§ 3.3 p.m.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM rose to move to resolve, That, in view of the vital importance of the composition and structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, both as an immediate defence against the threat of Soviet armed aggression and as a long-term defence against the spread of Communism, Her Majesty's Government should initiate discussions with other member States within N.A.T.O. with the object of inviting Spain to join the Organisation. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I was recently looking through some old papers, and among them I found an old copy of the Eton College Chronicle containing an account of a house cricket match many years ago. Against my own name I found the depressing entry, "Bowled Dunglass—0". To-day, my Lords, I hope to make perhaps one or two singles against the most talented "bowling" which I am quite sure will be put on by the same bowler later in the afternoon.
§ I have looked down the list of speakers in this debate; I was pleased to see that 647 there were quite a few, because I had done no "lobbying" in the matter. I had not approached anybody, and only one noble Lord happened to mention to me that he would like to speak in support of this Motion. He, however, has gone abroad and is not here this afternoon, and I have no idea what support, or otherwise, I shall obtain for my suggestion—I shall not put it at more than that. Looking down the list, however, I observe the names of two noble Lords of whose views I shall certainly have to take very great notice; and when I have the privilege of speaking again later on in the evening I hope that I may be able to allay at least some of the fears which they will most certainly express.
§ I should like to start my remarks on the Motion by disclaiming any personal interest. I think that is quite a good thing to do, because quite often on these occasions people feel that there must be "something in it"; that there must be some personal angle to it. In my case, that is not so. I have no connection, in business, in family affiliations or anything else, with the country which I have mentioned in the Motion, Spain. I have been there as a visitor; I know a few Spaniards, but far fewer than nationals of other countries. Therefore, I have no personal interest of this sort, and I hope your Lordships will allow me to say that; I think it is worth saying.
To move to the Motion itself, if you will bear with me for a moment or two, I should like very briefly to read it—it is quite short—because I think there has been a little misunderstanding as to what the Motion really was. One or two organs of the popular Press have already produced a small headline of this type:
Peer says 'Put Spain in N.A.T.O.'
That sort of headline is not a very good start. It is not a great help on an occasion when one is trying to urge a gradual and reasonable course of action on the Government. I believe that we are all together, for a start, in agreeing about (to quote the Motion)
the vital importance of the composition and structure,
of N.A.T.O., with which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, had so much to do in the early days,
both as an immediate defence against the threat of Soviet armed aggression and as a long-term defence against the spread of communism, …
The Motion goes on:
Her Majesty's Government should initiate discussions with other member States within N.A.T.O. with the object"—
I might have said "the ultimate object"—
of inviting Spain to join the Organisation.
That is the Motion, and I was a little encouraged, on the 22nd of last month, in the defence debate in your Lordships' House, by certain words used by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. They were not used in this connection, I know, and I hope that he will not think I am trying to put words into his mouth or to attribute to him ideas he did not have. But he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 207 (No. 24), col. 158]:
I feel that at the present time there is rather more open-mindedness in the world.
Later he said:
I believe that at the present time there is a slight relaxation, and I want Britain to lead.
I think the noble Earl was referring to the U.S.S.R. when he said that, and the possibility of Summit talks. I hope that I interpret his words on that occasion correctly. But if he looks for relaxation in the world as a whole, and wishes to see Britain in the lead, I do not think one can confine it to any particular direction. If we are to be open-minded and to relax, surely that should apply to everybody, after due thought and consideration. I hope the noble Earl will not take the view that I have misquoted him. The words are accurate, and I think he used them in the connection I have mentioned.
Now may I briefly quote again a few lines from the communiqué issued at the end of the N.A.T.O. Council Meeting in Paris last December. The communiqué says first of all:
Our alliance cannot … be concerned only with the North Atlantic Area or only with military defence. It must also organise its political and economic strength on the principle of interdependence, and it must take account of developments outside its own area.
The communiqué goes on later to say:
We express our interest in the maintenance of peace and the development of conditions of stability and economic and political well-being in the vitally important continent of Africa … Historic, economic and other, friendly ties
between certain European countries and Africa would make such co-operation particularly desirable and effective.
Finally, the communiqué states:
We are therefore resolved to achieve the most effective pattern of N.A.T.O. military defensive strength, taking into account the most recent developments in weapons and techniques.
I submit in all humility that those three quotations, put together, give a clear indication that N.A.T.O. is not to be kept in a little paper bag where it started: that there is reason and hope for expanding the scope of N.A.T.O. and therefore, possibly, the membership. That is the basis of my Motion—the short-term and the long-term objects of N.A.T.O. which I took the liberty of recapitulating in the course of my Motion.
§ On what grounds other than prejudice can Spain reasonably be excluded? We shall hear later what those grounds are. Let me deal first of all with the strategic position. There is a considerable case strategically for the inclusion of Spain in N.A.T.O. No senior commander with whom I have ever discussed this matter really had any doubts about that. There are those of your Lordships who do not like senior commanders—they say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Even in the United States of America that great man, General Douglas MacArthur eventually ended his career by perhaps not keeping his ear sufficiently attuned to what was going on in the political world. Nevertheless, you cannot say that all senior commanders are wrong. They are the people who are in daily touch, and they know the weapons. They know what the weapons can do, where they should be sited and what effect they will have; and you cannot discount the recommendations of the substantial amount of professional opinion on this matter.
§ No senior commander of the air or ground forces of any nationality that I have ever discussed this matter with has been able to put up a case against it. The air bases which already exist in Spain—five in number—are American bases at the disposal of S.A.C. and there is the naval base at Rota. I must draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that those bases are available in time of war only for the use of American forces; they are riot available for our use or that of any other Member State of N.A.T.O. What would happen at the outbreak of 650 war is another matter; it is anybody's guess. But that is how things stand now. It seems to me to be untidy and unsatisfactory, and it is a state of affairs which I, personally, as an old soldier, should like to see remedied forthwith.
§ Now I turn to the geographical position of Spain. One has only to look at a map of the world to-day to see that geographically it is placed as far as possible from the flashpoint. It must be a good area for bases, particularly as it is a country which is comparatively thinly populated and where the results of reprisals might be less catastrophic. Again, Spain is a stone's throw from the North Coast of Africa. The ill-effects of Arab nationalism, inspired or otherwise—some would say that this terrific "chain reaction" of nationalism, which is the curse of the world to-day, is inspired everywhere by Communism; I am not convinced that that is so, but I would not flatly contradict anybody who said that it was—could be minimised to some extent by Spain's membership of this Western organisation. Closer Spanish-French collaboration within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can only be helpful: it cannot work the other way. At the moment, as I understand it (I think my information is accurate), the Spanish Foreign Minister has been engaged in a series of productive and friendly talks with the French Government on the subject of North Africa. How much easier it would be if all this could be done within the framework of N.A.T.O.
§ My next point, although I am still on the strategic angle, which I shall leave in a moment, concerns the question of manpower. General Norstad is continually in trouble about manpower. The day may come when he will not be so troubled, but he is now, so let us consider the present. He is short of manpower. The fact that the West German contribution is coming along so slowly is a source of embarrassment to him. There are other matters connected with the attitude of the Bonn Government at the moment which I will not mention—your Lordships can read them in the papers every day. That matter is unsatisfactory. I will not bring it into this debate, as it would greatly prolong it; and it is not strictly relevant, though it is slightly relevant. The military contribution which Spain could make to 651 N.A.T.O., though perhaps not initially very great, would at least be as great as, or greater than, a number of the present member States—I would cite, for instance, Denmark, Portugal, Greece and Iceland. I think one could not ignore Spain on the ground that her contribution would be negligible. It might not be great, but it would not be negligible; and it would at least compare well with that of some other member States.
§ I turn from that comparatively simple aspect of the matter to the much more complicated aspect, the long-term political implication of the membership of Spain in N.A.T.O. This is where I am well aware that I shall find myself in some very much rougher water. It would take all day, and would greatly bore your Lordships, if I were to go back to the year 1931 and trace the whole sad story forward from there. I can do it, as a matter of fact, but your Lordships will be delighted to hear that I do not propose to do so. Communist infiltration goes on in so many countries. The membership of the Communist Party in this country was stated in the Press the other day to be somewhere about 25,000. It makes progress in Italy, particularly in Northern Italy, and probably in France; but it is a great deal less likely in Spain, and that would be particularly true if Spain were a member of N.A.T.O. As long as Spain remains outside this "club," one cannot help feeling that the Spaniards resent it to some extent, and that they may look around for other friends. But once a friendly and reasonable gesture had been made by the other countries of the West, it would take the Communists all their time to make any progress.
§ Those who are not prejudiced on this matter and are able and willing to look at the state of Spain to-day, as opposed to that of seventeen years ago, will certainly have noted that liberal tendencies are showing themselves in an increasing degree, although the method of government is of course still very different from our conception of democracy. Our system and theirs are quite unsuited to each other. The system which we in this country call democratic government would not last a week in Spain, or vice versa. So far as I know, there is no real reason why member States 652 of N.A.T.O. should impose methods of government on other member States. If so, I feel that a very different government would be sitting in Athens at this moment.
The national characteristics of the Spaniards and the events which led up to the Civil War and occurred during that war naturally have had a profound effect, not only on the system which prevails in Spain at present but on their relations with other countries. It may be a matter of some surprise to some of your Lordships to know—and I do not wish to seem to instruct in this matter, but I have studied it in some detail—that the first law to be passed after the war was the Labour Charter, in which the following sentence occurs:
Because labour is essentially personal and human it cannot be reduced to the materialistic concept of a merchandise and cannot be the object of commercial dealings which are contrary to the personal dignity of man.
That is an admirable statement. I think, and those who have no good to say of the present régime in Spain might perhaps address themselves to those words. Workers in Spain, though they are in many respects treated differently from those in this country or in France, are at least protected by means of labour courts, a national health service, accident and life insurance, and so on. Those services exist. Whether detractors of Spain like it or not, they are there.
On the question of education, which must be basic in these matters, I believe I am right in saying that in the 1930s 25 per cent. of the Spanish population were illiterate. Since 1940 15 per cent. of the national budget is being spent on education. Probably some member of the Government Front Bench can tell me what percentage we in this country spend on education. The number of primary schools there has been nearly doubled in seventeen years, and an enormous programme of vocational schools for workers has been started. At present there are five new labour universities. These are all small points and I hope your Lordships will forgive me for taking up your time with them. I will not keep you much longer, but I am trying to dispel the impression that these are wretched people held down by this Iron Dictator—poor, illiterate people, without a voice. 653 That is not true, and those who say that it is, do so either deliberately or through ignorance.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive my interrupting his very interesting speech, may I ask whether in these numerous schools, so plentifully supplied by public funds, there are any Protestant teachers, or liberty of Protestant instruction?
My Lords, I will let the noble Viscount know when I have checked that point, but my impression, is that as nearly 99 per cent. of the Spanish population are Catholic, the teachers are about 99 per cent. Catholic, too—probably a reasonable proportion. in view of the religion of the pupils. When Queen Isabella sent Christopher Columbus to America, it was no accident. Her idea was that he should open up a new continent and increase the influence of Spain in that hemisphere. Spanish influence, particularly in the South American States but in North America, too, is very considerable, and I believe it is largely because of that—and not only for strategic reasons—that the United States of America have been so much in favour of electing Spain to N.A.T.O.
May I turn for a moment to the South American Republics? They still seem rather far away; but distance does not exist any more in these days of sputniks and aircraft travel when one can go at such speed from one place to another. For instance, by the new Russian jet plane one can go from Peking to London in summer in the same daylight. The South American Republics are now quite close to us. They matter; in fact all countries and all peoples matter, and the influence of Spain on the South American Republics is still very great. I feel that here is a chance not only to open up membership of N.A.T.O. but also to extend the influence of N.A.T.O. to that hemisphere.
How much of the European Western heritage does Spain share, and would its membership of N.A.T.O. help or damage that heritage? Might it not tend to expand it? That is the case that I am trying to put. I believe it is important to consider the present and the future rather than to hark back on the wrongs of the past, which are incontestable, I 654 believe that there are in the world two classes of persons: those who tend to look back and those who look forward. It has nothing to do with age, for some people are born old and some never grow old; but the tendencies are there. Some people want to look to the present and to look forward to the future and to get the best out of them, while others want to hark back and say that something cannot be done because of this or that reason. It is that mentality that I would ask your Lordships on this occasion to discard, should arty of you have those tendencies—though I am sure you do not. The United States of America has clearly shown its feelings in this matter, and I ask Her Majesty's Government to use their good offices to persuade other member States to swallow their fears and prejudices, if they have any, and to agree that no harm but much good, both now and in the future, could result from the generous and friendly gesture of inviting Spain to join N.A.T.O.
Before I resume my seat I wonder whether your Lordships will hear with me for two minutes while I quote from Volume VI of Sir Winston Churchill's Book, The Second Word War? He says:At the Potsdam Conference Stalin wanted the United Nations to break off relations with Spain and, in Stalin's words, to help the democratic forces of Spain to establish a régime agreeable to the Spanish people'.It is fairly clear how Stalin felt about it. Churchill says that he resisted this suggestion and that eventually the matter was dropped. Later in the same book Sir Winston says:In a letter dated December 11, 1944, I wrote to the Foreign Minister and said, I do not think you have fairly stated the balance of help or hindrance given us by Spain in the war. The supreme services of not intervening in 1940 or interfering with the use of the Gibraltar airfields or Algeciras Bay in the months before Operation Torch in 1942, outweigh the minor irritations which you so meticulously set forth. A little alteration in the wording would, in my view, be compatible with justice and consistency'.If I am wrong, at least I am wrong in distinguished company. I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That, in view of the vital importance of the composition and structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, both as an immediate defence against the threat of Soviet armed aggression and as a long-term defence against the spread of communism, Her 655 Majesty's Government should initiate discussions with other member States within N.A.T.O. with the object of inviting Spain to join the Organisation.—(Lord Windlesham.)
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON
My Lords, I rise to support this Motion as one who has close connections with Spain and is a frequent visitor to that country. All of your Lordships, are so familiar with the outline of Western Europe that it is not necessary to look at a map to know that Spain possesses a very large part of the Atlantic foreshore, the shore between North Cape and the Straits of Gibraltar. In a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation why is a country possessing this long shore excluded? Is it not almost as if, when you were choosing a team to represent England at cricket, you excluded one of the largest counties because you happened to dislike its county council? It seems to me that that is exactly what is happening, for it is solely on the ground that some people in this country dislike her present form of government that Spain is excluded.
There are other countries in Europe (it is a platitude to say this, but I must repeat it) with which we make every endeavour, not always successfully, to be on good terms, whose systems of government are quite as far removed from our own as is that of Spain. It is no good pretending that the Spanish system is the same as our system; and it may also be said that the Spanish standard of life is not quite up to ours. But it is surely not on the annual sales of television sets and washing machines that we ought to judge the greatness, or the reverse, of a people. In conversation with my numerous Left Wing friends I have often been told that one of the greatest objections to the present régime in Spain is the large number of political prisoners. I believe that this number is very considerably less to-day than it was a few years ago; but I can from my personal knowledge assert that a few years ago a great number of these people who had been captured by the Government had formerly been members of bands, frequently in the hilly and remote parts of the country, who kidnapped and blackmailed in the name of the Red Republic. Crimes committed merely in the name of the Red 656 Republic are hardly to be said to be political crimes.
I know quite well that when this country wishes to make its relations with Spain more cordial these efforts are nearly always bedevilled by some reference to the question of Gibraltar. I have known many Spaniards, and I have never spoken to one who thought that the question of Gibraltar (which, of course, he would like to see settled in favour of his country) was an urgent or burning question; and they are probably sufficiently logical to appreciate that the Spanish position at Ceuta is no sounder than our position at Gibraltar.
My Lords, the question of the admission of Spain to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation far transcends mere questions of military expediency. Spain feels that she is excluded from an Organisation which embraces the other countries which form West European civilisation. Spain is a very essential element in the civilisation of the West—I repeat, a very essential element. She has been closely connected with this country in its long history; we have not always been in the same camp, but we have on occasions fought shoulder to shoulder. When an Englishman says that "There is no smoke without fire", or that "One swallow does not make a summer", he is paying a tribute to the wisdom of Spain, although he probably does not know it. May I express the hope that this debate will at least turn the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the possibility of inviting Spain to join N.A.T.O. and thereby readmitting her to the comity of Western Europe?
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I should like to take the opportunity to thank the noble Lord who has raised this question for the chance he has given us of reviewing a neglected but very important aspect of international affairs. Unlike the noble Duke who has just sat down, I have no intimate knowledge of Spain, and therefore I ask your Lordships to forgive me if I concentrate more on the North Atlantic Treaty attitude to Spain, rather than on Spain's attitude to the Treaty; and I ask the forgiveness both of your Lordships and of the noble Earl who is to reply if, in doing so. I stray slightly outside the terms of the noble Lord's Motion.
657 My first reaction is a strategic reaction, and the point that strikes me is this: the North Atlantic Treaty was set up for a specific purpose, which is defined in its Preamble. That Preamble tells us we are "To safeguard freedom, common heritage and civilisation" of our peoples, and in the subsequent body of the Treaty emphasis is all on a collective defence. Of the fourteen Articles in the Treaty only one, Article II, is concerned with matters other than defence and the machinery for collective defence. Therefore anything which strengthens the existing defence set-up, so far as soldiers are concerned, is in complete alignment with the declared objective of the Treaty and is surely welcome.
There is another aspect of strategy, and that concerns the new conception which is capturing a great deal of interest, of disengagement. I, for one, have been much impressed with the political advantages implicit in a careful and cautious process of disengagement, and it stands to reason that the greater your land depth on the Continent of Europe the greater your bargaining power if and when disengagement is seriously taken up as the process by which political flexibility may once again be restored to Central Europe. To have Spain as a recognised part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation surely supplies that little bit of extra depth and extra bargaining power.
But I confess that it is more the psychological factors than the strategy that are in my mind to-day. Article X of the North Atlantic Treaty tells us that a unanimous decision has to be reached before an invitation can be sent to a prospective new member. Your Lordships will recall the endless delay which took place in the case of both Greek and Turkish membership. So the question I am asking is whether the time has not come for a re-statement of the purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty. When the Conference took place in Paris in December, in spite of the hopeful communiqué which the noble Lord quoted to us, there was, I think, some disappointment that local political problems concerning members of the Treaty had not been considered: perhaps Cyprus in the case of Britain; perhaps Tunisia in the case of France; perhaps Indonesia in the case of the Netherlands. Yet the Dutch had led us to suppose 658 that they would have welcomed the question of Indonesia being brought before the Council of the Treaty. The answer for those who might have expected these matters to be raised would be, one supposes, that the Treaty does not cover such discussions, and, even if it does, there is this rule of unanimity. In the case of Spain, I understand that opposition has come mainly from Norway, supported by France, Belgium and Denmark; and we could reach a point where we should be up against the old enemy of the Veto preventing Spain's membership.
At this stage I am not arguing whether it is right or wrong for Spain to be a member. I am suggesting that, from our own practical experience, the time has come for the Treaty Powers to discuss whether the Treaty should be revised. I understand that in Paris, for several years now, they have been searching for a way in which to implement more effectively Article II, which speaks of "the strengthening of free institutions", "the promotion of conditions of stability and wellbeing", "the elimination of conflict in economic policies" and "the encouragement of economic collaboration". If we are to make a reality of Article II, who are we to say that Spain is not of the body politic of the economy of Europe? Is not Spain equally capable of making her contribution to Europe and is she not equally—
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord has mentioned "free institutions". Does he seriously suggest that institutions in Spain are free in any real sense of the term?
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My answer would be this: it is not for us to inquire whether the institutions within Spain are free or not; the point is that we shall be in a far better position to influence what happens in Spain under the umbrella of the North Atlantic Treaty than outside.
Apart from that, there are other more profound reasons why we should welcome Spain within the Treaty. In the post-war years your Lordships would have been only too conscious of the bickering and bitterness that has persisted between France and Spain. These are not the days when Western Europe can afford her domestic bickering. Would not Spain's membership provide Spain and France with a common focus and the 659 sense of sharing a common purpose, which may finally heal the wound? India and Pakistan have so often looked like going to war with each other. It could be claimed that their common membership of the Commonwealth has prevented that disastrous end. Greece and Turkey to-day glare at each other. I think that it could be claimed that perhaps common membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has exercised the final restraint. If, in some way, Spain were to collaborate in N.A.T.O., not only would her lingering antagonism with France fade but, as I said just now, we should be far nearer to influencing those things inside Spain which some of us certainly regard with disquiet. I refer not only to a natural resentment to dictators but also to the other tendency to the extreme Left within Spain.
It may be that, so far as strategic interests are concerned, as my noble friend Lord Windlesham pointed out, Spain is already some kind of a member, an ambiguous member, of the Treaty through the agency of the United States. But what sort of membership is it? What sort of understanding is it that would sanction a kind of backstairs membership, with the United States lending a cloak of respectability to the Spanish membership? To put it in plain language, can we not "come clean" about this membership?
To-day we all face the sane enemy. My noble friend Lord Windlesham and I have had our differences over the approaches to Germany and her position within the European family. His experience, I understand, has been concerned with war crimes; my own has been concerned with welfare work, so naturally we have slightly different approaches, but I would submit to him that if we are to face this Communist encroachment successfully we must all draw together in defence of our European heritage, of which he reminded us. I would submit also that Spain shares that heritage, that Germany shares it and that Eire, for which my noble friend has a special interest, may one day also make her contribution as a manifestation of her share in that heritage.
In his New Year message to the European Ambassadors in Moscow, Mr. Khrushchev said:History is on our side. We will bury you.660 This is not the time, surely, to set the nations of the West one against the other. Rather we must close the ranks for the single purpose of meeting the common threat. But if we are to draw closer together, we need some reorientation of the North Atlantic Treaty. I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I put the case for revision in an analogy relating to my own experience. The point may not be immediately clear, but I shall hope to justify my contention before I conclude. I think that my analogy will be of particular interest to the noble Lord, Lord Rugby. In the old days on the Indian frontier we had expeditions. A political officer from our side would receive a bullet fired by a trigger-happy tribesman from his side, and then would follow a military expedition to punish the tribe. A road would be built to maintain and support the expedition, and finally the expedition would be kept there to protect the road. In other words, there would be a confusion between means and ends. The road, which was in fact the means, has become the end.
We set up a Treaty organisation and believed firmly that in doing so we prevented or deterred, whatever the appropriate term is, the potential enemy from encroachment on our soil. We rescued ourselves and not one square yard of territory has been yielded to the enemy. But surely the Treaty was only the means, and not the end in itself. The soldiers, the weapons and the plans to move them are all only means that are not ends in themselves; and as we keep armed forces only for the maintenance of the Treaty for its own sake, we shall be in just that danger of confusing means and ends. May I return to my analogy? If, as the result of that expedition, now visualised in the middle of tribal territory protecting its precious road, there follow schools, hospitals, dispensaries, animal husbandry, agricultural development and so on, then, and then only, is the final position of that expeditionary force rationalised. In the same way I would say that if, following on the perfection of plans for the physical protection of Europe, whether by long-range deterrents or by the procedure of placing men on the ground, there can emerge other symptoms of moral economic and social strength, through a restatement of the North Atlantic Treaty, then all the physical effort and the vast 661 expenditure will at least have been justified.
I trust I have not strayed too far away from the field of Spain. It has seemed to me sometimes that this point about the North Atlantic Treaty and its position should be said and that Spain presented the legitimate opportunity. We could perhaps look into the future in a way which a great American commentator had in mind when he observed:A great alliance must be armed not only with rockets, but with hope.It is in that spirit that I stand firmly behind the Resolution which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has moved this afternoon.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I must say, at the outset of my speech, that I have no idea whether Her Majesty's Government, or any member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, wishes to invite Spain to join it, either on military or political grounds. Nor do I know whether, in the event of such an invitation being extended to Spain, she would be willing to accept it. It may well be that her bilateral arrangements with the United States of America for economic aid and for defence purposes are sufficiently satisfactory to Spain. It may even be that those arrangements between Spain and the United States are sufficiently satisfactory to the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation without taking the matter any further. As I say, I do not know and I hope that when the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, replies to the debate he may enlighten us upon that.
The two noble Lords, Lord Windlesham and Lord Birdwood, have dwelt at great length, and rightly so, on the purely strategic and practical aspect of the matter. I am grateful for the interjection of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, because I think it shows the line that may be followed by the two noble Lords who will speak after me from the opposite Benches, the feeling which is still engendered by this subject, and the fact that it is predominantly, unfortunately, not a purely strategic and practical matter but one of morals and psychology; and I feel that it may be so treated for some time to come. Therefore, what remarks I make I intend to devote to that aspect of the matter.
662 I am in no position to state what is the situation in Spain at the moment, for I have not been able to revisit Spain in recent years. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, who is to follow, and who knows the country well, may be able to deal with that situation. But I can say that I spent many happy days in Spain just before the Civil War, in the Republican era, and I remember them vividly. At that time I was fortunate enough to be studying affairs in Spain at the Centre of Historical Studies; and that brought me into some contact with the professors and intellectual leaders of the day, who of course were very much involved in the fortunes of the Republic. At the same time I was living with a typical middle-class family who, by the fortunes of war, found themselves divided in sympathies, one member of the family being on the Republican side and the others on the Franco side. The result was that when some of the female members of the family were brought out to be shot for no other reason than that one of the sons was fighting for General Franco, one of the daughters who had joined the Communists happened to be present at the scene and was able to prevent the execution taking place. So one might say, in that respect, that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
My best friend, who was on the Franco side, was taken prisoner, incarcerated in Barcelona and hung up by the heels until he went blind. I do not wish to indulge in the story of atrocities. It is clear that atrocities were awful on either side. It has always been so, in all civil wars; and it always will be so. I hope, therefore, that nobody will make any play with that particular aspect of the matter. But in view of the tendency which was shown in the interjection of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, I think, in spite of what the noble Lord who introduced the Motion said, it is necessary to go briefly over a little old history and remind ourselves of what did in fact happen.
It is true, I think, that the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, which lasted from 1923 to 1930, resulted from the eternal instability of Spanish Governments. It came in, I think I am right in saying, without bloodshed, and for a time there was comparatively stable government. Some good, in the materialistic sense, was done in the way of 663 improving roads and transport and in the building of primary schools. On the other hand, I think it will now be admitted by the historians that the harm done outdid the good; that there was, no doubt, a repression of freedom in all its forms, freedom of speech and freedom of the Press, and that many people were imprisoned. Finally, there was a tragedy, as your Lordships may remember, when there was an uprising in a small village and the two leaders were executed. Their names were Hernandez and Galan, and they became known as the martyrs of the revolution. At the same time, it is an interesting fact that Commandant Franco, General Franco's brother, and General Queipo de Llano, who was subsequently to head the rising of Andalusia in 1936, were on the side of the Republican Forces which were trying to overthrow the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and were instrumental in capturing the military airport just outside Madrid. The fact that the General later turned to the other side may perhaps have some significance in this argument.
When the Republic came in it really started very well, and great credit was due to Señor Alcala de Zamora, who was head of the Revolutionary Committee, for that fact. Credit was also due to the Conde de Romanones, who was the King's monarchist adviser, and also to King Alphonso himself, who made a most dignified parting and, without abdicating, in his own words,suspended the exercise of Royal power and left Spain to decide her own destinies".No blood was spilt, and as a result the Republic had every chance to make good. Unfortunately, in the first few months the Cabinet fell out badly, with the result that the first Prime Minister and revolutionary head. Zamora, resigned on the question of the anti-Catholic law in Article 26 of the Constitution, which was levelled directly against all religious orders. Another minister resigned, and three others refused to vote for it. The result was that Señor Azaña became the new Prime Minister and eventually expelled the Jesuits from Spain.
The result of that, from a more practical point of view, was virtually to close the secondary school system throughout the country, because they possessed seventy residences and thirty colleges, and there was little secondary education 664 apart from the many Jesuit schools. There was then the Law of the Defence of the Republic which was used, to begin with, against Communist risings and against strikes, which were very prevalent, and also against Monarchist risings. Under this law people were put into prison and put away. Nevertheless, that law was used later to suppress the freedom of the Press; and at least ten newspapers were closed down, some of them indefinitely.
I think I must bring up this point, because the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in his interjection, asked about freedom, and it must be realised that the Republic, even though it was defending itself, did become very repressive in those first two years. As a result, after the next General Election, out of 473 deputies only 99 of the former Socialist and Radical Socialist Party were returned, and the majority was held by the Centre and Right Wing Republican Parties. Unfortunately, they were not able to govern much better because, instead of giving the government to one side only, there was an unsatisfactory form of liaison or alliance. It did not work out, and there were sporadic strikes and revolutionary movements. Just at the critical moment, when things might perhaps have got better, the Left Wing parties of the Republic refused to accept what we in this country should regard as the normal process of Parliamentary democracy and bide their time for the next election. That Party was instrumental in promoting a serious revolution in Catalonia, which was put down, and a much more serious one in the Asturias, which resulted in a heavy loss of life and the partial destruction of the delightful city of Oviedo.
These points must be borne in mind if we are to discuss what particular form of government is most suitable to Spain, and whether any one form of government is more capable of preserving law and order and freedom than any other. Thirdly, after yet another election, the swing of the pendulum went Left again, and on that occasion general pillage and arson broke out. The Anarchists, Syndicalists and Communists had joined in the popular front with the Socialist leader, Azaña, and he later became President, having removed the President Zamora in the most peculiar manner, if I may say so, and complete control of the country 665 was lost. It was at that period that I was living in the country, and I remember the anxiety of people of all descriptions daring those months preceding the Civil War.
I will not take the matter any further, because I have wearied your Lordships long enough with this little historical interlude. There is no doubt that the Army did attack in the first place, but it is difficult to attribute blame entirely to one side or the other. Therefore I hope that if this matter is to be treated from a moral point of view it will be remembered that possibly it was the character of the Spanish people and the past history of their nation which were as much to blame as any individual on one side or the other. If only we can rid our minds of prejudice in this matter, and if we can be convinced that the form of government now is not unduly repressive but is a comparatively mild form of authoritarian government, then I hope that perhaps we shall be able to get the answer we are seeking this afternoon.
In any case, I welcome the Motion of the noble Lord, for it has given us an opportunity to clear the air, to express our personal opinions and make them known to others, and perhaps make the opinions of the political Parties known to each other, for I do not believe that they are known at the moment. This matter has been in abeyance for a long time, and I hope that this discussion will have served a useful purpose. I neither support nor oppose the Motion; I have intervened merely in order that I might do my best to put a little historical perspective into the matter so that it may be treated as impartially as possible.
While thanking the noble Lord very much for his most interesting intervention, may I say that I should have liked him to take his account of the events leading up to the rising just a little further, to the point at which, as I think the noble Lord knows, the Leader of the Opposition to the Popular Front Government was murdered, and two days later the rising started.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I do not know whether that is an invitation to continue my speech which would hardly be in order. I think the noble Lord has himself made the point. I 666 merely referred to the pillage and arson which took place. Something like 180 churches were burned and 250 damaged, and a great many institutions and newspaper offices were destroyed. Of course the leader of the Right-wing Party Calvo Sotelo was murdered in most unpleasant circumstances which shocked the nation, and the Civil War broke out a week later. I should not like to connect those matters too closely, but obviously the whole thing was leading up to the boiling point, and I have nothing more to say about it.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has done no more, he has deserved well of the House for giving us an opportunity of listening to one of the most interesting and informative speeches that I have heard since I have been here—and I have been here some time—refreshing memories of what has happened during that time. The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, did not go further, and I do not think there is any particular advantage in doing so. But he will remember the feeling among the people of this country with regard to Guernica, for example, the bombing and murder of those Basques, on a Sunday, I think it was, in May, 1937, and then the machine-gunning of the people who were lying on the ground. It was a horrible thing, and though it is not for us to discuss it to-day, it leaves an impression on our minds and poses to us the question: What sort of people are we dealing with and proposing to invite into the N.A.T.O. society? That is its only relevance. I do not think anyone who lived through that time will ever forget it. We did not know what carpet bombing was like—there had been no Hiroshima and no R.A.F. bombing of Germany. We knew only that Hitler was arising and that the ruler of Spain sent for the German bombers to perpetrate this atrocity. That is all we knew. It is relevant to this present discussion only, as I believe the lawyers call it, as to credit.
Of course, I am just a civilian, but it seem quite obvious, looking at the map, that Spain is strategically a vital part of the European defence system. If you cannot get a missile fired direct from Chicago to Moscow, you can get a halfway house, and Spain is an extremely convenient place. Nor do I dispute any 667 of the things that have been said about the desire for us all to be tolerant and, as far as possible, to keep together. I was always in favour of the admission of Spain into the United Nations, and all the influences of culture and the peculiar genius of the Spanish people will have the opportunity in New York to help the world. Therefore, in the first part of the noble Lord's Motion I should not find much with which to disagree, if it is a fact, which is now commonly accepted, that we are within fifteen minutes of the possible outbreak of war. After all, when we know—I am bound to bring this aspect in because one must take the whole picture—that American bombers are circling and that they cannot all be on the ground together in case they are wiped out as the American Fleet was in Pearl Harbour, when we are told that everything must be at that degree of alertness, then to talk about refusing the help of Spaniards or anybody else is illogical. But if that is true, it brings home to us, with a terror so horrifying that it has ceased to affect most of us, the imminent danger that this quarrelling world, armed with fatal weapons, presents.
That is not why I—I do not know how many others—object to this Motion. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, said, It is a pity that we have not had a little enlightenment from the Front Bench. I do not know why not. I am sorry no Leader of the Liberal Party is speaking. Surely they must feel as we feel about this. All we have had is a speech from the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham—I am very much obliged to him for coming—a rabble-rousing speech at Rochdale, in which he explained that if we were not up to the Russians yet in missiles it was because we started late, and we soon will be.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount? I did not say anything of the kind.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I will send the noble and learned Viscount my second copy of The Times and he can see what he did say.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
Perhaps I may be allowed to send the noble Lord 668 a copy of what I did say, if he is interested.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I shall be delighted. If I could be put on the general circulation list I should be more than grateful; it would be interesting and very instructive. And if it could be extended to private meetings of his Party, that would be even more helpful. What he went on to say was that America was well ahead. What in?—in the "nuclear potential". This is the weapon that is to be used. I never heard of it before. If your Jupiters have no lightning and your Thors no hammer and your Atlases cannot carry the world, you still have the "nuclear potential." I think that it is a very harmful speech to be made by a Minister of his eminence.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I regard it as very harmful to misquote me. I would far rather the noble Viscount stuck to what I did say instead of distorting it and then saying that the distortion is very harmful.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I can only quote the words. The noble and learned Viscount said—this is really so much outside the Motion that we must not follow it—that the Americans had great superiority in the "nuclear potential" He also said that the Russians were far ahead of us but then "you must remember we started late". These are, I think, textual expressions from a speech which I venture to say will not only lose them the Rochdale by-election but, what is far more important, do harm to the national interest. I want to get away from that point; I mentioned it in recognition of the courtesy of the noble Viscount in coming.
All these things, Spanish culture, Spanish military force, the record of General Franco, are quite irrelevant. What the noble Lord wants us to do is to introduce Spain into a special society. Spain is in the United Nations and should be in the United Nations, and all the problems that affect Spain can be dealt with in the United Nations. The noble Lord said that we want Spain in N.A.T.O. mainly for military reasons. There is a side comment. He has missed the market; the Americans were there four years ago.
My Lords, I pointed out that these bases which the 669 Americans have built in Spain, together with the pipeline and the Port of Rota, are only for American use; they are not for the use of other member States of N.A.T.O.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
If we know now that American preparations in Europe are not for N.A.T.O. purposes and to defend what we call—rather amusingly nowadays—the "Free World'', but are for some American purpose and cannot he got at without special contract with America, I think it gives an idea, a light, on interdependence.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, did the noble Lord say that? I did not understand that from the noble Lord's interjection. I understood him to imply that if Spain joined N.A.T.O. the United States would then be prepared to share these bases which they have already established in Spain with the other N.A.T.O. Powers.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
As I say, on the military question, I should have thought the answer was that, of course, for strategic purposes Spain is extremely valuable. As regards the American position, it is rather complicated, but I have read the agreement of 1950. When the Americans made this deal they never said anything about the United Nations or anything of that kind. It was a commercial deal, and I believe it was not even brought before the Senate; I think that is true. Therefore, as I say, the noble Lord has missed the bus as far as defence is concerned, because the work of value has been done.
I shall make no further references to the speeches of the noble and learned Viscount until after the result of Rochdale is known.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, so long as the noble Viscount makes any future references accurate, I shall not in the least mind whether he does it before or after any by-election. If he does not make them accurate I shall continue to interrupt.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I shall be delighted if the noble and learned Viscount interrupts. His interruptions are usually emphatic and usually ineffective.
What we are asked to do by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, is to invite 670 Spain to join N.A.T.O. We are to make a demarche, or whatever you call it, in that direction. I am utterly opposed to that. I do not know what the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, is going to say, but I do not believe the Government is in favour of it. I think we should give a decisive "No" to the Motion on the Paper by Lord Windlesham. All the military help we have got. I will not mention the Blue Division. What do we get in military aid? Nothing. But what do we get? We get a pack of trouble in N.A.T.O. What do people talk about when they go to these little pacts that are arranged in order to save us from international Communism? You go to Baghdad. What are they talking about at Baghdad? How to make perfectly certain that Israel loses the game. When you go to Ankara, what are you talking about? Whether Turkey or Greece is going to get the upper hand in Cyprus. When you go to Paris, what are they talking about? Whether you can possibly reconcile the Algerian war with a proper respect for Arab liberty. That is the case, and the result is that if you would leave N.A.T.O. as a military organisation as it was designed by my noble friend, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and others in its early days, available to fight if and when the Russians attack us, that is a wise thing to do. But to have it as a committee and label it with this title which is becoming increasingly funny, the "Free World", is quite wrong.
Lord Windlesham proposes the inclusion in the organisation of a country where a Protestant cannot "legitimately" marry, where his children cannot be "legitimate" and inherit, and where he is not allowed to read a Bible which is imported into the country by the British and Foreign Bible Society. That may be quite right; it is a Catholic country. But you cannot call it a free country. You cannot be asked to introduce this as a useful element in a free society.
This is the first time in these debates that we have had the issue fairly placed before us: is N.A.T.O. something that is a sort of substitute for U.N.O.? Many people think it is. Many people were so irritated by the constant use of the Veto by the Russians because they were always in a minority, that they said, "Let us get up something where we can 671 get rid of this nuisance of the Russian Veto. Let us get up N.A.T.O. "That was when Mr. Churchill was prepared to give arms back to the Germans because he was afraid of the Russians. Then N.A.T.O. had a practical use. But now the increasing tendency in our policy—I hope this will be debated at some time—is to try to bring in this man and that man and to make the whole thing a sort of organisation which we call the "Free World," and which we really intend as some international authority which will be a substitute for the authority of the United Nations. I say that that is an extremely dangerous thing to do.
I have only one other word to say. The noble Lord quoted from a letter from Mr. Winston Churchill. Mr. Winston Churchill made a treaty with the Russians in 1942, which Treaty was denounced by them. The circumstances then were quite different from the circumstances now, but I am very glad to see that our present Prime Minister made an offer of a non-aggression pact with the Russians—an excellent thing to do. So that part which is not relevant in the extract which I am going to read, which is a weak point in my argument, is, I think, partly dealt with. But the noble Lord gave us to understand that at that time Mr. Churchill agreed to the inclusion of Spain in this crusade for freedom. I readily admit the wisdom of the then Prime Minister in saying everything that was pleasant to the Spaniards. That is quite right. But what he wrote is this—I am going to read it now. It makes reference to the Treaty which has gone. There was a long and argumentative letter, a well-argued letter, which General Franco had sent to the Prime Minister.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I think perhaps I was misheard, or I may have made a mistake. Of course, the Treaty was in 1942, the correspondence was in 1944 and it was published in 1945; that is the sequence. Mr. Churchill was writing to a man who, in breach of his oath to the Republic, had invaded his own country and imposed a dictatorship on some form of democratic government. It is nothing to do with us, but that is what he did. Ever since, from that letter onwards, 672 General Franco has said, "There is only one way to fight international Communism and that is my way." Speaking of Mr. Churchill and himself he said, "Let us go forward together" He has never swerved from that. He has always said "The way to fight international Communism"—whatever that may mean; we could take a week in discussing that because nobody knows what it means; it is a phrase—"is my way, and I invite you to join me in an alliance." Mr. Churchill replied as follows:It is a serious error to think that His Majesty's Government would be ready to consider any bloc of Powers based on hostility to our Russian Allies, or any assumed need for defence against them. His Majesty's Government's policy is firmly based on the Anglo-Soviet Treaty"—and would be based on this new Treaty of non-aggression if it were passed—and considers permanent Anglo-Russian collaboration within the framework of the future world organisation"—which is U.N.O.—as essential not only to her own interests but also to the future peace and prosperity of Europe as a whole.It is because I believe that absolutely, and because I believe that by side-winds, by arguments this way and the other (irrelevant most of them), you are attempting to set up an organisation whose main purpose in life depends upon everybody hating Russia, that I think it is wrong. I certainly would do everything in my power to have this Motion decided by this House to-night, in order that it should not be said that the Higher House of Parliament had invited the prime leader of Fascism existing now in Europe to join an organisation which is intended to protect the free world.
My Lords, would the noble Viscount allow me to say a few words in regard to what he has quoted? He made one or two statements which are not, in fact, accurate.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Order, Order!
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I do not object to the noble Lord's correcting me if I have said something wrong.
I know we are going back, which is what I hoped we should not have to do. I wanted to look at to-day and to-morrow, but inevitably we have been dragged back.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Order, Order!
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The House is the ruler of this place but I, personally, as a Parliamentarian never in the least raise any objection to anybody interrupting me to correct any error that he imagines I may have made.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, there are some questions which it is hard to discuss without a Motion. In the days of my father he used to say it was the taxation of land values, and the drink trade. Nowadays, one would say perhaps that it is capital punishment and unnatural vice. One interest in the international field which it is hard to discuss without a Motion and without delving into the past is that of Spain. Surely it is as unprofitable to quote what Mr. Churchill said in 1944 before the world saw what Russian post-war policy, unfortunately, was going to be, as it is to go back to the exact merits of the Civil War or further still.
On the whole, in politics it is wise to accept the result of a major revolution or a major civil war as a fait accompli; but, of course, it is far harder to do it if you are on the losing side. I know that my paternal great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg on the Northern side, and my maternal great-grandfather fought—at least he would have fought had he not had boils, but he fought through practically every other battle in the Civil War—on the Southern side. The Battle of Gettysburg is not in the least a vital issue to-day among my Northern relations but it is still a vital and burning one among my Virginian cousins: it is difficult for those on the losing side to accept it. That is an experience to which we in England are not accustomed, as we have never lost a major war; but surely it is a most unprofitable thing to re-fight the civil wars of the past. We may regret the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Revolution in China, the Spanish Civil War or many other things that have happened but surely it is the task of statesmanship to accept the results of those events and to hew our policy in accordance with the facts of the day.
674 One thing which I believe we did see was that, whatever may have been the rights and the wrongs of the Spanish Civil War, it was not part of a great international conspiracy but a purely Spanish affair. While both sides took help from outside, they did so entirely for their own purposes. During the last war General Franco conducted his diplomacy entirely in Spanish interests. He showed no gratitude to the Germans or the Italians when he could easily have opened his country to them after the Fall of France and made the position very difficult for our anti-submarine campaign in the Bay of Gibraltar. I believe that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, would be the first to say that had all those ports and air bases been turned over to the Germans, the task of our Navy, for which he was then responsible, would have been far more difficult. In fact General Franco did the minimum possible, as Hitler's letters and documents have since shown, not because he loved us but because he was an entirely selfish Spaniard, thinking entirely of keeping his people out of a world war after they had just gone through a civil war.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, had those places been opened up to the Germans, the strategic dangers to us would have been immense. But I think the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, does not give sufficient credit to our then representative in Madrid, the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, for the very skilful manner in which he was able to persuade the Spaniards that to do so would be far more dangerous to them than to ourselves. We took all the necessary precautions, but I wish to give the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, a considerable amount of the credit for that. And let the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, not forget the "Blue Division".
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, if I may add a footnote to what my noble friend has said, I was in the Royal Air Force at that time, and I can say that every movement of our aircraft there was reported from La Linea to Germany.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, may I, as a former Parliamentary Private Secretary to the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, associate myself with the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of 675 Hillsborough, and say how glad I am to hear from the Benches opposite a tribute to the magnificent work done by Lord Templewood in that Embassy. We all know that a great deal of spying went on in Spain, but the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, will probably admit that both sides were operating in Spain during the last war and that it was not entirely a one-sided affair.
Surely at the moment, when the strategic balance tends to have been turned against us by the latest developments of rockets and missiles, and when we need all the help we can possibly have in the strategic sphere, we must consider our strategy and our own interests as the supreme factor. Perhaps when America had a monopoly of the atom bomb, a few years ago, our need for such help was not so great; but now we need all the geographical and strategic advantage that we can possibly have. We need bases behind the Pyrenees, in case the next war should turn out to be an "old-fashioned" conventional war, because in that event the Pyrenees would become of enormous strategic importance. Then we have to face the obvious fact that there will be an American Air Force and Navy operating from Spain. Is it realistic to imagine that those forces will operate under one command while General Norstad, sitting at Versailles, is running under another command? Surely we need a united command of the entire American and other forces in Europe if we are to deploy them effectively.
Surely also we have to face the fact that there are various categories of virtue among our Allies. How do we draw an exact distinction between the system in Portugal and that in Spain, neither of which countries has what we should call democracy? We welcome Pakistan as an Ally, but they have not had a General Election for many years. We have, in part of our organisations, the Yugoslavia of Tito, yet no one could conceivably call that a democracy.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, Yugoslavia is not in N.A.T.O., but we have had the Balkan Pact, which has been tied up with the defence of the free 676 world, under which the Atlantic Powers have supplied Tito with a considerable amount of arms and military assistance. We all have our emotions in international affairs, and our strongly held feelings, but is it not up to both sides to subordinate those feelings to the main strategic purpose? I would ask noble Lords opposite to remember that we whose views are Right Wing put up with a great many things which we disliked intensely. None of us who was Right Wing cared to be allied to Communist Russia, but we used to hear the most oleaginous and excessive flattery of Russia poured out during the war from the Ministry of Information and the B.B.C.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I remember speaking with several Conservative M.P.'s, and the amount of their flattery of Russia simply appalled me. I was not prepared to join them.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, I entirely agree. But for the sake of the common cause at that time, those of us who held that view kept our mouths shut till the war was over, because it was then important to keep Russia on our side against the overwhelming menace of Hitler. From the ideological point of view, many of us have disliked the praise given to Tito. In Yugoslavia there has been the suppression of religion and the persecution of the Catholic faith, which we dislike as much as we dislike the persecution of Protestantism in Spain. We dislike them both intensely, but in neither case is our dislike relevant. What is of the utmost importance is the strengthening of what I believe we can still call the free world against the overwhelming danger of Communism. Both sides must subordinate their own emotions on these matters to the greater necessity of the strategic strength of this country over what is the menace of any particular period in our history.
Some people may say that any move towards bringing Spain in would make it harder to get a settlement with Russia and to improve relations, which naturally every sensible person wants. I think history shows that the Russians are wholly unsentimental; they are cool, strategic calculators, who were quite prepared to make a pact with Hitler if it suited them, and are far more likely to respect and to make an agreement with a strong West. And the stronger we are 677 strategically, the more likely they are to come to terms with us, quite regardless of whether or not we exclude Spain.
Finally, there is this very important question: What is the future of Spain when the day comes that Franco retires or dies? That is the overwhelmingly important question which I think is behind our debate to-day, because if Franco retired and Spain went over to the Communist camp, it would be a major blow to the strategy of the West: their whole strategy would go. We have been told, ever since the Civil War, by our Republican friends among the Spanish exiles that if we boycotted Franco, if we kept them poor, if we made a few rude noises, Franco would fall, because he was on the verge of falling. Unfortunately, or fortunately, those people have been completely wrong. The Spaniards were prepared to accept almost anything rather than have a renewal of civil conflict and the uncertainty which would have followed the fall of Franco in recent years. That seemed to be the strength of his position: not that anybody loved him particularly, but they hated the uncertainty of what might happen if he fell.
It is surely then our major interest—and I hope both sides will agree on this—to look to the future to see what we can do to influence events in Spain so that, when Franco eventually goes, there May be a moderate pro-Western Government, whether it is a monarchy, a democracy, or moderate authoritarian régime. Our one interest is that it should be one of these three and that it should not be a Communist régime, because then the whole strategic position of France would go the whole of the attempt, which I hope is in our minds, to bring a free North Africa into the comity of the Western World would receive a tremendous setback.
We were not able to make the slightest dent on events in Spain by a policy of boycott and unfriendliness. Surely, if we are prepared to have Spain more in our counsels and to treat her with more confidence, and to have closer relations with her, we may well be, indeed probably shall be, in a stronger position to see that the succeeding régime will be one which will help the cause of the West and not the cause of Communism.
§ 4.44 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I find is easy to follow my noble friend Lord Astor, because I agree entirely with the many points and the whole sequence of points which he raised. His principle argument, as I understood it, was that the boycotting of Franco's Government had failed and would continue to fail. It always somewhat surprises me to find noble Lords in the Party opposite expressing resentment of the fact that the, Franco régime is still in existence in Spain, because, as I remember only too poignantly, they did, in fact, in 1946 assist to keep it in its place. They did so reluctantly, I remember.
They objected to a United Nations move, led by the Polish Government—by Dr. Lange, the Polish representative at the United Nations at that time—to break off relations with Spain. But at the end of 1946 (I believe it was in December), there was an action approved by the United Nations and carried out by only three Governments—the Governments of the United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands—in withdrawing their Ambassadors from Spain. It seemed to some simple minds at the time that this would have an instantaneous effect on Franco; would make him want to go, and would make the Spanish people want to get rid of him. In fact, the exact opposite was the result. Franco said to his people, "They have withdrawn their Ambassadors; they will send them back in a few years' time." And that is precisely what they did. In 1947 the Ambassadors of these three countries were sent back, for no better reason than that they had been withdrawn.
I was living in Spain at the time, and I remember very well the effect these two actions had upon the Spanish people, who were not predominantly responsive to Franco at this time. They said to themselves "These highly civilised, democratic nations have decided that they will withdraw their Ambassadors from a Government which has remained less altered in the course of nine years than any other Government in Europe, and, after a year, the Caudillo tells us they will be sent back. "When, in fact, that came to pass, the reaction of the Spanish people, I assure your Lordships—and here I am speaking from experience—was, "The only grown-up 679 statesman in Europe to-day is General Franco"; and they became rather proud of it.
It has been suggested by noble Lords opposite, and I imagine that it will be suggested again by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, that the mistake of inviting Spain to join N.A.T.O. would be that it would morally undermine the force of N.A.T.O. in the world. But I am bound to ask: What moral qualification is there which allows a nation to belong to U.N.O. and which excludes it from N.A.T.O? My second question is: How much more authoritarian is the régime of General Franco in Spain to-day than the régime in Portugal of Dr. Salazar, who governs, very authoritatively, a country which is a much respected member of N.A.T.O.? That is no clumsy attempt on my part to provoke the noble Viscount who will speak next, but it is, I think, a perfectly fair question.
I well remember the days when the Spanish Civil War began. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, noted that my noble friend Lord Hastings had not carried his extremely succinct history of recent events in Spain beyond the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. I remember that beginning very vividly indeed, and I should like, in only a few words, to remind your Lordships of what happened. The highly respected and brave leader of the Right Wing in Spain in those days, Calvo Sotelo, was taken out of his flat by two members of the national police, taken down to the river, and shot. It was a political assassination by the State Police. At that time I was the correspondent in Spain of a London newspaper, and I remember telegraphing to my paper that night:Who can say after this moment that a Government of Spain exists?As a result of that message I was imprisoned three days later, when the war began with a rebellion which directly followed that assassination by the State Police of the leader of the Right Wing Opposition. I am not pretending that the whole organisation for rebellion was built up in those three days. The Spaniard is no fool and knows what is happening in his own country. The Spaniards knew that something was growing up under the 680 wing of the Republican Government which would lead to a Left Wing revolution. It was the only case I have been able to trace in history where a revolution was anticipated by ten days by a military rebellion.
I am not going to discuss intimately what has happened since that war was won. Not only General Franco but Spaniards themselves have always insisted that the war was not won by German and Italian assistance. It was won by 1,200,000 Spaniards fighting against Communism. And I assure your Lordships that in Spain that is held proudly to be true. Physically speaking, the material aid given from Russia and France to the Republican side in the Civil War was infinitely greater than the material assistance given by Germany and Italy to the Franco Forces, the Nationalist Forces, as they called themselves. If anybody travels in Spain to-day he will find that the attitude that Franco was set in power by Germany and Italy, by Hitler and Mussolini, is very much resented all through Spain.
The noble Viscount has referred to the Franco régime as a Fascist dictatorship, and without agreeing, I see his point. But Spain is not a country (I say this with deep respect and love for the country which we are discussing) that is ready for democracy as we understand it. I am not saying that the present Government of General Franco is the ideal Government, but I believe that it will come to an end; and I should like to believe that when it does come to an end we shall retain the respect of the Spaniards by having an informed and understanding attitude to them and to their problems. Between our two countries there always has been a deep and mutual respect. I am convinced that that cannot be maintained by boycotting the present Government in Spain, however much certain sections of the population may dislike it. It is there just as Spain is there.
I think that the strategic case has been argued extremely well by other noble Lords and I need not go into it. I believe sincerely that we shall lose a great deal, not only in strategic advantage but in the moral respect of the Spanish people, if we pretend that the Franco régime is not the Government of Spain to-day which the Spaniards are prepared to follow against Communism. Any 681 country through which Communism has passed is anti-Communist. I have argued frequently with Spaniards, many of them supporters of General Franco, that this régime may be breeding Communism, because whenever there is something of a crisis, the streets are placarded with noticesFranco—Si: Comunismo—No!I have argued that the end of that policy may be that gradually another generation growing up, which does not remember Spa in during the Civil War and the domination of half the country by Communism, will one day say: "If you tell us that there is no alternative to Franco except Communism, we will try that." I do not believe that the best means of getting rid of Franquismo from Spain is to boycott the whole nation and pretend that it would be more of a debit than a credit to us in the defence of the West against the advance of Communism. I came into your Lordships' Chamber a minute or two late, but I heard my noble friend Lord Windlesham say that he did not know whether he could count on any noble Lords to support his Motion. I should like to tell him that he can definitely count on my support for what seems to me a most moderate Motion.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I confess at the outset that I speak on this subject with emotions that have been roused by the opposite side. The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, has deplored that emotional feeling should be introduced into a matter of this sort, but it is interesting to see that the noble Lords who have supported the Motion are as emotionally engaged as anybody else and it is absurd for them to pretend that they are not. I trust that the Government will not accept this Motion, in spite of the fact that all the Conservative Peers who have spoken this afternoon have spoken in favour of it. It is important that this country should be undivided in respect of N.A.T.O., and I can assure the Government that if they accept this Motion they will be splitting the country. Labour Members regard N.A.T.O. as a defensive alliance of countries which are trying to work democracy. All the N.A.T.O. countries, from Scandinavia southwards, are countries which in their own way have free elections and govern 682 through the statesmen who are chosen through these elections.
§ LORD CHORLEY
So far as I am concerned I would have Portugal out. I do not feel that Portugal is in its place in N.A.T.O., and Spain is in the same position as Portugal. Portugal is a Fascist country just as much as Spain is a Fascist country. I think that we should remind ourselves of the historical origins of this situation. I accept what has been said by noble Lords opposite, that when a revolution or a counter-revolution has clearly succeeded one ought to accept the situation; and I do accept it. I am not suggesting that Franco should be boycotted or that an attempt should be made to throw him out or anything of that kind. All I am saying is that we ought not to invite that country to come into this club of nations which is attempting to work free institutions. I do not always agree with the way all these countries are attempting to work their free institutions, but I feel that they are making that genuine effort, and I do not think that anybody can say that that effort is being made in Spain.
I do not pretend to know Spain as well as the noble Lord. Lord St. Oswald. I have never been there, but I have read a good deal about it and studied what is going on. It is quite clear that it is not a country of free institutions. Take religion: is it not perfectly clear that Protestants, for example, are not allowed freely to practise their religion? I rather think that representations have been made by our own Foreign Office in respect of incidents that have happened in Spain in recent years.
My Lords, it would be untrue to say that Protestants cannot practise their religion at all in Spain. I am not justifying the attitude of Spain towards anything in particular, but there are Protestants there who practise their religion. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, was wrong to say that Protestants cannot legitimately marry. He is under a misapprehension.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I accept what my noble friend says, but I understood—I am willing to take it back if I am wrong—that a marriage to 683 be effective had to be a civil marriage plus a marriage by a priest. I understood that a Protestant could marry, and that Protestants were married, just as Quakers were married; but the legitimacy of the offspring was always in question unless the full official regulations were fulfilled.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, it is a rather curious alliance. In fact I left out of my speech what the noble Viscount has just said. There is not true denominational freedom. Strange to say there is religious freedom in Spain to-day, but not denominational freedom. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, will accept this very unwillingly, but I know of many cases where it has been difficult, in fact, impossible, for Protestants to marry.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, cannot possibly contend that there is religious freedom in Spain in the way that it exists in this country, in France, in Scandinavia and in other Western countries.
I have never attempted to do any such thing. I was simply saying that the noble Lord was misinforming the House, and I stand on what I said.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I do not agree that I am misinforming the House. What I am saying is that there is not religious freedom in Spain in the way that it exists in this country, in Scandinavia, in France and in other Western countries. I think that that is typical of the situation in Spain. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, said that the Spaniards were saying in 1946: "Our Government is the same as it was when Franco succeeded to power: it has not changed." Another ten years later it still has not changed. It is still not a country that has free elections, and it is still not a country which is making any sort of effort to establish free institutions.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me to take him up on this point of free institutions? The wording in Article II, after speaking about the free institutions of the countries concerned in N.A.T.O., goes on to say:…by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded.684 Would the noble Lord say that we can bring about that better understanding with Spain inside, or outside, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation?
§ LORD CHORLEY
I think we can bring about that better understanding without having Spain inside this small circle. I have no sort of enmity towards the Spanish people; I have a number of good friends who are Spaniards, and some are supporters of the Franco régime. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said: that a great deal of progress, particularly in education, has been made in Spain during these last years. Education happens to be one of my special subjects, and there is no question that under the Franco régime considerable educational progress has been made. But that is not an argument for having them inside the N.A.T.O. alliance. I cannot see how that forwards the matter in any way.
I was very much impressed, as we all were, by the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, giving the historical events leading up to the present situation. I do not think anybody who has studied the Spanish Civil War, even those of us who were strongly on the side of the Republic, would contend for one moment that the Republic behaved with complete respect for freedom or for justice in that situation, which was a revolutionary situation. As the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, said, many unforgivable things were done on either side. The difficulty was that owing to exactly the present sort of situation having existed under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera for a period of something like ten years, there were not democratic statesmen in Spain who had acquired the art of government. It is, as the noble Lord who has just spoken pointed out, exactly the same with Franco. Under Franco there has not been that freedom from which democratic statesmen could acquire the art of government or a knowledge of administration. The danger is that when the Franco régime is overthrown, or disappears, there will not be the people to take his place.
That is the danger from Communism. In Spain there is no real danger of Communism, apart from that, and it is rather absurd to suggest that it was Communism that was overthrown by Franco in the years just before the war. There was a small Communist Party, and some of its 685 leaders were in the Republican Government; but there is no evidence that those Communist leaders had, in fact, acquired a dominant position in the Republican Government, and nothing I have seen in the way of evidence has ever supported that view.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again, but the noble Lord must recognise that in the various countries now under the domination of Communism the Communist Parties were negligible before the event took place. I do not think that that follows.
§ LORD CHORLEY
They were enabled to seize power only as a result of the military assistance which they received from further East. But does anybody seriously suggest that that is a possible situation at the present time in respect of Spain? Of course it is not. And it can be made possible—and it is a very small chance—only as the result of the continuance of this repressive policy which has been enforced by Franco for the last twenty years. I should have thought that this was perfectly clear.
I accept the view which was so forcibly and ably put by my noble friend Lord Stansgate: that we are not here concerned with enmity towards the Spanish people, or with enmity towards the Government of Franco. If the Spanish people themselves wish to have Franco as their dictator, and wish to have these institutions, which in our view are not free institutions, then they are entitled to have them. How do we know—if they are not allowed to vote on it? I am not going to deny them that right for a moment. But what I do deny is their right to come into the League, so to speak, of people with free institutions, who have banded themselves together for the purpose of defending their free institutions. That, surely, is the whole basis of the case against this Motion; and it is that which I hope will persuade Her Majesty's Government not to accept it.
§ 5.9 p.m.
My Lords, I did not intend to speak in this debate, as there are so many people who know more about Spain than I do. I want to say only one thing—and I am glad to see the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, back in his place, because I think he will agree with what I have to say. In the days when 686 he was ruling this country, when he was Prime Minister in Britain, if he had felt himself compelled to take some action abroad, and in the French Chamber or some other Chamber of some of our neighbours there appeared a Motion such as follows this immediate Business on the Order Paper, he would have found every noble Lord on this side of the House and the whole country solidly behind him for any action or comment he thought fit to make. I think that is true, and I think it will always be true of any civilised country.
The point I am making to-day is that whatever opinions personally we may have of the Government and of General Franco in Spain, there is a great danger to us that every Spaniard, whatever his political complexion, will feel that Britain is unfriendly to Spain and to Spaniards by the very fact of the discomfort of our present political relations. The noble Earl, and every noble Lord on the other side of the House, knows that this is not the first time I have put this matter before the House. There is just one thing I should like to add. Noble Lords opposite have an enormous responsibility because the people in Spain who resent the discomfort of our modern relations are apt to pin their resentment on what is said by the present Opposition in Parliament on the subject of our Spanish relations. I myself feel that the whole of our future may depend on our not cutting off our nose to spite our face, and I hope that we shall take that thought in the near future and decide on a more friendly and accommodating attitude to our neighbours, even though we do not like all they think and all they do.
§ 5.12 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, we have had an interesting discussion, but, if I may speak quite frankly, I do not think we have had a discussion which is likely to increase the amity of our relations with Spain, as is desired in the last few remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun. That is why my principal criticism of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, would be that in the present state of international affairs, and with the general position of possible negotiations for a general settlement in these matters, no more inopportune time could have been chosen to raise this particular issue. 687 That is why I hope that, although there have been from the Government Back Benches so many supporting speeches inclined to be favourable to the general principle of the Motion, the Government will not be influenced by them, but will hold the proper balance at the present time with the other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries until at least the next few main stages in the development of international diplomacy and negotiation have passed. As I say, I think that this is a most inopportune time for us to be discussing a matter of this sort. That is my first reaction to the Motion.
My second reaction, of course, is that my noble friend Lord Attlee and myself, sitting side by side here this afternoon, perhaps had more to do with the actual foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation than anybody in this House, and probably more than anybody in any of the countries now belonging to it; because, of course, we initiated it. We are therefore entitled to look at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with somewhat special, and maybe somewhat jealous, eyes, to make quite sure that in its steady growth and expansion, both in the interpretation of its first foundational statements, and, what is necessary, in the changing circumstances in the world, it will at least fulfil those great principles to the best of its ability. We are anxious and jealous that that should continue to be so.
There seems to be a grave confusion—which was quite rightly "spotted" by my noble friend Lord Stansgate—in the minds of some of the people who have addressed your Lordships' House, as to what is the proper sphere for dealing with nations who have had the past and the general views of Spain or, you might say, Russia. Is their place within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which was formed for special purposes and in special circumstances, or is the place for the proper expression of their views and the development of their international fellowships in the larger world organisation of the United Nations? I say frankly that I should prefer, for the time being at any rate, that Spain's avenue for expressing herself to the world at large should remain with the United Nations Organisation. 688 Let us see a little more, by her performance at home, how far she progresses until, later on, she may perhaps be invited into the more limited society of nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and for carrying out the specific tasks of that organisation.
This debate seems to have taken a strategic turn. I wondered to myself, as I looked across at my noble friend (as I am sure I can call him) Lord Alexander of Tunis, with all his great achievements in the Army, in strategy in general and in ministerial experience, what he was thinking about the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, and others on a strategic case, and whether he was not thinking that perhaps the House of Lords is not the best place to air these opinions. He and I, from different points of view, have lectured over and over again to staff colleges, and in those colleges we have had the greatest possible freedom in what we said. I believe that we must be much more careful in what we say about strategy when we are speaking in the open, public debating place of the House of Lords in Parliament. Even if I agreed with some of the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, and the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, I should not say so here. I would not say that I did agree with them; but in any case this is not the place to deal with matters like that.
It is because of the expression of these purely strategic and military views that I am bound to say that, when you come down to fighting and strategy—first one and then the other—all the way through our lives, you will find you will line up with anybody who can help you in a particular danger. You do not mind who it is. Was it not Mr. Winston Churchill (as he then was) who said during the war: "If Hitler provoked a war with the devil, I would have a good word to say for the devil". But he said afterwards, "I do not think I would necessarily have to be friends with the devil afterwards". That is how things go on.
Here we have the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, formed for a specific purpose. How was it formed in the first place? I have only one point of disagreement with that remarkably good speech of my noble friend Lord Stansgate, when he seemed—I do not 689 think he meant to—to attach the origin of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mainly to the views that were being established by the continued use of the Veto by Russia and her supporters. That is not so.
My Lords, I beg the noble Viscount's pardon for interrupting, but is not what he is saying a very good reason for being at least on civil terms with the devil beforehand?
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am not going back into that now. All I was illustrating was that, certainly in all the wars that have occurred in my lifetime—and I am not a youngster—we have always been anxious to unite with anybody when we have been in difficulty and danger. I am not trying to wriggle out of anything. I remember saying in the debate on the Munich Treaty on October 8, 1938, that, as certainly as we were there, the way we were going on then we should be going into war; and that inevitably, from the policy then being pursued, we should find ourselves standing alone. I am sorry to have to look back upon it and find that that prophecy was fulfilled to the letter in 1940. I am not at all unaware of strategic considerations and fighting and battle considerations. I am anxious to preserve certain societies of nations set up with a specific purpose as long as we possibly can in the sphere in which they were formed.
I come back to the formation. The real fact—and do not let us mince words about this—is that the seeds of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were really sown in the Paris Conference of 1946, for it soon became established there that there was an alliance already: an alliance imposed by the U.S.S.R. upon all the satellite States. For three and a half months they fought us in the debate concerning proper terms with ex-enemy countries, and it became absolutely clear to Ernie Bevin and myself, who were there, and subsequently to Mr. Attlee and the Ministers in the Cabinet, that that was the process which was going to be pursued by Russia in international affairs.
From that moment we set our face towards the goal of obtaining strength of our own and finding the greatest possible unity with those who agreed with us as to the future objectives in the world. That was how it was formed, through the 690 Dunkirk Treaty, the Brussels Treaty, and then, at the final stages, with the United States of America and Canada especially. Then the whole purpose of that Organisation was, first, to organise views against the kind of military position which was being adopted by Russia to pursue her political and, if you like, her philosophical views; and at the same time to see that we had such arrangements between the constituents of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as would ultimately be not entirely military but would bring them closer together in friendship and in economic affairs, to stand in general for all operations of that kind, in order to bring a real defence—not only physical defence but spiritual and moral defence—to the free nations as we knew them. That is how we looked at it then.
I am not going to deal with all the arguments used in the debate to-day; I am not going to attempt to do it. But if the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, puts the question (it was when I was outside for three minutes) as to how I compare the dictatorship in Spain with that of Salazar, I would say that I do not like the dictatorship in Portugal, but the régime there has always struck me as very much more mild than some of the aspects of the régime in Spain. Moreover, if I look at the extension of the membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in general, I think I can say that I find no addition to that expanding membership which could not be justified upon the original foundation terms of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. If you look at Greece, no one could complain about the admission of Greece. If you look at the modern form of Turkey, no one could complain about Turkey. I do not quite understand the reference made, I think by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, to Pakistan. I would certainly call Pakistan a much more free nation than Spain at the moment.
Look at the other members who have been admitted from time to time. Take Italy. Reference was made by one speaker to Italy. Certainly Italy, a Catholic country, has for years had one of the largest Communist national memberships in any of the European States, but the actual fact we have to take into account is that since the end 691 of the war there has been good, Parliamentary, democratic government in Italy. I cannot find in any of those countries any real reason why they should not be included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with all the qualifications, or practically all the qualifications, necessary to fulfil the purposes and general foundational beliefs of the original members.
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
My Lords, I do not want to cause dissension in the noble Viscount's Front Bench, but what he is saying is in exact contradiction to what the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, said when he talked about the "so-called Free World."
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I would not accept that right away unless I looked at it again.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I said that if you admitted Franco to N.A.T.O. it would be difficult to call it the "Free World."
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
My recollection is that the noble Viscount was dealing with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and spoke of the "so-called Free World" We shall read his speech tomorow.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am quite sure that my noble friend, who was speaking extempore at that time, will see whether he has made an error.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
At any rate, I have spoken my piece on the matter, and that is how it goes so far as I am concerned.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Perhaps the noble Viscount will agree with me in the next stage: that is, that at the present moment it is not reasonable for us to take Spain into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, first, because she has not asked for it, so far as I know—I know of no request for it. In the second place, although she has certainly made a good deal of progress since the end of the war, as my 692 noble friend, Lord Chorley, said, in regard to education, I do not think she has yet quite a régime one would like to see in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in its present form. It may well be that we should remember that remarkable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, and not always be dwelling in the past. I hope that will apply not merely to Spain; I hope it will apply, when the time comes for Summit talks and for a real energetic effort for the peace of the world, and be equally true for some of us who felt so bitter against Russia, and often have since, for the way they led Europe up the garden by their Treaty with Ribbentrop in 1939. Then we had to come into the war with them in such different circumstances afterwards. Any one of these things can be put into past perspective and subjected to ruthless and devastating attack, but it applies to them all.
I would only say at this moment that to try to raise this matter for discussion amongst the nations of N.A.T.O. and put it in the middle of the negotiations which are going on in Europe to-day would be most unwise. I take note of the things that are passing. The Times this morning, in a leader which has been pointed out to me by my noble friend, Lord Pakenham, takes note of the overtures of Russia from Moscow to Rome, to the Vatican. The London Times takes the view in this leader this morning that there is nothing in that at all. But when one reads that extraordinary piece of news from the Rome Correspondent of The Times on January 24, one sees that the overtures which are being made by Russia to-day are to try to neutralise Italy from the N.A.T.O. Pact. They are trying to do a deal over the Albanian bases, provided that there is an open city for Rome and the Vatican and a fifty-five mile area all around. Mr. Gromyko follows that up by saying that he would welcome official contacts with the Vatican.
On the other side we find Mr. Dulles, who has been regarded by many—not merely in my own Party but in all Parties—as often providing obstacles to the free negotiations we all want to go on. He has said now that he does not want to press home the question of prior meetings of Foreign Ministers and the like before coming to a Summit conference. 693 At the moment the whole world is anxious for peace; the whole world is sick and tired of all this other strategic business, as we call it. Those of us who have had to deal with strategy and defence in the past know that when we are in those circumstances we have to do our duty as the present day requires it. But if, in a period like this, we cannot all work together to try to reach a situation in which strategy is not required, we are letting down not only our fellow-countrymen but citizens of every country the world over. I do not want a new subject to be drawn into the arena to-day by a Resolution of this kind, to upset what is now beginning to be a better channel for negotiation. I want to see it making as much progress towards settlement as possible. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord (whose speech I have not criticised in any detail because I have been anxious not to say things which I could have said but which would have been unkind), when he comes to reply to the debate, will see fit to withdraw the Resolution.
§ 5.32 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF GOSFORD)
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for his courtesy and co-operation in the matter of the date on which this debate has taken place. My answer to the noble Lord's Motion will be short, but I hope decisive.
This debate has shown how wide apart are the varying opinions in your Lordships' House on the subject of Spain's inclusion in N.A.T.O. These varying opinions reflect the feeling of many, both inside and outside this country. As the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, said, it is a subject on which strong views are held. We have heard some most interesting arguments and suggestions, and I should like to be so bold as to thank the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition for his balanced and helpful speech. I do not intend to enlarge or to comment on the varying arguments; nor, like the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, shall I go into the history of the past twenty years.
Before I go any further, I think it right that I should state the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards Spain. That policy is to maintain normal and 694 friendly relations with that country. Normal and friendly relations exist on the Governmental plane. Trade flourishes between our two countries; contacts between various bodies are on the increase. A party of Spanish mayors, for instance, and a party of Government officials have recently toured this country, and Her Majesty's ships, when visiting Spanish ports, receive the most cordial welcomes. Our own fellow-countrymen and women are going to Spain for their holidays in increasing numbers, and in this way more and more people from this country are getting to know, and I hope to appreciate, Spain for themselves. Her Majesty's Government welcome these signs of friendship.
Since 1955 Spain has been a member of the United Nations and for some time she has taken part in some of the work of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, without, however, being a full member. In short, Spain is gradually becoming more and more associated with the organisations of Western Europe. We welcome this process. I agree with the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington (who has asked me to say that he is sorry he cannot be in his place), that historically and culturally Spain belongs to Europe. Her magnificent cultural heritage is one of Europe's glories. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has asked that Her Majesty's Government should take steps to accelerate the process of integrating Spain into Western Europe by promoting her membership of N.A.T.O. The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, asked whether the Spanish Government would accept such an invitation. I think your Lordships would agree with me that it would not be proper that I should answer that question, though no doubt your Lordships have your own opinions on the answer.
I do not dissent from much of the argument which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, put forward—in fact I agree with a great many of his arguments. I agree, too, with many of the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, and, surprisingly, though I regret to say unusually, with the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate about the strategic advantages of the admission of Spain to N.A.T.O. I would, however, remind your Lordships of one very important thing, a point which the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, has already men- 695 tioned. For a country to obtain membership of N.A.T.O. requires the unanimous vote of all the present members. We know that the Governments of one or two countries are likely to oppose this membership. Furthermore, one, in particular, has made its negative attitude perfectly clear as lately as April of last year. These Governments are still in power; and it is obvious, I think, from the remarks of the representatives of the country of which I have just spoken, that any suggestion that Spain should join N.A.T.O. would have an instantaneous Veto from them.
As your Lordships are well aware, N.A.T.O. is at present in the process of trying to solve difficult and important problems. Here, Her Majesty's Government's view coincides, I think, with the view already expressed: that by raising this particular matter in N.A.T.O. at this moment—a matter on which strong views are held, as your Lordships have heard, and bearing in mind that only one adverse vote acts as a Veto—strains would be placed on N.A.T.O. which could do it unnecessary harm. And although Her Majesty's Government will continue to foster friendly relations with Spain, nevertheless, in view of what I have just said, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, will withdraw his Motion.
§ 5.38 p.m.
My Lords, I am quite sincere in thanking the noble Earl who has replied, not only for his remarks but for the most reasonable way in which he made them. We have had some correspondence on the subject of this Motion, and I am glad to say that it has been conducted in an amicable manner and brought to a happy conclusion, in spite of the criticism of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who felt that it should not have been introduced at all. That is his opinion, and he is perfectly entitled to it. On the other hand, there may be some who feel that it should have been brought, and I have been encouraged in that view by the number of speakers who put down their names—not a single one of whom was approached by myself.
First of all, perhaps I may go quickly through one or two of the points which have been made. The noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington (who I am sorry to see is not in his place) made a most 696 attractive short speech, one which befits the holder of that famous name. He must have been thinking of his great predecessor who, if he had been here to-day, would have agreed that the support he received from his Spanish allies in the Peninsula was all-important to the, success of his armies. Then the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, urged a restatement of the objects of N.A.T.O. There seems to me much wisdom in this advice. I believe that any alliance can get out of date after a time, as circumstances change. I think that was his point and I agree with him.
The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, then gave us a most interesting account of the events of the 'thirties, leading up to the rising—an account which I am sure every Member of your Lordships' House will have been glad and interested to hear. I had no idea that the noble Lord was to speak and I was particularly glad that his speech took that form, as I believe that many who have heard it and those who read Hansardwill from this evening onwards, be a little better informed as to the true events which led up to that rising.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, started to agree (and I was astonished) as to the importance of Spain, strategically and culturally. He then turned on his "big guns" and at close range I naturally winced under the assault. At this point, unfortunately, I transgressed against the rules of your Lordships' House by speaking too soon. What I was trying to say to the noble Viscount what that his case was that made by a great number of people who believe it was so—that Franco was the man who started the rising and that he put himself "in the chair" and has been there ever since. That is not true. General Franco was not even in Spain when the Revolution started. The leader in the first few months of the rising was General Sanjurjo. It was only when he was killed in an air accident, some time afterwards, that General Franco was elected. I make this point because it is quite a general misconception.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, is the noble Lord saying that from the beginning General Franco was not in co-operation with General Sanjurjo, who actually led the first few months of the rising, and that Franco knew nothing about this?
My Lords, I suggest that General Franco knew a great deal about it, but I say that he was not in Spain at that time and was not the original leader of the rising. I am addressing myself to the facts, as opposed to the implications. At this time of the evening, to go back to what Sir Winston Churchill said during the war on the subject of our Russian allies is perhaps straying a little from the centre of the meaning of the Motion, but I am sure that the noble Viscount will agree that what Sir Winston said then on the subject of our Russian allies was said when we were in the middle of the war and they were fighting with us. Surely the circumstances then and in the year 1958—which is what I am trying to discuss now—must be totally different.
The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, advocated unity of all the forces of the Western world, wherever they may be, and made a case for the integration of N.A.T.O. air and navy bases in Spain in the whole N.A.T.O. picture; and I thought the noble Viscount made an admirable speech. It was obvious that he knew what he was talking about, and personally I was very interested. He mentioned the question of the importance of General Franco's eventual retirement or death and what might happen then. Franco is not a very old man, but he is not very young. I agree with the fears expressed by the noble Viscount. If it happened that a small and violent minority obtained power in Spain, we might get there the situation that exists to-day in Syria, with the defensive line, the bulwark, "leap-frogged" by the Communists. That could happen in Spain unless we keep relations with General Franco on the friendliest possible basis; and, as a start, I feel that an invitation to join N.A.T.O., whether he accepted it or not, would be regarded as a friendly gesture. The noble Viscount spoke of bringing North Africa also into the comity of Western nations; and I believe he definitely had something there.
I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, for reminding the House of two events at the start of the rising and for his reference to the fact that much play is made of the assistance given by Italy and Germany during those three terrible years. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, probably has more direct and personal knowledge of the Civil War than 698 any noble Lord in this House, having taken part in it. It is quite clear—and this agrees with all the information I have heard on this subject—that the outside assistance was much greater on the Republican side.
If I may I will hark back again, for since these points have been mentioned I believe I am in order in trying to speak either for or against them. Without any question, the Spaniards resent foreign interference. They are a proud and rather poor people, an old civilisation. In the days of Philip II they were very powerful. One sees their resentment at foreign interference; but they welcome sympathy, and the sympathy they get will pay far better dividends than hostility. In his intervention the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, seemed to want to standardise democracy and to feel that what was considered democracy in one country should be considered democracy in others.
My Lords, I am not suggesting that Spain is a democracy nor in my Motion am I interested in that point. It is not part of the Motion. I am suggesting that it would be in the universal interest if Spain were a member of N.A.T.O. But since the noble Lord has taken me up I would suggest that when he reads Hansardto-morrow he will see that he gave the impression that what was considered democracy in one country should go for all other countries, whether Norway, Greece, France or any other. The noble Lord also spoke of the overthrow of the Franco régime, as though it was inevitable. I believe that that is doubtful. Liberalising influences are at work in Spain as progress is made. When little progress was being made at first a firmer grip was kept, but now that progress is being made the grip is much less strong, and in the Spanish Parliament to-day there is far freer discussion than there was ten or even five years ago. I am sure that those are the facts, and I believe that noble Lords on both sides of the House will agree that that is an excellent sign.
Finally, the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said that this Motion was a pity "at this time." I do 699 not quite know what is meant by "at this time", or what particular conditions exist to-day which make the Motion specifically inopportune, and perhaps the noble Viscount can tell me. I must admit that I cannot see what they are. The noble Viscount seemed also to advocate some kind of secrecy in our deliberations in this matter and referred to the Staff College at which he had lectured. I did the same, and I am also a graduate of the Staff College. I do not understand why there should be any secrecy over matters which appear in the Press, and nothing has been said to-day which is not within public knowledge or has not appeared in the Press. If the noble Viscount has not read of it, that is not my fault.
As was inevitable, sooner or later, the noble Viscount strayed on to the question of the Kremlin and the Vatican. That was bound to come. I am glad to say, however, that he has beside him on the Front Bench a noble Lord who can quickly put him right on matters of that kind; and in his brief intervention that noble Lord instructed him on one small point, saving me the trouble of having to do so. Finally the noble Viscount said, "We all want peace." That is accepted. Which of us in this House does not want peace? He followed that, however, by saying that "We want peace—not strategy" Does the noble Viscount seriously suggest that peace is less likely if proper defensive strategy is ignored? Obviously he does not and cannot say that. To say that "We all want peace" as soon as somebody speaks of airfields or strategy is merely to seek popularity.
My Lords, I had no idea, I may say, when I came to your Lordships' House to-day that I should receive the volume of support which I have received. Nevertheless, I shall withdraw my Resolution on this occasion. I thank the noble spokesman for his reply, his informative reply, and I do not think he has closed the door altogether. With that, my Lords, and with your leave, may I withdraw the Resolution?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No.
§ On Question (permission for leave to withdraw the said Motion having been refused), resolved in the negative; and Motion disagreed to accordingly.