§ 2.45 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday—by Lord Hastings—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, it is a very difficult situation for any Leader of an Opposition after an Election to rise to speak on the opening of a debate on the gracious Speech from the Throne. I am quite sure that the hearts of Members of the House opposite are so full of sympathy that, but for their joy on the great majority they have acquired on a narrow margin in the country, nothing would prevent them from coming to help me in my task. But when I look at the 39 facts concerning the newly elected Government which precede this gracious Speech from the Throne, I must say that I feel that, just as they "had it pretty lucky" about the price of imports in the last two years, so they have been fairly fortunate in this matter.
There are one or two things that I should like to say at the outset of my remarks to-day about those matters in the gracious Speech which deal with home affairs—if that would not be to the inconvenience of the House. Then I should like to turn to foreign affairs and Commonwealth matters because I understand that the noble Marquess who speaks for the Foreign Office will be winding up the debate. When I look at the facts of the Election and at the actual representation for Toryism which has been gained from it, I am reminded of the story which was told many, many years ago—I hope your Lordships will forgive me for going into the past, although the Prime Minister seemed to delve well into the past yesterday—of when Thomas Carlyle had as his guest over here Ralph Waldo Emerson. He took him one day to the Gallery of the House of Commons and it is said that after listening for a considerable time to the debate, Thomas Carlyle dug Emerson in the ribs and said to him: "Will ye no believe in the De'il the noo?" When I think of some of the circumstances of the Election—I am not going into all the details—I must say that that is how I think Emerson might feel if he were to come to Parliament to-day.
One thing in regard to home affairs which I think stands out a mile after this last Election is missing from the gracious Speech from the Throne. The Liberal Party might raise it from another angle, but I raise it from my own angle. It is that there ought to have been some reference to electoral reform. When I consider all the activities of the Institute of Directors, when I consider the hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on Election propaganda by industry before the Election, and when I remember that the Conservative Party is the only one of the great Parties in the State which does not publish accounts, then I think there is an urgent need for electoral reform. I just record my view and leave it there.
40 I turn now to the gracious Speech itself, and there are one or two things that I would point out. First there is the first paragraph after the intervening paragraphs with regard to the House of Commons, which saysMy Ministers will strive to maintain full employment, together with steady prices, a favourable balance of payments and a continuing improvement in the standards of living based on increasing production and a rising rate of investment.I must say that on their past performances the Government will have to work very hard, very urgently, and on a pretty wide basis to carry out the terms of that paragraph. Having regard to their past records in these matters I "ha'e ma doots". The balance of payments has been in jeopardy—as it were, in crisis—three times in the course of the last Parliament. There is a suggestion now that everything in the garden is quite wonderful—a very different situation. One can have hope and confidence, of course, but now and again the voices of those whom we might call financial technicians seem to raise doubts upon that confidence and hope. I look at only one or two sentences of the speech by the chairman of Barclays Bank, reported in last week's Financial Times and made to the Cotton Board at Harrogate. This quotation from his speech is from the Financial Times of October 19:The economic state of the nation is poised rather precariously between inflationary and deflationary forces which have produced an equilibrium, maintained by skilful monetary and fiscal management.…
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am very glad that the noble Lord cheers that. There is no doubt that, from the angle of the City, has been done pretty successfully. But Mr. Tuke goes on to say:I feel that our present Chancellor, in an otherwise admirable Budget last April, offered considerable hostages to fortune in providing for over £700 million of Government expenditure to be covered by borrowing.He is obviously anxious for people not to be so overfilled with confidence that they may have to be disappointed. We must wait and see how that turns out.
Or, if your Lordships will look to another authority, the leading article in that same paper, the Financial Times, this morning, which is headed "Highly 41 Provisional", you will see what they have to say of the basis upon which estimates are made by the Treasury—civil servants—as to what the balance of payments actually is at a given time. Your Lordships will see there how false hopes may easily be raised in the minds of citizens or investors or even professional dealers upon the Stock Exchange, by figures which are published from time to time and which have afterwards to be drastically revised. I believe, therefore, that we should look at the present position with a great deal of caution. Moreover, considering how our own programme at the Election was attacked by representatives of the Conservative Party on the basis that the country could not afford what we proposed, it has been most interesting to study the operations on the stock markets of this country since October 9. My noble friend Lord Stonham has a Question down for to-morrow I believe, pointing out that on October 9 alone the capital value of stocks rose by £800 million in one day.
Noble Lords who look at the general record of the Stock Exchange indices can easily cast their minds back a matter of eighteen or twenty months to the time when that daily index was about 162, and see that in the last few months, and especially in the last few weeks, it has gone up to a figure without any precedent at all—to something about 295 to 296. Some people may argue one way or the other as to whether that particular state of affairs is likely to lead to deflation or inflation. One can only recall one's own experience. As a member of the Government of 1929–31 I recall the details on finance that one had to observe and study at that time, and my own view of conditions in the City of London to-day is that they are not so far removed from the conditions in Wall Street in 1929. I remember that only a few months before the smash there President Hoover had expressed every confidence that everything was going to be all right. The future looked wonderful and fine; but it was not so. And why?—because it transpired that far too much of the finance of the country had become based upon what we in this country sometimes call the "Never-never". The enormous amount of goods which had been sold in the United States on hire-purchase was one 42 of the main factors of that crisis in 1929 which had such great repercussions upon ourselves in this country.
Her Majesty's Government have made a good deal of play with the improvement in the index of production in the last few months only. The study by the experts of that improvement in production seems to show that a very large part of it is due to the removal of certain restrictions which the Government imposed upon lending, and especially upon hire-purchase. Undoubtedly a great deal of the improvement in employment in the last few months has been due to the very rapid as well as very wide expansion of sales on the hire-purchase system I think it is just as well for us to remember those comparisons between the United States of America and our position at the present time. Whether or not we, as individuals, think that what is going on at the present time is likely to be deflationary or inflationary, I would suggest that the activities of the tycoons on the Stock Exchange to-day indicate a very unhealthy position of Stock Exchange dealing. Perhaps Mr. Tuke had that in mind when speaking those very few and guarded words on October 17 in Harrogate.
I believe, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government have to be exceedingly careful when they deal with these promises which are included in the paragraph which I have mentioned. Certainly during the last seven and a half years, and until a few months ago, there was nothing but a steady decline, to practical stagnation, in what had been formerly the steady expansion of production; and when we consider the effect of the loss during the lifetime of the last Parliament of £328 million over Suez, or the enormous increase in the burden of interest upon the Floating Debt of the Treasury, and also the consequences of the closing down of lending by the Public Works Loan Board in cost to local authorities and ratepayers, then I hold the view that we could easily have arranged our finances quite differently yet still have covered quite easily in this country the programme which we submitted to the nation. But the nation has been deceived upon that matter.
Then let me say, on the next paragraph on the gracious Speech on home affairs, that I am sure that noble Lords in all parts of 43 your Lordships' House will welcome the decision of Her Majesty's Government to appoint a special Cabinet Minister to co-ordinate and promote "development in research and other scientific activity." This is not really a new kind of vocation for a Minister. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when he was Lord President of the Council, had a special charge laid upon him at that time. I believe that, in spite of our political controversies, we shall all wish the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, well in this new venture if it is to be carried on more vigorously than it has been in the past.
I should like to say a word upon the promise of a Bill—we need not say too much, because I gather that we shall have the Bill at a very early stage; possibly it will be in the Printed Paper Office to-night—with regard to the Distribution of Industry Acts amendment. I welcome the fast that a Bill is to be introduced. What I deplore is that while the Government had powers on the Statute Book under two previous Acts of Parliament those powers were not properly used by any means in the difficulty that arose through, apparently, rapidly expanding unemployment in the course of 1958. The steps then taken under the existing powers were both too late and too little.
I have not the date of the letter in my mind, but I would direct the Scottish Peers' attention a letter which I think appeared in a Scottish paper under the signature of Lord Polwarth at the end of June, in which he expressed the view that it would seem that the Secretary of State for Scotland, for example, did not grasp the real principles which were involved in the unemployment problem of underproduction in Scotland. I hope very much that the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, who is always welcome here as a speaker, will perhaps come to your Lordships' House at some time and give us his further views upon it. In the meantime, if the Government bring in the kind of Bill that we hope for, and if it is then prosecuted not only to deal with unemployment as it arises but, as I seem to hope from some wording that has been used, to try to anticipate in certain areas what should be done, then we shall be very happy.
On the other hand, I deplore, with my Leader in another place, that there is no 44 mention at all in the gracious Speech from the Throne about the plight of that great basic industry of coal—none at all. I wonder why that is. We know that there has been a change in the office of Minister of Power; but the fact is, so far as I can gather, that although already a number of pits have been closed, we still have over 50 million tons of coal lying in stacks, not sold, and a proposal is now being discussed that over the next few years an additional 200 pits will be closed. I hope that the Conservative ideas upon how to treat redundancy in industry—in industries that sometimes could have been kept alive and economic by Government action—will improve and that some proper provision will be made, both for finding other occupations which are satisfactory to those who are displaced and for providing a proper compensation for those who are unable to proceed to other industry. I think that that is particularly important.
We should also like to know at some time—maybe during the reply to-morrow; I do not think it is fair to expect the noble Earl to reply straight away—what proposals the Government may have in mind for dealing with the shortage of steel, especially the sheet steel of the kind which is so specially necessary in promoting the export programme of the motor industry—a vital part of our export position.
The paragraph dealing with transport is, I think, of great importance. It says a good deal in the paragraph, but we are not greatly impressed by the record of the Government on transport in the last five years. However, I shall say no more about it to-day because we already have down for next Wednesday, as soon as we have ended the debate on the gracious Speech, a Motion dealing with transport, and we can go into that subject in more detail then.
With regard to the working of the Companies Act, which is to come under review, I am always interested to see the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in his place when we talk about Companies Acts, because he knows probably more about the technical details of the legislation than anyone else. He and I, and Tom Johnston and "Josh" Wedgwood, had a four months' Standing Committee on this particular subject in 1929, and perhaps we all learnt a great deal. But there is 45 one thing I very much hope will happen when we come to discuss the Companies Act, apart from all the things raised during the Election; that is, that with the tendency, and indeed pressure, of Conservatives to try to introduce more of industry's equities and stocks for investment by the working class the Government will so revise the requirements for published balance sheets that an ordinary working man with an ordinary education will be able to understand them and decide for himself whether the business is sound or not, and if he is not quite sure then, then he can ask for professional guidance and assistance. Because of the manner in which company balance sheets are published, with only just a profit and loss account and a balance sheet of assets and liabilities, it is quite impossible for the ordinary man—and I gather you want him to become an investor—to be sure of what he is doing.
I reminded the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, of the previous discussions because he and I argued a great deal about that in 1929. But it could easily be arranged for balance sheets to be at least comparable with those of a great industrial and provident society like the Co-operative Wholesale Society, which give details so that he who runs may read. There is no dubiety about them and they are required by law. They are required by the dictates of the Registrar of Friendly Societies under the Statute which he administers; and that ought to be done in the case of companies. I cannot understand why the Government have left this matter until now.
In 1954 the question of take-over bids and the like was raised in the House of Commons by Mr. Jenkins, and on that occasion the speaker for the Treasury said that it was quite unnecessary thus to interfere with private enterprise. The matter was raised again in the Commons in 1956. Again the Treasury thought there was no reason for any action to be taken. We raised it here in the House of Lords last March. We were given an answer for the Treasury by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. He gave us the same reply—it was really no answer at all. Then as recently as the first week in July a Motion of the nature of a vote of censure was moved in the other place on the same subject; and still the answer by the Treasury, given I think 46 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, was that there was no need to interfere with that sort of thing at all.
I come back to the Financial Times, because it is a very good paper to consult upon these matters. I am always an interested reader of Harold Wincott. I read with interest this week his rather fantastic Fleet Street fable—some truth, a lot of untruth and a lot of nonsense, but it was very interesting and very amusing reading. I looked at him before, on July 7, on the subject of takeover bids. Listen to this quotation from the Financial Times:… time after time have we argued that the economic justification for a take-over bid lies in the fact that the assets of the company being taken over have not been fully or properly employed; that the management concerned had become sleepy and apathetic. How, then, do we justify as a general proposition the payment of large sums of money as tax-free compensation to those who implicitly have not done a good job, thus quite possibly putting them in a more favourable position than the people who will have to work twice as hard to make good past errors of omission or commission? Once upon a time"—continues Mr. Wincott—we shot people who made mistakes. Now we encourage the others—or do we?—by paying out, say, £50,000 a go when their mistakes have caught up with them.That is a pretty strong comment from the Financial Times.
But, of course, there is not only that particular side of the matter. That could be adjusted in some respects by a simple limitation in the Companies Act, and by adequate taxation of those huge sums as they are paid out: but I hope that when the Government come to revise the Companies Act they will not forget but will be able to take note of what has been happening in recent months. We shall be coming to this matter separately, so I will not go into details to-day. Similarly in regard to agriculture. We shall be putting on the Paper a Motion on that subject soon, and I need not comment on that.
The paragraph with regard to social welfare interests me very much. We shall be dealing in debates, I hope before Christmas, with a number of matters there arising, but to-day I do wish to say this: that in the light of the vaunted prosperity of the country, and of the happenings that I referred to in the investment market in this country, I hope something more definite will be done for 47 the aged people than is spoken of in the gracious Speech. It is true that it is proposed to give them some increase, by adjusting the allowances in the case of those who still go to work—that is to say, that section, that minority, of them who are still able-bodied enough to go out to work. But there is no reason whatsoever, so far as I can see, if the reports of the Government Departments about the prosperity of the country at large are correct, why there should not be an immediate and direct increase—and a substantial increase—in the payment to the old-age pensioners. The paragraph dealing with the needs of youth is another matter to which we shall hope to come back in due course in a Motion before the House. I think the same may also be said of the parts of the gracious Speech which deal with penal reform and other matters.
Now, my Lords, I turn for a few minutes to that part of the gracious Speech with which many Members of the House will be concerned during the remainder of the debate to-day. We welcome very much indeed the statement that the Governmentwill work in the closest collaboration with the Governments of the Commonwealth in all matters which contribute to peace …We welcome very much the reference to the forthcoming creation of Dominion status for the great country of Nigeria. As in the case of Ghana, we are glad to see that the Government have built upon the foundations laid by a Labour Government. It is a good thing when, in a matter of common interest, both Parties in the House, when in office, are largely agreed upon what is required. With regard to the Commonwealth Education Conference promises are made in the gracious Speech of legislation and we must examine that legislation when it comes.
The gracious Speech goes on to refer to the Government's intention tocontinue to work for the improvement of relations between East and West,and says that the Governmentwill use all their efforts to this end.Of course, for ourselves—and, in spite of the appeal by the Daily Telegraph this morning, I will use the term—we should like to see a Summit Conference as early as possible. We are very sorry that 48 these delays have taken place. It was a pity, perhaps, that the Prime Minister, in the course of the General Election, should have been so confident in his appeal to the country on the matter that there was to be a date fixed in a very few days—and he said that in September. We hope that the visit to this country next year of the President of France and his wife will be a happy one for them and will also contribute to the discussions which are going on in the meantime. I wish all parties concerned in this matter the best possible success that they can gain. For myself, I am sorry that the Government did not, perhaps, respond quite as quickly and as readily as we should have liked to what will become the historic offer by Mr. Khrushchev to discuss total disarmament. However, this has now gone along much more satisfactorily, as there is now agreement—and I am glad to see it—between the United States Government and Mr. Khrushchev as to the procedure which should be followed in that matter, and I hope something really good will come out of it.
"The improvement of conditions of life in the less developed countries of the world," the gracious Speech says, will remain an urgent concern of Her Majesty's Government. I wish we could do rather more than we are doing, if our prosperity is as great as it is claimed to be. I thought that the appeal that I listened to last Saturday night, on United Nations Day, by the Foreign Secretary in regard to the International Refugee Fund was not very reassuring. Perhaps we could have a repetition by the noble Earl who leads the House of what is now the actual contribution that Her Majesty's Government are going to make to that Fund, and also what kind of a response they expect. I understood from the Foreign Secretary's broadcast that up to the present time the national subscription from voluntary contributors is about £300,000. If so, in contrast to what some other countries are doing, that does not seem to be very adequate for the purpose.
In regard to the general aid which is being given under such bodies as the Colombo Conference, S.E.A.T.O., and the like, I hope that, if we are able to do it, opportunity will be taken to do more than we have done so far, for the 49 rehabilitation of the economic and production resources of some of these countries. Obviously a great deal of gratitude exists in the minds of those who have been beneficiaries under the Colombo Plan, and there have been further extensions of some of the decisions by S.E.A.T.O. I hope very much that, in the light of the announcement by the representative of the United States at the G.A.T.T. Conference in Japan the other day, we shall be really on our toes and alert to the situation. It has always been clear to us that the United States of America have been very generous in the past in this matter; but it must be remembered that, although they have a normal balance of payments as between their actual imports and exports, to get to that level they have to exclude all the money they 'have been giving overseas, either for economic help or for help in providing defence for the free world in those regions; and that, if that is to be done in the future, it can be done only if it is translated into orders upon American production. I hope that when they come to deal with this particular paragraph the Government ill keep these matters in mind.
I think that the position of international relations in the world at large presents us with considerable difficulties. The pity is that we have not made all the progress we wanted to towards banning the nuclear weapon. Probably we made a false move when we made such an enormous change in our defensive plans as to place most reliance on what is called "the ultimate deterrent". Since then, of course, we have agreed that tests should be abandoned, and it seems from the latest announcement of the Government that progress has been made in that direction, although I do not suppose that the matter can be said yet to have been actually finalised. But that certainly raises a considerable difficulty for many people. I hope that we may hear from the noble Marquess as to the present situation on this matter, and what progress the Government hope to make in that direction.
In other parts of the world, the events which are building up seem to me to be a deterioration. I hope that noble Lords opposite will not be too offended with me if I say that a good many of the results of the expedition to Suez in 1956 50 are now coming home to roost in the Middle East, where the position is very uncertain. The position in Iraq to-day, I should say, arises almost directly from loss of confidence in Britain after the Suez adventure and the fact that revolutionary components of the Iraqi people took the opportunity to do away with those who maintained a constant friendship with this country. The ultimate results of that in other parts of the Middle East have been far-reaching. I think that to-day Nasser is in a stronger position than he has been at any time. Big mistakes have been made. The United States made a great mistake in not capitalising the building of the Aswan Dam. Instead, Russia is doing it. Instead of having a friendly country and a well-armed member of the Baghdad Pact in Iraq, we have continual upheaval, largely under Communist direction, and the Communists have been able to establish themselves in places like Iraq, as well as in Syria, without even a threat to use arms. Perhaps this situation in the Middle East will look a little clearer when we have learned the results of the coming General Election in Israel and hear a little more about the condition of Colonel Nassim. There seem to be a good many rumours flying about. It is a very uncertain position indeed.
Nor do we find much to hearten us about the situation farther East. It is exceedingly difficult now for anyone who really had at heart the idea of getting the admission of the Communist Chinese Government into the United Nations to pursue that aim. I cannot help feeling in my heart that a good deal of the probing she is now doing in Tibet and within Indian boundaries is one of the methods China intends to continue, because she is not given a proper place in the great assembly of nations. Of course, it is difficult for any Foreign Office who have to deal with such a matter to have to deal with the view of the United States of America, but I hope that to this difficult and dangerous situation some solution may come. I am convinced in my own mind that a nation of her power—a power which drew Mr. Khrushchev to make a special visit to China after his interview with Mr. President Eisenhower—will, in days to come, have a much bigger say in the affairs of the world than any of us imagine at present. 51 She is a very powerful nation indeed. I hope that, whatever we do, we shall do our best to get the Chinese into the right mood for trying to find some way by which they are brought into the councils of the nations of the world as a whole.
The gracious Speech refers to the question of defence. Perhaps I may leave that subject for discussion when we come to the usual submission of the Defence White Paper, but I am bound to say to-day that the hopes are expressed in the gracious Speech that the defence forces will be able to contribute to the maintenance of peace are not quite so fruitful-looking as I think they would have been in, say, 1950, when we had ample conventional forces at our disposal. We cannot view the "ultimate deterrent" as being within this class of defensive, and when we come to examine the White Paper on Defence I think that we shall be able to show that clearly.
With regard to the Commonwealth, I think it is a pity that we should leave the main debate without its being said from the Opposition, although it has been already said elsewhere, that the Comonwealth has been greatly helped by the activities of the Royal Household, from Her Majesty the Queen downwards, in the last year; and I am sure that all members of the Commonwealth appreciate that to the full. Especially noteworthy was Her Majesty's invitation to Dr. Nkrumah, of Ghana, our first great African Dominion, to come to see her in Scotland. I hope that the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Philip will be a great advantage to any negotiations that may be going on at the time. All members of the Royal Family have helped a great deal in this respect, and we are grateful to them.
When we come to look at the colonial aspect of the situation, we are far less happy. In the case of Cyprus, we had hoped that the London Agreement had settled finally any question of violence; but apparently it has not. I was rather grieved to see the lightness with which the Prime Minister dealt with Cyprus during the Election, when he said, in reply to an elector who asked, "Why do they hold Cyprus against us?"'It was nothing but a row between the Greeks and the Turks, and we settled it.52 What an amazing picture that is of the Cyprus position! In 1954 the assumed attitude of the Government was that on no account could there be independence. Agitation went on and on; killing started, and it all ended in the London Agreement, after we had the recall of Archbishop Makarios from his exile and a large number of killings on both sides. Then the whole of this dreadful position ends with the statement made by the Prime Minister in another place yesterday, thatWe welcome the setting up of a republic for Cyprus.To talk about all that as being a quarrel between Greeks and Turks", and to say that "we settled it," is surely a complete travesty of the facts. Nevertheless, we wish the new rulers-to-be of Cyprus the greatest possible success. We hope that the constituents who were leading in the recent troubles will see the benefit of getting a united state in Cyprus. I am certain that if they choose—and it must be an absolutely free choice for them—to remain within the Commonwealth, it will be good for them as well as for us, and I hope that something in that direction can come.
In Africa, the events that are going to take place there will be vital to this Government, to the nation and to the people of the world. We on this side of the House are gravely concerned as to how matters have gone so far in regard to the Central African Federation. We are asked for co-operative effort. The Government will have to go a long way to persuade us what co-operative effort we can make in the light of the existing circumstances—unless they can be changed. However, as we propose to put down an Amendment to the Address on this subject next Tuesday, I do not propose to comment upon it further today, but will reserve that for the moving of that Amendment.
I can say, looking at the gracious Speech as a whole, that there are some parts of it which can be brought to a useful and fruitful end; and, in so far as they have been voted on by the electorate, and they are made fully operative, as promised in the Tory manifesto, I am sure that my colleagues on this side of the House will not be inclined to be controversial and will support legislation which is good for the country and for the people. But if the 53 promises are not fulfilled, and if any parts of the legislation appear to be not in the best interests of the country, then you must understand that we shall not be backward in what we have to do.
One thing I would say, in view of the many attacks that have been made on my Party, and also the many suggestions of people outside—journalist, lawyers and all sorts of people, including one or two of our own members—with regard to the future of my Party and what we should do, is that I have very firm views about this. I do not know yet what all the other people's views are, but I know which way we shall go. I have been in my Party for fifty years, and have seen them struggle and struggle; and most of the legislation of a socialist character has had to be wrung out of capitalist employers by the organised labour and trade union Party. There is not going to be any end to that campaign—that is quite certain. You cannot regard the votes of 12¼ million people with Socialist views as being a small matter. The position as between the Parties is so narrow as not to justify a balance of 100 seats in a representative House.
What we do and suffer is in moments, but the cause of right for which we labour never dies. It works in long periods; it can afford many checks, and (I am sure the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, would agree with this: it is what he said before the Election, when he was talking in Norway) gains by our defeats, and will know how to compensate our extremest sacrifices. In that spirit we are dedicated to pursue the task of the new co-operative commonwealth which will one day emerge in this country for moral organisations.
§ 3.33 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure all noble Lords appreciate the particular difficulty of addressing your Lordships' House on this matter of the gracious Speech, because so little notice is given that one has to put in a great deal of study in a very short time; one would rather speak a week later—and no doubt the House would rather hear what one has to say a week later. In making such preparation as I could for my few remarks to-day I find that I have modelled my opening very much on the same lines as the noble Viscount who has just spoken.
At the beginning of a new Parliament a grave responsibility is imposed, not 54 only upon the newly elected Government but also upon those whose duty it is to put the point of view of the electors who have not voted in support of that Government. While this Government are indeed to be congratulated on the remarkable achievement of being returned three times running, with a substantial majority in the elected Chamber, the task of us on this side—whether (the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition will forgive me) of the sunset of Socialism or of the rather delayed sunrise again of democratic radicalism—is rendered a little difficult by the fact that the Conservative Government have attracted only about one-third of the available votes in the country and less than one-half of the votes which were actually recorded. The noble Earl, Lord Winterton, put forward a mathematical formula which perhaps is not totally accurate, though I think it is much more accurate than one he put forward when he pulled me up two or three years ago. When I talked about 100,000 liberal-minded people in this country he rose to his feet to say that there were not 100,000 liberal-minded people in the world. However, he is a figure that we all regard with esteem and admiration, and we can gladly accept his faulty arithmetic, particularly now that he has come out of that difficult oasis in which he was between political paternity in another place and political second childhood here.
I have claimed before now (and admit that it is a claim that has not always gone down well with my colleagues) that in a democratic country the duty of an Opposition is not necessarily to oppose—and that was a theme mentioned by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition. I should like to assure the noble Earl the Leader of the House that in this part of the House, sitting in opposition to the Government, we consider it—or I consider it—our duty to support the democratically elected Government whenever we can, even though the Election is not carried out in the way in which we should like it to be, and we propose to differ and be difficult only if some real question of principle comes up in which we feel we must take active opposing views.
My first criticism, therefore, of the general theme or the gracious Speech—and I am not going into the particulars 55 of it—as an outline of a programme is, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said at the beginning of his speech, that it leaves out entirely any mention of some reform of the electoral system. It seems that the Government (I think the noble Viscount, the Lord Privy Seal, said this not long ago) are content to take what I call the short view: that unfair rules which may be in operation cannot be altered during the game. It seems to me that when the winning side takes that point of view it is not quite fair. We are not now in the middle of the game, and I suggest that in the interests of justice we should look ahead and formulate some sort of electoral system—and I do not necessarily mean proportional representation, about which so many people say in ignorance, "Look at France", when France has nothing to do with any form of proportional representation that we want—which would not necessarily commit this country to the extremes of Conservatism to-day and inevitably to the extremes of Socialism and further nationalisation, to-morrow, particularly as the recent General Election has clearly shown that neither of these choices is generally acceptable to this country as a whole.
I suggest that there is not only the grave responsibility on any Government to ensure that the country is well governed, but the further grave responsibility of looking further ahead than to their own term of office, and to ensure that when they do hand over the reins of government, as all Governments must, the Government which succeeds them shall be truly representative and desired by the people of the country. Otherwise we are bound to have chaos. If the political constitution remains as it is now, and the programmes remain the same, one can fairly say that it is the Conservative Party who are making certain that we shall have more nationalisation fairly soon, in the next few years.
I think that in the general programme set out in the gracious Speech there is, unfortunately, a lack of any great initiative. Most of the points which are made in it come from concessions to measures brought up by noble Lords on my left and their Party, and by the Party to which I belong. They do not strike any very new note, beyond giving in to what 56 has always been wanted by the more Left-Wing Parties—and, indeed, to the young people of this country, who at a much earlier age than any age hitherto are taking over positions of serious responsibility. I believe that every political Party must bear that fact well in mind: that it is the young who are going to count much earlier than they have done hitherto.
The prospects in general to-day for the young are exciting, promising and immense. Therefore I should have thought that a vital and inspiring programme was essential. But here is a programme of rather feeble vitality, of dragging feet, I should say, and a reluctant concession to a minimum of the radical and progressive measures which have largely come from this side of the House. Your Lordships may remember that the mover of the humble Address, in his excellent speech, spoke of the necessity to measure up to the great tasks which should be faced with enthusiasm and enterprise. I cannot help feeling that the Government's programme, as outlined in the gracious Speech, does not measure up in any great degree.
I do not propose, like the noble Viscount, to take the gracious Speech in detail, but there are one or two points upon which I wish to touch: others will be mentioned by the many other noble Lords who are going to speak. In point of place, the matter of France is mentioned early in the Speech—in a very non-committal sentence saying that we shall welcome the President of France and his wife, as indeed we shall. But is there not a great gap in the information which the Government must have about our relationship with our old and great and, I should say, favourite Ally? What are we doing about French affairs? What is our line on their very difficult troubles, their most delicate position and the tremendous problem that they now have in Algeria? It is not unrelated to other problems in the world, and, I suspect, is much more closely related than we should care to think.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, pointed out that it is in Central Africa that we are going to face immense troubles of immense difficulty. I think that they will be matched by the great troubles which are to be 57 faced in Algeria, and we should like to hear from the Ministers of the Government as to what France has arranged with America or Russia. What have we arranged with France? Are we going in step with her? When it is a question of the Summit, are we going to take her views well into account? Because the Summit, to be successful, cannot possibly omit France and Germany. The views of others than the biggest Powers must be dealt with. I suggest we look at France, at the moment in the hands of a great Frenchman, whatever we think of his policies (and I shall not comment on those), with patience and give her support and not criticism during the very difficult time she is going through.
I was going to say a few words about the immensely important question of Central Africa, but in view of the fact that noble Lords on my left have put an Amendment down to be dealt with on Tuesday next, I do not propose now to go into that. I support the general line taken by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition. What is to be the composition of this Advisory Commission? Can we not come to some definite concrete agreement about that? It seems to be obvious that there is a direct clash of opinion between the Government and, presumably, the Federal Government and, presumably, Nyasaland, and certainly Her Majesty's official Opposition and the Liberal Opposition. It seems to be a matter of obstinacy: people are quite unwilling to compromise; and prospects are impaired on all sides. I believe that we must get together and find out exactly what is meant to be done, and must give way, to some extent, to those people whose opinion is not marching in step with our own. What is particularly important, of course, is to know who are to be the African representatives, or if there are to be African representatives. As the noble Viscount has said, it is most important that those in prison, whether properly or improperly, should at least be taken into account when the Commission is considering its decision. Dr. Banda, as we know, is thought of extremely highly in many quarters and not so highly in others. It would seem to me most improper to go forward without at least interviewing Dr. Banda and getting his opinion, and seeing 58 what he, for one, is suggesting as a solution of this very difficult problem.
Another point on which I find there is too little said is the question of a Summit. Indeed, it is hardly mentioned in the gracious Speech. The phrase:My Government will continue to work for the improvement of relations between East and West and will use all their efforts to this endseems to me, with respect, very much a bromide; because if they had not proposed to follow that course of action I do not suppose they would have been returned to power. The Summit is extremely important, and yet not a thing is said about it. We do not even know the views of the Government on the Summit. What are the Government's aims? What leadership are they going to give? Do they consider that a Summit is an end in itself, or is it the beginning of something new? I think most of us would agree with the words of the Prime Minister when he indicated that the Summit was only a start and something which was to lead to something else. It seems to me—I do not know—that it is the bureaucrats and the opposers of it who are behaving in a way as if the Summit were a vital point beyond which war or peace immediately lies. Surely the Summit, as it is intended to be, should be a mutual arrangement. We cannot leave out France or Germany, and we must get together with the other two big countries, particularly now, when the atmosphere is so totally different from what it was only a few years ago.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, mentioned China. This is a pet subject of a colleague of mine on these Benches who is not here to-day. But the very fact that China is going to be a tremendous power of the future must, of course, have a psychological effect upon the Soviet Republic. I think it is quite obvious from the attitude which they are now taking that, in a sense, the ice is thawing, things are easier; and we ought to take the opportunity of meeting them in this atmosphere of easier negotiations which have no doubt come about. We have to risk an element of sincerity in the other side, even if we have been disillusioned in the past, because only hope and optimism can see us through this thing. It is a most desperately dangerous period, and though we may be 59 again disillusioned I think we may regard that as a set-back, and not stark tragedy.
There is one subject—a favourite of mine—upon which I should like to touch for a moment, and that is how to explain ourselves to the peoples of the world, who think that we are wicked capitalists who are grasping and trying to get hold of them and all their possessions. How are we to put them right about this? For hundreds of years, of course, the method of putting this right is to over-run these people and subjugate them, and explain to them exactly what we are. However, this is not now possible or desirable. We can no longer stay in the nineteenth century. As has been proved by the great leaders of religion, it is the word which is greater than the sword. I would remind the Government again that we are lagging behind tremendously in the amount which we spend on propaganda—on the B.B.C. Overseas Service, and on the infinite number of ways of getting across to these people in the Middle East and Far East. There are little radios in every village from which they are hearing vilifications of this country. Cannot we consider spending vastly more money on this type of propaganda?
In conclusion, I would ask Her Majesty's Government to remember that, like the Opposition, they have their "lunatic fringe" but should avoid being influenced by it. The wild rebels against all tradition and convention, who used to flock to the Liberal Party and then went further to the Left, are still with us; but they are not representative. Similarly, the wild contemporary inhabitants to-day of the nineteenth century, still, I believe, exist on the fringes of the Tory Party. But I am sure they are not the backbone of that Party, and will not be treated as such. We of all three political Parties have far more in common than the acrimonies of a General Election would suggest. We all want the prosperity not only of this country but of all countries who will co-operate towards peace and progress. That is why I ask the Government today to throw overboard a rather nervous, negative and static programme, and come out with a more radical progressive agenda of real leadership which the people of the country—and especially 60 the young, who are so important and who will so soon be in the saddle—will welcome and support.
§ 3.50 p.m.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, as the noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, have reminded us, since this House last met in July both the Opposition and the Government have been through one of those ordeals which democracy requires of its servants, namely, a General Election. The politicians and the policies have been paraded before the people in unexampled detail, and the people have given their verdict. The policies and the politicians have been in the last few weeks dissected or, perhaps more accurately, vivisected by the critics who now tell us the right road on which we should proceed with the same confidence as they forecast the wrong result just before the Election. The postmortems are being conducted with enthusiasm. There is one casualty over which I think none of us will shed many tears, and that is the humorous way in which the public combined to kill the Gallup Polls.
If the noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, are now complaining about the electoral system and saying that the Government is elected on a minority vote, I cannot complain. They have both been good losers. It is a point to make and it is a consistent point, as made by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and the Liberal Party. But I am bound to say that when the noble Viscount and his friends were returned in 1945 with a majority, I think, of 180 or something like that, on a minority vote, I do not remember their using that argument, so perhaps we might leave it there and call it quits, at any rate for the moment.
My Lords, if the Government Front Bench looks much the same as it did last July, I hope your Lordships will feel that that reflects the decision of the people and their confidence in the Government as a team and as a Government which will continue to show results. If the Opposition Front Bench does not look quite the same, then the noble Viscount may be a little sad; but we on this side at least can view the 61 matter with complacency because what we lose on the roundabouts we gain on the swings—noble Lords will forgive me if the language of the circus came too readily to mind. I am personally sad that I have lost my shadow in the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I have seen, and of course we have all seen, people change Parties before. They usually go via the Cross Benches and Independent, and then on. The noble Lord has gone from right to left against all the natural laws—of the sun, the clock or, if noble Lords prefer it, the port. I have made some inquiries and I would assure the noble Lord of this: that if he finds himself uncomfortable on those Benches he can conic round this way, behind the Woolsack, and he need not in the process become a Bishop.
Whatever the Party mathematicians may compute, and perhaps we are all too pre-occupied with the fate of Parties, at least there is in the result of the General Election something which I believe will give universal satisfaction, and that is the emergence of the British Parliament not only unscathed but with its authority enhanced by reason of the public and sober example of the working of a free democracy which the world has seen in the last few months and weeks. We have shown to the world that in Britain in this essential matter of democracy we can practise what we preach. I am confident, too, that the decisive finding of the electors will enable the Government to speak in the councils of the world with added authority and influence, to speak for the nation, and to speak at a time of decision in international affairs.
Both the noble Viscount and the noble Lord have said in so many words that the gracious Speech does not contain anything very novel or very exciting. But, of course, the General Election found the Government pursuing a policy which had clear objectives: the objective of full employment, expanding production and productivity, and an economy in which the pound sterling should hold its value. In a certain sense the measures in the gracious Speech are a continuation of those policies, policies which I suggest have been proved but which are still capable of improvement. The noble Viscount called attention in particular to the question of employment and our objective of full employment, 62 and of course I agree with him that no one can be complacent who has memories of the 'thirties or has the knowledge that we all have of how vulnerable this island is and how susceptible to world conditions. But I think we are justified in saying that to have achieved an overall average of something like 2 per cent. of unemployed in the last years is an achievement of which the nation may be proud, and this was done, I would remind your Lordships, in the face of a very serious recession in the United States of which we were largely able to weather the consequences. For that achievement everybody in the country can claim some credit.
I think we can take some hope too—and I shall quote a few figures at a later stage in my speech—from the fact that in the last: year and in recent months our prices in world markets have proved to be competitive, which gives us confidence in the future if we manage ourselves well. But there is a problem, and it is a very serious problem, to which my noble friend Lord Aberdare called particular attention in his speech yesterday which we enjoyed so much. There are areas in the country where unemployment persists at a much higher level than the national average, and there are industries in the country, in a difficult position, as the noble Viscount pointed out in the case of coal, where in certain parts of the United Kingdom and in particular in Scotland a large number of coal pits under the plan of the Coal Board are to be closed down. Therefore the Government have felt for a time now that the time is ripe for an amendment of the Distribution of industry Act.
I think we must be clear on this, and we all know it to be true: that no Government, not even a Government of all the Socialist planners rolled into one, could possibly dictate and direct industry into areas where it cannot operate economically; it is not possible and could not be in the national interest. But what we can do and what I hope will be done under this new Bill is by inducement to persuade industry and to attract industry into areas in the United Kingdom where we should like to see it—to induce industries to go by making sites readily available, by building advance factories and by showing them 63 that there is good skilled labour ready in the district. The Bill is ready (the noble Viscount was right); it will be introduced very shortly, and I very much hope that this House will help to make it adequate for its purpose and effective in action, which was the noble Viscount's appeal.
My Lords, if the wealth and stature of Britain are to expand—and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, touched upon this subject and invited me to expand on it a little—then we must equip the young to meet the intellectual and physical and moral challenge of the time. That is why, although it does not go into great detail, the gracious Speech emphasises the need for the nation to apply its mind to increasing scientific research and to organising it in the best way, and the need to bring every feature of technical education within reach of the young people of our country, who are the workers, the engineers, the inventors and the skilled population on whom we shall rely to earn our wealth. The young people must be equipped to equal the "go-getter" in the United States of America, the young Russian with his nearly dedicated approach to science and to engineering and technological matters, or the young Asian who is showing the aptitude both to imitate and to improve the techniques which he learned in earlier days from Europe. So, although it is perhaps concealed in the gracious Speech, I think the noble Lord, Lord Rea, will find that in this field of education the expansion which is contemplated for the universities and the technical colleges is one which will strain our resources, but which nevertheless must be made, because our life and prosperity in the future depends upon equipping our people with the best scientific and technical knowledge.
But education—here the noble Lord is right, and all of us feel this—must look beyond technology, and the education of the young must always be much more than that. Society as a whole has a duty to each new generation. It is useless for us to shut our eyes to the fact that there is a moral problem here to which the nation must pay attention—the weekly crime sheets tell the tale all too clearly, and the nation cannot just look the other way. My noble friend Lord Hastings, in one of the most vivid and 64 telling passages of his remarkable speech to us yesterday, gave us a lead in the process of constructive and imaginative thinking which must be done if we are to find, and if this House is to help to find, the right answer to this problem. Your Lordships will remember that he analysed and gave illustrations of some of the great figures of the past who have helped to build our society. He analysed the values which he thought were at the foundation of the strength of our social order and political stability in this country, and he named them (I am paraphrasing what he said) as the guidance and discipline of the Christian religion, the loyalty which is inspired by family life, and the duty to the community which is learned when a boy or a girl goes to school and begins to mix among his fellows.
I myself do not find it surprising, when in the first half of this century hate and destruction have been let loose, when life has been cheap and personality overlaid, that standards should be cheapened too, and values blurred in the eyes of the young. But if it is true that, at this present time even, values are in ferment, nevertheless it is equally true that there has never been such an opportunity for profit and satisfaction in work, and never such an opportunity for a full and happy life if leisure is well used. The State can never be a universal governess—it must never try to be that; but we must try to find ways and means to give to these young people the opportunity to employ their boundless energies, not on being angry with each other and angry with society, but in service to the nation, which they can find equally exciting and equally adventurous if we enable them to give it.
My Lords, on the home front the gracious Speech presents what I would say is the first instalment of action for the benefit of the whole nation. The Prime Minister used that phrase very soon after the victory in the General Election was announced—that he wished to use the Government's mandate to create one nation. From our side of the House the principle on which we shall work is that of giving equal opportunity—very different, I would remind your Lordships, from uniformity; and by basing our action on a belief from which we on this side of the House have never wavered, that the function of government in Britain 65 is to release the initiative, enterprise and skill of the people. In proportion as we do that, then the wealth and the stature of Britain will grow. I hope, then, that the mandate which we have will enable us to do that, and more.
In some respects, our policy may have fallen short of some of the highest hopes of the electors and of the standards to which they thought we might comply in the General Election—and I do not doubt that this applies to the Opposition. But in the middle of the Election campaign a cutting from a newspaper was brought to my notice which read as follows:Before voting for a candidate, electors should ask him one important question: what is he prepared to do for bee-keeping in this country?So far as I am concerned—and probably this applies to most of your Lordships—I will do everything I can to encourage other people to keep bees.
My Lords, may I turn for a few moments to the tasks which face Parliament overseas, some of which have been touched on by the noble Viscount? He has drawn the attention of the House to the prominent place given to raising the standard of living of the under-developed countries, particularly in the Commonwealth. I should like to assure him that the place given to that in the gracious Speech was no accident, because we believe that it is in the very forefront of those factors which contribute to the peace and stability of the world. That is also why we very much welcome President Eisenhower's speech of a few days ago when he, too, emphasised the need of the free nations to co-operate actively in this field.
I think sometimes that noble Lords opposite are a little apt to minimise what we do. We wish to make our maximum contribution to Commonwealth development, and we can never be satisfied. But the stake which we are investing is substantial and it is rising rapidly. Over the last five years investment in the Commonwealth has averaged something over £200 million a year and last year showed a rapid increase. I know that the Party opposite have always rather favoured setting aside this or that percentage of the national income to be invested in the Commonwealth; but that is a conception which overlooks the fact that to invest at all there must be the necessary domestic 66 savings—that is, the necessary excess of wealth over what we spend at home and the necessary surplus in the balance of payments so that we may transfer the savings across the exchanges.
If I may say so with all humility, that is really the core of the matter, and it is a fact which the noble Viscount will recognise. I do not say it is because there is a Conservative Government in power or because we have won the Election—it was beginning a good deal before that—but the fact is that savings are rising fast, and therefore we are able to invest more overseas.
The noble Viscount painted a rather gloomy picture, because at the beginning of his speech, although he recovered later, he was in a rather gloomy mood, and I would perhaps comfort him by saying that at the moment—and these are the latest figures I have—industrial production is rising very rapidly. In August it was 7 per cent. above that of August, 1958—
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, it may have been the worst year for years, but the noble Viscount has neglected the circumstances in which we managed to maintain our position while a United States recession was going on. Now we are in a position to move ahead and the provisional calculation of the trade surplus this year is that it will be comparable with that of 1958, which was a good year. As I have said, savings are expanding and the reserves continue to rise against the seasonal trend. Now I prefer all that to paper percentages or paper promises—and so did the country. Perhaps the difference between ourselves on this side of the House and the economic philosophy of those opposite is that they provide the paper promises while we provide the hard cash; and that is what the people prefer.
The reference to investment in productive enterprise inevitably raised in our mind (and the noble Viscount has been interested in this for years) the contrast of the waste of millions of pounds blown away in modern armaments. Perhaps "waste" is in a sense a wrong word, because I accept the argument, and I believe he does too (although he 67 thinks that the nuclear side has been over-emphasised), that the possession of the deterrent in the early post-war years probably prevented another world war. Naturally, too, I accept the argument that a balance of strength is essential between the Communists and the free world; otherwise we should be over-run. Nevertheless it is true that this balance could be retained by a phased system of disarmament which would save the nations enormous sums of money that could be applied to relieve want and fear, themselves the breeding grounds of war.
The noble Viscount said that Mr. Khrushchev had made an historic disarmament proposal. We were delighted to see it. But the noble Viscount must not forget that we took the lead in the United Nations two or three years ago in making a very similar proposal which was subscribed to by fifty-seven other nations, and that also the right honourable gentleman the Foreign Secretary, on the day before Mr. Khrushchev spoke, put forward a plan just as comprehensive and probably more practicable. Nevertheless this is a good thing. There is an advance. There are now two disarmament plans which could be studied by the Commission of ten nations, and in some notable respects, as I believe my noble friend will say later this afternoon, it looks as though the Russian plan and the plan of the Foreign Secretary are coming closer together. So that there is progress.
And who would have dreamed last March, when the Prime Minister went to Moscow in an atmosphere of ultimatum, that we should have arrived now at a point where President Khrushchev has been to the United States, is going to France, and is talking with the Western leaders? It is reported from the United Nations to-day that the United States and Russia and other countries have agreed upon a resolution which is going before the Assembly on a method of approach to disarmament; and not only upon that, as it seems from the report, but on some of the real objectives at which we should all wish to aim. The noble Viscount asked me about the Refugee Year. I will give him the figures without comment so that he may consider them. The United Kingdom 68 Government has given a total of £200,000 and the United Kingdom Committee Central Fund now holds £300,000, a total of £500,000.
Finally, if I may take five minutes I should like to say one word on the problems of Africa. In many respects 1960 is going to be a most momentous year. In some ways it is going to give a spectacular justification of what is known as British colonialism, because 30 million Africans in the great country of Nigeria are to emerge into complete independence and the addition of that country to the Commonwealth association will add immeasurably to its spiritual and material resources. With that example of political advance and this point of independence to which we have brought Nigeria, it really is quite impossible to describe British colonialism as something that aims to hold the African down. The noble Viscount called attention to the fact that already Ghana has her independence. Now another great African country is to be added.
Then in the economic field there will be no more spectacular example of co-operation for the welfare of the natives of a Colonial Territory than the opening of the Kariba Dam, which I am happy to say Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother has consented to open in the Spring of next year. That will give immense material benefits to African territories and African populations. I repeat that, in the light of these achievements which are to be seen in 1960, to paint a picture of colonial peoples oppressed by British imperialism is unreal and untrue.
What is true is that we have the most difficult and challenging task of our imperial history ahead of us, because we have to create in an Africa where there are mixed communities of Africans, Europeans and Asians a nonracial or multi-racial society. That must be our sole object, because I would ask noble Lords opposite to believe that it is the sole solution. It is difficult, because we have to build into countries which are still largely primitive the framework of a working democracy. And if we are to build a democracy which means anything, and if we are to fulfil our duty to these people who are still apprentices in the political art, 69 that framework must contain from the start the essentials which will guarantee justice, the rule of the common law and respect for and security of minorities and individuals, whatever their race or creed. It is for that purpose that Parliament must make in Central Africa a contribution—and in this Session of Parliament, too.
To assist us, the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the Government of the three countries making up that Federation on the next stage of constitutional advance we are to set up an Advisory Commission and we have been very fortunate to secure Lord Monckton of Brenchley as Chairman. Everybody knows his responsibilities; they are very important in this country and overseas. He has dropped everything because he himself is convinced that this is almost the most important problem of all that we have had to tackle for many, many years, in our Commonwealth relations. There will be other people who will come on to the Commission, and when the names are known it will be shown that they, too, take this view of the immense importance of this problem and of an objective approach to it.
My Lords, I cannot imagine any greater disaster than if one Party in this country attempted to identify itself with one or other racial group in Africa. Therefore I make once more an appeal to your Lordships, and particularly to the Opposition, that we should all try to serve on this Commission, so that we may really do some very constructive thinking and some very constructive work and try to create a common mind on the approaches to the 1960 Review, and so that we may be wise in the action which we take thereafter in Central Africa. I think the country would approve this common approach. It is one in which this House is well fitted to take a lead, and I think the country has come to expect a lead from us and would value it very much.
So, my Lords, both in the domestic field at home and in the field of wider Commonwealth and international affairs, I close with the theme with which I began: that we should try, so far as we can, to create one nation and try to respond to the appeal which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, made to us that on these great matters affecting the 70 nation we should sink our differences as far as possible. Of course, I promise the Opposition that when we come to matters of controversy, as we inevitably shall, they will get as good as they give. But the House has to grapple with issues of great moral content, and we must do so with high purpose and a real degree of unanimity. It is in that spirit that my colleagues and I offer to serve your Lordships in this new Parliament.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, of all the problems that face the people, the Government and the new Parliament of the country to-day, there is one problem more important than all the other problems put together. Since World War II ended with its prentice effort at Hiroshima, the progress of science has brought mankind to the simple choice between enjoying material comforts beyond their wildest earlier dreams and suffering unparalleled, mutual destruction, according to whether mankind decides to abolish war or to continue war as a means of settling differences between nations. Of course, for reasoning men there is no choice between these two things; they can choose only one. For those who are interested, as I am deeply interested, in many other problems there is the comfort that if we could solve this problem every other problem would become far simpler and easier and could be solved without unhappiness and fear of great disturbance.
Naturally, I welcome all the references in the gracious Speech to this subject of relations between nations with a view to avoiding war; and I welcome also all that the noble Earl, Lord Home, said towards the end of his speech upon this matter. I am going to make no excuse for concentrating upon this subject alone in everything that I want to say to-day. I am not going to discuss the relative merits of the contributions made to the possibility of peace by this Government or by the American Government or by the Soviet Government. But, having regard to the doubts that I used to hear continually expressed as to the possible attitude of the Soviet Government, I think it is fair to say that little more than a month ago the whole problem of peace or war in the world was put in a completely new light by the bombshell which Mr. Khrushchev dropped at the United Nations Assembly.
71 I happened at that moment to be in Switzerland, in Berne, at a Congress of the World Parliament Association. Just after that proposal had been made I was asked to say on television what I thought of this proposal. I said that I welcomed it with all my heart and with open arms. I gave my reasons for not doubting its genuineness for a moment. I said that, of course, Mr. Khrushchev's political religion as a Communist and mine as a Democrat were profoundly different, but I thought that there was plenty of room in the world for more than one political religion.
Actually, a fortnight before Mr. Khrushchev had reached and announced this conclusion I had reached exactly the same conclusion in writing a paper for the Congress at Berne. I had written this paper—and, may I say, having regard to one of the things urged by the noble Viscount who spoke for the Labour Party, I had carefully disposed, to my satisfaction, of the idea that any importance at all from the point of view of peace is to be applied to abolishing nuclear war only. The simple answer is that if war breaks out nuclear war will return inevitably, because once you have it it can always return, and all this talk of nuclear disarmament is of no importance; and I am delighted Mr. Khrushchev saw that and used it in what he stated.
I am not going to argue the grounds on which I happened a fortnight before Mr. Khrushchev's bombshell to reach exactly the same conclusion. I will only say that if there is any Member of this House who doubts the validity of his conclusion and mine, although the document in which I set this out has not yet been printed, anyone interested may go into the Library and the Librarian will give him a copy of my document and also of what I said on television about Mr. Khrushchev. But I am not going to waste time to-day in trying to argue that. I made it absolutely plain, and I think it is really plain to anyone who considers the facts, that total disarmament of all nations with a central control sufficient to enforce it must be accepted in principle; and the principle is a beginning only.
What I want to do to-day is to deal with some of the practical problems that will arise in turning this splendid prin 72 ciple into practice. I happened to spend a good many years of my earlier and most active life as a civil servant, and I realised the duty of a good civil servant was to turn the noble aspirations and principles laid down by his Minister into something that could really be put into force and would have the effect which he intended. If we are waiting for a Summit Conference, I think that we in this country cannot do better than consider some of the practical problems that would arise, the principle of total disarmament having been accepted, of enforcing it and making it permanent.
First there comes the practical problem of controls. Mr. Khrushchev has realised the need for controls: but let us consider just how we can make certain that total, permanent disarmament is secured in every corner of the world; in other words, that no preparation for war—above all, for nuclear war—can be made anywhere, whether in Kamschatka, Antarctica or Timbuctoo, without immediate discovery. That, of course, is in one sense a problem of inspection, but I want to urge that it is even more a problem for scientists. The scientists, by their discoveries, have brought this risk of utter destruction upon mankind: it is up to them to make certain that the risk never turns into a reality. The best way of catching a burglar has always been to set another burglar to catch him, and I want our scientists to set out to catch the scientists who are working on the preparation of nuclear war in any other country at any time. In other words, the use of science is vital for the safety and happiness of mankind to-day.
From that point of view I need hardly say how much I personally welcome the action of Her Majesty's Government—I find myself welcoming many actions of this Government, I am glad to say—in appointing a Minister for Science. I welcome the choice of their Minister. I welcome, above all, the Government's right sense of values in putting this Minister in this House for his vital work, rather than in another place. They know the values as between this House and the other place. I believe that the new Minister has, in one sense, a more vital task than any other Minister in the Government, and I believe that he will 73 do it extremely well. That is the first point: that we must use science to defeat science.
The second point I want to make is as to the problem of constituting the World Authority that is to enforce disarmament—that is, to see that justice instead of war settles disputes between nations: how you constitute that World Authority, the various tribunals that are to deal with it, the world police, and all the rest of it. I am going to say very little about that, because that was all dealt with excellently by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in the debate which we had in this House last July. I do not say that I necessarily accept everything that he put forward, but all the points are raised there, and that can be made an excellent basis for discussion. But I think we should all realise that in discussing exactly how you constitute your World Authority, and what the powers of different peoples should be, there is literally endless scope for talk and for the putting of different points of view; but we must all realise that that talk must ultimately end in agreement and that people must sacrifice their cherished views in order to get agreement.
Thirdly—and this, I think, is in some ways one of the most difficult of all the problems in substituting peace and justice for war between nations in settling disputes—we have to provide for dealing with the problem of the need for change in a world without weapons. I am reminded of the famous remark by Edmund Burke:A State without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation.That observation applies as fully to the community of nations as to any single nation in relation to its citizens. To-day, all sorts of differences are causing dissatisfaction in international relations—in Europe, Africa, Asia, everywhere. I need do no more than mention Germany, Tibet, Laos, or any other number of problems. A new world order cannot consist simply of eternal preservatior, of the legal status quo. There must be peaceful means of changing, of remedying past mistakes. There must be peaceful means of fitting in new circumstances, because life will go on and the relations of different nations will go on. Indeed, there is the obvious problem of deciding when a group of people have become a 74 nation entitled to independence rather than that they should be regarded as rebels or a colony. That is only one of the many problems that will arise. All these problems of peaceful change would have to be dealt with I am sure, by some kind of equity tribunal rather than by some legal tribunal. In any case, we shall have to provide them, because if we try just to keep the status quo there will be crying injustice and dissatisfaction which will sooner or later bring the whole scheme of a world peace without weapons, a world happy without weapons, to an end.
There is only one other point. I forgot to say that, to me at any rate, although there must be a World Authority to enforce disarmament and provide justice instead of world war as a means of settling things, that World Authority must have its scope carefully limited to that purpose. In other words, each nation should retain the right to govern itself in everything except in arranging to make war against other nations. I believe that that is the principle of limiting the scope, or at any rate the compulsory powers, of a World Authority.
Let me add only one last word. For heaven's sake let us be done for ever with the dreary nonsense that has been talked for generations about sovereignty! To say that a nation is not sovereign and independent if it may not make war on other nations is like saying that a man is not free and independent if he is not allowed to rob and murder other citizens; and the truth is really just the opposite of what these praters about sovereignty say. Abolition for all nations, great and small, of the ability to make war on others is the one thing that would give real independence to most of the nations of the world—meaning by that the small nations. To-day, every small nation holds its independence in peril. Generally it has to rely upon the support of one of the larger nations for its safety, and to get that support it has to behave not as it might like to behave but as the larger nation does, to copy its political system and obey its behests, openly or secretly. It has not freedom. The small nations have not freedom while war is possible. Let us all agree to give up war and to be free and independent together, whether we are small nations or large nations.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I should like to congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon a workmanlike Queen's Speech. I think that it is at the same time progressive in its outlook, sympathetic in its understanding of people's needs and capable of being carried out in a Session. If I have any criticism of it, it is that there is too much of it rather than too little. I do not subscribe to the view so dear to the hearts of noble Lords opposite—and, I notice with surprise, to the Daily Express—that Parliament should meet as much as possible and pass as many laws as possible. I do not think that that is sensible; nor do I think that it adds to the wealth of the nation.
Referring to the rise in values of securities on the Stock Exchange the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said that that was the action of tycoons. I do not know what a tycoon is. Maybe the noble Viscount has a different definition to the one I have in my mind. I do not know at what level of wealth one becomes a tycoon, but I should have thought that the demonstration of hope that a Tory Government would be returned on October 7 and the rejoicing that they had been returned on October 9 was the activity of little men—of little men all over the land, who were hopeful before the Election took place, more hopeful on the day of the Election and thoroughly pleased afterwards. I mention this to correct, or counter, the implication made by the noble Viscount; but I mention it also because I think it is the key to the situation we now have to face.
Everything is different after an Election from what it was before—not only personnel, but thinking and planning and the future. Before an Election differences are exaggerated; afterwards, the common sense of the British people always tends to heal them, and I am sure that all of us in Parliament will contribute towards that healing process. Though we may go through the motions from time to time of opening up old scars and hoping that the wounds will fester, nevertheless it will be our duty and, I am sure, our practice, for the next two or three years, until Election time again approaches, to heal the wounds and think about the things that we all have in common.
76 I do not like to pass by the photographing of the moon without reminding the Lord President of the Council, as he was then, now the Lord Privy Seal—I suppose that he is the Minister for the Moon—that I asked him some questions about this subject a few weeks ago. I should be pleased if he would look at them again and, in due course, see whether he cannot give me further facts or, at any rate, a better answer. I am bound to say that I regard the photographing of the moon as a most extraordinary scientific event, a most notable affair, one upon which all those who were concerned with it, whether laymen, scientists or technicians, should be warmly and ungrudgingly congratulated. I also think that it has lessons for ali of us which we must try to learn together, rather than by quarrelling amongst ourselves.
I understand from the noble Viscount that his Party are going to put down an Amendment to the humble Address on Tuesday next about what for the purpose of shortness, I will call British Africa—meaning thereby those parts of Africa still under our protection or under the aegis of the Colonial Office or Commonwealth Relations Office. I wish that I could be here to take part in that debate, but unfortunately I have to fly to Australia for a fortnight, and it is that particular fortnight. Therefore I hope that I may be forgiven if I address myself to this subject to-day, as we were bidden by the Whip, who told us that to-day was the clay for foreign affairs, the Commonwealth and the Colonies.
I have already said that things are different after an Election from what they were before and I think that that is very much to be applied to the continent of Africa. I deplore the fact that some of us, on both sides of the House, and Members of another place at the hustings, exaggerate our views about other people. If we can secure a vote or two by bringing to our aid foreign, colonial and Commonwealth affairs, I am afraid that we do it. It is a bad practice, but it is better than knocking each other over the head with clubs—and that is about the only thing that can be said for it. I discerned in this Election a rather strong tendency on the part of some members who belong to the other side to try to "cash in" on one 77 or two events that took place in Africa recently. I thought that they were presented to the people entirely out of proportion to both British tradition and the activities of Her Majesty's Government during the past eight years. I thought that the splendid results of our colonial policy over a hundred years and more, under all Parties, are there to be praised by all Britishers rather than to be denigrated from time to time when unfortunate events occurred.
I am a Scot and I belong to a family whose members have gone out to the ends of the earth to settle in the waste places, in the uncultivated places, to make them verdant and fruitful. That tradition, followed by people from all parts of these Islands, and the way it has been guided by Colonial Offices under all Governments, is something of which Britain might very well be proud. It is a great page in our history. In British Africa, in the sense in which I use those words—Central Africa, Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Kenya—a hundred years ago there was desert; there were nomadic tribes concerned with killing and stealing each other's cattle, wholly uncivilised, wholly barbarous, wholly irreligious, viewed from Western points of view. If we went there now, we should find those countries settled, materially prosperous, with a high degree of law and order prevailing for most years and for most months of each year, interrupted by occasional revolutions or seditious essays on the part of ignorant people led by their own incipient—emergent, might be the word—demagogues.
Apart from these rare exceptions, you would find a sense of material prosperity and great tranquillity. It is people of our race, people from these Islands to a large extent, who have transformed the desert into smiling lands. We have made these people infinitely richer and happier than they were and made life safer for them. Not only have we made them materially prosperous, but we have brought them a sense of law—at any rate among small numbers of them who begin to apprehend these matters—a sense of justice and spiritual values which they did not know of before. Many of them have become Christianised, in the best sense of that word, and we have even begun to teach them the art of politics, 78 the one for which these Islands are most famous, but which also is perhaps the most difficult of all. Into this emerging great mass of mankind we from Britain can continue to inject guidance of the right sort or guidance of the wrong sort.
Picture, my Lords, some scores of millions of voteless Africans, who are just beginning to apprehend what voting means and that they have some rights—natural rights, perhaps, or rights conceded by the civilised code of life. I am talking of the mass of them and not of the few notable leaders. It does not concern the masses much, because they do not know what a vote is. But it is obvious that they will not be happy for ever if they remain voteless, and the more they learn about voting—and we, through the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office, are teaching them what votes mean, and are beginning to give them advisory committees and elected committees, as in Basutoland—the more they will want votes. They cannot be made happy without votes or kept down except by force, and it is not to be contemplated that that can be the rule for ever. I am distinguishing now in what I say between the kind of police action that is required for local and minor rebellion and the suppression of a mass of people for ever by force. What I refer to is the latter: that you cannot keep dawn millions of people by force for ever. Nor, I am sure, do we want to.
But, equally, let us face another fact—namely, that the Government, the management at administration level, at executive level and in the industrial and commercial field is almost entirely in the hands of Europeans. It may be said that it should have moved more quickly into other hands; and that may be so. But I am asking your Lordships to look at the facts to-day: the fact of the millions of voteless, and the fact that the government and management in almost every field are practically entirely in European hands, with just a few men of other races beginning to learn to be foremen, counsellors, clerks in the Civil Service and to take their places in what might be called the minor executive grades. Those, my Lords, are facts. You cannot make the millions happy while voteless for ever, except by force; nor, on the other hand, can you swamp 79 the classes who govern and manage by giving votes to the millions until they are ready to use them wisely and sensibly.
So there is a dilemma. It is a dilemma which the British, represented by the Colonial Office and its tradition, are particularly adept at handling—possibly more than other people; and I am sure that, as the decades pass, we shall work out some way in which this problem can be solved, with justice to all and in a manner that will satisfy our consciences and be worthy of our tradition. But it cannot be done if peripatetic politicians go to these territories from time to time, especially when Elections are approaching, and mislead people as to their destiny and their future and the speed with which it can be attained. Thank Heaven! that period is over, because the Election is over, and for possibly four or four and a half years we may have peace from that kind of misrepresentation of all the facts. You will never get good will and co-operation of Europeans and non-Europeans by making them jealous, frightened and bitter about each other. You will get it only by the long slow British tradition of careful Colonial Office work.
In the light of this picture which I venture to draw, familiar as it is, I would reinforce the appeal made by my noble friend the Leader of the House that we should on all sides of the House carefully consider what is our attitude towards the Commission under Lord Monckton of Brenchley which is going to these parts to advise us how best we can approach the problems of the next year or two. If we cannot make up our minds what sort of a Commission should go, and if we cannot support the Commission that does go, Britain is going to fail in its duty towards these people and towards the problem. It will be of no avail to say that the Labour Party scored a point or that the Tory Party was "pigheaded": that will not do anyone any good. Even if the Commission in its present form is not precisely and exactly the same Commission that noble Lords opposite would have made, is that really the important point? The important point is that a Commission consisting of worthy and trustworthy men, led by a man of the calibre of Lord Monckton of Brenchley, should go, and 80 that it should have the support of all of us, in both Houses and outside, for its full inquiry, impartial consideration and wise advice.
As a token of the better way of doing these things than that which we witnessed in the Election, I would call your Lordships' attention back to the fact that the very Federation of Rhodesia, as to which Lord Monckton of Brenchley's Commission is to consider the evidence, was first brought to the House of Commons in a notable speech by Mr. Griffiths. I sat in that House and listened to him with eager attention as he unfolded, with great ability and eloquence, with his heart engaged and his head guiding him, the plan for the Federation of Central Africa, and persuaded many of us who were a little reluctant that it was a good thing to do. So, you see, my Lords, this Federation was the invention of Mr. Griffiths in his time and was carried into effect by the subsequent Conservative Government. Let us hope that this tradition of united Party action may follow in this next phase in Central Africa and that we, at any rate, from this country may have a united view about this matter.
I now turn to Lancashire. I went to Lancashire during the Election. I went to many other places, too, but in Lancashire I spoke in four different constituencies. The result of my speaking was that in all four cases the Member got a bigger majority than he had before. I regret to say that three of them were Labour men, but the fourth was a Conservative. We lost seats, or did not win them, in Lancashire when we were doing better elsewhere, and I wonder why. I think it is because the cotton reorganisation scheme came a year too late and the disadvantages and fears it created were evident, whereas its advantages will not be apprehended until next year or the year after. Moreover, cotton a traditional thing in Lancashire, and it bulks more largely in people's minds than in their affairs. I would remind your Lordships that only 11 per cent. of all the persons in Lancashire are actually employed in textiles. But the tradition that cotton is demoted or in a bad way dies hard.
It is a fact, also, that in some parts of Lancashire, and especially in some towns, there was an unemployment figure that 81 was higher than the national average. It was still low by comparison with the bad days of some decades ago, but higher than the national average, and that counted against us. How very quickly the Government have set to work to try and deal with this! They are to publish a Bill to-night called—they have not told us the name, but I suppose it will be the Distribution of Industries (Amendment) Bill, or something of that sort. They are going to pass it as quickly as possible, and all of us will make it as good a Bill as possible. I am not one who believes that you can put industry in places where it ought not to be, or make it economic in places which are uneconomic. Nevertheless, there is some evidence—I witnessed it near my old constituency in North Lancashire in respect of the Cumberland development area; and the Welsh area will tell the same story—that you can, up to a point, make use of the social amenities in towns and dwellings such as drains and roads, in inducing industry to go there when it is needed, instead of letting the place become a wilderness. Therefore, there is a case for Government interference with the economic law in this matter, and I hope that this Bill will be passed as quickly as possible and will do good in those districts which need some help.
I hope that your Lordships will not mind if I devote a few minutes to the situation of the war disabled and pensioners, a subject with which I am familiar. I rejoice that disabled persons have not suffered grievous unemployment in recent years. Indeed, the unemployment among them has been slightly below, relatively and proportionately, the level of unemployment amongst the fit population generally. We must all rejoice to learn that. There are two classes of disabled as they are viewed by the Ministry of Labour. There are those who are fit to go and work in open industry, called the "A" class, and those who are not fit, called the "B" class. The "A" class are helped to get work by an Act of Parliament passed by Mr. Bevin and the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, who was his assistant. It is an excellent Act, which compels every employer to take 3 per cent. of disabled persons into his plant, provided that his plant is not too small. Your Lordships would like to know that that scheme, too, is working well. There is no need to 82 raise the percentage, and perhaps what is needed is that more publicity should be given to it. I hope the Ministers concerned will see to that, because there are many small factories that have come into existence whose owners do not know that they have an obligation. It is a great surprise to them to be told: "Having regard to the number of people working in your factory, you ought to be employing one, two or three disabled men". I do not think that anyone, or at any rate very few, will be shirking their liability or responsibility in this matter.
For the record, may I mention these figures? In 1957 there were 46,000 disabled persons unemployed. In 1958 that figure went up to 60,000. In this year, up to August, it has gone down to 54,000, and there is not in any part of the country excessive unemployment. Nevertheless, your Lordships will agree with me that the unemployment, in so far as it falls on any one of these 50,000 men, is a matter about which we should try to do something. It means so much to them, not only to their income but to their morale, to be employed. I have two suggestions to make. One is that the Government publicise the requirements of the Disabled Persons Act, so that the publicity reaches the small employer. The other is that we direct, with due consideration for all the circumstances, what contracts we can to Remploy who could then find employment for some of the more severely disabled, of whom there are only a very few in the class "B" section.
I welcome the statement in the Conservative Party's Election Manifesto to the effect that it was the intention of the Conservative Government, if elected, to-see that war veterans and retirement pensioners, and other members of the community who need help, would share in the standards of the future and in the good things which should come out of a more prosperous future in Britain. I call attention to this statement because it represents an important change of emphasis, even a new declaration of intention, on the part of a Government.
In the past, including the years when the Socialists were in office after the war, the target and aim was to provide subsistence for the old and pensions for the war-disabled that would match the cost of living. Even that was not attained 83 during those years. Now, we have attained rates that match the cost of living, but we have also gone further: we have pronounced in this Election Manifesto that it is the nation's duty to see that these people share in the rising standards of living. There is a great difference between standards of living and cost of living. So that whatever the obligations of the past, it is now to be the policy to see that those who are in need, and perhaps according to their need, shall enjoy and share in the new standards. That was a fine promise. I am glad to see that it is reiterated in the Queen's Speech itself, which is far more important, because a statement in a manifesto is what it is, but a statement in the Queen's Speech in the first year of a new Parliament is a declaration of Government intention. It will be for the Houses of Parliament to see that it is carried out, though I, for my part, have not the slightest doubt that this Government, following upon their predecessors who did so much in this field, will carry it out.
I am also sure that the British Legion, and other societies who work with them, will from time to time be bringing the needs of their members, and especially their disabled members, to the notice of Her Majesty's Government. I welcome the fact that Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter is still the Minister of that Department, though I am bound to say that if some more senior Department had had the good fortune to have him as its Minister it might have been an advantage to that Department and to my right honourable friend. The loss of the Department within the Cabinet of which he is not the head is at any rate the gain of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, because he is very skilful, very understanding and very wise in carrying through Parliament the changes that have to be made, both in war pensions and in the provisions that must be made for the old. One further small point. It is said that the Government will alter the earnings rule for pensioners. May I ask the Minister of Pensions—whose attention could be called to this matter by the Front Bench—whether he will apply that also to war pensioners? I will not take up the time of the House by explaining 84 what I mean, but Mr. Boyd-Carpenter will understand, and I hope that he will look at it with sympathy.
I have one last thing to say, and I apologise for saying so much. On October 17 the leader of the Agricultural Workers' Union asked for higher wages and shorter hours for farm workers. I represented an agricultural constituency for many years, and I should like to make just two or three observations on this. First of all, I think British farmers and British agricultural workers are greatly to be praised for having raised the standard of production and the volume of work per unit, whether it be the unit of the farm or unit per man, so greatly during recent years. I think that is a splendid effort for which they are all responsible and for which they should be praised. Secondly, I want to declare my sympathy with the farm workers in their request that their whole real wages—and I use those words advisedly—should approach more nearly to some of the high figures earned in industry. I do not think the big gap between the two is good for the countryside or good for British farming. As the mechanisation and the skill of the farmers leads to higher production, and as the nation becomes more accustomed to its long-term policy of supporting agriculture, I think it is in the nation's interests that the men who stay in the countryside and do the work should receive their full share of the reward. I used the words "their full real wages" because I know as well as others that the farm worker does get many advantages which the townsman does not get.
Coming on to the question of hours, I hope that the Agricultural Workers' Union is not going to engage in this not very admirable practice of saying, "We want to work less hours", when that is not really what they want at all. What they want is to work the same hours but to be paid more money for the last two or three. I do not think that is an admirable practice. It must be obvious that the man who works with nature on the farm must conform to the rules laid down by nature. You cannot order cows to produce their milk at a particular time; you cannot alter the sun; you cannot alter the weather. If, therefore, you are to be a farmer or farm 85 worker, you must have a vocation and feeling for your land and beasts: you must work the hours which they demand, or you must go and work in a factory turning a knob. So I advise them most earnestly, as their friend, not to talk about hours of work which must be slightly unreal, and perhaps even slightly misleading, but to talk about equating their rewards to those of the townsman, taking everything into consideration. I wish them luck in this enterprise of theirs.
I think this Parliament, which is a very notable Parliament, in view of the history of change to which we have become accustomed in our British Parliaments, has a great chance of being a distinguished one, and I wish Her Majesty's Ministers the very best possible good luck.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat will forgive me if I do not follow in the interesting and informative observations which he made to your Lordships, mostly on the subject of home policy matters. There was a point in his speech when I felt rather like tearing up the notes I had made and crossing swords with him, when, with that use of language for which the English are perhaps unfortunately rather famous, in under-statement, he dismissed the tragedy of Hola as an unfortunate incident, and glossed over one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of this country. In a later part of his speech he referred to the need to obtain the goodwill of the Africans. I can assure him that if he deals in that way with such unfortunate incidents as Hola he will not get much goodwill from the Africans. I hope that he and other noble Lords on that side of the House will not approach this problem in that sort of spirit, which is a most unfortunate one.
In another phrase the noble Lord referred to the emergent demagogues. I always hate to hear that sort of expression, when I recall that Jefferson and Nehru and Nkrumah, and others who became great statesmen of their countries, were despised in the same sort of language by members of the noble Lord's Party at the appropriate time. No doubt Dr. Banda will in due course assume his place as one of the great 86 leaders among those other leaders who have led a country to self-government and be praised in English history books, after being referred to as emergent demagogues.
I also felt rather inclined to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, because I think his observations are really of the most fundamental character at the present time. I felt that he made a mistake, however, when he said that the best way of catching a burglar was to get another burglar and set him on to him. I think a later part of his speech rather contradicted that: the best way of catching a burglar is to have an efficient police force, as the Lord Chief Justice was reminding the Magistrates' Association the other day. I did not agree with some things he said on that occasion, but I was very much in agreement about that statement. Undoubtedly the best way of dealing with international burglars, as the noble Lord said, is a world authority equipped with an effective police force.
I had supposed that this was an afternoon to be devoted very largely to foreign affairs, and I propose to confine my observations to the Far Eastern problem and to the position of China. My noble Leader, in his speech, touched on this matter and indicated that this was a difficult time in which to try to put the position of China in a sympathetic way. I agree with him, but I think it is essential that we should try to approach this problem in an objective spirit. From time to time, of course, this problem of the Far East and the problem of China looms very large on the horizon of international affairs, and I think your Lordships would probably agree that the present is certainly one such time. China provides what one might call one of the "hot-spots" which might quite easily lead to the world conflagration which we all dread so much and which it is the task of international statesmanship to, prevent. It is quite as hot a spot, in my view, as Berlin and the division of Germany, on which I have addressed your Lordships in the past and which, very naturally, are so much more within the minds of those of us who live in the Western World.
At the present time, as more than one speaker has mentioned in passing, we are all particularly worried about the 87 boundary dispute on the Indian-Pakistan frontier with Tibet and the incidents which have been occurring along that boundary during the past few weeks. I do not wish to deal with the rights and wrongs of that particular boundary dispute, except to point out that the whole issue has been tremendously pre-judged in the West. There obviously is an issue there which ought to be dealt with by the International Court or by some other international authority, if not as a matter of law then as a matter of conciliation. The action of the Western Powers in denying the existing Chinese Government, the so-called Chinese People's Government, their proper place in the Assembly and in the Council of the United Nations seems to me to be such as makes the practical handling of this problem infinitely more difficult than it need be. I was very glad indeed that my noble Leader pointed to that aspect of the matter. For this fact, of course, the major share of responsibility undoubtedly lies with the United States.
At first sight, it is rather bewildering that the Chinese should be prepared to waste resources of men and money on these desolate borders of the world, where nothing much of any tangible value is to be gained by anybody; and one would not expect that the peace of the world could be endangered by disputes over what appear, at this distance, to be such trumpery problems. Indeed, I do not myself believe that this matter will be allowed to get to such a stage that war will supervene, because the leaders of both sides are intelligent men and, in my view, are men who have peace very much at heart. Nevertheless, the leaders might be overborne by surges of nationalist opinion, whether in India or in China. That is undoubtedly a danger which should be taken into account and safeguarded against.
In a sense, the Chinese have put themselves in the wrong, because they have disturbed the status quo. But in the international situation as it exists, in an international set-up in which the Government of one of the greatest nations of the world is denied a position in the Security Council, it is extraordinarily difficult for them to obtain justice in the ordinary sort of way such as is open to other nations. It seems to me that we should 88 be wise to inquire calmly into the reasons which have brought this state of affairs into being rather than to indulge in the orgies of vituperation which we have all been reading in the cheaper Press during the last week or so.
It seems to me that the reasons for the Chinese action lie very largely in their sensitiveness to the overbearing conduct of the Western Powers towards them in the past. Peoples in the Far East have a long memory, and although they may not have the same reasons for complaint now, undoubtedly the humiliation to which they were subjected during the nineteenth century has neither been forgotten nor forgiven—not only by the Chinese, but by other people in the Far East as well. I think that the present humiliation, which undoubtedly they feel very keenly in relation to their position in the United Nations, is a great factor in this business and prolongs the sensitiveness which has existed so long in China as the result of what happened during the last century. Of course, the conduct of this country towards Tibet, which the Chinese have over the last 250 years claimed as part of China, although it is not in the centre of this picture, undoubtedly is a contributory factor to it, and it is felt by the Chinese as a humiliating incident in the long history of this business.
It is doubtless true that the Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, which I think has been accepted by all Western Powers, which certainly was formally and explicitly acknowledged by this country at the Simla Conference in 1914, had not for a number of years past been very actively acted upon by the Chinese Central Government, whether in Peking or wherever it was situated at the time. But it is important to remember that it was entirely due to the shrinkage of power at the centre that this was so. During the generation before the new Chinese Communist-controlled Government came into power, there had not really been sufficient power in China to assert the rights which had been claimed by the Government at Peking ever since the beginning of the eighteenth century.
That history is a most interesting one, and it seems to me an extraordinary thing that in the course of all these discussions during the last few weeks there has been practically no reference to this history; for instance to the fact that throughout 89 the eighteenth century the Chinese had in Lhasa Residents who controlled the Government; that throughout a great deal of the nineteenth century Tibet was actually treated as a province of China; that even when the strength of the Chinese Government was at its lowest ebb in the years immediately before the First World War, the Chinese asserted their suzerainty, which is a type of sovereignty, and got it acknowledged by the British Government of India itself. Even Chiang Kai-shek deliberately refused to discuss Tibet with the British Government, because, he said, "Tibet is part of China, and it is no concern of yours, the British Government, that I should discuss it with you." With regard to this particular boundary dispute, the Chinese delegate to the Simla Conference in 1914 accepted a large part of the boundary which is now in dispute; but he took that action on his own responsibility, and his action was decisively repudiated by the Government in Peking, weak as that Government was at that time.
I found it extraordinarily difficult to understand why all these important facts, which one could go into in a great deal more detail, have been completely ignored not only by the general Press of this country but by even reputable and scholarly organisations, like the International Commission of Jurists which has published a handbook on the question of Tibet and the Rule of Law. To the authors of this book the problem starts in 1950 and 1951, which is really quite ridiculous. I cannot understand how anybody trying to approach this problem with a view to getting a reasonable understanding and a settlement of it, can come to it from such a shortsighted point of view. The history of the whole of this business over the last 250 years should surely have indicated to any knowledgeable person that the Chinese People's Government, which of course is now militarily stronger than any other in the Far East, would revive the old claim to sovereignty in Tibet.
It is perfectly true that Tibetan Governments have from time to time resisted this Chinese claim to sovereignty. I think the matter is extremely well summed up by Sir Basil Gould in his article on the history of Tibet in Chambers' Encyclopaedia. As your Lordships well know, Sir Basil Gould is one 90 of the great authorities on this problem. He was political officer in Sikkim for many years and a prominent member of the British Government service in India. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to quote a short passage from that volume. He says:Tibet claims autonomy but has on occasion been prepared to acknowledge a special relationship with China on condition of an agreed frontier and practical autonomy. China aims at sovereignty, but has on occasion professed willingness to accord a large measure of practical autonomy.So we see how that statement is borne out by the backwards and forwards sway of history over the last 250 years.
I said that history should have indicated that as soon as the central Government in China became strong enough these claims to sovereignty would undoubtedly be revived. At the present time, of course, politics have also dictated that the claim should be effectively prosecuted, because the so-called "Chinese People's Government" is dedicated to the economic enfranchisement, so to speak, of the people in that country; and the Tibetan portion of China—Tibetan within their philosophy, of course—is a completely serf-ridden country, a country governed by priests, in which one male out of every three is a monk and one woman out of every fifteen is a nun; and in which practically the whole of the rest of the population have been in a position of serfdom or virtual slavery. Obviously, as a matter of politics it was not possible for us to expect that in circumstances of that kind the Peking Government would withhold its hand from interference.
Finally, it seems to me that the demands of prestige also dictated that there should be intervention by China in Tibet at the present time. For many years the prestige of China had been at an extraordinarily low ebb. Many of your Lordships who know the Far East much better than I do know the enormous importance which is there attached to prestige. Enormous importance is attached to prestige in politics all over the world, but in the Far East "face" and prestige are even more important than they are in the West: that is particularly true of China.
The Chinese have been humiliated for many years, and their ostracism from the United Nations which has been going 91 on since the end of the war is clearly very damaging in that way to the existing Government of that country. And in my view—and I believe this was the view that my noble Leader was putting very shortly to your Lordships—so long as this situation lasts the Chinese Government in Peking will continue to take advantage of every opportunity it can find for enhancing its prestige, whether by such action as taking over the whole of Tibet or something that involves interfering in South-East Asia or even interfering further afield than that. I should have thought it should be clearly to everybody's advantage, as well as being a matter of elementary justice, that the existing Chinese Government, the so-called "People's Government," which has now had complete control over that country for more than ten years, should be admitted into the Council of United Nations and into the comity of nations as a whole. This would obviously increase their prestige, and to that extent would help to remove the stimulus towards aggressive interference with their neighbours which the present situation has undoubtedly tended to bring about.
There is an even more important long-term reason why we should come to an accommodation with China and should secure that she gets her proper position in the United Nations and in international affairs generally—it has been referred to by the noble and gallant Lord who has just resumed his seat. I refer to the fact that obviously during the lifetime of many of your Lordships who are sitting in this House this afternoon Chinese industry and strength will develop to such an extent that they will become, if not the most powerful nation, certainly one of the most powerful nations in the world. Industrial development and scientific progress in Russia have been referred to by the same noble Lord. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It has, very properly, frightened Her Majesty's Government, for I do not suppose for a moment that we should have had a Minister of Science (the noble Viscount who is to take over that Ministry is not here today) unless sputniks had been put up into space and luniks had gone to the other side of the moon, or unless we had come to realise how, in a period of twenty or thirty 92 years, one of the most backward nations in the world can become one of the most progressive.
When we consider that China has a population more than twice as large as that of Russia, a population whose intelligence, man for man, is at any rate equal to that of the people of Russia; that they have an enormous area and are tremendously rich in all kinds of minerals and natural products, the extent of which had not really been realised until very recently: when we consider all these matters, we cannot but see that in a comparatively short period of time the Chinese, who are going ahead with astonishing rapidity, will be reaching an even more frightening position than that which has been achieved by the U.S.S.R. It seems to me absolutely vital, therefore, that we should bring them into the comity of nations and that British foreign policy could have no more important objective at the present time than to bring this about.
We know that the lock to this door is the United States of America, and looking around for the key the only one I can see is the personality of Mr. Eisenhower, the President of that great country. I have myself a tremendous respect and admiration, even an affection, for President Eisenhower, and we have recently seen him acting as his own Foreign Minister and making more progress in the cause of peace during a few months than had been made during the whole of the period since the cold war started shortly after the end of the last war. Since the death of Mr. Dulles, and only since then, real progress has been made. Mr. Dulles, with all his great qualities, was an example of a man with too much intellectual ability and not enough human ability; and those, of course, are the very qualities which Mr. Eisenhower has—the human qualities which are more valuable than the greatest intellect anybody can possess. If anything, perhaps, Mr. Eisenhower is too diffident and too modest. He has been blamed for allowing the Dulles policy to have the rein. People have asked: how could he do that?
I believe that the solution to that problem is really brought out in the fascinating letters and diaries of the noble Viscount, Lord Alanbrooke, which have been appearing in a Sunday newspaper during 93 the last week or two. But I thought the noble Viscount misunderstood the situation when he wrote that General Eisenhower (as he then was) was afraid of General Marshall. I believe that it is really the fact that he was too modest to wish to push his views against the views which General Marshall was expounding with considerable firmness and ability; and I believe that that, again, was the trouble with Mr. Dulles. I think Mr. Eisenhower is naturally a man of great modesty who tends to rely too much on people of an established reputation, such as Mr. Dulles had. But during these last months we have seen that he is capable of dealing with problems of foreign policy in a very far-sighted way, as he handled the problems of war, and I hope he will ask himself, and I hope Her Majesty's Government may induce him to ask himself, the simple question: What advantage can either the Americans or anybody else obtain at the present time by insisting on the continued ostracism of China from the United Nations?
Why are the Americans doing this? Is it just to punish the Chinese? I can hardly think that can be so, because punishing nations is now generally accepted as being a very short-sighted and foolish policy. Possibly it is a feeling of loyalty and obligation to Chiang Kai-shek and the Government of Formosa, to which, indeed, the Americans do—and we also to some extent, I suppose—owe some sort of obligation of honour. That is a more understandable and a more commendable sort of reason, but it does not seem to me to be a very good one at the present time. I should have thought that honour could be satisfied if the position of Chiang Kai-shek and his régime on Formosa could be guaranteed during his lifetime, and perhaps for a period of years after while arrangements for the transfer of Formosa to China were going on. On that sort of basis I cannot see why our own Government should not join in with the Americans and maintain Chiang Kai-shek in that position for that comparatively short period of time, but only do so in return for the admission of the Chinese Peking Government into the Security Council and into the United Nations.
I do not suppose for a moment that the Chinese Government would formally accept an offer of that kind, but I have 94 no doubt whatever that in actual practice the situation could be handled on some such lines. It seems to me that there is hardly any one single thing in foreign politics at the present time which it is more important that we should achieve. But I can see this being done only by the prestige and personality of the President of the United States being brought to bear upon it, and I hope that our own Government will take every step within their power in order to secure that that should be done.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, we have had the advantage from the noble Lord of his views in extenso, if I may say so—I make no complaint of that—on a variety of subjects. He will. I know, excuse me, because I do not want to take up much of your Lordships' time, if I do not follow him in everything he said, but I should like to make one or two comments on his speech. The noble Lord, like many of his noble colleagues on the Benches opposite, has a regard for certain leaders in Asia and Africa which is so excessive as to be almost pathological.
Listening to his speech one would suppose that Dr. Banda, Mr. Nkrumah and Mr. Nehru were among the world's greatest statesmen. That may be so, but it is not the view held by all their fellow countrymen. Quite a lot of people in Nyasaland, loyal Africans, are extremely glad that Dr. Banda has been locked up. There are quite a lot of people in Ghana who accused Dr. Nkrumah of being a dictator. In fact the leader of the Opposition in Ghana when he came over here gave an interview, I believe to the B.B.C. or it may have been to Independent Television, in which he said he was behaving almost like Hitler. As for Mr. Nehru, I do not want to say anything against him; I have a great regard for him; but he has been more criticised at the present time over his attitude towards Tibet than at any time in his history as a statesman. So if I may respectfully say so, my advice to the noble Lord would be to abate a little the enthusiasm he has for these Asian and African statesmen and leave it to their fellow countrymen to praise or blame them as the case may be.
The noble Lord made an extraordinary speech in the debate. I thought I was too old to be shocked, but I was 95 shocked by his speech. First of all, he began by suggesting that the cause of the trouble or, rather, of the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese was the way in which they had been treated by European Powers in the past. I am going to ask him a direct question and I shall give way for his answer. Does he think that justifies the Chinese Government in murdering 50,000 Tibetans?
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I have no evidence that the Chinese Government have murdered 50,000 Tibetans. The noble Earl is just repeating wild statements that are made.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, they are not wild statements at all. They are statements made by the Dalai Lama and the representative of the Tibetans.
§ EARL WINTERTON
By the Dalai Lama. The noble Lords opposite are entitled to say the Dalai Lama is a liar; no one else thinks so. Most people regard him as a responsible statesman. But I can only say that there is a lot of other independent opinion. I should be surprised if my noble friend who is to reply does not affirm that there has been the most terrible massacre by the Chinese in Tibet.
As to the noble Lord's other reference to China, strange as it may seem, I agree with him. It is unfortunate, but China is not a member of the United Nations. But the noble Lord, like so many of his colleagues, hinted (perhaps I gained the wrong impression) that in some way we could bring about the change of mind in the American Government which he so desires. I think everything has been done both by the Conservative Government and by the Labour Government before it to try to induce the Americans to take a different point of view. But we cannot break what is in effect the Anglo-American alliance on this particular point. All we can do is to continue to express the opinion, as noble Lords in this House and Members of another place are entitled to do, that it would be an excellent thing if China could be admitted.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, would the noble Earl give way? I am taking all that the noble Earl says about the difficulty of making a break with America on this issue. But if my memory goes back rightly, when the matter was last debated in the full Assembly there was a vote, and the vote for the American point of view was 41, and there were 29 against and 11 abstentions. In fact there were 40 people who were not in favour of the American point of view, and only 41 in favour. Perhaps if we put a little more pressure upon America we might get a better position.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, that is a perfectly reasonable point of view to put and I do not differ from it. All I was saying—and I am sure that the noble Viscount, occupying the very responsible position he does and always has done, would agree—was that we ought not to pursue the matter so far as to make a breach with America. As to whether we should put on more pressure or not I do not express any opinion, but it is a perfectly reasonable point of view for the noble Viscount to put.
May I say something of a personal nature, though not affecting myself, which I am sure would meet with the approval of both sides of the House: and that is how glad we all are, not only his political friends but also his political opponents who are his personal friends, that we are shortly going to have in your Lordships' House Mr. Herbert Morrison? We shall all welcome him here. I understand he would have been here before, but, like me, he had a slight difference of opinion with Garter King of Arms as to what name he should call himself by. That raises a question which is not inappropriate on the Address, as to whether this official, whose integrity is, of course, beyond dispute, should be in the position of telling Members of your Lordships' House by what names they should call themselves. He is not responsible to any Minister, and I should have thought it would have been better—but I suppose it could be done only by petitioning the Crown—if the matter were settled by either the Committee for Privileges in your Lordships' House or a small ad hoc committee presided over by a Law Lord.
97 May I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Rea, on having such a very notable recruit on his Benches as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, whose conversion, if I may say so, is the most dramatic, most spectacular and most sudden that has occurred for 1900 years? I only hope he will be very happy on the Liberal Benches. The noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party was good enough to make some references to calculations I put forward in a previous debate, and I must admit that on first showing I appear to have miscalculated the position of the Liberal vote. But I should like to put this point to him, as we have been discussing this question in the debate. I understand—I may be wrong; I am basing myself on an article which appeared in a newspaper and which may not be accurate, but I think it was written by a Liberal—that if the particular system of voting which the noble Lord and his colleagues here and in another place advocate were put into operation, the result of the General Election would have bean that there would have been fifty instead of five Liberal Members of the House of Commons. But assuming that they took votes from the noble Lords opposite as well as from the Party on this side of the House, the Government majority would still have been between sixty and seventy, so that that most wicked thing, in the opinion of the Liberal and Labour Parties, a Tory Government, would still have been in power.
My Lords, would the noble Earl forgive me for intervening? I was not disputing that the result of the Election in general was what the country wanted, but if one takes the proportion of votes cast at the General Election it is quite evident that the Labour Party have got fewer seats than they are entitled to, though only a few fewer, and that the Liberals, on that analogy, should have thirty-seven instead of six Members. That would still leave a safe Conservative majority.
§ EARL WINTERTON
That is exactly what I was saying. I do not think we are in dispute. The point I was making was that there would still be a good, safe Conservative majority. Perhaps I might suggest—and I hope that this does not sound conceited, because, after all, I am not a member of the Government—that 98 the reason why there was a Conservative majority was perhaps principally, or merely inter alia, this fact: that, whatever its opponents may say, the Tory Party, if I may use a common phrase, has ceased to be a Party of reactionaries, or even of the Right. It is a Party of the Left Centre, and the feeling in this country is that of the Left Centre. There is no diehard feeling on the Right; and there is very little feeling of support, except a minority support, for what used to be known as Radicals.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I deny that there is a diehard Right, or, if there is one, that it has any influence on the policy of the Government. I think the answer to the noble Lord—and his was a perfectly proper question—is that if there had been a serious diehard Right the Government would not have been returned with the majority which they have. The fact that the Government have been so returned is evidence of the fact that this alleged diehard Right does not exist, or that it has no influence; because if it had influence on the Government, and if I am right in saying that what this country wants is a Government slightly to the Left of the Centre, the result that did occur would not have occurred. I think that that is the main reason for the result of the General Election.
It is sometimes said that the word "Conservative" is in itself a reactionary term, but what in fact the electors wanted at this Election was to conserve or preserve, whatever you like to call it, the great advance which had been made in the standard of living; to conserve or preserve peace., which they believed could be done more easily through the agency of the present Government than through the agency of its opponents; and generally to have a future which would be both prosperous and free from some of the anxieties of the past. Some people describe that as a purely materialistic point of view. I do not know whether it is or not, but it is certainly the point 99 of view of the majority of the electors in this country. And when noble Lords opposite refer to the Conservative Party as a capitalist Party, as both Parties of the Opposition do, they should remember that millions of wage-earners who have no capital at all except what they earn voted for our Party at the last Election and always have done so, and that no Government with a majority could exist in this country unless it obtained that majority very largely from the votes of wage-earners.
I do not want to keep your Lordships long, but I am now going to deal with a matter which is very controversial and for which I shall get little support from either side of the House. In what way does appeasement—a word which is supposed to be absolutely wicked and horrible — differ from peaceful coexistence? Or, to put it the other way about, in what way does peaceful co-existence differ from appeasement? Now if you look at the history of events in the last twenty years you will rind a considerable resemblance between these things. The Munich settlement was arrived at because we, the then Government, and our Leader, the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, believed that an effort must be made to prevent a second World War. I do not think it is giving away any official secret, or is a breach of the Official Secrets Act, to say that what guided Mr. Neville Chamberlain more than anything else was his belief (which may have been well-founded; we do not yet know) that a second World War would mean the end of civilisation. Of course, it was done to a considerable extent at the expense of Czechoslovakia, though we were under no treaty obligation, as some people suppose, to Czechoslovakia.
Now Sir Winston Churchill was faced with somewhat similar situations at Yalta, Teheran, Casablanca, and all the various conferences. Just as Mr. Chamberlain had rather unwillingly entered into the Munich Agreement, Sir Winston Churchill, equally unwillingly, accepted the views of Mr. Stalin and President Roosevelt which enabled the Russians to flood Europe, though, he has made it very clear in subsequent speeches and writings, he was well aware that this endangered the freedom and 100 liberty of millions of people and made them liable to be thrown into the slavery which they in fact suffer to-day—because nobody can deny that these once independent countries which are now behind the Iron Curtain are in that condition.
To come to more recent events, there was a time when at any rate the American policy was to say: "No agreement with Russia unless they are prepared to free the countries which they have under their heel behind the Iron Curtain". I think that noble Lords on both sides of the House will agree with that. That has been dropped and, I think quite rightly, we are trying to come to terms with the Russians. But we shall have to do it at the expense, in a sense, of these countries. So that what happened to Czechoslovakia before the war is not very different from what is going to happen to these countries behind the Iron Curtain in the future. In other words, their chances of once again having a national life of their own, free from interference from the Soviet, has practically disappeared.
I do not want to attack the Government or the Opposition or anybody else—as I say, I am a lone voice—but the interesting thing is that if I were making this speech in America, or in most of the European countries, everybody would agree with me. They say that it is, of course, only a piece of British hypocrisy to pretend that Mr. Chamberlain was a wicked man and that the Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries who have succeeded him differ to such a tremendous degree; and they say that it is a piece of British hypocrisy to say that appeasement and the attempt to conciliate Russia are two vastly different things. That is the opinion held in the United States and in Europe. But that does not prevent me from saying it and from adding my humble hope that the Summit Conference will be a success—though I think that noble Lords on both sides of the House will probably agree with me when I say, to use that other trite phrase, that we are inclined to treat the Summit like that blessed word "Mesopotamia". The Summit of itself will be of no value unless there is some form of pre-agreement or pre-understanding that will make it a success.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl a question, not at all in a fractious spirit? He called our attention to some of the painful realities of the situation and said that his view was more popular abroad than with us here. What course would the noble Earl actually recommend that has not been followed by the Government or recommended by the Opposition?
§ EARL WINTERTON
I entirely agree, and I am grateful to the noble Lord. I was going on to say that I am entirely in favour of doing everything possible to make a Summit Conference a success. I appreciate that in most respects there is a common foreign policy in this country. I think that that is a very good thing and we ought to be grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for the steps he has taken to get that position. At the same time, I hope that noble Lords opposite will not think I am introducing a Party note when I say that we on this side of the House feel that foreign policy is safer in the hands of a Party which in the main is more united in its methods of obtaining a certain result than is the Labour Party, because apparently there are still these difficulties of opinion, which have not been wholly resolved, on the question of nuclear weapons.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I take the noble Earl's point. In view of his last statement about why the Labour Party could not be so trusted, perhaps I should say that I cannot find any record that the foreign policy of the Labour Government has ever brought us to the disasters we had on occasions when the Labour Party were not in office.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, what I was really thinking of was what the noble Viscount's colleague Mr. Bevin called the constant stabbing in the back which he received from members of his own Party. I am afraid that it is true that the Foreign Minister of a Government of the Left has more difficulty in making his policy than the Foreign Minister of a Government of the Right. It may be that Tories are more complacent. That is a perfectly good point for noble Lords opposite to make.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, this is very interesting. This is the real cut and thrust of debate. I have never noticed that it was only a Labour Foreign Secretary who was constantly in danger of stabs in the back. I was wholeheartedly behind Sir Winston Churchill in all his stabbing in the back and I was wholly behind Sir Anthony Eden and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when they retired, differing from a Government of the Right on foreign policy.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, all I can say is that the noble Viscount and I must differ on that point. I think that Governments of the Right on the whole—although this is not very complimentary—have more Party discipline than Governments of the Left. That reminds me of a point I intended to make earlier. I see that the noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party is in his place. He will not mind my saying that we in the Tory Party are slightly offended at the suggestion that a Liberal foreign policy would be more successful and progressive than the Tory one. May I remind him of some things which took place in my lifetime, but which are almost forgotten—namely, that the situation in the first South African War was not very well handled by a Liberal Government, nor was the situation in Khartoum when General Gordon was murdered.
As regards the South African War, as the noble Lord knows, many members of the Liberal Party fiercely attacked the policy of the Government in what the majority of the people of this country thought was a just war. One thing I would remind him of, which has considerable reference to conditions in Africa to-day, is a matter which is far too little known and which the widow of a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House, Lady Milner, who died recently, called attention to in a letter to The Times in 1908. When there was an enormous Liberal majority in another place, a Bill was brought forward which became the foundation of the present South African Constitution, I was a Member of another place at the time, and both Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and Mr. Balfour, as he then was, deprecated the passage of that Bill at that time, for several reasons. One was that the Milner Constitution should have been 103 given a chance to work, though eventually self-government would have had to be conferred on South Africa. Secondly, at that time there was a large emigration of people from this country to South Africa, and they said frankly that better relations would exist between the Afrikaaners (as they are now called, but they were then known as the Dutch) and the British if their numbers were more equal.
Lastly, and I would commend this to the attention of the noble Lords opposite, some Members in that debate—and I heard all of them—pointed out that there was nothing in the Constitution to safeguard the interests of Africans in the Union. I must say frankly that I consider that it was the premature passage of that Bill which has led to a state of affairs in the Union which I do not think anyone on either side of the House likes —apartheid, with its bad treatment of the Africans, and the fact that it is practically impossible for a South African of British descent to obtain a job in the Civil Service, in the Police Force or even in the Armed Forces. In other words, the Afrikaaners have won back what they lost in the South African War.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I sat in that Parliament too, and I would ask the noble Earl this: does he say now that he justifies Mr. Chamberlain's view of the war in 1899? Secondly, I remember that debate and the South Africa Act of 1910. Does he say that we could have conciliated the Dutch and made a stable Dominion without the concessions he referred to?
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, the noble Viscount could not have listened to my speech. I was not concerned with whether the South African War was a just war or not. What I said was—though I do not want to bore your Lordships by repeating the whole argument—that by the premature granting of a Constitution, though admittedly we should eventually have had to give self-government, certain evil things happened. I am not going to recount them again, but I do not think the noble Viscount can deny that they have happened. I have talked to many responsible South Africans, including many Afrikaaners, in private, and they have all agreed with what I have said.
§ LORD BRAND
My Lords, I took part in the making of the South African Constitution. Is the noble Earl referring to the 1906 Constitution given to the Transvaal and the Free State or to the Union Constitution of 1909? If he is referring to the Union of 1909, I do not think that it was possible for the British Parliament to turn down a Constitution democratically arrived at in South Africa and brought over for ratification by the British Parliament. It would not have been possible to turn that down and say that we were going to govern them.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I am sorry I did not make myself clear to you Lordships. What I said was—and I think here that the noble Lord will be sympathetic towards my point of view—that I should have preferred to see the Milner Constitution, which he and other talented young men helped to form, continue a little longer. I do not agree with him that it is necessary or always desirable that when you win a war you should immediately give to your enemies in that war what they were asking before the war started.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, it is very difficult to answer questions from all parts of the Chamber. What I was referring to was the Constitution of, I think it was, 1908, or it may have been 1909.
§ EARL WINTERTON
That is what I said. Now perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, would like to ask his question.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I was asking whether the noble Earl would like to give us his opinion about the Crimean War.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Does the noble Earl still contend that there is no die-hard section of the Conservative Party?
§ EARL WINTERTON
No, but what I am astonished at is that noble Lords opposite should not accept the fact that it was the premature grant of this Constitution which led to the result which we deplore on this side as much as they do. That is what I was referring to, and I should have thought that there would be general agreement about it.
I have only one or two other comments on foreign affairs. There is in this country—I am not accusing noble Lords of being unduly influenced by it—in certain organs of the Press, what the Americans call a "fuddy-duddy" point of view which believes that the electorate are vastly interested in certain questions of external policy in which in fact they are not interested, and it is that which partly led to the defeat of the Labour Party. They put forward these points of view, no doubt with the utmost sincerity, in which really the public are not interested and they are still doing so. "Suez" has run through almost every speech since the Election. When I heard the speech of the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, and having read one or two speeches made in another place, I am reminded of a remark, which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, will remember, made by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Lord Balfour came back after the heaviest defeat the Tory Party ever had, and the day after he had taken his seat made a speech of a kind which his enemies would describe as "airy-fairy". Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was a far less efficient debater than Mr. Balfour (as he then was) got up and, amid thunderous cheers from his supporters, including no doubt the noble Viscount opposite, said: "The right honourable gentleman is like the Bourbons: he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing." When I hear these constant references to Suez I am inclined to apply that statement to the Labour Party.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
But the noble Earl has forgotten that Mr. Balfour was defeated in the Election and was not there.
§ EARL WINTERTON
The noble Viscount should have listened to what said. I said that when he had been returned for the City the first speech which he made the day after he took his seat was on those lines. I do not believe that the average voter was the 106 least interested in what happened at Suez. I think that many of them, when the matter was brought up, said: "The only pity is that they did not finish off Nasser once and for all."
§ EARL WINTERTON
It is all very well for the noble Lord to say "Oh!". I am not giving my point of view, but that of the electors. Equally, when it comes to Cyprus I think the Party opposite, listening to these "fuddy-duddies" in the Press, did themselves great harm by their statements about Cyprus. What is the situation there? Thousands and thousands of British subjects have served in Her Majesty's Forces in Cyprus, Malaya and elsewhere, and they are deeply incensed when members of the Opposition talk about atrocities either by the police or by the soldiers. The attitude of the ordinary man in the street is that, so far from our having been too ferocious, we showed a leniency in dealing with the state of affairs in Cyprus, which was very serious, that probably no other nation in the world would have shown. I do not believe the Americans would have shown such leniency, nor do I believe would the French.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, on Cyprus, after the serious things the noble Earl has said, how does he cover up the statement of the Prime Minister during the Election that it was a small affair, a quarrel between Greeks and Turks, and the Conservative Government settled it? Is that the view of the noble Earl? And does he think that that is the view of the country?
§ EARL WINTERTON
Yes, I do. Just as I believe—and I think history will support my belief—that our intervention at Suez prevented war between Israelis and Egyptians which might have led to a flare-up in the whole Middle East, so I believe that had we evacuated Cyprus and done what noble Lords opposite apparently wanted us to do, namely, wash our hands of the whole thing, not only would civil war have broken out between the Greeks and the Turks there but very likely there would have been war between Greece and Turkey. I am astonished at the attitude of noble Lords opposite. We have now got a reasonable chance of a settlement in Cyprus, 107 and I should have thought that, instead of harping upon what happened in the past and criticising the Prime Minister for his statement during the Election, the noble Viscount would have said that he appreciated and supported in every possible way the effort made by Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk and the two Governments to try to arrive at a settlement and to make Cyprus a happy island, just as it was in the past before the trouble started.
Lastly, as regards Nyasaland, as I have said, it is very hard to interest the ordinary person in this country in the problem, but I strongly support, if I may so with all respect and without impertinence, what my noble Leader said in the course of his speech, when he appealed for a non-Party approach to the future of Central Africa. Believe me, my Lords, the impression that Parties of the Left have given in this country, and certainly that the "fuddy-duddies" in the Press have given, that there is a considerable body of opinion here that is anti-African European and pro-African native, is a deplorable one. It is the duty of every responsible statesman in this country not to be pro one or the other but to try to arrive at a multi-racial settlement, which it should be remembered a great number of earnest and patriotic Africans are as much concerned to bring about as any Europeans.
I am obliged to your Lordships for listening with such patience to so long a speech, but I must explain that it would have been much shorter but for the fact that at one time, no doubt due to my own fault, it resolved itself into almost a public meeting, with questions being put to me from all parts of the Chamber. I would say only this in conclusion: that, despite the criticisms I have made, I think we are most fortunate in this country in that the leaders of all Parties on certain broad issues of policy both at home and abroad are agreed.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I feel that the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, has utterly disproved the suggestion made by the noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party earlier this afternoon, that the noble Earl was in that difficult 108 period when he was moving from political maturity in another place to political second childhood in your Lordships' House. For my part, I can bear witness to the fact that in his most enjoyable speech to which we have just listened the noble Earl was just as good-humoured, just as generous, just as vigorous and provocative and just as unsound in his facts as he was when I first had the privilege of listening to him fourteen years ago.
§ LORD STONHAM
I would bear witness also to the fact that his vision is just as clear as it was then. The trouble is that the noble Earl can only look firmly to the Right and cannot see anything in any other direction. That was proved when he said that the Conservative Party no longer has a diehard section. The Party's diehard Right will never be dead so long as the noble Earl is alive, which we all trust will be for many more years.
When he said that the whole Party was now Left of centre, I would remind your Lordships that the Conservative Party, quite apart from viewing an accession of strength by the addition of certain members, got itself entirely rid of the only Left Wing that it had in another place in the persons of such enlightened Conservative Members as Mr. Nigel Nicolson and Mr. Montgomery Hyde. I would, however, congratulate the noble Earl on his perspicacity in deciding, in making his speech, to say nothing at all about the gracious Speech. Therein I think he showed a great deal of wisdom, for so far as legislation is concerned the only positive proposals, apart from penal reform, appear to be those dealing with horticulture, fisheries and the betting laws. In fact, we could describe the Government's intentions, as set out in the Paper which we are debating, as "fish and chips, and a bob each way," and not very much more.
A pessimist on these Benches, noting the absence from the gracious Speech of positive proposals for dealing with any of the major problems confronting this country, might be forgiven for looking at the next five years and thinking. "What an appalling prospect! Another 109 five years of rising prices, rising unemployment, profiteering, racketeering, takeover bids, Stock Exchange gambles, and perhaps with it stagnation of production and possibly another Suez—the lot." Fortunately, however, I am a confirmed optimist, and I take heart from the two promises in the gracious Speech which I regard as supremely important; and I know that, as I develop my argument, the noble Earl will be saying to himself, "There is another 'fuddy-duddy'." But I submit that the most important promises in the gracious Speech are, first:The improvement of conditions of life in the less developed countries … will remain an urgent concern of my Government.and, secondly,They will seek to develop the material resources on which the standard of living of the peoples of the Commonwealth must depend and will at the same time foster the spiritual values which form our common heritage.I refrain for the moment from asking whether, in keeping Dr. Banda and his associates in prison without trial, we are fostering the spiritual values on which we place so much store.
I want to ask the Government a direct question—precisely what their "urgent concern" to improve conditions of life in the less developed countries means in terms of hard cash. "Hard cash" was the expression used by the noble Earl, Lord Home, during his speech, when he referred to this question but did not answer it, I would submit that it is one of the most important questions which the Government have to answer. In the last financial year our shameful contribution, as a great nation, in bilateral aid for under-developed countries was only £93 million. That is just a little more than our womenfolk spend on cosmetic. It is about one farthing per week per head for the underfed peoples of the world.
The noble Earl referred slightingly to percentages. He said that we in the Labour Party like to quote percentages of the national income as the amount of aid that we would give. He said that we were the Party of paper promises, whilst the Conservative Party were the Party of deeds. In this field I would ask: Has any greater deed been performed by any Government in the history 110 of this country than the transfer of power in India, and the fact that 400 million people in that vast sub-continent are still the friends of this country, far more than they ever were, and that they are within the Commonwealth? I submit that suggestions of the kind made by the noble Earl are quite unworthy of him and unworthy of the Government.
Therefore, if the Government do not like percentages, I would ask this direct question: Do they, in fact, intend to increase the contribution which this country makes to the assistance of the underdeveloped countries to the 1 per cent. of the national income, some £200 million, which was approximately what the Labour Party promised would be done if we were returned to power? Or do the Government intend to rely, or continue to rely, on sophistries, and to allow their spiritual values to be so low that they will continue to allow the United Nations Children's Fund to spend more in British Colonies than we contribute to the fund? I would submit that it is utter nonsense to suggest that we cannot afford more. Must we in Britain, who should be the moral leaders of the Western World, be obliged to stand trial for cruelty by wilful neglect? Do the Government not realise that for the great majority of mankind the greatest fear is not war but hunger? It is the dominant theme of life in large parts of Africa and Asia, where the prayer, in whatever language it is uttered, "Give us this day our daily bread", is a totally unrealised dream.
Just as, in my submission, the Government are beginning to put the clock back in this country by increasing the disparity in incomes, so they are playing a leading and unworthy part in increasing this disparity between living standards here and in the under-privileged two-thirds of the world. Because whereas we are saving and investing an average of some £30 per head per year, the non-industrial countries of Asia and elsewhere have only £20 a head to live on. The noble Earl, Lord Home, quite rightly said that what we really had to look at was what we were saving for investment. That was one of the factors which determined the contribution we could make to the assistance of the countries to which I referred. He also said that the other factor was the balance of payments. But it is beyond question—it is one of the 111 boasts of the Government, and they are quite right to mention it—that we are saving more than we ever did; and therefore it is quite wrong to suggest that we cannot do very much more than we are.
We are saving per head of the population more than the peoples in the underdeveloped countries are spending on everything. Our £30 per head per year of savings compares with their £20 per head per year for everything. Because we have the capital to make use of modern scientific and technical discoveries and they have not, the gap is becoming even wider. We are one of the nineteen richest countries in the world, which together have one-sixth of the world's people and two-thirds of the world's income, whereas the fifteen poorest countries have half the world's people and one-tenth of the income. There are 1,660 million people in the world who are underfed, and three-quarters of them will die before they reach the age of thirty. I would ask the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, if he thinks it is a "fuddy-duddy" expression of opinion that these two worlds, one well-fed and one hungry, cannot live side by side in friendship. While we allow this situation to continue and do almost nothing about it we cannot prosper, we cannot be at peace, and we do not deserve to be at peace. That is why I submit that the two passages which I have quoted from the gracious Speech are supremely important if they are going to be implemented, because they point to a situation which is a bigger potential danger than the H-bomb.
I say that, for a variety of reasons, the need for urgent large-scale action on our part has become greater than ever it was. First, because in future, under the new rules which have just been announced, the recipients of loans from the United States Development Loan Fund must spend the money in America, and this is bound to have a serious effect on our exports. As The Times leading article said yesterday, the United States justly feels that—Europe is still not providing as much as it ought in aid to the underdeveloped countries.andIf Europe does not play its part, the Russians may".112 The writer might have added that France's contribution is three times as much as ours. Would anybody pretend that their economic situation is as favourable as ours? Yet their contribution is so much larger. Mention of Russia slightly underlines the importance of another factor (if the noble Earl does not agree with these figures I will quote the actual figures, but I am quoting from official sources), namely, the rapidly increasing population of many of these countries. Ten years ago the population of Asia was some 1,320 million. In 15 years time it is forecast that the population will be 2,200 million—a two-thirds increase. It is only the urgent and increasing application of the money and technical assistance which we can supply that can bring to a stop the dangerous and awful snowball of human suffering which is implicit in these figures.
Thirdly, there is the question of our own increasing production which is referred to in the gracious Speech. We are, as I see it, coming to the top of the hill—we may have already reached it—where we can see the possibility, to put it no higher, of a political peace. That itself will bring in its train many problems, but there will be far greater problems arising through the application of the marvels of electronics and nuclear science to industry. If we do make use of our resources as the Government say we are going to, there is bound to be a tremendous increase of production, not only here but in many other countries of the world. Therefore the prospect before us at the top of the hill, as we look at the Promised Land, is a choice: are we, having willed the means of production, also going to will the means for consumption, for proper distribution? If we do, then it is going to mean an era of plenty and peace in the world. If we do not, then all these new inventions, whether or not temporarily there is peace, are going to bring misery, redundancy, bankruptcy and hopelessness; and there cannot be any two opinions about that, to whatever political Party we belong.
I could suggest that we on this side of the House might be better able to plan that situation than the Government can, but that is not the point. The situation most certainly confronts the world, and the Government ought to say what 113 they are going to do about it, and, in particular, what they are going to do about the need for expanding markets overseas. What possible better outlook could there be than the demand that will be created by raising the living standards of the under-privileged people? It is the greatest possible market that could be provided. Just to consider one small example, many of the Indian farmers have an income of about £10 a year. Some time ago there was an effort to sell some of them the cheapest of iron ploughs to replace their age-old wooden ploughs. The man earning £10 in a year as total income could not possibly afford to buy a plough. Many of them just bought an iron ploughshare. That is just one example of the possibilities and the immense potentialities.
The noble Earl quite rightly referred to the huge project, the Kariba Dam, which is going to do an immense amount of good when it is operating. That is one project about which we are all unitedly glad, but compared with the great need of these vast countries it is figuratively a drop in the ocean. But with sufficient money for dams to control the waters and provide electric power, with machines and fertilisers for increased crops, with modern knowledge applied to stock rearing, the living standards of these peoples could be steadily and substantially raised. I am not talking about doubling or increasing by 33½ per cent.: even a 5 per cent. increase in the living standards of these people could make an immense difference to the demand for the produce of our factories.
One other thing is necessary if we are to succeed in this effort: the Government must take the lead in the United Nations in seeking international agreements to stabilise basic commodity prices. A drop of only 5 per cent. in average exports prices would be sufficient to wipe out the entire inflow of private and public capital plus Government grants to the underdeveloped countries. In the one year, 1958, the fall in the prices of primary goods cost the underdeveloped countries, 2,000 million dollars. Considering their living standards, considering the abject nature of their poverty, that is an absolute crime, that sum of 2,000 million dollars—six times the entire amount of loans which they had from the World Bank during 114 that same year. I say that to take that vast sum from these near-starving people is a crime which we must all do our best to see does not happen again.
I am perfectly well aware that those of us who advocate help for the poorer nations are often called impractical idealists. I can assure the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, that I did face the electorate during the Election—
§ EARL WINTERTON
If I may intervene, the noble Lord keeps suggesting that I am opposed to what he is saying on the subject of the under-developed countries. On the contrary, I could not agree with him more. I hope he will not make a Party issue of it. There should be a general urge in this and other Western countries, and in America, to carry out the principles he is enunciating.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am delighted to have that assurance. But the noble Earl did make certain observations about "fuddy-duddies" who put to the electorate conditions overseas about which they were not interested at all, and since he has said—and I hope he is right—that this is not a Party matter, I can tell him that although I spent nearly three weeks during the Election campaigning and travelled 2,000 miles, and addressed many meetings, I always made an appeal of this kind. It may interest him to know that for the first time in my life I actually made converts at Election meetings of four Conservatives who told me they were converted just on this issue which they felt their own Party were not sufficiently prepared to support. I hope they now will. Certainly those of us who do advocate this kind of help for poorer nations are often called impractical idealists, the word "idealists" being used as a term of reproach.
In my view, my Lords, idealist or not, the case for large-scale aid from Britain rests firmly on common sense, self-interest and self-preservation. I feel that most firmly. I think it is the best way of ensuring prosperity, and it is the only way of ensuring peace. It is the one way in which the Government can show that they really believe in civilised living for all people, and show that we intend to resume the moral leadership of the world and to play a leading rôle in world affairs, not by gunboats, as in the old days, but 115 by using our unique position at the head of the Commonwealth to assist in the creation of a new form of international society. I hope that when the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, comes to reply he will not push this issue aside but will be able to tell us in concrete terms, in terms of hard cash, as his noble friend mentioned, just what extra effort is going to be made in this field, so that we shall then know that the fine words of the gracious Speech are going soon to be converted into deeds.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD TWINING
My Lords, I am sure that the people of Africa will have noted with great satisfaction that African affairs have been given an honourable and prominent place in the gracious Speech; and they will know, too, that the noble Lord who introduced this Motion is well-known for his study of African affairs and will know the contribution which he has made towards them. Since I have been in England this summer I have noticed that a great deal more interest than in the past is being taken in African affairs, but that people find themselves rather bewildered as to the real state of affairs. They read about boycotts, riots and unrest; they read about emergent demagogs and African teddy-boy antics among political leaders, and they want to know what the truth is. If only they would visit Africa they would find a very different state of affairs.
I have been in East Africa since 1923 and I have never known the three territories in better fettle. The enormous progress which has been made, materially, politically, and I think I may say spiritually, in those three territories since the war is quite outstanding, and I only wish that more people could go there to see for themselves. Of course, the African people have their emergent demagogs and their teddy-boys, but the great majority of the Africans are sound and sensible people. We have one enormous asset there, and that is a mass of goodwill. It is extraordinary the way they still turn to one to ask for advice on the most delicate political matters on which they might think that one was opposed to their views. It is extraordinary the trust which they put in one's answers. I feel that this goodwill is a 116 thing which we must maintain, because it is only through that goodwill that we can find solutions to the problem.
With regard to African leaders, there are a number that I know of who are sound men of character and sincerity and who want to do the best for their people. They include political leaders who, although sometimes their emotions get the better of their reasoning when they are addressing a public meeting, are thinking sincerely as to how they can lead their people to attain self-government. I was talking to one the other day who said, "The trouble is that your Government has promised us self-government through responsible government, and ultimately independence. But you keep on putting obstacles in the way and making difficulties which we sometimes feel do not exist. What can we do about it? Would it not be possible for us to have a Working Party or a meeting at which your Government could be well represented and my people could be represented, and the minority groups could also be represented? Then we could face up to the realities of the situation, to see what these obstacles and difficulties are.
"They tell me that these include the economic, viable and financial position of the country. That must be put right before they can get self-government. It is said that they have not got enough people to train to man the posts to run the country, and they say that that must be put right first. We Africans are impatient, and we want to be shown the facts of the situation and to have a hand in finding solutions, so as to get self-government the more quickly." I believe that that is a positive approach and one which should be looked at closely. I believe that it was made with great sincerity, and I believe that it could be followed in other African territories than that about which this African leader was speaking.
With regard to economic development, we have heard various noble Lords' ideas on this subject and there is little more that I can say, except that although the contributions by Her Majesty's Government have been generous and have in the past been perhaps as much as this country can afford, with the renewed prosperity which we are getting and which, with the new Government, we 117 hope will continue and increase, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take a new look at the matter from time to time to see whether the contributions cannot be increased. If we cannot increase these contributions we should look elsewhere to see which countries can supply some money to help in the development of Africa, because it needs an enormous amount.
I have been talking to Africans about economic development. They say, "Why cannot you do something for us?" When we say, "We are. Look at the roads and hospitals, Government offices, docks and factories which we are building", they say, "Yes, but it does not get down to us in the villages." I believe that it is most important that we should find the money from somewhere to finance hundreds of small schemes in various rural areas to help the people to help themselves. They must contribute something too; but it is the more backward people who are not blessed with good soil and climate who need that help. Those who live on Kilimanjaro can look after themselves to some extent, but we must go to where it is difficult to get quick results and where capital has to be expended. I hope that during this next Parliament it will be possible for your Lordships' House to be given ample opportunities to discuss African affairs dispassionately. I am glad to hear that we are to have another debate on African affairs next week. I am sure that the people of Africa, of all races, will be glad to hear that this interest is being taken.
Lastly, may I pay my tribute to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family for the part that they have played in African affairs? The fact that Her Majesty confided her secret to an African Prime Minister has been very well received in Africa. I happened to be in Kenya and to be privileged to witness the visit of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. It was like a tonic to people of all races because of the magnificent way in which she responded with the gracious humanity which she possesses. I am sure that her visit did a tremendous amount of good, and that her visit to open the Kariba Dam will do a great deal of good in Central Africa.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, it is so late and everyone has gone home that it does not seem worth while to revive a debate which, to me, has been one of the most delightful that I have "ever been privileged", I think we say, to attend. I think there should be a rule that nobody over 80, or perhaps I should say 75, should be allowed to indulge in these debates. I see that the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, has gone home now. It is before 7 o'clock. I have heard him from the Back-Benches make a speech that F. E. Smith said that he was not going to deliver because there was no one to cheer him. He certainly provides the most charming example of the dominant influence in the Conservative Party, which is, of course, an absolutely unteachable reaction. That is just by the way.
I have a "thing" about Africa. I was hoping that the Lord Chancellor would be here—of course, I am not asking that he should be here—but I will mention it. Before that, I should like to say how much I appreciated the speech made by Lord Twining with so much experience and knowledge. I do not know any particular rule about the locking-up of people without trial in Tanganyika. Does he, as an experienced Governor of African territories, really approve of about a thousand people—it must be a thousand—in the three territories being locked up, with no public appearance, without any charge being made against them, and with the House of Commons merely being told by the Government, "Read the Devlin Report — 'you must act or abdicate'"? That is the only defence that can be made in this House. More will be heard of that next week, because this is a matter that really touches our conscience. I have been to East Africa only once, a long time ago, but this has nothing to do with that. This concerns the rights of mankind, and these things are very much in jeopardy at the present time. I quite agree with the casual remark made by the noble Earl, Lord Winterton; but if we look at the security regulations recently made in Singapore between Singapore, the Malayan Federation and our own security officer—I suppose Sir Robert Scott—they are the most severe 119 and inequitable things I have ever read. Yet they have the approval of all those people.
To an old Liberal like myself—I am sorry that the Liberal Party which holds a balanced view between both sides has now disappeared—these are really deep-rooted feelings in the hearts of the British people, and I hope that next week we shall hear something like a more reasonable explanation. I myself propose to put down a Motion—I do not mean a Motion for debate but for Papers. I am going to ask Her Majesty's Government this: will they make a return, say three-monthly, of how many people are held in detention without trial in certain territories, stating how long they have been there and, if possible, the reason for their detention? I think that that is a reasonable thing to do.
That leads me to my last point on Africa. This is a most extraordinary case, and that is why I am sorry that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor is not here, but I will rehearse it now and he can read what I say and answer these questions after consideration. It is the extraordinary case of a gentleman called Mwenya. This gentleman is a teacher of some kind. I believe he calls himself a microscopist. He has been confined ever since 1956. He has been told to go to some place and stay there. He was a persistent man. He came forward and demanded the rights of habeas corpus— appearance in court and trial. The Government resisted and resisted. He was put away in 1956 and in 1959—the day before yesterday—the Appeal Court declared that the Government had no power to do what they have been doing and that he must be released; and, as they sometimes say in the police court, the Attorney-General prayed that eighteen other cases might be taken into consideration, and so eighteen other people who had been similarly illegally confined were all liberated.
The Attorney-General said that the arrangement was that he was not going to contest their case. And what do your Lordships think was the reason? —that just at this juncture, when the Appeal Court found that the Government had been acting with absolute illegality, the 120 sun had come out, the sky had brightened and there was no need at all for the detentions; and as there was no need, the Attorney-General would not pursue the matter any further; so these nineteen people are to be released. That is amusing to us, but it is not amusing to a man who has been put into exile or—I do not know what you would call it—"rustication" or whatever it is. That is a very disgraceful thing in our history, and I hope, therefore, that as I have expounded it in a perfectly amicable way the noble and learned Viscount or the Colonial Minister will deal with the subject with care and in detail on Tuesday when we are raising other matters.
Now we have the privilege of having the Foreign Office Minister here and there are two matters with which I wish he would deal. One was dealt with at great length and I thought in a very interesting way by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. It is a remarkable thing that all the back history of Tibet, going back to 1900 or 1903 to the time of Sir Francis Younghusband, whom I knew, was not referred to. All the discussion was as though it had started in 1951. I will not ask the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, to give us the history of Tibet since the Younghusband Expedition, but I ask him to answer this question: is it not a fact that the situation in Asia is getting more difficult, particularly for our great partner Dominion, the Republic of India, and would not their position be very much easier if the Chinese Republic were in the United Nations? An Indian said to me in New York on the Tibet issue: "If we had had an opportunity of seeing a real representative of Peking there our work would have been much more useful and the situation would have been much clearer."
The whole situation, of course, is fouled by the fact that a foreign Power maintains a rebel remnant in a neighbouring island. No one approves of that. I do not know what suggestions the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has for getting rid of the island. Everyone has ideas, of course, but the main point is that this rebel remnant is not the Government of China. We all know and I do not think anyone in this House would disagree. But I want to ask the Minister this: why is it that year after year we have to go and cut that pitiful figure at the United 121 Nations? The representative of India, our great partner in the Commonwealth, conies forward and asks that the China Government should take its proper place. We do not say, "We are very sorry, but the State Department regards this as so important that we dare not act." What is said is always that it is not an opportune moment, and so on. Would the noble Marquess say whether the situation is not becoming so much more difficult that it would be greatly to our advantage if China could be properly represented, and why it is not possible for us to be a little more emphatic with the State Department? After all, General de Gaulle says he will go or he will not, and Mr. Adenauer says what he thinks; yet we seem to have no influence at all in the affair. That is my first point.
My second is this. Broadly speaking, the foreign situation in the Pacific is that there are two policies for keeping the peace. One is what might be called the Dulles policy, which was a policy of strong points surrounding China. The other is the policy of Panch Shila, and it is remarkable that Panch Shila has so far prevented any serious outbreak of trouble. Now which policy does Her Majesty's Government believe in?—because it is not just a question of back history; it is the question of the moment. I spent some time in Laos and all those districts some two years ago, and in Laos it looks as if the State Department were determined to have another strong point there. They have Korea; there is Japan, of course, the Philippines and Formosa; and Mr. Dulles had his eye on Laos. That was perfectly clear when Sir Anthony Eden went to the Geneva Conference and got that remarkable settlement with the Commission which had Indians at its head. Why has that been abandoned? Does the noble Marquess not think that it is because the American State Department desire to be strong and regard this base as another one of their chain of fortresses; and, if so, what is the view of Her Majesty's Government on this point?
I hope I have not taken up too much time but I have mentioned the fact of this remarkable legal case which I hope will be dealt with fully, and I have put two questions to the noble Marquess: first, whether it would be possible to make quite clear to the State Department that Her Majesty's Government cannot 122 hold the situation for ever and that the people of this country want to see justice done to the Republic of China; and finally, could he give some light on the Laotian question and indicate whether the present policy of Her Majesty's Government is to favour the encirclement of China according to the line recommended by Mr. Dulles? Those are one or two simple questions which I put to the noble Marquess and which I am sure he can dispose of, and I will therefore thank him for listening and give him an opportunity to give me a full reply.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, at this late hour I think you would neither expect me nor wish me to attempt to go into all the details of this very wide-ranging debate, so I do not propose to touch on attachments to the diehard Right, electoral reform, emergent demagogues—an expression which I must say I myself particularly dislike, and I think perhaps it is only in my dislike of that that I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, this evening. Nor am I going to discuss bee-keeping, to which the noble Leader referred in his admirable speech; nor, my Lords, would you expect me to talk about Africa. I have listened with great interest to the speeches made this afternoon and this evening about Africa, thoughtful speeches made by noble Lords of great experience, and I understand that next week we shall have an opportunity of discussing the African problem in detail when a Minister responsible for that will be able to reply and take part. I, therefore, with your Lordships' permission, propose to confine myself primarily to questions directly related to the Department in which I work, primarily to matters of foreign affairs.
I should like at the outset of my remarks to talk about East-West relations and the Summit. The noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, referred to this matter in his speech—and, indeed, many other noble Lords have done so, too. I was surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Rea, state that it was not clear to him what the policy of Her 123 Majesty's Government was in relation to the Summit. Had he read the speech of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place yesterday I think he would have had no doubts whatsoever what the policy of Her Majesty's Government is. Very briefly, I should like to put in my own words what was said in another place yesterday about the Summit.
We in the Conservative Government believe that a Summit should take place as soon as it is practicably possible; and it is to that end that we have been working. It is no use denying that there were certain differences about whether or not it was desirable in fact to hold a Summit earlier, or even to hold a Summit at all. Those differences have mostly already been dissipated. But now we find that one of the members of the Western Alliance feels that the Summit should not take place at an early date—I refer, of course, to our friend and ally, France. The Prime Minister has said—and I am sure that this view is shared by all who wish well to France, and we in this country do wish well to France—that it is good and wise that Mr. Khrushchev should go to France and discuss matters with the President of the French Republic; and we welcome that visit just as we welcomed the visit of Mr. Khrushchev to the United States of America. After all, I think we may take some credit in this country and in this Government for having started this chain of valuable visits which has taken place; and so we hope that together the Western Allies will discuss and come to an agreement as to when best the Summit should take place. There is nothing I have read, and nothing I have heard, that makes me think that that is not the wish of all the Western Allies, that the Summit should take place as soon as is practicably possible.
But, my Lords, I think it would be wrong not to draw attention to what I believe is a difference in the view about the nature of the Summit which is held in this country and that in the minds of the statesmen of some of the allied countries. I have confirmation of that difference from a note which I read to-day in The Times attributing certain observations to Monsieur Debré, the Prime Minister of France, in which I under 124 stood him to use the words, "the final Summit." That suggests to me that in France perhaps there is this thought that the Summit—and I personally regret the name "Summit"; I think it is an unfortunate name—is a final be-all and end-all, a solution of all problems. That has never been the view, as your Lordships well know, of Her Majesty's Government, and I think it has not been the view of most people in the United Kingdom.
We believe in a series of Summits. We believe that it is not possible to resolve the tremendous problems which divide the East and the West in what would probably be a meeting of only two or three days. When the great Congress of Vienna took place it went on and on, and they thought they were going to be able to settle the problems of the whole of Europe. That went on, as your Lordships remember, for a long, long time; but a Summit Conference, in the nature of things in these days, could not be of long duration, and therefore we in this country and in Her Majesty's Government firmly believe that, although a Summit is intensely important, we should not allow our sense of proportion to be lost. I think, if I may say so with great respect, that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister yesterday in another place was wise to draw the attention of the people of this country to the deception that there could be, the hideous disappointment there could be, if we built up this Summit as a final be-all and end-all, and then a very small result came from it.
Therefore we believe in, and it is our intention that we should promote, this idea of constant negotiation, repeated visits, gradually eating away at the problems which exist between us, gradually coming to an understanding; and we do not believe, my Lords, that that can be achieved at a meeting, however well planned, however well prepared, that is going to last for, say, only two or three days. Therefore, I beg your Lordships not to have in your minds—and I do not suppose you have—this idea of a final Summit. And I hope our friends in France will not think in those terms either.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I think I agree with the noble Marquess on that point. What I feel is unfortunate is that people 125 in the country here have been deceived by the sort of thing that has been said: "It is all settled. We are going to have the date in about five or six days." That was not the mistake of France. That seems to have been the mistake of the Prime Minister.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, the noble Viscount would hardly expect me to agree with his intervention, and I do not think, with great respect, that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister ever gave any such impression at all.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Well, it was not the impression which I drew, be that as it may.
I want now to say a word about something which seems to me to be a great step forward. Certain noble Lords have referred to Mr. Khrushchev's disarmament proposals. They were described as "a bombshell". None of the noble Lords on the other side of the House, I regret, has referred to our disarmament proposals. I do not quite know why. They are not all that dissimilar. As noble Lords are well aware, we have been trying for many years, and we have received very little encouragement from the Russians; but we now wholeheartedly welcome their proposals. I remember the words of the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, and I endorse them. He said, "We welcome this with open arms". Of course we do; but I hope his arms were equally open in their welcome to the proposals which were put forward by his own Government.
But although our arms may be open, my Lords, and although we welcome what has been offered, it does not mean that the proposals do not have to be scrutinised very carefully indeed, and in this I know that noble Lords on all sides of the House will agree with me. However, there does appear to be a certain measure of progress, for the Russian proposals no longer contain a demand for an immediate ban on nuclear weapons before any start can be made with reductions in conventional forces. This is a very big change, and it is a move in the direction of balanced disarmament, which is what we have been constantly advocating. So we welcome 126 that: we welcome it very much. Then, again, foreign bases are to be abolished only as conventional disarmament becomes complete. Here again is a very marked degree of progress, and we welcome that.
Now, my Lords, as has been mentioned several times in the course of this debate, we know that the Ten-Power Group on Disarmament has been set up, and next year it will come into operation.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Would not the noble Marquess add another thing to the credit of the Russians: that either now or previously at Geneva they have agreed to a measure of inspection in connection with disarmament, which was also a very fundamental point?
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
And would the noble Marquess at the same time comment on the report that the Democratic Party have proposed an expenditure of £4,500 million on the production of guided missiles in the next five years?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I am not prepared to comment on that, my Lords. But I am perfectly prepared to concede, and gladly concede, that there has been a further advance made there. Do not think for one moment, my Lords, that anybody in Her Majesty's Government wishes to detract from any genuine effort towards peace which is made from any quarter. There is no question whatsoever of that. But at times—and I must say this bluntly—I cannot help getting rather "fed up" with the way in which praise is always given to the other side, and so very little to ourselves. It does seem to me unreasonable. But please do not let it be supposed for one minute that we wish to detract from any efforts that have been made by Russia. Far from it, my Lords: we welcome it very sincerely, and we hope that now that these exchanges between our leading statesmen are taking place, some progress, however slow and gradual it may be, will in fact result. But I am sure that the road is long and difficult, and that what we need is patience and perseverance. I do not believe that without these two qualities anything at all can be achieved.
Now I should like to turn for a moment to the question of the under-developed nations, to which a number of noble 127 Lords have applied themselves this afternoon. I, for one, welcomed many of the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. As the Election progressed, there were moments when, I confess, I found myself becoming rather depressed. I could not help wondering whether perhaps we in this country were beginning to lose sight of the great horizons. I could not help wondering whether the limit of our ambition was the height of our television aerial. We had spoken so much on all sides of prosperity. Then I listened—and I am not speaking in a Party political sense, as I am sure noble Lords are fully aware—to the speech made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister towards the end of the Election, when he drew our attention to our responsibility and our duty to help the peoples less fortunate than ourselves. But, my Lords, he did not fail to remind us that before we could help them we must have money with which to do so: and though I wholeheartedly endorse the generous attitude of mind of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, surely we have first to secure our economy at home, for without it we can do nothing. Only by working at home, only by securing our position here, is it possible for us to carry out the things which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and all men of goodwill in this country, wish to do. Only in that way can they be achieved.
I am not able to give the noble Lord the figures in hard cash. I am, in fact, in possession of certain figures, but I am advised that at this stage it would be improper—in fact, very unwise—for me to give them, much as I should like to do so. All I can do is to assure the noble Lord that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government considerably to increase her contributions in the various fields of aid to under-developed countries. Your Lordships know already that we have blessed the idea of the International Development Association; we have undertaken to increase our contribution to the United Nations Special Fund and Programme of Technical Assistance; and I think there is no doubt that, through the growing prosperity of this country, we shall indeed be able to do many of the things which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, wishes.
128 But I do hope—and this I say speaking purely personally—that the British people will put first things first, and will be prepared to contribute as generously to the well-being of others as they are prepared to strive for the prosperity of themselves—because I do not believe that a country which is considering only its own comforts, its own belly, its own material well-being, can have a voice in the world at all. We have a great contribution to make, and I believe that we, all of us together, as one nation striving together, shall go forward making that great contribution to humanity as a whole. First having reduced the tensions, and having made it conceivable that we may at last be able to live in peace, then we shall be able to go forward to help our brothers, no matter of what colour, creed or state of civilisation—for they are our brothers, our fellow men. But, of course, our first responsibility must be to our fellow men within the Commonwealth, and it is to that that we shall have first to bend our greatest endeavours.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, may I thank the noble Marquess for his moving words, which I am sure everyone on this side of the House will fully support? I appreciate that he cannot say now exactly what the increased sums are, but can he say if those increased sums will be due in the next financial year?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, may I suggest that at a later date the noble Lord puts down a Question to me, and I shall be pleased to answer him? I think that may be the best solution.
Certain allusions were made to Tibet. There is not one of your Lordships who has not been deeply distressed by what has happened in Tibet. Some noble Lords perhaps have links with that country. In a strange way, I have myself. Therefore it was all the more poignant to me when this tragedy befell Tibet. I must confess that when I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, I was amazed. I will not say more than that. I think that when he comes to read what he said in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he may well wish that he had not spoken in quite that way. One moment he appeared to associate himself with the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition. I 129 do not feel that the noble Viscount could be in full agreement with what the noble Lord was saying.
We all know that the position of Tibet is a very complex one, and even if I could, I should not try at this hour to give a historical account of the development of Tibetan affairs, as the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has asked me to do. I will say simply that Her Majesty's Government have accepted the status of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet whilst at the same time recognising the autonomy of that State, a very difficult and complicated legal position. Although we regret bitterly what has happened, I do not have to explain to the noble Viscount the complications involved. The noble Viscount referred to the massacre of many people in Tibet. As I think noble Lords will realise, in fact, we have no authoritative statement. We have the account received from the Dalai Lama. We have no reason to believe that he did not tell the facts as he knows them; but, of course, we remember the conditions in which he had to leave the country, conditions in which it was extremely difficult for him to have any definite figures. But it is safe to assume that there has been a very considerable loss of life. That we accept. When it comes to the attitude of mind of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who seems to think that some strange humiliation to which he refers can justify the actions of China in Tibet and now against her erstwhile friends, the Indians on the Frontier, I find that impossible to follow.
As regards the United Nations, to which many noble Lords have referred, perhaps I may give the noble Viscount the voting figures on September 22. They were: for a moratorium, 44; against a moratorium, 29; abstentions, 9. In other words, over half the members of the United Nations are still opposed to the discussion of this question. Those figures are the correct figures, I can assure the noble Viscount. As noble Lords are well aware, there are certain problems which at times it is unwise to press, however strongly one may hold certain views; and it is the view of Her Majesty's Government that, as there are deep divisions on this problem, no useful purpose would be served now by pressing them. That is the opinion of Her Majesty's Govern 130 ment, arrived at with great care and deliberation. I think that I have told your Lordships where we stand as regards China.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I did not say that, my Lords. I told your Lordships that it was a question of a moratorium. If I may just continue, I do not think that the action of China recently makes the position easier. In the course of his observations, the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said that it would be difficult for any Foreign Office. I know that the noble Viscount is a very honest man in his approach and that is what he said, If it was difficult before, the difficulties are greatly enhanced now.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I just want to stress the difficulty. I appreciate that it has been increased by the operations on the Tibetan frontier territory. But the fact is that there are 650 million Chinese on the mainland, in an enormously progressing State, in which production is developing, which we have recognised de jure for a considerable number of years now. I am convinced that their probing efforts through Tibet into India are really to bring home to the United Nations that position. In comparison to the remnant of Chinese in Formosa, they have a very strong case. Also, we in this country want to develop our trade with China. I beg that we do the best we can in all the circumstances. But the noble Marquess is quite right: I realise that this latest essay of theirs makes it more difficult.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, with great respect to the noble Viscount, surely this is an odd way to seek to obtain admission to the United Nations. It is not a very encouraging way to set about it. I think one must have respect for the principles which are held so strongly by one's Allies, just as in ordinary domestic life there are occasions when one has to accept an opinion which may not be entirely shared by oneself.
Many noble Lords have referred to France and to the pleasure that they have in the prospect of the visit of President de Gaulle to this country. I wholeheartedly endorse their satisfaction at this forthcoming visit. The 131 noble Lord, Lord Rea, went so far as to ask whether we were going to take into serious consideration the opinion of France. Of course we are. France is one of our close Allies. I was rather surprised at the observation the noble Lord thought it necessary to make. I have no doubt that President Eisenhower equally takes the opinion of France seriously, as seriously as he takes the opinion of all the Western Allies, because after all we can only move forward together. I thought that was made abundantly clear by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in his speech yesterday, when he said that there was no question of abandoning any Allies, nor is there any question of our abandoning any principles. We are united in this, and where there are differences of opinion we shall together have to work them out until they are resolved.
Therefore we welcome the prospect of President de Gaulle's coming to this country; we are glad that President de Gaulle will be receiving Mr. Khrushchev; and we very much look forward to the visit which is to be paid shortly by my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary to France, where he will discuss many problems which require careful discussion and consideration. For, alas! it is true to say—one cannot deny it—that certain clouds have come between us. I personally believe—and I have frequent conversations with my French friends—that these clouds have very little substance. I fear that much of the so-called disagreement that exists between us has been fomented by unwise speculation in certain organs of the Press. When the Prime Minister of France, Monsieur Debré, came here not long ago, he was, I think, almost surprised at the degree of accord that existed between him and our Prime Minister. I remember well that he told me how frankly they had spoken together, and I said: "Mr. Prime Minister, with great respect, do you suppose that our Prime Minister would speak to you in any other way?"
We are, thank goodness, going ahead towards a stage where negotiation is the whole essence of things and where we are able to meet together and discuss. 132 I believe, with those noble Lords who have referred to China, that great mass of 650 million people, that it would be unwise not to try to break down—because it does exist—the barrier between ourselves and that country. But it must be remembered that we have sent a Minister to China to discuss trade arrangements and we have tried to increase trade with that country. So, little by little, no doubt it will be possible gradually to make more frequent contacts with that country, so that she will understand more about us and we shall gradually learn more about her.
At this late hour I do not propose to detain your Lordships any longer. I should like to say only this. I noticed that the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in another place said that his Party would be vigorous and lively in Opposition. If I may say so, I thought that this evening among the most vigorous and lively performances which I enjoyed were the performances of two distinguished octogenarians and two distinguished septuagenarians, and they came, I am glad to say, from both sides of the House. I hope that through this Session we shall contain our vigour and our liveliness, and that there will be brisk exchanges across this Table, for only in that way can our wit, our argument, and our power of reason really work. So when the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition said to me, "I hope you will not think I am being too controversial", it never entered my head that he would not be; because, after all, the essence of Parliament is controversy. We have to argue, but I believe that as men of good will basically we are all seeking the same ends, although we may seek them by different means.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am obliged to the noble Marquess, and I will not press him now to say anything about the Middle East. On behalf of my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I now beg to move the adjournment of this debate.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.
§ House adjourned at twenty-one minutes before eight o'clock.