisfactory, but actively to support it.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I am not prepared, in the blue, so to speak, to give that undertaking, because one cannot see at this moment how that Resolution may come up or what its terms may be.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Is the noble Marquess aware that his speech up to date appears to be a recantation of what advances have already been made towards admission of these people?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I do not think it is; and it certainly was not intended to be so. As I said just now, it has always been the wish and policy of my right honourable friend that the number of countries that could properly be admitted should be increased. In no way do I recant or withdraw from that position.
The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, asked me something about A.N.Z.U.S., in regard to a question which was raised in the last debate. I have not anything more effective to tell him. He may remember that there was a Press communiqué issued shortly after the date of our last meeting 1211 on December 15—not that I suggest that it sprang from that meeting—which said:The Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand took the opportunity provided by the Commonwealth Economic Conference"—that was when they were in London—to discuss the situation in the Pacific and the problems of South East Asia. They reached a complete understanding with regard to certain fundamental propositions which will in due course be the subject of friendly discussion with their Allies, the United States.Last week the Prime Minister, in answer to a question in another place when he was asked if he could make a statement, replied that he was unable to make a statement, but thematter will be amongst those which I hope to discuss with the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand when they are over here for the Coronation.The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, asked further about the position in Burma. That was a position which was already causing the Burmese Government some anxiety when I was there in January of last year. Your Lordships may remember that a little while after that, my right honourable friend made a suggestion that some form of United Nations Commission should go to the country and investigate the situation on the spot. The Burmese Government were unable, for reasons which I need not go into, to accept that suggestion. I mention it only to show that we have been interested, and sympathetically interested, in this problem from the earliest days of its arising.
As your Lordships know, the matter has now been brought before the United Nations, and I think there has been a wide measure of support for the Burmese case, although opinion seems to have taken the view that they have not proved their case that the Chinese Nationalist Government in Formosa, or the Chinese Nationalist Forces in Formosa, had any direct responsibility or were in a position to exercise any direct control. Therefore, there has been a good deal of discussion in relation to a suitable resolution. I think it is true to say that a draft solution which is likely to be acceptable—and, indeed, I think has now been generally accepted—has been tabled, and it will, I trust, assist towards the solution of this difficult problem. At the same time, the American attempt to arrange 1212 for evacuation of the troops by arrangement between the Burmese, the Siamese and the Chinese Nationalists seems to be making some progress towards realisation. The Chinese Nationalist Foreign Minister, I think, announced on April 21 that his Government would co-operate so far as they could in assisting with the withdrawal of these troops. That deals for the moment with that aspect.
The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, also raised the question of the relations between Israel and the Arab States. I wish I had anything encouraging to say to him, but at the present moment there is no move to record which seems to bring any nearer the prospect of peace between those two sides. He also raised the question of Germany, with which I have already dealt in connection with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, in addition to his remarks about the Foreign Office, to which I have already made some allusion, rather took my right honourable friend to task for a recent broadcast in which he used, on what the noble Lord considered an excessive number of occasions, the two words "We hope." Well, the words "We hope" are two pretty good words. It is not always possible to say, "This will happen" or, "This is about to happen" or, "There is an excellent prospect of this happening," when you set your mind on your goal, on what may be inevitably distant objectives. But if you have a policy and a goal, it is necessary, in the world as it is to-day, to move forward to these things step by step, and I should have thought that that was the most anybody could say, looking at the difficulties and looking at the ambitions that we all cherish to establish a more peaceful world. It is not altogether a matter for blame to have used on repeated occasions in the course of the speech the words "We hope."
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I would say that either blame or disappointment was, in that particular context, misplaced.
The noble Lord also expressed himself as unable to understand the attitude taken up by my right honourable friend, 1213 having regard to our connection with the Commonwealth, in relation to our general policy in regard to Europe. Is it really very difficult to understand? Here we are, one of the countries of a great Commonwealth. We have never made any secret of the fact that we consider our primary obligation is to the countries in that Commonwealth, and that, I submit, is right. Are we to tie our hands to anybody else, however close our sympathy may be with them, which is going to restrict our opportunity of the closest co-operation with the countries of the Commonwealth? We cannot, in that context, have two masters. We have to make up our minds which is our primary preoccupation, and stick to it. That, I suggest, is exactly what we have done in taking up the view we have: that it is not possible for us to enter into any of these purely Continental arrangements because our first preoccupation is with the Commonwealth. We must keep ourselves free for the discharge of our primary obligation, without tying our hands by accepting obligations in other directions which, at the moment, we might not be able to fulfil without sacrificing our primary obligations. That, I should have thought, was a perfectly plain and logical point of view.
The noble Lord talks about there being three Britains: a Britain in the Commonwealth—and certainly there is a Britain in the Commonwealth—and a Britain in N.A.T.O. We have our Forces in N.A.T.O. To-day, the Ministers are meeting in Paris discussing the N.A.T.O. position and discussing the N.A.T.O. programme. Surely we have taken our full part in the discharge of our obligations under N.A.T.O. And when the noble Lord speaks about the Britain in Europe, again I suggest that we have done everything which, in the circumstances of our responsibility to the Commonwealth as our outstanding predominant responsibility, we could properly be expected to do.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, gave, if I may say so, a most valuable commentary upon his visit to the United States—a visit which the Foreign Office are extremely glad that he and others were able to pay, because I am sure that such visits produce considerable results. The noble Earl has been good enough to 1214 give us a report which contained his impressions, and I can assure him, not as any mere formality of speech, that that report has been studied—I have certainly read it myself with great interest—and it will be a considerable guide and encouragement to the British Information Services in the work which I am glad to know he finds they are carrying on so efficiently. He made a suggestion to-day, which I am not sure was in the report, as to the value, from the aspects of charges of Colonialism and Imperialism sometimes brought against this country, of sending persons who belong to those actual countries to do their own propaganda, so to speak, in the United States. That is a very valuable suggestion, and I shall take the opportunity to suggest to my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary that he might deal with the new information services in that way; that he might give us the help and support of having persons from those countries such as the noble Earl suggested.
The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, has great experience of the Far East, and he gave us, out of that great experience, a background sketch of the history of these various countries with which we shall be concerned when we come to the actual negotiations. Apart from the general question which will have to be settled when we come to negotiations—if, as I trust, we shall come to that point—I think there was no matter upon which he would expect a direct answer from me.
The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, raised the question of trade barriers, the divisions to which he called attention between East and West Europe and the Eastern and Western World, As regards East and West Europe, we have not traded with the Soviet, and the countries closely connected with them, in regard to materials which were regarded as of strategic value; and in the situation which has obtained during the past years that position was surely inevitable. But we have carried on trade with them in other matters: we have carried on trade with them in coarse grains and timber. Perhaps it is worth adding this. In March, I had the honour of leading the United Kingdom delegation to the annual meeting of the Economic Commission in Europe where this actual question of East-West trade was closely discussed; 1215 where I, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, in public session said that we should welcome an increase in East-West trade in Europe; and where it was decided that on the 13th of this month—and the engagement has been kept—there should open in Geneva a meeting of trade experts to discuss the actual detail of the lists of what one country has to sell and what the other country has to buy. We have been represented at that meeting by an official of the Board of Trade who was also a very effective member of my delegation, and these discussions have been proceeding. Without in any way prejudicing these discussions, it is right to say that, when we were discussing these matters in Geneva, it was the position, as regards this country, that there were no great lists of articles produced in Eastern Europe which they were anxious to hand over to us and which we proudly turned our backs upon and refused to accept. The position was that nothing had been offered which we required, and we cannot be expected to trade in articles which are of no use to us.
As regards trade with the Far East, in putting a strategical barrier on trade with China we have been carrying out a resolution of the United Nations which said that strategical goods should not be sent to China. One hopes that if the slightly more roseate atmosphere which now obtains is really going to turn into a full dawn, then the time may come, sooner or later, when these restrictions will no longer enter into people's calculations at all. That will be a blessed and most welcome day. Until that day we must look at this trade with these two parts of the world with some caution.
The noble Lord also asked me about the question of diplomatic relations with China, and why there was no Chinese Embassy established in this country. I wish I could tell him the answer. The reason I cannot is that the Chinese have never told us the answer. They are considerable masters at not answering communications, and we have never to this day been told. We have only seen the fact that they do not send an Ambassador; we have never been told what the reasons are which have led them to refuse to send one.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
May not one of the reasons be that we recognise de facto Formosan representation on international bodies?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
That may have been one of the reasons. All I can say is it is not one of the reasons communicated to us.
I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess. I am sorry if I put a rather difficult question. Could he not find out through his Indian colleague, who is fully represented? There must be some reasons. If we know what the reasons are we can get over them.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I agree that it is a sound principle: that if we know the reasons we can overcome them. I am afraid that it applies to a good many dealings with the Chinese People's Government at the moment. It is extremely difficult to get them to vouchsafe any reply to communications. I do not think that is entirely peculiar to our representative on the spot.
I have endeavoured to answer a certain number of questions raised. I may have omitted some, and I can only apologise for the omission. Before I close, I desire, in the name of my right honourable friend, to thank those noble Lords who have raised the point, and also the others who have associated themselves with it, for the sympathy which has been expressed at my right honourable friend's most unfortunate and ill-timed illness and for their hopes of his speedy recovery.
My Lords, since we had our last debate in this House on Foreign Affairs, it has been my privilege to make a considerable journey, which involved flying some 35,000 miles in just under five weeks, and involved visits to a number of countries in South America and elsewhere. Although I do not propose, at this hour and after this distance of time, to give your Lordships a discourse on the lessons to be learned from that visit, and the experiences enjoyed during it, I should like to say this. In every country that I went to I found a real and deep admiration and, I would add, affection for this country for the part it had played in the world in the past—not only that, but also for the part it was playing in the world to-day, for the effort it was making 1217 for its own recovery and rehabilitation; and for the effort it was contemporaneously making to assist in the uplift of the rest of the world.
In the course of the last year I have made considerable journeys, in addition to that one, and I am perhaps one of the very few, if not the only person in this country, who have been in direct personal contact with the three separate regional Economic Commissions of the United Nations: the Economic Commission for Europe, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, and the Economic Commission for Latin-America, with all the preoccupations of these Commissions, especially of the Latin-America and Asia-Far East Commissions, for the betterment of the under-developed countries. I have attended meetings of the European and Asia-Far East Commissions; I have visited the Santiago, Chile, offices of the Latin-America Commission, and have had the opportunity of discussing with the executive secretaries the problems of their regions and their plans for attacking them. I have also had the great opportunity of leading the United Kingdom Delegation to a meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Colombo Plan. Therefore, I hope that I may be allowed to say, from contact with the problems of those Commissions and that Committee, that I have come to realise the full range and urgency of the vital needs of many millions of the inhabitants of this earth whose lives still hover over the frontier between bare sufficiency and naked want.
I have come, too, to realise the special force and poignancy of the implications of one aspect of President Eisenhower's recent far-sighted and uplifting speech—that aspect, which, I think, must find a warm reflection in the hearts and minds of us all: the prospect that if international tension could really and permanently relax, if we could turn our thoughts and our energies to converting our swords into ploughshares, and trustfully and confidently look forward to a future in which war had receded to the background, then, but only then, it might be possible, on the lines which President Eisenhower indicated in that most imaginative passage in his speech, to bring strength and 1218 succour and dignity and confidence to myriads of mankind. If that stage has not yet been reached, if indeed it may, even now, be scarcely in sight, yet even its remote and shadowy outline must surely serve to inspire us with new resolution and to enthuse us with a new hope.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I rise to ask permission to withdraw the Motion before the House, but before doing so there are one or two very brief remarks which I want to make. The first is to thank the noble Marquess for the speech to which we have listened and for the replies which he has given to the number of questions put to him during the debate. I must confess that I was surprised that so many questions had been put, and I think he must have spent a very industrious afternoon making a note of them. What has occurred to me is that it shows the disadvantage of our not having had a Foreign Affairs debate for so long. I would, if I may, point out that I was responsible for the first postponement, which, unfortunately, was due to sudden ill-health. Later on, when I tried to find other dates, there were matters of legislation and other business concerning the House which caused me to have to postpone my Motion. I agree that it would be most regrettable if there were to be a recurrence of such a long delay. In view of the many important matters which are developing now and of the negotiations which are in train, and so forth, we may before long—indeed, in the very near future—find it necessary to ask for another day for a Foreign Affairs debate.
I should like to say, finally, that although this debate has been carried on under certain restrictions of which we are all aware and with which we are familiar, I think nothing has been said to-day which could have been an embarrassment to Her Majesty's Government; and that, indeed, some useful and helpful views have been expressed on matters which are of great importance at the present moment. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.