§ 4.6 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, may I first explain my rather exalted place in the order of speaking to-day. It is largely due to the inflexible demands of time and distance. As your Lordships will know, I am at present engaged in negotiations in the reconvened Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Commission in Geneva; but I thought it right to return on the occasion of this important debate in your Lordships' House, to report on the progress and prospects in disarmament. I apologise in advance for the fact that I shall have to leave the debate early, and I trust your Lordships will acquit me of any suspicion of discourtesy. In fact, when your Lordships are concluding your debate I shall be in a Continental train between Paris and Geneva. I leave your Lordships to judge which of us will be the more comfortable at that time.
I propose, then, in my remarks to concentrate on the questions of disarmament and the United Nations. My noble friends Lord Walston and the Leader of the House will deal with the other substantive issues of foreign policy later in this debate. I shall leave with regret. I always enjoy the debates in your Lordships' House and I feel that today's will be made more memorable by the fact, at 1328 which perhaps I may be allowed to express my great delight, that I shall be followed by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, who is to make his maiden speech. It would be superfluous, and indeed impertinent, for me to draw attention to the experience and distinction of the noble Earl in the field of foreign affairs. But I might perhaps say that I had the pleasure of working for quite a short time with the noble Lord, Lord Caccia in his previous incarnation, and I know that it will give your Lordships great pleasure when he rises to make his first contribution to your Lordship's debates.
I shall, then, as I say, concentrate upon the subjects of my own speciality. I shall not try to follow the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, nor shall I try to follow the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, down the fascinating but labyrinthine way of European policy, although perhaps I might be allowed to express my own pleasure and appreciation, and that of all of us on this side, at the extremely constructive and unprovocative nature of the two speeches that we have just heard.
May I begin by outlining briefly some of the recent developments in the field of disarmament? As your Lordships will know, earlier this year we had an interesting debate in the United Nations Disarmament Commission in New York. This was a conference of all the countries of the United Nations, 114 delegates sitting round the table in New York. The debate was interesting. It was at times valuable. But it is no substitute for the hard business of negotiating disarmament. It was, although valuable, no more than a debate.
At the end of this debate the United Nations Disarmament Commission passed, in each case by a very large majority, two resolutions. The first of these resolutions called for a world disarmament conference. This, of course, as your Lordships will know, would be a conference even larger than the conference of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, in that it would probably include countries which are not at present members of the United Nations. Her Majesty's Government do not think that such a conference will serve any very useful purpose, but we shall not stand in its way if it is the wish of the 1329 majority of the countries of the world that such a conference should take place.
The second resolution of the United Nations Disarmament Commission called for the reconvening of the Eighteen-Nation Committee of Disarmament. With your Lordships' indulgence, I should like to quote from that resolution:Convinced that failure to conclude a universal treaty or agreement to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons would lead to the most serious consequencesthe Commission, the resolution went onrecommends that the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee should"—among other things—accord special priority to the consideration of the question of a treaty or convention to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.This was a clear and unequivocal mandate from the Disarmament Commission to return to Geneva and there to discuss, among other things, with great priority the important matter of the spread of nuclear weapons.
At once after the Commission had dispersed, the United States Co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference (your Lordships will know that the two Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Disarmament Conference are the United States and the Soviet Union) asked his Soviet colleague to agree to a date for the reconvening of the Disarmament Conference. There was for a while a silence: it seemed to us for some time to be a rather sinister silence. With the events which were going on about the world, and in particular having regard to the deteriorationg situation in Vietnam, it seemed to us that the Soviet Union found itself in a position in which it could not be seen to be engaged in conversation or in fruitful discussions with the West. But suddenly, out of the blue, the Soviet Union communicated with the American Co-Chairman and proposed an urgent return to the Geneva Conference. Their motives can only be a matter for speculation, and it would be irresponsible and counter-productive of us to impute to them ill-motives until we have an opportunity to see what their motives are. However, it was eventually agreed to return to Geneva on July 27; and this we did.
I should like to deal briefly with suggestions that when this occurred the West was in some way unprepared for what had happened. Of course, it would be 1330 idle to pretend that the sudden apparent change of view on the part of the Soviet Union was not a surprise. It was a surprise. But I think that it is wrong and unfair to suggest that the West was unprepared for this return to Geneva.
If I might deal with the matter of the question of the spread of nuclear weapons and a treaty to prevent it, when the Government came into office at the end of last year we carried out a review of disarmament policy and decided, among other things, that the most urgent and important problem which faced the world was the need to conclude a treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons from country to country. Accordingly, we started work early this year upon a draft treaty. I have no hesitation in saying that a good deal of valuable work had been done before we ever started to do this. We had been left with a wealth of analysis and examination, and it was upon this that we started to build. We went through the normal processes of detailed drafting. There were legal technicalities to be ironed out; there were other difficulties to be resolved; and, of course, simultaneously there were other studies and other plans for disarmament and arms control going on. While we were doing this it became clear to us at a certain stage in the proceedings that the Canadian Government were working on a similar draft for a treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We decided, in consultation with the Canadian Government, to continue our separate studies and to keep in very close touch on our different drafts. In April of this year we had our negotiations in the Disarmament Commission and there was overwhelming support for our thesis that this was the prime problem facing the world.
So we came back, and by the beginning of June we had agreed on a draft, a legally drawn draft non-dissemination treaty, which we then showed to the other members of the Western Alliance who are represented at the Geneva Disarmament Conference—that is to say, the United States, Canada and Italy. A week or so later, we consulted our German Allies—who are, of course, particularly concerned with this problem and its effects on European security—and at the end of June we warned the NATO Council that we should be wishing to discuss this whole matter with the rest 1331 of our NATO Allies. On July 5, at the beginning of this month, the draft of our treaty—and, incidentally, the draft of the Canadian treaty—was circulated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with a view to meeting to discuss it at the end of July.
Then, on July 13, as I have said, while that draft was circulating in the Alliance, the Soviet Union suddenly replied to the American Co-Chairman and suggested an urgent return to Geneva. I think noble Lords with any experience of international negotiation, the preparation of treaties, and the preparation of this sort of debate at that sort of conference will surely agree that in that history which I have outlined there is very little evidence of time lost from being unprepared at the end of the procedure.
May I emphasise here, as this point may have given rise to certain misunderstandings and confusions, the real need for full consultation with our Allies? There have been stories in some of the newspapers of confusion in the Alliance—of splits and of battles between the Allies. I have just come back from a meeting of the NATO Council, and I am bound to confess to your Lordships that I saw no evidence of these splits, no evidence of these battles; and I could detect no confusion of any sort whatsoever. It is no good putting forward British plans for international negotiations, however sincerely we believe in them, and however well we have prepared them, if we cannot rely on the support of the Western Alliance. The strength of this Alliance is one of the most important factors in our negotiations with Communist countries. We are not in disarmament negotiations as a public relations exercise, but to achieve effective measures of world-wide disarmament by any means we can discover.
May I turn aside from that to deal with the various suggestions which have been made about the possibility that I might be under-employed in my duties as Minister of Disarmament? There has been talk of under-employment, of "dummy" Ministries. One honourable gentleman has asked whether I am not one of the most under-employed members of the Government. There is one little gem which I should like to hold up for your Lordships' appreciation 1332 which was fashioned by a former Conservative Minister. I should like to quote his words, as reported:The danger of war is increased, not lessened, by such devices as appointing a dummy Minister with the dummy title of Minister of Disarmament.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but is he quoting from Hansard? I do not mind, but it is really out of order to do that and I think we ought to keep to the Rules of the House.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I regret having contravened the rules of your Lordships' House. Perhaps I may just say that the words "dummy Minister of Disarmament" were used. That was the point that I wished to make. I am sure, of course, that this is not the view of the noble Lords opposite; indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has been good enough to indicate that these are not in general his views. But I feel bound to say that, although this sort of thing is to me only a minor irritation, I feel somewhat put out and depressed by the fact that this sort of comment reflects upon officials who serve me and who served the noble Lords opposite when they were carrying out functions similar to those which I now discharge; officials who work extremely hard and who, I think, should not be open to the sort of reflections that these remarks put forward. I shall turn aside from that—as I said, I did not intend this parenthesis to be taken too seriously—and go on from recent events to the position now and the prospects for disarmament.
I have just been present at a meeting of the NATO Council, where I was able to outline the British plan for preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons. There was, I am happy to say, overwhelming support in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for an early initiative on this subject by the West. There were, and there are, we know, differences of approach. Clearly, we have to take into account the very real German concern about nuclear sharing within the Alliance. I was able to assure the NATO Council, as I should like to assure your Lordships now, that between the two concepts of non-dissemination and effective nuclear sharing within the NATO Alliance there is no incompatibility, and 1333 there is, in my view, no need of, and no profit in, assessing priorities, allocating priorities, to these two projects. After all, if your house is on fire—and I think this is not too far-fetched an analogy—and someone sends two fire engines to put out the fire, you do not, if you are a wise man, spend much time arguing which fire engine to use first; you use them both. I suggest that we must follow these two concepts forward urgently, and we must let events decide which will come to fruition first.
Our approach to this problem is a short and simple treaty to bring about, to establish, the principle that nuclear weapons should not be allowed to spread beyond their present boundaries. There is another approach to this, and this is the approach of the Canadian Government, that in such a treaty we should include various types of incentive, various sorts of related measures; in fact, that we should make a sort of package of the treaty which would make it more attractive to certain people, particularly the potential nuclear countries, and encourage them to sign it. This approach is something that we have to resolve. We have to decide which is the best and which—this is the important point—is the most likely to be effective. It is no good, as I said, producing a treaty which is easy to draft and which might even gain support and unity within the Alliance, if when we put it on the table it shows no sign whatsoever of being attractive to the other side. It must be a negotiable treaty.
So our next move, in consultation with the other members of the Western World, is to take account of the comments of our allies and to review the draft treaty. This may in due course be tabled at the Geneva Conference as a British draft treaty, or as a Western draft treaty. This is a matter of tactics and, as I have said, the most effective negotiating position. There is even the possibility—and this, indeed, may be the best solution—that in the end we shall put forward this initiative as a joint British-Canadian draft. This has. I feel, all manner of attractions and, indeed, it accords well with the communiqué which was issued at the end of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. But, in any case, it is our intention to ensure that some initiative on this subject. some draft agreement to prevent the further spread 1334 of nuclear weapons, is put forward in Geneva as soon as it possibly can be.
The Geneva debate will consist of a general exchange of views for about the first fortnight. This is the customary procedure, in which the 17 countries of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Commission—there is, unfortunately, one missing: France—put forward their views. At the end of those two weeks of general debate, I believe that we may be in a position to table our draft treaty on non-dissemination. The atmosphere in Geneva yesterday when the Conference began was good, and I expect, having left your Lordships' House to-night, to make my opening speech at the Geneva Disarmament Conference to-morrow, outlining the British position and the British ideas about this and allied problems.
Before saying more about this, I should like to turn to the United Nations. A keystone of the British position on disarmament, as indeed on other matters of foreign policy, is vigorous, wholehearted support for the United Nations. Before I come to the substance of my few brief remarks on the United Nations, I should like to pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Caradon. During the difficult months which the Organisation has been going through, Lord Caradon has shown unshakable resolution and a determination that the United Nations should surmount this serious crisis. I have been with him in New York for some of the time, and I have been moved by the way in which he has, by his example and his inspiring, oratory, kept up the spirits of those who sometimes incline towards despair. He has demonstrated forcibly that this country is determined to play a leading role among those who work to make the United Nations an effective force in the world.
For my part, I should like to make it quite clear at the outset that we, as a Government, totally reject the gloomy predictions of the prophets of despair, who suggest that the United Nations might go the way of the League of Nations. These people sometimes express surprise that the United Nations is not already all-powerful and omniscient after a mere twenty years of life, but it already has great achievements to its credit, both in the peace-keeping and in the economic and social fields. Our ultimate aim is World Government in a disarmed world.
1335 I say this without any illusion that such an aim can be obtained without many years of patient and often frustrating negotiations. We hope that as the nations disarm it will be possible to build up an effective peace-keeping force through the United Nations, and here we attach great importance to the steps taken by certain nations to provide stand-by forces for the United Nations, including our own offer of logistic support for six battalions.
In the immediate future there is nothing dramatic that we can do. The United Nations, after all, can only make progress through agreement. We have to overcome the immediate crisis over Article XIX so that the Assembly can meet normally this Autumn. At the moment, I can add nothing on this subject to the statement made by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in another place on July 20, that this matter is still under discussion with our allies and friends. But we have every confidence that the General Assembly will be able to meet, and when it does my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and I shall be there with them. We are determined to persevere in our efforts to improve the peace-keeping procedures of the United Nations, and we are giving particular thought to three questions.
The first is peace-keeping by consent; that is to say, the employment by the United Nations of armed forces to hold the ring in a political dispute while a settlement is being worked out. In these cases the country on whose soil the troops are stationed would consent to this, and might indeed have invited the United Nations to help. The Congo and Cyprus are examples of this. So far, operations of this sort, although they have been remarkably successful, have been organised on a basis of rapid improvisation. Secondly, holding the ring is an essential part of peace-making—and I use the word advisedly—but there is a tendency for a situation once frozen to be left in that state. Certainly people look for a political solution; but, somehow, the urgency becomes less when the fighting stops.
We are giving serious thought to ways of settling disputes by legal and political, orthodox and unorthodox, means; by 1336 negotiators and mediators with special qualifications—and I might here mention the mission of my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. Missions of this sort, my Lords, can perhaps lead to results that cannot be achieved by other, tried methods. There is a great field here for ingenuity and initiative. Finally, we should like to see established a United Nations peacekeeping fund. The details of this need to be worked out, but its object would be to give the United Nations a sound financial base for peacekeeping operations, which it does not have at the present time. These, my Lords, are thoughts for consideration: they are, you will realise, very far from being a complete plan. But we need to work slowly and we need to work pragmatically towards our final goal, and this the Government are determined to do.
Finally, may I return for a few brief moments to the question of disarmament? When I return to Geneva to-morrow—and I intend to remain at these negotiations as long as fruitful, productive and objective discussions go on—I shall set out the British position, which will be based upon principles which are familiar to most of your Lordships. We shall continue to support efforts to reach general and complete disarmament; we shall support any move that is made to extend the partial nuclear test ban to cover underground tests; and we shall also support—and, indeed, we shall urge and press for them—proposals, ideas or plans that will put a stop to the production of nuclear weapons and, indeed, destroy some of those nuclear weapons that exist at the moment. These are the principles upon which we shall advance our ideas, in addition, of course, as I have said, to the most urgent and most important matter of all, which is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
In all this, we must, of course, be ready to meet whatever Soviet plans and initiatives are put forward. We think, from the evidence we have at the moment, that these are likely to include such proposals as the closing down of foreign bases, and an agreement about not being the first to use nuclear weapons in any circumstances. We believe that the Soviet Union may have some non-dissemination plans of its own, but which 1337 are almost certain to be directed primarily at the question of nuclear sharing within the Western Alliance. We think that some Communist countries (perhaps not the Soviet Union, but possibly other East European countries) will put forward familiar proposals for the establishment of nuclear-free zones, and that there may be ideas about non-aggression pacts or declarations.
I shall not comment to-day, obviously, on any of these possible proposals, except to say that we shall examine all their proposals as objectively and as seriously as we hope they will examine ours. I believe that what we want to see an end of in disarmament discussions is this sterile and futile business of automatically attacking each other's position; but, at the same time, of course, we must keep the initiative in the West. One of the things we must really do in this respect, I think, is to speed up and intensify the work that goes on in the Disarmament Commission in Geneva. At the moment, as your Lordships will know, the plenary meetings are limited to two a week. We should like to see this improved and increased, and we should like to see the gaps filled by the establishment of technical working groups that could go on looking at specific aspects of policy, particularly technical aspects, while the plenary meetings are continuing.
But before I finish I must return to this business of the spread of nuclear weapons. It really is the most important and urgent problem that faces us at the moment. I do not believe that this is sufficiently realised. It has become almost a cliché of the international debate; but I should like to recall to your Lordships the words of President Kennedy when talking of this. He suggested that, if nuclear weapons did spread, as they showed a danger of spreading even when he made this speech, there would be no peace, no stability and no prospects of disarmament. I think that in those last four words there is a very serious warning. This business of the spread of nuclear weapons and how to stop it is riot just one of the possible roads towards disarmament: it might be the only road. If we are too late in lifting the barrier, all the other roads towards disarmament might be irrevocably closed. That is why it is the preoccupa 1338 tion of the British Government to bring this matter to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
We shall have no false pride about authorship. We worked hard on this treaty, but if a Western joint initiative or some other formula gives a better chance of success in Geneva, we shall adopt it. We shall not insist that this proposal goes to the table flying a Union Jack. I believe it is not too much to claim that the British Government's insistence upon this subject over the past months has brought it to a head. Indeed, it may even have done very much to bring the Soviet Union to the negotiating table at a time when it might have seemed, from the climate of world opinion, that it would be impossible for it to do so. I hope, therefore, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was generous enough to suggest, that when I return to Geneva tonight to begin these important negotiations I shall carry with me the good will of the whole of your Lordships' House.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF AVON
My Lords, we have just listened to what I thought was a fascinating account of the work which the noble Lord the Minister of Disarmament is now doing at Geneva, and I am sure we are greatly indebted to him for coming back here to tell us of this most important prospect — a more encouraging prospect, happily, than it was a short while ago. Of course he will carry back with him our best wishes for the work he is now going to do, even for his journey—one with which, as an old Geneva traveller, I was only too familiar in the old days. Let me give him this crumb of comfort. If he is never called anything worse than "a dummy Minister", in what is I am sure going to be a highly successful political career, he can count himself very fortunate indeed. But, in a more serious vein, we all agree with him that this Conference is one of the greatest importance, and so we wish him all success, in our interests as well as in his own.
My noble friend opened this debate in a characteristically lucid survey, in what we used to call a tour d'horizon speech, which he knows so well how to make; and we had from the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, a pellucid account of a very 1339 intricate subject—the distinction between the Community in Europe, the Community Association, and a Federation. I think it is very useful that that speech should have been made, though I hope that I shall be forgiven for not following any of those noble Lords and for concentrating, in the few minutes that I shall detain your Lordships, entirely on one subject, if only because I believe it to he the most serious of those which confront us at the present time—namely, the situation in Vietnam.
My Lords, it is no part of my intention to rehearse past events in that country. I have just one comment to make about them. I was sorry at the time that the United States did not subscribe to the Geneva Agreements of 1954. I am rather more sorry to-day, because it is possible that if the Americans had put their full weight behind those accords, later developments might have been happier. I say "might": I do not put it higher than that. But what is absolutely certain is that, sooner or later, there will have to be a political settlement of this present conflict. Probably this will mean a return to the Geneva Agreements, or to something very like them.
The only other date that I want to mention is a later one, 1959. The Government will tell me if I am wrong, but it seems that it was in that year that the North Vietnamese began a campaign of subversion, infiltration and—the word must be added—terror. What caused this action at that time can be debated. My own guess is that the Diem Government in South Vietnam, despite its very real shortcomings, had made some progress in pacifying the country and giving it an opportunity to prosper. It is immaterial whether some other Government would have done better than Diem's—possibly it would: but the point is that the Diem Government apparently was doing well enough at that time to cause the North to intervene. In any event, it is since that year, as I understand it, that the Viet Cong campaign has been intensified. No doubt there are nationalists in its ranks; but its main purpose has been to terrorise and to disrupt; and to do this it has waged a ruthless guerrilla campaign with mounting success. The people I am sorry for arc the unfortunate inhabitants—especi 1340 ally those in the villages of South Vietnam. They have had twenty years of war, and now to this has to be added all the horrors of a civil war conducted with much barbarism.
I agree with my noble friend that it is evident that in recent months and weeks, the Viet Cong have become convinced that the South Vietnamese resistance can finally be broken—and broken in this monsoon period. Probably they still believe it. Faced with this danger the Americans are multiplying their aid; but it must be some time before the greater part of this effort can make itself felt in the actual guerrilla fighting; for the methods of that fighting have got to be learned, as they were learned, painfully and skilfully, by our own troops in Malaya. I can remember an occasion when I was returning from some conference when I was in Malaya for a while. I was taken by helicopter into the jungle and there, in a clearing, I met a patrol of our own troops coming out from their tour of jungle duty. It was remarkable to see the facility with which these boys had learned all the complexities of jungle fighting and were at ease—were, indeed, in command of the situation. That was only the result of long periods of training and of some very good intelligence work behind that training. I think the same is happening now in, for example, Sarawak, where our troops are trained in jungle warfare. But all this has to be learned by the Americans before the invading guerrillas can be stemmed, much less sent back to where they came from.
There is one comment on this guerrilla fighting that I would make. Sometimes one reads in the Press accounts of threatened or actual torture of prisoners. If this has been the practice among the South Vietnamese, I hope that efforts will be made to check and, I trust, to halt it altogether. I say this not only on humanitarian grounds—though God knows they are strong enough!—but also because the knowledge that they are going to be tortured or murdered if captured is unlikely to encourage men to surrender; and we must surely hope that the time will come when the enemy will be tempted to surrender. At present, however, the prospects are bleak and the campaign looks like being a long and hard fought one.
1341 In these conditions, what is the best that we can hope for, and when is that best likely to be reached? I would say that the answer is a stalemate, some time after the monsoon period is over. I have seen it suggested (I think by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and also by President Nkrumah) that our objective should be a cease-fire, followed by a conference. With all respect, I rather doubt whether that is practicable, because the two sides are so inextricably intermingled that I should have thought it would probably be wiser to reverse that order and to work for a conference which would itself negotiate an armistice. No doubt, if and when such a conference is convened, the work will fall into two phases: first, an attempt to draw up agreed instructions for the military commanders and for these, in their turn, when completed, to be referred back to the main conference.
I fear that all this may sound both elaborate and rather slow, but if our experience of 1954 is anything to go by, it is probably the only way. Even this first phase of the conference, drawing up instructions for the military commanders, took nearly two months and I know not how many meetings. I am sure that if we had attempted to get an armistice without, the conference being first in being, we should not have succeeded. As to the machinery which might be used, I believe that, on balance, it would be an advantage if the conference—when it comes about, as it must one day—were reconvened with Geneva membership and under Russian and British Co-Chairmen as was done in 1954. The difficulties in making use of the United Nations are, unfortunately, obvious in this instance; and there could also, perhaps, be an advantage in following a procedure which all the parties concerned have previously used and have found workable.
At this stage I should like for a moment to say something about the attitude to be expected from the principal parties now engaged in this dispute. The United States Government, I thought, made a notable declaration when President Johnson, in his speech at Baltimore last April, pledged himself to a policy of unconditional discussions. This means that he is prepared to go to a conference table without preconditions of any kind. Unfortunately, 1342 this attitude has so far failed to evoke any response—for evident reasons. The Viet Cong are still obsessed with the possibility of complete victory, of another Dien Bien Phu, or something like it. Therefore, I doubt—and on this I share the thoughts of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—whether any immediate efforts to bring a conference into being are likely to prove successful. It is, however, a very important advantage to know that a major party engaged in the present fighting is prepared to talk if others will. It seems to me that some of the recent criticism of President Johnson has been rather unfair. He certainly does not bear any direct responsibility for the situation that he inherited in Vietnam, a situation of the utmost difficulty and complexity. I am sure that he is as anxious as any of us for an armistice. But for this to happen others, too, must be ready to come to the conference table. At present they are not.
Next, and of no less significance in the search for peace, must be the attitude of the Soviet Union. We can be pretty sure that the Soviets, for their own good reasons, would not wish to see this conflict expand until it involved other world Powers. Moscow must be increasingly conscious of its rift with Peking and of the reasons why it must be expected to grow worse. Peking is the young revolutionary, whereas Moscow is the old revolutionary. But there is more to it than that: Moscow is, in Peking's eye, the successor to the Czarist Empire in Asia, the colonial empire par excellence. The Soviet propagandist against colonialism is now hoist with his own petard. This and other causes of controversy between the principal Communist Powers will inevitably sharpen, and I think that they will bring dangers.
My Lords, I believe it to be a short view to judge that Communist cleavages necessarily benefit us, even superficially. Sharpened antagonisms and rival bidding for the support of smaller Communist States are more likely to add to the dangerous strains and stresses in the world where already respect of international engagements seems to be the exception rather than the rule. However, these are wider considerations; for the present and in Vietnam we must expect that the Soviets will be in no particular hurry to help to extricate the 1343 United States from what they no doubt regard as a difficult military position. In other words, the attitude of Moscow is likely to be affected by the military situation once it is proven beyond a doubt that no Communist victory is possible.
China, even China, could possibly be influenced by some considerations which may have affected her policy in the past. The peoples of Indo-China have never taken kindly to the thought of being subjected to Chinese rule. Of course, this may not influence Peking unduly, as it did not in Tibet. On the other hand, in this larger, wealthier and more accessible area the Chinese could find it acceptable to see a girdle of neutral States, or, to mix our metaphors, a protective pad, between themselves and other States of South-East Asia. The Chinese could prefer this to a continuing and armed American presence in South Vietnam which is quite inevitable until the Communist Governments accept that an agreement cannot be dictated only on their terms.
Perhaps they will accept before too long that the Americans have too much power to he beaten. Even if the Americans cannot win, they cannot be beaten, and they are a stubborn people as their history shows. Consider what happened in their Civil War after the battle of Bull Run. If these things are not understood, the Eastern conflict could be both interminable and deadly. There is the danger, which we must expect will grow, of a spread of hostilities as fighting intensifies. That is the gravest peril, as it was the gravest peril in 1954.
In the early days of that Geneva Conference I described in a message to my colleagues at home, some of whom are in the House now, a useful discussion with Mr. Molotov, as follows:Towards the end of our conversation I said that if the Lido-China situation was not effectively handled here at Geneva, there was a real danger that the supporters of each side would go on increasing the degree of their participation, until finally there was a clash between them. if that happened"—I continued—it might well he the beginning of the third world war. Molotov fully agreed with this assessment.My Lords, that danger still exists, unhappily. It can be conjured to some extent if every party to the conflict will 1344 bear it in mind always. But it can only be met when the armistice is signed.
I am not by nature a pessimist, but it is evident that the increased scale and danger of this Vietnamese conflict has come at a disturbed moment in the world. The Indonesian aggression upon Malaysia—for that is what it is—after Vietnam, is the most threatening feature. Here, too, we must expect attempts to increase the scale of operations against our ally. There are also, as we know, other potential centres of trouble and this unsettled panorama makes the present disarray among the free Western nations, who should be close allies, all the more disturbing. This is why I want to see a more coherent sense of purpose among the free nations. I do not think that peace is safe enough for us to be at odds. I was delighted to hear what the noble Lord said just now about the close working together at the Disarmament Conference. That is good, but it wants to be carried into other fields where at present that does not exist to the same extent.
I will not weary your Lordships with a repetition of the methods by which I think this unity ought to be sought. I still believe that the leading nations of NATO should organise themselves to discuss and take decisions upon the principal world problems. My conception is that they should be aided by a planning group, much as the Joint Chiefs of Staff were by the joint planners during the war. Whether this idea, or any other project to increase unity among the leading Western nations, can be realised must depend to some extent upon the President of France; but it must also depend upon the willingness of the United States to understand that Continental Europe, even the most friendly parts of it, looks for a relationship with the United States which is a partnership in a truer sense than it could be at the time when Europe was at her weakest after the war.
What our country can contribute depends upon ourselves and what we can do to set our economic house in order. If we could determine, each one of us here at home, in these next few years to contribute a little more to our country's well-being and take out a little less, we should at the same time be making a contribution to a more settled and peaceful world. Without a balanced 1345 economy Britain's voice is muted, and that is sad, for I am one of those who believe that, whatever Party is in power, this country of ours has still a discerning contribution to make.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ LORD CACCIA
My Lords, I crave the indulgence of your Lordships and, if I may, your special forbearance. It is customary, I know, that maiden speeches should not be controversial. Yet foreign affairs can arouse strong emotions. So if in the nature of the subject I fall somewhat short of that aim of being non-controversial, I hope that I shall be able to make up in some degree by having respect for the recent plea for brevity in speeches from the Cross-Benches.
To start at least on common ground, it was said last week in another place, without contradiction, that our objectives are common to us all: the security of Britain and the peace of nations. Whatever difference there may be about ways towards those objectives, it is also common ground, I trust, that much will depend upon the influence of this country. With your Lordships' permission, I would detain yore for a few moments on this question of power and influence, from the point of view of someone who has recently been in the active field in foreign affairs. But first of all, if I may, I would set aside two of what I think to be misconceptions which sometimes cloud discussion on this subject.
First of all, there is sometimes in the comments of those who write and speak on this subject an impression that in the last century and up to the First World War, whatever we said automatically went. When father said, "Turn," everyone turned. This is a much too simple view of the influence which we had and which I am far from decrying. Your Lordships will remember that we protested strongly against many acts of the Prussian Kingdom, of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, of Turkey and of Russia itself. We did not approve the Prussian attack on Schleswig-Holstein, but it happened. We did not approve, and, indeed, opposed, Austro-Hungarian action over Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in spite of our advice and influence they went ahead, maybe not in their own best interests. There were also the Bulgarian atrocities and Armenian atrocities and. despite our protests, it is doubtful if any 1346 lives were saved. And so on. My point in drawing attention to all this is that we should not be depressed if now we do not automatically get what we want. It is because we have never been able to do so.
The second reason why we should not underestimate the present possibility of using our influence successfully is that it is not only our position but also things that have changed. We have had to accommodate ourselves to this change since the last war. But so have others. The United States, whose physical power is far greater than that of any other nation in the world to-day, has also had to face these changes. May I cite a single example? When I was in Washington, it was estimated that Castro had taken over something in the order of 4,000 million dollars' worth of American property in Cuba. The ordinary rule of international law is that there should be compensation, prompt, adequate and effective. So far not a farthing has passed.
I do not say this as a cheap gibe at the United States—far from it. But if they can, without self-pity, suffer the swings of fortune, I think that we should also resolve ourselves to exercise similar patience.
Indeed, we could turn our minds to building up and making the best of the new instruments of sustaining international law and order—the United Nations and its various agencies. If I may, I would add my modicum of support for the efforts which this Government and its predecessors have made in building up that organisation. I only regret that at this moment the Minister for Disarmament is not yet able to say that the efforts and the initiative we have recently made have been entirely successful in resolving the financial difficulty that faces the United Nations over Article XIX.
Having made the point that we need not have any shyness about the influence we can use, I would draw your Lordship's attention to the successful use of that influence in many cases since the end of the war, particularly in the period, if I may refer to it, in which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, was Foreign Secretary. when he made such contributions, not only in South-East Asia, about which he has spoken, but in the Continent of Europe and over disarmament itself.
1347 There is one overriding condition for our continuing to have the influence which we enjoyed before 1914, after 1914 and have enjoyed since the war. It is that we should become and remain solvent. From the point of view of negotiating with other Governments, this is the acid test which they demand of us: do we, or do we not, know how to pay our way and balance our accounts? Other countries know sometimes better than the people of this country that this is the acid test for the reasons that it is by no means easy for a country, with so few natural resources and so many great commitments, to achieve this result and achieve it over a period of time without the various ups and downs which we know all so well.
If I may, I would come to another consideration on the use of our influence. It is not always necessary to come out in public with demands for public action. There are many cases when, as has been suggested to-day by both the Minister for Disarmament and other speakers, we can still be effective if we use private diplomacy to reach public ends. Other Governments have on many occasions gone into a period in which they accept that their home affairs must take priority and their foreign affairs go through a period of relative quiescence in public. The Russians have done so. There is nothing derogatory in this at all. There are many things that can still be achieved.
I suggest to your Lordships that this can be done in three ways: first, by retaining and maintaining a steady course; secondly, by using private diplomacy to reach public ends, and, thirdly, by using the time for the great debate, which has already been raised in this House, of the long-term prospects of and intention for this country other than just for reaching a balance of our payments within a relatively short period.
The noble Earl, Lord Avon, has already addressed the House about South-East Asia. I also would support the public backing which the Government have steadily given to the American Government in their attempts to stop aggression in South-East Asia and, in the words of the Prime Minister,… to enable the people of South Vietnam to determine their own future.1348 Here is an instance where I think that public backing has given us a right to give private advice, where otherwise we might have and deserve none. If, in the meantime, we think that there are things that can conveniently be said, I hope that the views which have been so strongly expressed this afternoon, though this may not be the right moment to discuss them in public, may recommend themselves to the Government. I should have thought that by their backing they have got to the position where the Americans would naturally listen to what they had to say, both from their past experience in this area and from the fact of that backing itself.
Before I sit down, I should like to give one final example of where I think our influence has been effective, in the fact that the Russians have come back to the Disarmament Committee in Geneva. The Minister for Disarmament did not suggest for a minute that they have done this entirely and solely because we had pressed them to do so. Of course, this is not the case. But, at the same time, it is not for nothing that we have used our influence in this direction; and we need only reflect what might have been the position if we had, like the French, decided to ignore this particular body and disassociate ourselves from its activities altogether.
I would conclude by saying that I think our influence can remain effective only on these three simple conditions. First of all, we should put our own house in order, giving that top priority, and make it clear not only that we have a vision of how to do it within the next two years, but that we are on the way to a decision on how we intend to fit into the scheme of things as they are in the future. Secondly, we should be a little selective about the methods which we adopt while we go through this period of debate among ourselves, and a little careful how we act and what we say, not forgetting the great position we have for influencing behind the scenes, through private means, as well as by public utterance. Finally, we must keep a steady course, which I submit the Government have done with, I should say, great courage in the case of South-East Asia, where there are so many perils that it is only natural that they should have been pressed on one side and another to do a number of things which, in the 1349 immediate sense, may have seemed advantageous but which, in the long run, I should have thought would do great damage to our power to influence the course of events in South-East Asia.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Leader of the Opposition, for initiating this debate, and I am sure he is pleased with the standard of the speeches that we have had so far. As a humble and new Back-Bencher, perhaps I may say how pleased I am to see the noble Earl, Lord Avon, here on this occasion: it is a rare pleasure these days to hear him speak. I should also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, on his maiden speech. With his experience and background, everything that he will have to say in this House we shall listen to with more than ordinary respect. I want also to refer to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. Whenever the noble Lord goes a-wooing about the Common Market, I find myself just a little vulnerable: he is so clear; he seems to me to make sense out of it. And he is not quite so religious (I use the word not disrespectfully) about the subject, and I begin to understand it.
This is a long debate, with many speakers still to come, and I do not propose to make a world tour, stopping off at all the trouble spots. There are many noble Lords present who are far more competent than I am to do this. I wish, however, with great diffidence, to talk about the United Nations, and I promise not just to repeat what my noble friend Lord Chalfont has said. I have been following the fortunes and misfortunes of the United Nations with some interest lately. About a year ago, I was given an assignment with our Mission at the U.N. Since then I have been a delegate in search of a Committee, because the General Assembly has been in complete eclipse, on account of the dispute about Article 19: in fact, all the delegates on the Human Rights and Social Welfare Committee have been completely grounded.
I paid a lightning visit to New York in February to meet our personnel and some of the foreign delegates. Here, may I endorse and underline everything that my noble friend Lord Chalfont has said about our Minister at the United Nations, 1350 the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. I am very pleased to see him here to-day, and I am not going to spare his blushes. I propose to tell your Lordships exactly what I think about him. I had never met Lord Caradon until I had the honour of acting as one of his Sponsors during his Introduction to this House. I knew two members of his distinguished family, and had sometimes picked a political hone with his hot-gospeller brother Michael Foot.
I thought Lord Caradon's appointment a particularly felicitous one at the time, because of his background and experience. But it was when I saw him in action, when I attended one of his morning meetings with his officials and staff, called together to deal with the everlasting problems of the U.N., that I really appreciated his qualities. The Article 19 crisis was at its height. The Press were writing off the United Nations daily, with gloomy predictions of the outcome. By an ignorant over-simplification, they had reduced the crisis to an undignified financial squabble about lapsed membership subscriptions to the club, when it was really about the nature and powers of the Security Council and the General Assembly. At the time, one could not help feeling a little defeatist. But not after Lord Caradon's meeting: I left ready to carry the torch for the United Nations.
Of course, the taxpayers' attitude to United Nations finance is understandable. They say that the aid given by richer countries to poorer countries is not accepted with any show of gratitude. Our own Government's aid to ex-colonial countries does not lessen their accusations about colonialism and racialism. Russia forgets all about her own satellites when she accuses us of Imperialistic motives. But all these are the day-to-day pinpricks of such an ambitious world organisation. Added to this, the public image of a charitable organisation in which the big Powers do what they like, and the small nations say what they like, is very hard to shift. It is not easy to maintain a high pitch of enthusiasm for such an evolutionary body, imperfect in many ways, when progress is inevitably so slow. The de-colonisation, accompanied by an increase of new members, has led to changes never envisaged by the founders of the U.N. Perhaps the 1351 present General Assembly is too unwieldy and bears too little relation to the realities of power politics. However, the 33-Nation Committee are to pronounce on their deliberations some time soon; and the Article 19 crisis precipitated this inquiry.
I believe that much more should be done to inform people about the structure and the functions of the United Nations, and particularly to stress that it is an evolutionary and not a static body. But can anyone seriously think of going back on this Parliamentary method of dealing with influential affairs? The public debate is very therapeutic, especially for the newly emergent nations, who have a really big voice there. And most important of all is the fact that the United Nations has within it all the machinery of the Specialised Agencies, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These are active, workable, international institutions affiliated to the U.N.: they are the main instruments for economic development in less-developed nations.
Without the drive for more equality among nations, there can be little hope for peace in this world. At present, I believe, there is far more bilateral aid than international aid, but the recent establishment of a permanent United Nations organ, the Trade and Development Board, with a substantial Secretariat, has far-reaching implications, because this is exactly how the new members see the United Nations—mainly as a place for promoting economic development of under-developed nations. Perhaps they view the peacekeeping operations as secondary to this.
One could make out a case showing that it is where the United Nations is either impotent or barred from intervening that fighting continues in the trouble spots of the world. It was when the United Nations troops were withdrawn from the Congo that the atrocities occured. Even an uneasy truce, as in Cyprus, is preferable to a conflagration. The border force in Gaza is a complete success. It is a pity that it cannot be copied on the Israeli-Jordan border as well. Observers, mediators, technical advisers, loans, troops—they all have their part to play in peacekeeping and econo- 1352 mic development, and it would be a tragedy if these workable institutions were not increased as time goes by.
I sometimes wonder how people who are cynical about the United Nations envisage future peacekeeping in the world. Do they envisage periods of peace interspersed with bigger and better wars, conducted with bigger and better armaments? Surely this is the direct road to disaster. Bigger and better bombs have their shortcomings in certain situations, as we know to-day. An empty fruit-can full of explosives can sometimes be more effective than the most sophisticated missile. We who have faith in the United Nations, however imperfect its organisation, however slow its progress, maintain that from that slender glass skyscraper in New York is a long view, and somewhere on the horizon—the distant horizon—is a view of World Government. We believe that this is no mirage. So we give credit to the Government in these difficult days for allotting £3½ million to the United Nations, for this is not an extravagance, but simply an investment in peacekeeping.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I rise to make a very few observations in this debate on Foreign Affairs. It is quite a long time since I made a speech on Foreign Affairs, but I particularly wanted to do so to-day for one or two reasons. Before I begin my speech, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, on his maiden speech. I think we are extremely fortunate to have him here in this House—he who was so recently at the Foreign Office and is so knowledgeable about every subject. We shall look forward and listen with the greatest interest and respect to everything he has to say on this subject, as on others. We are also very fortunate to have had the noble Earl, Lord Avon. No-one has played a bigger part in Foreign Affairs in the last thirty years than he has done. When he was talking about Vietnam and about the problem with which he dealt in 1954. I had vivid recollections of the extraordinarily skilful way in which he used to deal with these matters. It was, indeed, a memorable occasion to hear him speak to-day.
I wanted to say a few words to-day for two reasons: first, because I wished to 1353 comment (as the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, has just done) on the United Nations and its work—this being the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Charter—and I wanted to add a very few words, to those of many others, on the important subject of a continuing and steady policy in Vietnam. I regret, as I am sure everyone does, the fact that the United Nations has come to an impasse at the present moment. It is quite a long time since I was a delegate to that great Assembly. I was there for three years, through many crises, and I have always followed with the greatest possible interest the work that is going on, and has gone on there since then. It was in the last year that I was a delegate that the big development in membership began. I well remember the enormous interest and pleasure which we had when Ghana became a full member of the Assembly. She was followed very shortly after by the other African States—some the ex-French colonial States and some our own ex-Colonial States. Here at last, I felt, was a forum where East met West, where Communists rubbed shoulders with ordinary people of every political view every day, where no colour bar existed and where we had the highest hopes that we should achieve something in the nature of World Government. Like the noble Baroness, I still have those hopes, although in the last few years things have been a little less encouraging.
One of the stumbling blocks I can remember very vividly when I was there was the interminable procedure of debates. If any people wanted to prevent a decision or a subject from being discussed or, indeed, wished to put stumbling blocks in the way of anyone who wanted to do some practical and excellent piece of work of which they did not approve, they could raise points of procedure which would be debated for days and days and reduce one almost to a state of despair. It was the one way in which you could postpone any action. I felt then, and I feel now, that the weakness of the United Nations constitution is the impossibility of getting any change in the machinery. The noble Baroness said quite rightly that this is a matter of evolution. We must have patience, I entirely agree. But one of the tragedies of the constitution of the United Nations is that it does not allow 1354 for evolution, because the moment you make any suggestion about enlarging the Security Council, Ecosoc, or whatever it may be, always difficult, almost impossible, objections are put up.
This has culminated in the present blocked procedure by the U.S.S.R. and the French on the question of payment for peace-keeping operations, and on the decision whether or not these matters should be dealt with by the Assembly or by the Security Council. This is a desperate situation. I have the greatest sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who I am sure is more than anxious to get on with doing constructive and important things and is being held up by what is in effect a dispute on procedure—I think the Committee of Thirty-three has been discussing this. Until they can come to some decision we are being completely hamstrung by this failure to find a way out of what amounts to a procedural debate. I think this is a most frustrating matter. As the noble Baroness has said, the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, is probably one of the best people to get round this. But he has my sympathy, because I know how incredibly frustrating this matter of procedure can be when you long to do some constructive work.
I am a strong supporter of the work that is done through the agencies of the United Nations, and I am one of those people who have actually been and seen the successful peace-keeping operations in Gaza, between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Undoubtedly this small force of the United Nations has kept peace in that area with extraordinary success. Also we have had less trouble, in fact very little trouble, since the United Nations force went to Cyprus. These operations are well worth the money they cost, and are successful because both sides of the dispute agree to the authority of this peacekeeping force.
The Congo operation was a much more protracted affair and the force was involved in fighting. I always felt this was less satisfactory but very much better than a war on a large scale. I believe that peace-keeping operations are most successful when the force is in fact in the nature of a police force, where no shots are fired and where the authority of the force is acknowledged by both sides. I think the fact that the Russians have 1355 never agreed to pay for any of these forces is a grave matter. If it were not for the enormous generosity of the United States of America, and the contribution which we and other nations make to the financing of these operations, there would have been far more disturbances than there have been in the last twenty years. We can all read in the history books of the great wars of the past. What we cannot read of, and what are nowhere recorded, are the wars which did not take place. In my opinion, certainly in the last twenty years, there have been quite a number of names of places which might be written on the walls of that great hall in which the General Assembly meets in New York—inscribed there as wars which have been avoided.
Nevertheless, I do not think the record of the Communist Parties among the United Nations members ought to be tolerated indefinitely and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and his Government will insist that in future the contributions shall be shared. The procedural discussions will, I hope, be finished before the next Assembly meets.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Baroness for a moment, I should like to say this. While I agree with her entirely that this attitude should be adopted towards the Communist States which do not pay, does the noble Baroness not agree that it should be adopted also towards other countries, such as France?
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
The noble Lord is quite right. I was thinking in terms of the Russians. In fact, the French in the past have been more co-operative, but the U.S.S.R., if I remember rightly, have never been cooperative in this connection. For instance. the French have helped over the question of refugees, whereas the U.S.S.R. would never make any contribution. I agree that at the moment the French are being extremely tiresome, and I agree we should include them.
There is one other thing that I hope the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and his friends will encourage at the United Nations and that is the work of the special campaigns which are often organised there. The most recent one, the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, has been a most enormous success and has 1356 evoked tremendous interest in this country. It has involved millions of people all over the world, and particularly here, in supporting it. It has done an enormous amount of good, not only from the point of view of the money which has been raised but also from the point of view that it has interested the ordinary people with something they can understand and which brings closer to them the importance of united action in this field.
I was myself involved in one campaign some years ago—the World Refugee Year—and I can remember now how impressed I was by the response from the people here, almost more than anywhere else, although the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands were great supporters. This was something which ordinary people understood. They were taking part in a great international effort, and that is what I should like to see the people of this country as well as other countries made aware of; I should like to see them made conscious of the fact that they are part of a great international organisation, and these are most important ways in which they can help.
We have heard this afternoon of the difficult problems arising in Vietnam. Many noble Lords have spoken, and I think that probably the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has said all that there is to say about this matter, but I should like to urge the Government to stick to the policy announced so ably by their Foreign Secretary some weeks ago. I agree that the object in Vietnam must be to bring about a peaceful settlement, but not, in my opinion, peace at any price. What the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said about trying to get an armistice is, of course, absolutely vital. It is not an armistice on the terms of the Communists, but terms on which we can make a settlement which will enable the South Vietnamese people to choose their own Government and to have a free Government if they so wish.
In what I am saying now I think I shall be supported by your Lordships on both sides of the House. We should be firmly on the side of America, Australia and New Zealand, and should not appear, however well-intentioned, to be playing any kind of a game which might leave our allies and the Commonwealth countries in doubt as to where we stand. It may not he very clear what eventually 1357 victory will look like in Vietnam. I read an article which appeared in The Times the other day which had a heading to the effect of "There can be no victory"—I forget the exact words. Other newspapers have said the same, but it is perfectly clear to me what the loss of that war would mean. In the First World War I can remember, as a child, hearing people arguing as to who won the Battle of Jutland. There was never any doubt about who lost it, and there can be no doubt that if the Americans leave the Vietnamese area the war there will be lost and there will be disastrous effects in South-East Asia.
I remember fairly early in the last war meeting General Smuts and saying to him, "How did you manage to bring South Africa into the war on our side in 1939?" Noble Lords will remember that there were many Germans in South Africa and the Boers were not all enthusiastic supporters of the British Empire in those days. I remember General Smuts saying to me, "I won them over by saying to them, 'Choose your friends. I am not asking you to fight for the British Empire, or indeed making any kind of jingo appeal. All I ask is, when the war is over who do you want to be your friends—the British or the Germans?'." Choose your friends! I often think of this, my Lords, in discussions which are difficult and where the end is not clearly in sight. "Choose your friends" is very good advice. We have chosen the Free World, we have chosen the Americans, we have been friends on many occasions. They are our friends in defending freedom. Let us stick to them now.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, one of the difficulties of a Foreign Affairs debate is that one is inclined to wish to speak on so many subjects. One would have liked to speak about disarmament and the prospects of the Conference to which my noble friend Lord Chalfont has referred. One would certainly like to speak on the subject of the future of the United Nations, which has been raised both by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell and subsequently by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood. But I am going to direct most of my remarks to-night to the position in Vietnam, because I agree with the noble 1358 Earl, Lord Avon, that that is the most urgent issue now before us in foreign affairs. It is urgent, first, because it is war here and now, with hundreds, indeed thousands, of people being killed and mutilated in circumstances of terrible cruelty. But it is urgent not only in that way, but also because it is increasingly a danger to the peace of the world. Unless our Government and other Governments can act for a political settlement in Vietnam, the danger will intensify.
To-day, President Johnson, in Washington, has made a statement which indicates that America is now determined in Vietnam to pursue a war which will be a total war. This is a new situation which in my view demands a new attitude by the Government of this country. America began in Vietnam by having advisers there, a commission of military advice. It proceeded from that to have what it described as technicians to assist the forces of the South Vietnamese Government, but who did not take part in combatant fighting. When those troops were attacked, America developed a stage further and attacked North Vietnam. Now, quite openly, the American troops are taking part in combatant warfare in South Vietnam. These have been the steady developments of American participation; and now, with the speech of President Johnson, we have reached the last stage in its intervention. America is now saying that she will wage total war, with the limitless use of troops, with the limitless use of weapons of destruction; and that, if need be, that war will be continued for years to reach the achievement which America seeks. That is the situation on one side.
On the other side, there is the attitude of the Government of North Vietnam and of the National Liberation Front. I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, are perfectly correct when they say that the Government of North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front are not at this moment prepared to negotiate peace: they are confident of victory. They have had a history now of 25 years' war, first against Japanese occupation, then against the power of French colonialism, which they defeated; and, since then, against the oppressive and utterly unrepresentative series of Governments 1359 which there have been in Saigon, and with American participation. And with the monsoon period, through which we are now passing, they believe that they can achieve victory by military means. In my view, they are terribly mistaken. I do not think there is any military solution of this conflict. I think that American prestige is so involved, her determination to resist Communism in South-East Asia so deep, and her own ambitions for power in Asia so great, that America will continue this war for years, if need be. The Vietnamese people may resist, but at the end of it their territory will become a cemetery, a cemetery of cinders.
In these circumstances, particularly because, if the war continues in that way, it will become more and more dangerous to the peace of the world, we must exert all our efforts to secure a political settlement and an end of the war. I agree very much with the noble Earl, Lord Avon, than the Geneva Agreement remains the basis upon which a settlement must be obtained. I have paid him a tribute earlier in this House for his chairmanship of the Geneva Conference, the chairmanship which he shared with the Russian representative. I sometimes wish that we had to-day leadership in foreign affairs which showed the same independence from America as the noble Earl, Lord Avon, showed at the Geneva Conference. There is one phrase of his which I shall never forget:It is better not to have a bad policy than to pursue a bad policy with our alliesAnd the noble Earl maintained at Geneva that principle, though if he were here would add that many of us found it very difficult indeed in later years to forgive the policy which led to the appalling venture of Suez.
What did the Geneva Agreement decide? It decided, first, that Vietnam must be sovereign and independent. It decided, second, that the 17th Parallel, which was a truce line to bring an armistice, should be only provisional, and that within two years North and South Vietnam should have the opportunity to unite. It decided, third, that all foreign troops, all foreign bases, and all foreign military equipment must be withdrawn from both South Vietnam and North Vietnam, and from the United 1360 Vietnam when it was established. Finally, the Geneva Conference laid down—and this was accepted by the North Vietnam Government—that North and South Vietnam, and subsequently United Vietnam, should be militarily neutral, unaligned to any power bloc outside, unaligned to China, unaligned to Russia. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, is absolutely correct when he says that the principles of the Geneva Agreement are still the basis of any settlement in Vietnam.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, may I intervene? I have been following the noble Lord with great interest and great care. Would he not mention, in connection with the Geneva Agreement, the fact that there were also to be democratic elections carried out, both in North Vietnam and in South Vietnam, and that in fact the North Vietnamese have never agreed to this point?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, the noble Lord is not quite correct, but very nearly correct. There were to be elections after two years, to enable South Vietnam and North Vietnam to unite. Where he is not quite correct is in his statement that North Vietnam never agreed. In fact, the greatest obstruction to the holding of the elections did not come from Hanoi but came from Saigon, and came by the agreement, and not merely the agreement but by the encouragement of the American Government in getting the Saigon Government to resist the possibilities of that election.
Let me continue. There is hope that the Geneva principles may be the basis of peace. They are accepted by North Vietnam; they are accepted by the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam: they are accepted by China; they are accepted by Russia; they are accepted by Britain. I do not think that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, was quite correct when he said that President Johnson had offered unconditional negotiations: that offer of President Johnson was followed by a statement that the independence of South Vietnam must be maintained. But the Geneva Agreement itself laid down that there was to be the opportunity to unite. Nevertheless, President Johnson has said that the essentials of the Geneva Agreement should he the conditions for a political 1361 settlement. We therefore can begin to look forward to a political settlement with a considerable degree of hope.
The practical question now is, how are those negotiations to take place? How is a conference to be called? I do not take the view which has been expressed, that the Commonwealth Peace Mission which the Government have initiated can be written off. I took the view from the very beginning that, because of Britain's support for America, it would be difficult for the Prime Minister of this country to negotiate with both sides. I took the view—and I stated it—that it would nevertheless be useful for the Prime Minister of this country to he exerting influence on America whilst Dr. Nkrumah and other African and Caribbean members of that Mission were exerting pressure on the other side. I know that this is now being done, and I pay tribute to the Prime Minister and to the British Government for the proposals which they have been making to the President of America in recent weeks. The Ghana Government now has Mr. Kwesi Armah and its representatives, who have been to both Peking and Hanoi. Therefore I believe that the machinery of the Commonwealth Peace Mission may yet contribute a great deal.
I want to say frankly to the House, however, that I do not believe that the British Government or, as Head of the Commonwealth Mission, the Prime Minister of the British Government, will be able to bring the two sides together while he and our Government are identified with one side. I think it is quite impossible. I am among those who regret that the British Government have ever given that kind of support to the American Government. I am going to make a plea to-night, that in view of the development of the situation, in view of the American decision now to make the war in Vietnam a total war, without limit, which must almost inevitably bring the bombing of Hanoi to which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred, and which will also almost inevitably bring the bombing of the port, the name of which I forget, where the Russian and Chinese ships fill the harbour with their military equipment—
§ LORD BROCKWAY
—which in those circumstances even the noble Lord admits 1362 would be a great danger towards making the war one in which the Russians may be involved, together with the Chinese, the Government should now dissociate itself from America. I want to say to our Government—and I want to say it without the prejudices of the past—that now there has arisen a new situation. The American Government has decided upon total war. It has decided on a course which is almost certain to lead to the bombing of Hanoi and of Haiphong.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I thank the noble Lord; that is why I said "almost certain". I did not use the word "certain" alone. It is almost certain; the balance of probability is on that side. If American prestige and determination are so great that it is determined to win at any cost, as President Johnson's statement indicates, do you think that they will avoid the bombing of Hanoi and of Haiphong? Of course not.
The danger of world war is near, and the appeal which I am making now to my own Government—I have tried to restrain my speech on this matter because of my loyalties to that Government—is this. We now have reached a new situation. Mr. Gordon Walker, who was our Foreign Secretary, has publicly criticised any idea of America bombing Hanoi and going near the Chinese frontier. If American policy is now tending towards that end, surely our Government can dissociate themselves from that dangerous policy. And, when they do dissociate themselves from American policy, they will have some moral authority to act for peace in Vietnam.
There is just one other issue to which I wish to refer. Yesterday in another place—the Statement was repeated here—there was an announcement of reductions in expenditure on future social development. In the last speech which I delivered on this subject my noble friend Lord Walston will remember that I sounded a warning that if we maintained the present expenditure upon defence, it would inevitably mean that there would have to be cuts in expenditure upon social 1363 progress. I was glad to see in the Statement yesterday that there is to be a reduction by £100 million this year on the Defence budget. That will still leave an expenditure of £2,000 million. I was glad to see that over the next four years there is to be a reduction of £400 million. That will still leave an expenditure of £1,600 million for defence. I am raising this point now because expenditure on defence is dependent upon the country's foreign policy. Expenditure on armaments is reflective of our foreign policy, and if our present foreign policy is maintained it is going to be difficult to reduce that expenditure.
I could take many instances, but I will take only one. I will take the issue of Malaysia. There we have 55,000 men. I do not know what is the cost; but it must be a large sum in our expenditure on defence. I can understand the Government sending troops to defend a Commonwealth country which is under attack; but I would urge the Government to pay much more attention to the possibilities of peace there. I ask them to take up the challenge of the proposal which President Soekarno has made. He has made the proposal that Malaya, the Philippines and Indonesia—the three nations which were actually in conference at the time when Malaysia was inaugurated—should propose three Asians and three Africans, nominating one each, to form a Commission to secure peace, and that together they should appoint a chairman. President Soekarno has said "I will accept the recommendations of that Commission". Critics say he is an unreliable man, but I would urge that at least our Government ought to seek to challenge him when he makes an offer of that kind and encourage not only Malaysia but other Governments in the Commonwealth to respond to that offer and to see if peace can be secured.
The final thing I want to say is this—and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is not here.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I am sure my noble friend would wish to apologise for not being here. He had to go to a meeting at five o'clock, and he hopes to be back soon.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I thank the noble Earl very much. The noble Lord referred to a group in the Labour Party to which I proudly belong, the group represented by 75 Members of the other House who have asked for a reduction in our defence expenditure by £500 million. I associate myself with it completely. I do not believe that we can carry out the social reforms to which we are pledged without such a reduction, and I believe that the world would be a much safer place if we were able to achieve it.
The point to which I particularly want to refer is this. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested that those of us who held this view are thinking of Britain becoming another Sweden in the world. In many ways I should like Britain to be another Sweden. I am not sure that the standard of its social life is not higher than ours. I am not sure that there is not a greater sense of freedom, liberty, and a certain absence of frustration in the life of their people. But I do not mean another Sweden in the sense to which the noble Lord referred. I want Britain to be great in its influence in the world not because of a past imperial history or because of its enormously spread Armies and Air Force. I want Britain to become great in the world, first, because it has an influence of tradition; second, because it still has great influence through its association with the members of the Commonwealth, and third, because it is giving a moral leadership in the cause of freedom and peace—a greater influence in the world than all its power of imperialism in the past and its militarism to-day. When we are thinking of Britain as "great", we are thinking of it as great in the moral values which may give leadership to mankind.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, may I add a footnote to what my noble friend was just saying about the war in Vietnam? With much of what he said I agree; with some of what he said I do not agree. My footnote is this. Will the Government keep an eye open for the possibility that the Americans may bomb the dykes around Hanoi? Hanoi, I understand, is below water level, and the rivers in that 1365 area are contained by dykes. It would be a way to dislocate or even destroy the city to bomb dykes without directly bombing the city itself. If this were to be done it might cause the same sort of reaction in that part of the world's population, which lives on rice, which is a crop dependent on the control of water, as their use of gas earlier had on that part of the world's population, including ourselves, to whom gas is the weapon of genocide. I raise a flag of alarm at that possibility.
I wonder how many of your Lordships know when Britannia, with her trident and chariot, first appeared on the British coinage. I ask this because I did not know until I happened to come across the fact last week. Until then I would have supposed that it happened at about the same time as she began to rule the waves in what is obviously an 18th century tune, about 1750 to 1780. It was in fact in the year 286 A.D. The coinage was minted in London by Carausius, a person calling himself the British Emperor, the Emperor of the British Empire. I tell this story not to show how extremely ancient and worthy of respect our country is, or to encourage feelings on those lines; but rather the contrary, to show that however ancient our country is, it is only for a short time that our country has insisted on ruling the waves beyond her own territorial waters, on governing and policing far flung continents inhabited by persons of a different colour from ourselves. In 286 A.D. there she was ruling the Straits of Dover perhaps, or the straits between Britain and the Isle of Man. For 1,500 years from that time on this country was a civilised country, a pleasant country, without feeling any impulse to go anywhere else and impose itself. Then, suddenly, with the first industrial revolution, and the sudden new relevance of our basic raw materials of coal and iron, we found ourselves able to dominate the world, and we did so. My point is that this was a short episode only in a very long history.
We are now, since the Second World War, seeing the beginning of the process where we cone back to normal. It is uncomfortable to adjust, it is difficult to give up our positions of dominant influence in Asia and Africa. We run many dangers in doing so. Part of our public opinion is reluctant to do it; others cry 1366 "Forward!" These are normal and natural confusions. It is a return to normal which we are seeing in our generation. We are going back to the situation in which we existed for 1,500 years. We did not find anything wrong with it for a millennium and a half, and to many people who are content to live with history as they find it, I suspect that we shall not find anything wrong with it for another millennium and a half when we have retreated from the position of national empire which we have occupied for only two centuries.
It may not be too imaginative to find a parallel to this movement in the increased length of the young men's hair in the next generation which is coming after us. It is surprising to us; we are not used to men having hair on their shoulders, but it is only for 150 years that we have become unused to it. The short haircut came in with the industrial revolution and the expansion of empire. For 1,500 years since Britannia first appeared on the coinage, until she began to rule the Indian Ocean as well as the English Channel, young men wore their hair long. In this, too, we are only seeing a return to normal.
May I conclude by saying one or two words about Europe, addressing my remarks particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn? He spoke a great deal about Europe and the desirability of our declaring our intention to join Europe, and the importance of strengthening Europe. He did not, of course, mean Europe. He actually meant a part of a half of Europe—the Six countries in Western Europe. The shortsightedness of the debate on whether or not Britain should join "Europe", the debate on whether or not we can safely sign the Treaty of Rome, comes from the misuse of language. It would be expedient—and I hope that this House would agree to set the tone and give a lead in this matter—if the word "Europe" were increasingly used to mean Europe; and if when we meant the E.E.C. we said the E.E.C., and if when we meant Eastern Europe we said "Eastern Europe", and so on. After all, Europe contains 24 countries.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, would the noble Lord define "Europe" as being 1367 up to the Urals and the Caucasus—is that his idea?
§ LORD KENNET
I would. That is what has been meant by Europe for, I think I say with some justification, more than 2000 years, although the term was of course vague at the time of its origin around the Ægean. We should use words to say what we mean, and should not arrogate the larger words to describe a smaller area.
Many of your Lordships are familiar with the rage and frustration felt by Scottish persons when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is referred to as "England". For myself, I am English, so I have never felt this, but I certainly sympathise with them, and I think all English noble Lords sympathise with them, because they are always among us. We mix with Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh persons in our daily life, and we know they do not like it, so we take care to use words correctly. Of course, the Europeans who do not happen to belong to the E.E.C. are not always among us. We do not frequently meet Roumanians, we do not frequently meet even Greeks or Portuguese. I do not know what degree of annoyance they would feel at the way words are used in England at the moment—perhaps not too much—but it is still incorrect and inaccurate. If we use words correctly, the policies will begin to make sense.
The noble Lord spoke about the contrast between EFTA and the E.E.C.: in one case a purely economic organisation, and in the other an organisation which is also political. I should welcome it if we began to look less at the declared ambitions of these unities, and more at their actual achievements. And their actual achievements seem to me to be rather closely parallel. Both aim to become Free Trade areas, with a zero internal tariff. A zero internal tariff is to be reached in the same month, December, 1966, in both EFTA and the E.C.E. The achievements of EFTA are often belittled by comparison with the other. I was very struck recently to find that, crossing the frontier between Belgium and Holland by train (and this is not simply in E.C.E.; this is in Benelux, which has been supposed to be 1368 working towards a Customs Union since 1946), in nineteen years they have not even got as far as being able to get rid of the Customs inspection of passengers' baggage on that train. I am speaking now of the reality; not of the ambitions of these units, with which everybody sympathises. This is as much as has happened between two countries which have been aiming at this, not for the nine years since the Treaty of Rome, but for nineteen years. Both organisations seek that zero internal tariff. One aims to become a political unity; the other does not. The one which does aim to become a political unity is not succeeding. The reality is that there is no progress at all towards the creation of political unity there.
It seems to me that not only are the words being used wrongly, but the debate is being fogged by the enormous weight of public information which is coming out of that very highly qualified Secretariat in Brussels, when compared with the nil weight of public information which is coming out of the very small Secretariat of EFTA in Geneva. My own conclusion would be that we should not be hypnotised into the "Yea" or "Nay" about the Rome Treaty, but should look forward to the day—and I take the noble Lord's point that bridges are becoming a hackneyed image—when we can build up the E.C.E. (and how few remember what those letters stand for! They mean the Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations original organisation, which is also situated in Geneva) into a receptacle strong enough to contain the more present organisations in Europe—the E.E.C., our own EFTA, and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, formerly known as "Comecon", which groups the Communist countries of Eastern Europe. I accused a certain sector of this public debate of being short-sighted. I think that the long-sighted view on this would be to seek to build tip the E.C.E. to hold the three things; to seek increasingly to harmonise them until we can get a real system of economic co-operation covering the whole of our ancient but not unhopeful continent.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, the last time we had a debate on Foreign Affairs, I ventured to make 1369 a few points on the European problem. I felt certain that to-day there would be many noble Lords speaking both on Europe and on Vietnam—and how welcome it was to hear the noble Earl, Lord Avon, speaking on this subject, back again here with us—and I thought, therefore, that I would take a totally different point. Perhaps a change at this stage of the evening is not a bad plan. Since we are discussing foreign policy in general, I would draw your Lordships' attention to an aspect of foreign policy which I feel is important and is rather tending to be neglected. We naturally feel a strong obligation to support the underdeveloped countries, and I think we may be doing so at the risk of losing out in more profitable parts of the world, which are really just as important parts of the human race and the world economy. I should like to give two illustrations of this point which I have in mind.
First of all, South America. We have there 27 nations, with vast possibilities of expansion, and the European tradition. Here I should declare a vested interest, because I have a son in business in Buenos Aires. He has been there for some years and he tells me that time and again we are missing out on our opportunities there to other European countries. This is all the more regrettable as there is so much good will towards us in those countries, and, I gather, very few points of friction. I was shocked by the lack of publicity for the visit of President Frei, of Chile, when he was here recently. He had a tremendous reception in Germany and in Italy; and no wonder! because (and this is an interesting fact) he won his recent elections, and won them very well, on a Christian Democratic Party ticket. This Christian Democratic Party, which is, of course. the Party in office in both Germany and Italy, is working very strenuously in South America, with some considerable success as an antidote to Communism in three or four of the major countries; and where the political link exists, trade will naturally follow. This is what is happening.
I am sure that we ought to be taking far more trouble over the South American countries than we have been doing lately, especially just now, when their allegiance to the U.S.A. has been very much loosened. When I was in 1370 New York at the United Nations, in 1952 and 1953, the U.S.A. could count on a solid block of 23 to 25 South American votes. That is, of course, no longer the case, yet they are Western-thinking countries with very strong ethnic and historical links with Europe. I do not mean to say that these markets are easy ones—they present exchange difficulties, and so on—but if we do not try to get a foot in now, we may find it very much more expensive to buy our way in there at a later stage.
Then there is another country—I am taking just these countries as illustrations of my point—which I feel we ought to keep very much in our mind's eye, and that is Persia. Persia is the hinge between Turkey and Pakistan. It is a Mohammedan country outside the sphere of Arab influence, and it is a stabilising factor in this respect. Recently, her Prime Minister was assassinated, but his successor carried on where the murdered man had left off without any disturbance. I think that that showed a very welcome political maturity. Here again is a vast country, as large as Europe, with immense mineral resources and oil, which is well disposed towards us, needing capital investments and with sounder prospects of satisfactory returns within a measurable distance of time. I was sorry to hear that the Government's new overseas investment restrictions are not only going to hamper our present investments in regard to this country but are going to discourage any future developments.
While we must to a certain degree cast our bread upon the waters of countries for which we were recently responsible, in some cases with very little prospect of return, I do not think we should lose opportunities in other countries where there is a quicker return on capital investment in prospect. It is, after all, not only in our interests but in the world's interests that we should strengthen our own economy; and, unless we watch this situation closely, those countries which have no ex-colonial obligations will beat us to it—as, for instance, Japan is doing in Persia and in the Argentine. Of course, we must help other needy nations, but I think we should keep a sense of proportion as to how we use the finances that we have available.
1371 As one goes round one sees an awful lot of Government aid frittered away through other Government channels, and I cannot help feeling that it is far better to encourage private enterprise in every way to take the risks involved, provided that there is an incentive of a reward proportionate to the risk. To recapitulate, my point is to urge the Government, notwithstanding their preoccupation, quite rightly, with the Commonwealth, not to forget other nations outside which are good friends of ours and could provide valuable markets for our exports—and which are, after all, as I said at the beginning, just as important a part of the human race and the economic world.
§ 6.22 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for suggesting that I might like to rise immediately before him since I shall make a reference to one topic on which we have already had amiable dialogue in the past. I should first like to say what a pleasure it was for me to hear the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, whom I have known for years, always as a warm friend and sometimes as a generous host. It is a great pleasure to know him now in this new relationship, in which he will be continuing the great services that he has already rendered to this country.
My Lords, I intervene, very briefly, to touch upon two European problems, in one of which this country has undoubtedly a major interest but a less obviously direct influence; in the other of which we have a most direct influence, interest and responsibility. The European Economic Community is passing through a climacteric of its existence. There is a nearly desperate note in the utterances of some of its keenest and formerly most confident creators. We have seen here in this country a certain tendency, happily a restricted tendency, among some of our compatriots, to crow with triumph. I cannot conceive of a more foolish or devitalising response to the present quandary of our closest neighbours. In saying this, I do no more than echo the words of my noble Leader who opened this debate.
I went myself last week to Brussels purely to listen to some of those involved 1372 in the efforts of a Europe striving to unite. I spoke to men politically, diplomatically, intellectually and philosophically committed to this task. When they speak of Europe, they mean the Europe for which they strive and which they visualise. Therefore, although I see point in the criticisms of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, I think these men would answer that such criticisms are not so much inaccurate as precipitate, in the phrase they use when they speak of Europe as they intend and expect it to be.
My Lords, not one of the men I spoke to minimised the gravity of the present crisis. Some were gloomier than others about its possible effects, but not one considered that the grand conception of a united Europe was doomed or condemned. The immediate and obvious agent of the crisis is General de Gaulle. But, again, not one of my informants argued that his purpose was to dissolve the Community or to halt the whole of its progress. There were a number of different theories as to what his true purpose might he, and the main and most cogent complaint I heard was that this purpose was wrapped in mystery—la politique de brouillard, as I heard it called. It is in this artificial, apparently deliberate political fog that the politicians of the Six are floundering to-day.
It is assumed, or was assumed among those to whom I spoke, that the General, when he speaks oracularly from the fog, will demand a stiff price for France's remaining within the Community—or, rather, returning to active participation within the Council and the Commission. It is even questioned in some quarters whether the price demanded will be acceptable, or whether for some years the Five may have to carry on the existence of the Common Market, somehow without France, waiting for a change of heart. a change of leadership, or a change of interpretation under France's present leader.
Politicians are indulging in a humourless guessing game as to what the price may be that he has in mind. Some speak of his demanding the head of Dr. Hallstein on a political charger—perhaps the heads of Dr. Hallstein and Mr. Mansholt. This execution could be prompt, though not painless, since the whole Commission come up for reelection on January 1 next, and one 1373 blackball excludes any candidate. But I did not gather that the other Governments would be ready to accept the blackballing of the Chairman and one Vice-Chairman of the Commission—two dedicated and redoubtable Europeans—simply to make way for the General's nominees, or to allow for the General's preferences. It is also said that what he requires, leaving personalities on one side, is to "cut the Commission down to size". But the Commission has been the dynamo of the Community, and to cut down its function deliberately and arbitrarily would be to reduce the dynamism on which the Community lives and develops—unless it could be in some way replaced. This, at least, is the view of many to whom I spoke.
Therefore, there are worried men in Europe to-day, and some angry men. But in their present distress the architects and the visionaries of this new Europe still look to Britain, and the benefit 'which Britain's entry would bring to the new Europe. I attended, as an observer, the Brussels meeting of the European Movement on July 20. The formal message which went out from that meeting was immensely strengthened by an amendment in which those gathered under the chairmanship of M. Maurice Faure welcomed the declaration made by the British Council of the European Movement, which shared the anxiety of the Six in wishing to see the present crisis resolved without the integrity of the Community having suffered any harm. The declaration in question was voiced by Mr. Bob Edwards of the British Labour Party, but was fully scripted and supported by his colleagues, both Labour and Conservative, forming the British delegation. I hope that most Members of your Lordships' House would echo that support.
It is conceded within the Commission that the main impediment to France's full collaboration in the future—and it is conceived that it may also be a difficulty in the way of Britain's entry—is that these problems are bound up with supranational control; that is to say, the degree of supranational authority—a matter on which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, dwelt in great detail and with far greater knowledge. It certainly cannot be beyond the wit of determined men to come to terms with this problem. In assaying to overcome it, one of my hosts dwelt upon 1374 the value which we in this country set upon the Parliamentary system. He assured me that some minds within the Commission were exploring the idea of transferring some of the present power of the Commission—even the power of initiation—to the European Parliament. This appears, to me at least, an idea worthy of respect. But what is important at this juncture of Europe's advance to unity is to recognise that these problems affect us; and that in the spirit expressed by the British delegation eight days ago, it is in our interest that this great experiment should not founder but flourish.
The other problem I have in mind today is that of our relations with Spain, highlighted by the dispute over Gibraltar. I speak as an Englishman with a deep and thoughtful love of Spain and, as such, depressed by any such disturbing dispute. It would, perhaps, not come amiss from me to pay tribute to the way in which Ministers of Her Majesty's Government during this year have kept their known political prejudices outside their exchanges with the Spanish Government. I believe that this attitude of present Ministers could bear fruit in the near future. I believe that the climate exists for those talks to open, for which the United Nations called upon both Governments.
Two weeks ago I made a purely private and totally unsponsored visit to Madrid, with the idea of testing the Spanish political temperature. The impressions I received from those I spoke to confirmed my own feeling that talks could open before the situation worsened. There is a grave danger of its worsening. For the next weeks the heat in Gibraltar will be intense and confinement upon the Rock will become progressively less endurable. It is not, of course, a physical confinement because very nearly every citizen or resident of Gibraltar is free to cross the Spanish frontier either by walking overland or by crossing on the ferry across Algeciras Bay. But there is certainly a feeling of political and social confinement, so utterly at variance with the friendliness cm both sides of that border until lately.
Her Majesty's Government are well aware of the need to re-create an understanding. I can only try to inject a note of urgency and a note of optimism. But, as I have said before from these Benches, 1375 a prerequisite of successful talks would be the recognition from both sides of an opposite point of view sincerely held. The Spaniards genuinely believe that they are more sinned against than sinning. However difficult it may seem to noble Lords sitting in Westminster for anyone to entertain or sustain that argument, I must assure noble Lords, and, in particular, those who have some influence on our attitude, that this is the case. The Spaniards consider themselves to be the aggrieved party.
This being the situation, it will, as I say, behove each side in the negotiations to enter them in a positive, not a negative, spirit. If those attending sit down armed with recriminations to match recriminations, missiles and counter missiles, then no happiness will follow for the inhabitants of Gibraltar or for the two major countries involved. There is a belief—and it is a pardonable one—that all the Spanish Government have in mind is a rigid intransigent determination to wrest back Gibraltar by any means short of force. I am convinced that this is not so. I am convinced that they seek a modus vivendi, to emerge from discussions held in a climate of mutual respect. If the talks are entered upon in the belief that both sides are seeking reasonable terms, not seeking to score points but to establish agreement, then we can expect benefits for both those in Gibraltar and those in the Spanish hinterland. This is, after all, the legal tender of debate between two great civilised nations.
Within the last fortnight I have spoken with men of affairs in Madrid, including Ministers, and again in this building with Sir Joshua Hassan, the Chief Minister, and Mr Peter Isola, the Leader of the Opposition in Gibraltar. The spirit of practical reasonableness was apparent in the minds of all. I am sure that this spirit exists also in the minds of members of Her Majesty's Government. If it is reflected at the conference table, then my optimism is valid. There must be no politique de brouillard at that meeting. The atmosphere must be as clear as the sun which beams down upon the Gibraltarians and their neighbours. My Lords, I have finished. There is a certain impertinence in touching for a mere ten minutes on two such vital prob 1376 lems. In these circumstances, brevity may be confused with curtness. But if I have been curt as well as uncontroversial, then my modest objective for the day has been achieved.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD WALSTON)
My Lords, might I, at the outset of my speech, make a very appreciative reference to the maiden speech we have recently heard from the noble Lord, Lord Caccia? It was for all of us a great pleasure to hear him. For those who have had the privilege of knowing him and working with him it was no surprise to hear him speak with such authority, but, at the same time, with such modesty; and both his authority and his modesty we look forward to benefiting from in the coming months. It was also a very great pleasure to see sitting once more opposite us the noble Earl, Lord Avon, looking so well, so fit and healthy, and to listen to him speaking in such a fit and healthy manner and giving us the benefit of his many years of experience and wisdom in a speech with which I think all of us on both sides of the House could hardly find anything to disagree.
I think it will be useful at this stage if I attempt to answer some of the points which have been raised up till now, rather than to leave everything to my noble friend Lord Longford when he comes to wind up. It would be imposing on him, I think, a strain—
§ LORD WALSTON
—which he is amply capable of enduring; but it would, perhaps, make his speech long although, I am sure, worthwhile.
Perhaps I may deal at the outset with the two, I will not say unimportant but shorter points raised by the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, and the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley. First, so far as Spain and Gibraltar are concerned, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his measured words. I am also grateful for his optimism which, I say once more, I hope is not misplaced. I can do little more than repeat what I said on a previous occasion. We have no wish to be in argument with Spain, particularly over 1377 the matter of Gibraltar. We are anxious to talk about these matters, and we are always prepared to do so. But, while I agree with the noble Lord when he says that a prerequisite must be the recognition of opposing points of view, genuinely held, a further prerequisite must be the cessation and the removal of the present entirely unwarranted and intolerable restrictions which have been placed by the Spanish Government on the free movement of Gibraltarians.
I will reassert once more our determination to stand by the people of Gibraltar. As the noble Lord has reminded us, we have been having a visit from the Prime Minister and other leading personalities of Gibraltar. We have given them an indication, a concrete indication, of our determination by the promise of £1 million over the next three years from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund to help them in their present predicament. That, I hope, is sufficient evidence of our determination that we will be with them through these troubled times. I have said in the past that there are many things that we could do, if we so wished, to retaliate against the Spaniards for what they are doing I said then, and I will repeat it: we do not wish to do any of these things and we still forbear to do so. I was taken to task by some people in Gibraltar for that forbearance. But we shall continue it: although we cannot undertake indefinitely to continue if there is no indication of a more friendly and amenable attitude on the part of the Spanish Government. As I say. I hone that the noble Lord's optimism is well-founded, and that before long these restrictions will be removed; and we can then settle our disagreements in a way which befits civilised nations; that is, by talking. rather than by acts of this sort.
I was glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, raised the two problems of South America and Iran, and in particular referred to the visit of President Frei. I am sorry that she felt that the visit was not perhaps as successful as it might have been. My view is that it was an overwhelming success. Wherever the President went he made an enormous impression, by his own personality and by his political philosophy. I know that he. Personally, was extremely gratified at the response which he received in this country.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, I know that the President himself, and the way in which he was received, were perfectly splendid. But I said that there was a lack of publicity about it in the Press and in general.
§ LORD WALSTON
I certainly should have been much happier had many of our newspapers given more publicity to the visit, and there I agree with the noble Baroness; although some papers, including The Times, did have important and worthwhile articles about it.
On the wider matter of investments, and our trade and aid to South America. I am in agreement with the noble Baroness about its importance; but I would not accept her view that we are entirely neglecting that great part of the world. Although the demands for our aid are enormous, and although, naturally, commitments to the Commonwealth receive a certain priority, we are giving, and have been giving, aid to South America, by way of loans and grants, the re-financing of debts, and in many other ways. We are doing all we can to encourage private enterprise to go there and to recapture some of the markets which, as was said by President Frei, in one of his speeches, were fifty years ago almost entirely British markets, though to-day our share of them is lamentably small. We give such encouragement as we can by grants, under the E.C.G.D. scheme and in other ways to which I should like to refer later in more general terms. We are at one with the noble Baroness in recognising the importance of this market from the commercial and economic viewpoint, and because of the importance of South America on the world scene.
Much the same holds true of Iran, a great country which strategically is in a very important position. I am sure the noble Baroness knows that it was not many months ago that His Imperial Majesty paid a private visit to this country. He had many important talks with the Government, with the Prime Minister and with the Secretary of State. Shortly after that there was a CENTO meeting in Teheran which was attended by. among others. my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. We are working very closely with Iran. We gave a certain amount of assistance in aid and loans. We are also doing all we can to 1379 strengthen the importance of CENTO and to help Iran on the path that she is following.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, the CENTO side is first-class, but, as I said, I had first-hand information that the new overseas restrictions imposed recently by the Government will seriously affect very important investments in Iran.
§ LORD WALSTON
Undoubtedly the restrictions which have been imposed on overseas investments will affect overseas investments; but this is in no way singling out Iran. That country comes under the general umbrella and is affected in the same way as other countries.
My Lords, I should like now to turn to Europe which, quite reasonably, has been one of the main subjects of the debate. I assure my noble friend, Lord Kennet, that when I refer to "Europe" I mean Europe in its correct geographical sense; though for convenience and verbal shorthand I think we may sometimes be excused if we use the word to refer to the Community of the Six, if the meaning is completely clear. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made an extremely interesting and thoughtful speech which, if I may say so, would qualify him for a Chair of international affairs in any place of learning in this country. But because he put forward no positive proposal of any kind, it hardly qualifies him or his Party to pronounce on what should be done. We were waiting to hear positive proposals, and of those there were singularly few.
The noble Lord referred my noble Leader to a speech made only last week by Sir Alec Douglas-Home in another place. He invited us to read that speech if we wished to know the attitude of the Conservative Party towards Europe. I take it that the noble Lord was referring to the speech made by Sir Alec Douglas-Home in the debate on foreign affairs in another place. He will correct me if I am wrong about that. I have read through the speech and I have a copy of it with me. I can find absolutely no reference whatever in it to Europe. I have made some researches and I gather that Sir Alec did make some remarks about Europe at a Conservative women's rally some time ago, but I hardly think 1380 that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would confuse the House of Commons—at least in its present form—with a Conservative women's rally.
I find also that Mr. Maudling made certain remarks about Europe in the foreign affairs debate last week. Incidentally, he referred to the value of building bridges, and therefore appears somewhat at variance with the noble Lord. I can sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. In the turmoil which has been taking place in his Party over the past few days he may sometimes have been a little uncertain about who was the Leader of his Party at that time. But either at this stage or at some later stage in the debate he will perhaps be able to say a word (as he was himself so coy about saying what was the policy of his Party towards Europe, and simply referred us to the speech of Sir Alec in which no mention of Europe is made) about what are in fact the views of his Party. Or maybe the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, will be able to do that when he speaks later in the debate.
The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, made, if I may say so, an extremely constructive and positive speech on this matter, and he put the position very clearly. It seems to me that now, happily, the gap between any of the three Parties is becoming smaller and smaller—that is, if I may take Mr. Maudling's words in another place to represent the feelings of his Party. We are still somewhat bedevilled by semantics in this matter and by various terms such as "declaration of intent", and things of that kind which come to mean different things for different people. But I think I may say quite categorically that we made our declaration of intent when my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, on July 19 in another place, stated that it was our aim to achieve a single European market embracing the United Kingdom, the other EFTA countries and E.E.C. I suggest that is a perfectly clear declaration of intent. Having achieved this, we go on to our further objectives, our ultimate objectives, which are a democratic Europe comprising as many European countries as possible, and that—I hope this will satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Kennet—this all-embracing or widely embracing Europe should be firmly within the Atlantic Community and should not in any way be isolationist; it should accept its 1381 full responsibility in the outside world and especially its reponsibility toward developing countries.
Immediate accession to the E.E.C. is, unfortunately, in my view, not a question at the present time, but as we have stated on many occasions, we are always prepared to join, provided that our essential national interests are protected and our international obligations are in no way jeopardised. When this time comes—and we hope it will be soon—careful consideration will have to be given to all these matters. But the intent is there.
At the present time, the E.E.C. is in no position to consider such negotiations. It is passing through an unhappy period. I associate myself with everything that has been said on both sides already, in hoping that this may last a very short time and that its troubles may be speedily resolved. It can be of no benefit to anybody in Europe, desiring the things for which Europe stands, to have the Six divided in this way. After all, the Community is one of the great post-war achievements and it must regain its authority and continue to play the part that it has already started to play. It is only in that way that we can hope to get the divisions which at present divide Europe narrowed, whether we do that by building bridges or converging courses or by other means that, again, are a matter of semantics. What we want to do is to explore the most effective means of bridging this gap.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I did not mean to interrupt the noble Lord, because it only lengthens the debate, but there was one error of fact on which I I think I ought to correct him, when he said that Mr. Maudling in another place talked about bridge building. He only talked about that in order to say that it was no real, long-term solution, which is exactly what I said.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, it is perfectly true that he said that it was no real, long-term solution, but he said that it was very valuable in mitigating some of the damage there was at the present time from a divided Europe.
§ LORD WALSTON
Possibly he was a little more cautious, but if Mr. Maudling says that something might make sense, I 1382 take it that it is of value. Admittedly a bridge is of no long-term value unless people cross the bridge, but it is of value in enabling people to cross the bridge. I hope that I have said enough to show where we stand in Europe, what we wish for Europe, and how we shall set about achieving this—with patience, with pragmatism, without theoretical ideas, but with actual means which are going to bring us closer together, by consultation, by co-operation in various technical, political, economic, military and functional matters. I believe that the initiative which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister took in the main meeting with the Prime Ministers of EFTA will bear fruit. The officials are working on it now. And I think that when the October meeting comes we shall find that the initiative itself is helping to bring us closer to the other countries of Europe.
Let me turn to Vietnam, a matter of the greatest importance but on which I do not propose to speak at any great length, partly because I have spoken on it on other occasions and I think that the view of Her Majesty's Government is well known and also because I am glad to find that in to-day's debate there is a wide measure of agreement here, too. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested that nothing should be done until the monsoon had finished and that then was the time, perhaps, for further initiative; and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, supported him in that. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, reminded us that there could be no military solution to this. It must be solved by talks and conferences, and he suggested that a return to the Geneva Agreement was a correct approach. With that, I am in complete agreement.
My noble friend Lord Brockway also accepted the fact that there would have to be talks before there could be an end to the fighting and that a military solution was of no avail. He also agreed with the rest of the noble Lords who have spoken, that at the present time North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were sufficiently confident of success for there to be little hope of their coming to talks. My noble friend suggested that, because of the recent speech of President Johnson, there had been a fundamental change in the situation, and he said that we should dissociate ourselves from the United States in Vietnam, because only 1383 in such a way would it be possible for us and the Commonwealth Mission to be accepted by the two sides as a go-between.
I say once more very firmly, that we do not dissociate ourselves from the United States. I have not actually read the text of the President's speech, but so far as I know, nothing has happened which has in any way changed the situation in North Vietnam from what it was last week and last month. I know that there are still people who feel that, if we were uncommitted, Hanoi would listen to us, but those people refuse to remember that the President of India, President Tito and many other people, who are completely uncommitted, have met with exactly the same rebuffs as we have had and there is no reason whatever to believe that if we were to shift our position and become uncommitted we should have any more success than they have had in the past.
In my view, the only means by which this sad and savage war can be brought to an end is by the Viet Cong and Vietnamese, and perhaps the Chinese, too, realising that they cannot win the war. It must be up to us to make them see that. My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions did a valuable job, if he achieved nothing else, in bringing that home to the people in Hanoi; and the more we can pursue that line the better chance there is of bringing them to the conference table. How can we blame the Americans if at this stage they take such steps as seem to them necessary to convince the North that the war is not yet won? We hope it will not escalate. We sincerely hope that there will be no need to extend the bombing. But the overriding need is to make the North realise that they cannot win this war.
I do not think there is need for me to repeat our urgent objectives, other than to say that, first, there must be talks; then as rapidly as possible there must be a cease-fire; there must be a withdrawal of all foreign troops of all kinds from both territories; there must be free elections, and then there must be freedom for the North and the South to decide their own fate to amalgamate together, as we should hope, or if they insist, to remain separate. That is what we see as the future for Vietnam.
1384 My noble friend Lord Brockway mentioned Indonesia and asked us to take up President Soekarno's challenge of talks for peace. I would remind your Lordships that in this war—it is a war, in spite of the use of the word "confrontation"—we are not the protagonists. Malaysia are the protagonists, and it is not for us to take up the challenge, though we should support any talks that Malaysia were anxious to enter into. I would also remind your Lordships that, on more than one occasion, President Soekarno has made an offer of this kind. The Tungku has been prepared to go along and talk, either to Tokyo or elsewhere, and always at the last moment there have been reasons why Soekarno has not gone there. I am quite certain that the Malaysian Government, and Tungku Abdul Rahman, would be only too happy to join in genuine talks at any time, at any place, if the fighting actually ceased, and if President Soekarno showed by his deeds as well as his words that he was willing to talk.
Now I should like to turn to a matter which has been referred to in two speeches, those of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and the noble Lord, Lord Caccia—namely, the question of solvency in this country. This is not something which one can spend much time on in a Foreign Affairs debate, but I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships, and, in particular, the attention of the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, to some of the things which the Diplomatic Service are doing to help us on the economic side.
The time is long past when the Diplomatic Service looked upon itself simply as a political organisation dealing with politicians and diplomats of other countries. One of its primary jobs is on the commercial side. It is not the job of our commercial officers and our diplomats abroad actually to sell goods—that must be done by our manufacturers and exporters—but it is their job to help exporters: to provide information of the markets and the opportunities; to provide information about representatives and agents, and local conditions; to keep contact with importing firms, and many things of that kind. The tools for British industry are frequently arranged by our overseas missions. Trade fairs—Hong Kong, Tokyo, Milan, Oslo—British 1385 Weeks, anti many things of that kind are the everyday job of our overseas missions.
Let me remind your Lordships that our commercial officers are almost all regular members of the Diplomatic Service, and they have come to recognise commercial experience as an essential part of their training to the highest diplomatic posts. Before taking up posts abroad, many members of the Diplomatic Service spend several weeks, and sometimes several months, learning about British industry inside factories, and talking to our businessmen; and even heads of missions themselves, before going out, or when they are home on leave, do the same sort of thing. I would also point out that under the late entry scheme into the Diplomatic Service we now recruit many men with commercial experience. Recent entrants include two men who have been bankers, three from commercial industry, one from the electronics industry and one from transport. So we are pressing ahead the whole time with the improvement of commerce and exports, and helping all we can. But we must remember that, in the final analysis, the last word is with the manufacturer and the exporter. We provide the service, but they must actually do the selling.
I am afraid I have detained your Lordships for a long time, but let me turn finally to a more general aspect of our foreign policy. It goes without saying that we want to be on friendly terms with all the countries of the world, but it is only natural that we should have special feelings of sympathy towards those countries whose ideals are closest to ours. These ideals are the abolition of privilege, either social or economic, and at the same time the enjoyment of liberty by every individual: in other words, liberty and equality. As is so often the case, the French were right to have adopted their revolutionary slogan, because it is hard to have liberty and equality unless at the same time one has fraternity, a genuine feeling of brotherly love towards all men. We are still waiting for the day to come when they will pervade human relations. Until then, all countries have to stumble towards liberty and equality, sometimes veering more towards one, and sometimes more towards the other.
However, as we look round the world to-day, we see many countries making progress along the lines which we believe 1386 to be right. It is with these countries, in particular, that our sympathies lies. The United States of America are a great example. For long they have had a basic system of education which should be the envy of the world; and recently, under the guidance of President Johnson, they have taken two great steps towards liberty and equality—namely their civil rights legislation, and their legislation for the care of the sick and aged. In the Eastern Hemisphere, the Soviet Union, too, is advancing, albeit slowly, towards greater liberty. The inequalities and poverty of the pre-revolutionary period were such that it was bound to be many years before liberty and equality could exist. But to-day we can see signs that there is a move in that direction. It is a slow move, perhaps, and we should like to see it become faster, but we must happily recognise that there is a move in this direction.
Throughout the whole of the uncommitted world there are many countries where progress is being made. Although we deplore the anti-British propaganda in the Egyptian Press, and some of the activities of the United Arab Republic in parts of the Middle East, we wholeheartedly support the social reforms which are being carried out in Egypt: the land reform, the abolition of privilege and the redistribution of wealth. Yugoslavia is another country where successful efforts are being made: wealth is being redistributed, and we hope to see further steps towards personal liberty. Israel is another country which has made astonishing social and economic progress in all these fields. In Iran, as the noble Baroness mentioned, a similar process is taking place, although under a very different system of Government: widespread land reform has already taken place; many of the ancient privileges no longer exist; and the wealth of that great country is being devoted to schemes of social importance, above all, the hospitals and the spread of literacy.
Finally, an exciting example, which again the noble Baroness mentioned, is Chile. It was, as I have said, a privilege for us to entertain on a State Visit here President Frei. Some of us were then able to learn from his own lips of the great projects for social and economic reform that he has in his own country, which, if they succeed, will abolish the 1387 inequalities which have flourished for so long, but at the same time preserve individual liberties. We all wish him success in this great venture, which will benefit not only his own country, but, by its example, the whole of Latin America. These are the beliefs on which our foreign policy is based. We must not forget that Britain has always been in the van of social and economic progress. To-day we have a Labour Government in Britain, and as such, we are more than ever in sympathy with those countries which are striving to right social wrongs and to improve the lot of the underprivileged.
§ 7.9 p.m.
My Lords, the last two speakers, the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, and my noble friend Lord Walston, have both mentioned Gibraltar, and I propose to speak this evening quite briefly on Britain's position in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. These are areas where I have spent nearly fifty years since World War I. Then, Britain was strongly entrenched throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East—Egypt, Sudan, Aden, Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, and, as a result of the First World War, Palestine, Trans-jordan and Irak. In mentioning Palestine and Trans-jordan, I should also like to say that those were territories in which my noble friend Lord Caradon started his brilliant colonial and international career; and it gives me great pleasure to see him here on the Government Front Bench.
To-day, Britain is only on the periphery of the Middle East, in Gibraltar, in Cyprus and in Aden, and in two of those countries it is under pressure. The central bloc of the Middle East consists of independent Arab States, former British colonies, protectorates or mandated territories, together with independent countries such as Saudia and the Yemen, the former French mandated territories of Lebanon and Syria, and the non-Arab countries of Iran, Turkey and Israel. As a result of the very rapid changes in the last half century, the old system of Pax Britannica in the Middle East has vanished, and full play is given to-day to individual nationalisms, with the result that we have shifting coalitions and instability. Unfortunately, the Middle East is an extremely 1388 critical area, first of all because of its proximity to Russia, and, secondly, because of the oil supplies.
My noble friend Lord Walston mentioned just now Russia's social advance. Russia has no broad belt of satellites to protect it in the Middle East, as it has in Eastern Europe. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, mentioned the feeling that China has in South-East Asia, the need to protect itself by a broad belt of satellites. In the Middle East, the Western allies are bang up against the Southern frontier of Russia. This is part of a policy of containment. Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are all members of CENTO and receive considerable Western support, both from the United States and Britain. This is the hard crust of Western defence in the Middle East. But how does it look from the point of view of Russia? It is to them a threat. They feel uncomfortable, and they devote a large part of their energies to trying to wean away the Arab States behind this hard crust from dependence on the United States and on Britain. In this way, they hope to leave the Northern tier—these three countries, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan—hanging in the air. Hence the Russian aid to the Arab States and its constant stream of anti-Western propaganda.
This puts the West, particularly the United States, in a dilemma. Are they to match dollar for dollar, in spite of Arab insults, or are they to dig in their toes as, for example, when Foster Dulles refused American aid to build the Aswan High Dam and threw Egypt into Russia's arms? All this is part of the cold war, and the great problem is to prevent it from becoming a hot war. As I said, the Middle East is a critical area, and it is no place for brush fires: there is too much oil around, and a volatile population. Those combined can lead to a Middle East conflagration. That would perhaps lead to an Arab invitation to Russia to step in, which would jeopardise Western oil supplies. Hence the policy of the West is to put brush fires out at once.
One of the areas in which brush fires are always possible is in the relations between the Arab States and Israel. At the moment, I personally feel that serious friction is less likely between the Arab States and Israel to-day than it has been at any time during the last eighteen years.
1389 The Arab front is in disarray. Bourguiba has challenged Nasser; Ben Bella who was a protégé of Nasser has been overthrown; Egypt is tied up in the Yemen, it has trouble with Syria and Iraq. Colonel Nasser has now launched a new idea, that he has no immediate intention of attacking Israel. He suggests a long-range build-up, economic, social and political. I personally believe that this is a sincere expression of intention. At the moment, he is too weak to embark on warlike operations, and it is a possible recognition that only the big Powers are allowed freedom of action in the Middle East. Ever since Napoleon and the French walked in, we have had Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States, but little Powers are not allowed freedom of action. It is these wars between little Powers that are put down at once for fear of more serious consequences.
If my analysis is correct, we are at the moment witnessing a détente in the Middle East. What should Britain do? Should she sit back, reduce her expenditure there, and thank heaven? Or should Britain intensify her help for a constructive Middle East development? I personally am strongly in favour of further British aid. Aid is a product of three ideas: the first is the biblical device: "Love thy neighbour as thyself"; the second, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, is the belief that a satisfied man is less likely to embark on warlike operations than a hungry man; and the third, I would suggest, is that a hungry man is a better customer for British exports.
Until now the Middle East has been a very unstable place, and not surprisingly. I should like to put in a plea for understanding of some of the reasons for this instability. The Middle East is undergoing very rapid internal change. The Arab States and Iran, as has already been said, are swinging away from feudalism. There is land reform, there is irrigation and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley said, there is a considerable advance in these countries. There is a rise of an urban middle-class of lawyers, doctors, civil servants, army officers and businessmen, and a very rapid industrialisation, which puts a severe internal strain on many of these countries. Wealth is 1390 unevenly distributed within the countries. There are pockets of great poverty and, in some cases, great individual wealth. But there are also great differences between countries. For example, Kuwait has more wealth per head than the United States, while Jordan has very few natural resources and is largely dependent on grants from this country, the latest being two days ago.
Hence, in my view, the United Kingdom, through its aid, is playing a helpful role. Since World War II £135 million has been spent in the Middle East in grants and loans. This is wholly admirable, and helps to speed up the development of those countries by their own efforts. Britain has taken a lead in technical assistance. It has 200 experts in the area at this moment; it has supplied, at the expense of the British taxpayer, many university professors for different Middle East universities, mostly for teaching the English language, which is their window on the world. There are many British Council libraries, and tens of thousands of books are sent out each year. Over a thousand students from the Middle East are at present in Britain on scholarships. Not only do they benefit educationally but they can see for themselves what Britain really is. Britain, if I may say so, has a proud Imperial past, but that is past. Yet it is accused to-day of neocolonialism, which is quite untrue. It is necessary, in my opinion, continually to counteract this charge and to show Britain in the new image as a wise adviser to the nascent countries of the Middle East.
As my noble friend Lord Walston said, a great deal is done by the British Embassies, and if the success of British Ambassadors in Israel is any guide it is very considerable. The British Information Services throughout the Middle East do a great deal to spread the new image. The B.B.C. is constantly at work in its Overseas Services, both in English and in four Middle-Eastern languages. It broadcasts half-an-hour a day in Hebrew, three-quarters-of-an-hour in Persian, one-and-a-half hours a day in Turkish, and twelve hours a day in Arabic. Some of the countries of the Communist bloc spend much more on broadcasts, especially to Persia and Turkey. To Turkey they broadcast seven times as much as the B.B.C. and to Iran no less 1391 than ten times as much, which I think shows the greater sensitivity of Russia to Turkey and Iran. I do not suggest that Britain should attempt to compete with this. I am quite content to leave it to the Foreign Office Committee which decides to which countries the B.B.C. should broadcast in the vernacular, and how many hours a day.
I should like to end by saying that all this valuable aid and information can only help to stabilise an occasionally unstable area and to present Britain's new image in the proper form. My plea to Her Majesty's Government is that this should be kept up. My noble friend Lady Gaitskell has said that there is no gratitude in politics: but this is not charity; this is self-interest. I should like to see it extended, but if that is not possible on a day after the enunciation of a policy of retrenchment at least this expenditure should not be cut at the moment just because there is a détente. I think one must maintain the services that are now being carried out in the region, and I venture to suggest that, through this, Britain will reap handsome rewards—and not only in Heaven.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
My Lords, I had thought, up to a few minutes ago, that it might be best if I retained my seat. On second thoughts, having listened to the most interesting speech made by the noble Viscount, and seeing him survive the ordeal of speaking after one full-length winding-up speech, I decided that it would be cowardly of me not to try to do the same thing. But I do not wish to stand for long between your Lordships and the surprise which must await us in the winding-up speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I just ask for a little elucidation? I am not at the moment aware that I am going to say anything sensational.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
My Lords, I did not say "sensational", I said "surprising", which is not quite the same thing. My point was that I thought the debate had really been rounded off by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and that those who came after him had an invidious task in carrying on this debate and addressing your Lordships. That was 1392 what I was getting at, not to put too fine a point on it. I should like also to say how delighted I was to hear the maiden speech of my great friend the noble Lord, Lord Caccia. I see him in another sphere where I sit under his chairmanship, so I shall now have the double advantage of his wisdom.
Secondly, I wish to join those others of your Lordships who have referred to the presence here of the noble Earl, Lord Avon. I had the great honour of serving him as a Minister—he was the first of the three Foreign Secretaries whom I served—and it certainly brought back happy memories to me to hear him to-day and to enjoy, as we all did, that deep and quiet wisdom flowing from his matchless experience. The noble Earl said that he wanted to see:a more coherent sense of purpose among the free nationsand he added that it depended upon France. That is the point at which I should like, very briefly, to take up my theme.
Like others I have loved France all my life. I have loved her in peace time; I have sorrowed for her in war. I also think that General de Gaulle is a very great man. His courage, in war and in peace, has rendered high service both to France and to the world, and that will endure. I have said all this deliberately because it is against that background of my feelings for France and the President that I wish to say what I am now going to say. It is this: I regret that, in my view, this great man has tarnished his greatness and qualified his service by the intransigence of his attitude to this country and to the United States of America. I base what I am saying on a certain amount of experience, which I shall come to in one moment, but in my view the truth about the President's attitude to Great Britain is that he has never really wanted us in "his" Europe because he has been determined to dominate Europe alone—by which I mean that France should dominate Europe alone; and for him the renaissance of France is inseparable from her supremacy in Europe. This policy, of course, is a complete volte face from the policy of France before the advent to power of President de Gaulle.
I had the honour of serving in the British team from fairly early days at Strasbourg, and later on I led it for the 1393 Government, and I remember so well how, day after day, night after night, we would assure the French leaders of those early days that we had absolutely no intention of turning our backs upon Europe. I remember saying to them that we would not if we could, and that we could not if we would. As I say, at that time de Gaulle was out of office. A little later, when I was leading the delegation for the British Government, I remember being approached one evening by Gaullist deputies who asked if they could see me. I thought, and I hoped, that they were going to suggest helpful ways by which our proceedings could be strengthened, so that we could be believed by those whom we were addressing in the Assembly. Far from that being the purpose of the conversation, it was to ask me why we really wanted to bother with Europe at all. Had we not plenty on our plates in other spheres, in the context of Commonwealth, and so on?
I must say, therefore, without going further into that story, that I myself was not in the least surprised when, as soon as this great man came to power, he made it perfectly clear that he wanted to keep us out. In my view, our being kept out had nothing whatever to do with the failure to match up to what we were trying to do in terms of the Common Market. In fact, he saw that the rest of the Six, apart from his own people, were going to agree to let us in and he was determined at all costs that we were not coming in.
So far as the United States is concerned, I want to recall to your Lordships a conversation that I saw and listened to on a programme called Gallery, on the B.B.C., just before the present Prime Minister went to Paris. There was on this programme a French Professor, called Professor Hurtig, and I took down these words because I fully intended on the first possible occasion to relate them to your Lordships. What he said was:It is necessary for General de Gaulle's policy for tension with the United States to exist.Those are the words that this intelligent man used. That is simply another way of saying—it must be—that if tension looks like relaxing it must be whipped up by France, so that de Gaulle's policy may exist. What is the policy? Of course, it is the policy of the Third Force, 1394 the Force Troisième, and it is accompanied by observations which are the reverse of kind, and I think sometimes unworthy, so far as we and the Americans are concerned. We know the President's derogatory phrase, les Anglo-Saxons; it is derogatory, and of course it is not accurate, because, as the General does not appear to realise, there are in fact more Italians in New York than there are in Rome. But let that be. I think this sort of attitude is deeply regrettable.
When the President, as reported, made it clear to President Kennedy, when they were talking, what was in his mind when he was talking of the organisational concept of NATO, the President is reported to have answered him that for the United States the defence of Europe and of America were the same, and that American troops were stationed in Europe to signal Moscow that an attack on Europe automatically constituted an attack on America. I wonder what would have happened if, either in 1914 or in 1939, the President of the United States of America had been able to make that clear. Can there be any doubt that neither of the great wars would have started? I remember asking myself this question on the day when I heard Ernest Bevin announce in the House of Commons the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. To me this was an absolute climacteric in the world, and I breathed freely for the first time since the war broke out in 1939.
So, whatever we may sometimes say about the United States, whatever criticism we may make, as has been objectively and responsibly made occasionally to-day, about their tactics here, there or somewhere else, whether in battle or out of it, let us just ask ourselves where any of us would be now, especially on any of the dangerous fronts, without the United States. Where do we think Australia would be without them? What would Australians be thinking now? What would India be thinking now? What should we be thinking now? I would beg the French not to allow the fact that they do not happen to like the Americans to get quite so much in the way of common sense.
I will conclude by illustrating what I mean by telling your Lordships of an incident which occured to me on the way back from one of my European travels, just after the war, when I was 1395 talking to a French policeman on Boulogne pier: I had missed the ferry and had to wait about six hours with my car. He asked what I had been doing, and I told him that I was a politician; and we talked. He asked, rather provocatively, what I thought of the Americans, and I told him. He replied, "I don't like the Americans". I said, "Don't forget that if it were not for them, neither you nor I would be standing here talking on Boulogne pier. Now the Russian divisions would be in the Channel ports." He drew himself up and looked me straight in the eye and said, "You are perfectly right, but that is no reason at all why I should like them."
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, it is getting rather late and we have heard a great deal of interesting material this afternoon about the international situation, and in particular Asia, so I will be as quick as I can; but there are one or two points which have not been covered and which I regard as fundamental, and I should like for a few minutes to develop those. It is agreed that the Communist threat has shifted from Europe to Asia. What is apparently not so easily agreed is, now that we have dealt with it successfully in Europe, how to deal with it in Asia. When NATO was formed 15 years ago the Soviet threat was not only obvious but very imminent, so it was comparatively easy to line up 14 nations for an obvious military task, and we were greatly helped in that task, which has been successfully achieved, by the fact that there was a line. We had the Iron Curtain, which is still there, and also the River Elbe, and not one shot—at least, a few shots but certainly no soldiers, have crossed the Elbe on any operations for twenty years.
I personally feel very strongly that lines of demarcation—and this was mentioned in another place the other day by Mr. Maudling when he called them frontiers—are very helpful assets in this world of to-day. Mr. Adlai Stevenson, an hour before he died, made this remark to a London political correspondent. Referring to Europe, he said:We drew a line. We shall have to come to something very like it in Asia.Those were almost the last words he said. I should like to develop that 1396 theme for a few minutes. On top of the successful deterrent strategy which has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Glendevon, and the fact that the threat has now obviously diminished in Europe, we have a situation in Asia where unfortunately the U.S. 7th Fleet, with its great strategic nuclear power, has practically no effect on the situation because there is no line of demarcation. The whole situation is fuzzy at the edge, and at the present time we are in the middle of a very difficult ideological struggle and a state of instability in Asia. It will not last forever but we must see it through.
All our troubles in Asia, I would suggest, have in fact been ideological, chiefly Communist inspired, and certainly the one in Vietnam that troubles us so much to-day is Communist inspired. In fact, we are sometimes inclined to forget it is a civil war, Communist relatives against peaceful relatives, just as it was in Malaya for 12 years, when a man comes out of the jungle and lives in a village with his relatives and then goes back in. It is as fluid as that.
In this situation it is, I suggest, not good enough, it is not the right way to settle the argument, just to apply force alone. We have to use an intelligent amalgam of three elements: first, the political factor, wise counsels; secondly the economic side, aid and trade, things like the Colombo Plan, which have been such a great success, and the wonderful American efforts in that part of the world, which have to be continued; and lastly, force, because you cannot win these wars by shooting—we found that out on a much smaller scale in Malaya. If you do not convince the villagers—not the Government in the cities, but the villagers who live in the bandit infested areas—that the Government they have or are being offered is better than the one the so-called "liberators", the Communist liberators, are offering them, no amount of force will ever win you that war. This is, unfortunately, through no fault of the Americans, because as they do not control the Government in Saigon they have never been able, as we were able in other situations as a Colonial Power, to regulate affairs. They have never been able to give orders, only advice. They are in this situation where, if they do not control the political end of the business, they will fail.
1397 We had this, on a much smaller scale of course, in Malaya. Looking back on personal experiences, I must admit to spending more than half my time on political problems and not on army, air force, naval or police problems. We had to persuade the people that they were going to win. Incidentally, the Communists in the jungle were doing their level best to persuade our villagers in exactly the opposite sense; they published 80 magazines a month on bamboo cyclostyle to that effect and issued them in the villages, which is much more than we did. This is the sort of political and psychological war which goes on, and which has to be won if you are going to have a successful conclusion.
It is hard, and really unfair, to criticise what has been going on in Vietnam in this appallingly difficult situation. But, in a helpful spirit, I should like to suggest two or three items which require attention. The first is intelligence. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, referred to this when he said he met a British patrol coming out of the jungle. I was actually with him on that day, and had the honour of taking him round in a helicopter. He said that the efforts of the soldiers were backed up by a good intelligence system. It is perfectly true. We had a unified intelligence system. It was not an army one; it was a police intelligence system. I had 30 army and air force officers working under police control in a unified system. All the intelligence system was on a police network. We actually knew the name and aliases of every bandit in the jungle. We never killed a man without knowing his name; and when we captured a man—we relied greatly on captures for our intelligence—we never shot him. We put him into court and tried to convict him. It is easy to say these things when it has been done years ago. It is much more difficult now. But intelligence is one item which has to be unified.
The second thing is that you cannot afford to let Communist terrorists dominate the situation at night. If you give them half a chance, and if they are allowed to walk about freely, Communist terrorists will terrorise the villages and murder people at night. But they walked about in terror of ambush in Malaya, and most effective it was. Terrorists in Vietnam have got to be ambushed at night so that they do not dominate the com- 1398 munications. Another point is that I get the impression, it may be a mistaken one, that there has never been a progression from one safe area to another. Admittedly it is a far bigger country, but in Malaya we managed to declare white areas. General Briggs started the scheme. A white area comprised an area where we had beaten the Communists. We then immediately rewarded the villagers by lifting a lot of burdensome restrictions—food rationing and searchings, and restrictions on movement and that sort of thing. If you reward the people for having supported you and helping your armed forces to clear an area, they will automatically support your Government; and finally the people in Malaya, including a lot of doubtful Chinese, did support the Government, and the enemy were beaten by popular opinion just as much as by shooting.
That has got to happen in Vietnam before we are through, because otherwise the Americans, splendid though they are and terrible as the difficulties they face are, will, if they are not careful, find themselves defending American bases. And one day, if they are not successful on the political front, it could happen that the South Vietnamese villagers, who have been referred to in this debate, will become so war weary after 11 years of this war that they may decide not to support it or the army any longer. That will be a hopeless situation; so it must not happen.
To turn for just a moment to Malaysia, the other troubled area, again there is no suggestion that Malaysia, with British, Australian and New Zealand support, will be defeated militarily. It is unthinkable. But it is possible that Malaysia could fall apart for internal political reasons. I was most upset a month ago, when I was in India and Singapore, to find that in Malaysia the Right wing of the U.M.N.O. Party was in a public row with the Chinese. It was a crescendo of bad feeling internally, inside Malaysia. There was a war being successfully prosecuted, with this awful row going on at home. In a most interesting talk I had with the Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew—who, incidentally, in my opinion, has dealt far better with the Communists in Singapore than the British ever did; they are difficult young men 1399 of 21 and 22, in the schools and in the trade unions, and he has dealt with them very faithfully and effectively indeed—he had to admit that this sort of thing in public was playing into Soekarno's hands. I am thankful to see that it has quieted down again. But that is a trouble under the surface, and a weak spot in the Malaysian situation.
I will not keep your Lordships any longer, because time gets on. I should like to conclude by saying that in Asia we are in this unstable position. Thirteen countries have been declared independent since the end of the war. Many of them are young and unable to stand up for themselves. They are in this difficult situation and they are threatened by subversion and aggression, and we simply have to support them. Furthermore, the Americans and the British must stand together, or they will fall separately. So, therefore, I think that the Government is absolutely right in its present policy. Much more important than any internal policy differences in this country is that we stand together in Asia. Looking back, I suggest that we remember that, by standing firmly together in Europe fifteen years ago, we are now in the happy situation where we are no longer afraid. That could be the case in Asia, especially remembering that China quite clearly has no intention of confronting the United States of America in a military sense.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, I am sure the whole House has been deeply impressed by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, speaking, as he does, with such a weight of authority on this particular subject, and I have no doubt that his words will duly have their effect on our present Government's attitude in regard to that part of the world.
The range of to-day's Foreign Affairs debate has already been so wide that I feel no apology is necessary for reverting again to the Middle East, although I am afraid that I shall approach it from a rather different angle from that taken by my noble friend Lord Samuel. After the Government's well-intentioned efforts to seek a cease-fire in Vietnam, there now seems a real danger of a lull in their peace-making efforts. I would urge them not to weary in their endeavours, and even, if need be, to turn their efforts in other directions.
1400 The crucial need of the hour is that Russia and the United States should not go their separate ways. That is why the move back to Geneva is so warmly to be welcomed. Perhaps the day may come when they will even combine to offer their material and technological aid to the developing countries, preferably under the ægis of U.N.O., and perhaps also with our own country's active participation. Such a joint effort would obviously prove to be supremely in their own interests. Not only would it be more valuable to the beneficiaries, but it would remove at one stroke any temptation for the developing countries to play off one great Power against the other. It would also avoid the great Powers themselves trying to outbid each other in their efforts to render aid.
To-day by far the most fruitful field for Russian-American co-operation would be in the Nile Valley, and particularly in hastening the completion of the Aswan Dam. It could finally exorcise the ghost of Suez. And in striving to bring about this joint effort by Russia and the United States, our own Labour Government are supremely fitted to play the part of honest broker, because our hands are clean over Suez. The problem of developing the Nile Valley has become urgent because its population is increasing rapidly, at the rate of 750,000 each year. This increase cannot be wholly met by industrialisation. By supreme efforts of planning, and the establishment of new industries, some 350,000 new jobs have been created annually in the Nile Valley, barely half the number required. Unless substantial outside help is given, the standard of living must inevitably decline, and political strife and human impoverishment will follow in its wake.
The future greatness of the Nile Valley lies not in the extension of its hegemony over the adjoining territories but in the richness of its own soil. Vastly increased areas of cultivation can be created on both banks of the Nile, by irrigation works that will follow the completion of the Aswan Dam. There is also another factor that will follow its completion. By bringing vast new areas under cultivation, and raising the standards of living of their peoples, these areas become automatically hostages to peace. The harnessing of the Jordan waters for the benefit of all their surrounding peoples 1401 will become a mere trickle, in comparison with the volume of water unleashed by the floodgates of the Nile. So long as strife persists in the Middle East and the shadow of war still hovers over that part of the world, the dropping of a single bomb on the Aswan Dam, could cause such havoc in the Nile Valley that the flooding of the Red Sea in the Exodus story would seem, by comparison, a mere storm in a teacup. That is why the speedy completion of the Aswan Darn would not only bring untold benefit to the whole of the population of the Nile Valley, but also provide the surest guarantee against the renewed outbreak of physical war in the Middle East.
In what other ways can Britain be of help in this vital area? We are already committed to the future independence of Southern Arabia. But it should be pointed out in Aden that, when Western influence is withdrawn, the commercial importance of Aden may decline. Instead of remaining a port of call for international shipping, its emphasis may move from Steamer Point and Little Aden to Ma'ala, and Aden may become merely a port of sailing dhows, plying their local trade down the East Coast of Africa, and around the Arabian Peninsula.
The risk that Aden may follow in the wake of Suakin and become a dying port, is one that we should drive home to the forces of nationalism in that area. I hope that our Government will not shrink from their duty in that respect. Public opinion in this country received favourably the Prime Minister's reassertion that the Suez Canal should now become a truly international waterway, in the fullest sense of the term, and allow access to the shipping of all nations. But the climate of public opinion in the United Arab territories, to such an extent as it has been able to declare itself at this stage, seems as yet hardly ready for this change. For the moment this must remain a hope deferred, though world statesmanship must continue to urge that the complete opening of the Suez Canal to all international shipping may not be too long deferred.
We have constantly to remind ourselves also that wild words uttered in Cairo are intended for home consumption; and the wilder the words, the more localised their impact becomes. Their effect is rather like a Khamseen, which blows hot for a few days, and when it has blown over 1402 everyone heaves a sigh of relief and is thankful to resume his peaceful avocation. Even Balaam's ass ought to be convinced by now that where Hitler failed Nasser is hardly likely to succeed. Meanwhile, none of the countries of the Middle East can afford to relax its vigilance. They remain crippled by their burden of armaments, glowering with hatred or suspicion; ready to wound, but unwilling to strike; but, above all, reluctant to destroy at one hasty stroke all their laborious efforts to promote the health and happiness of their peoples and their hard-won independence. What a sorry spectacle for all their growing populations, desiring only as simple human beings to be allowed to live in peace!
Other efforts could be made by our Government to clear up uncertainty in the Middle East. While accepting reluctantly the present deadlock over the Suez Canal, could we not try instead to promote the creation of direct air corridors for civilian airlines over all the countries of the Middle East? These talks could well be initiated through the Mixed Armistice Commission of the United Nations. Each country in the Middle East would gain immeasurably from such a step, once the initial fears had been dispelled, and realise fully that it had nothing to lose. Other matters could also be considered by our Government. The promotion of trade agreements between this country and all the countries of the Middle East for the export of British goods could demonstrate our active disapproval of any trade boycott, which can only defeat its own purpose by prolonging tension in that area.
Can we not now be realists enough to accept the status quo in the Middle East and consult with our Commonwealth partners about the transfer of some Departments of our Embassy from Tel Aviv to the seat of government in Jerusalem, thus falling into line with so many countries which have already taken this step? The edict of U.N.O. in 1948 about the future of Jerusalem has now become utterly unrealistic, and the present situation is as anomalous as if the British Embassy were located in Amsterdam instead of at The Hague, or in New York instead of at Washington.
I do not wish to dwell unduly on our share of responsibility in perpetuating 1403 the Arab refugee camps, which are still pouring out their daily hymn of hate to a new generation of refugees growing up in their midst. But what has happened to the impetus of World Refugee Year so glowingly referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood? All over Europe, displaced persons from Estonia and Latvia, and other Baltic States, were prevailed upon to realise the hopelessness of their hatred of Russia, and to resettle in other territories exiled from their homes. All these festering sores of human misery have now dried up, and the refugees have been given a new hope and a happy future in the countries of their adoption. Why must the exception still persist, of these Arab refugee camps doomed to eke out their pitiful existence?
One day it will be realised that the perpetuation of these refugee camps as hotbeds of hatred is yielding only diminishing returns, and that precious human material of enormous value to the adjacent Arab countries is being allowed to languish in the Middle East. Strange as it may seem to us now, this is a part of the world from which, in the past, ideas of peace have gone out to mankind. Today it is an area stricken by strife and seething with discord and enmity. Perhaps the very depths of this enmity must reveal its utter futility, and our country may yet have a role to play in that part of the world as a healer of the breach and a promoter of peace.
§ 8.2 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I used to attempt to be present in the Chamber while everyone spoke before me, but the tail is getting longer, and in my habitual position at the tip of it I find that I last rather badly and have to go out for tea; so I am sorry that I have missed three speeches this afternoon. I should like to add my congratulations to the maiden speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, and to congratulate him in particular on the boldness of his main point: that to speak with conviction abroad we must be solvent at home. Had the speaker been Lord Cromer, I should have muttered to myself, "Ah, yes!—the speech. They all make it." But it came from a different quarter and is all the more convincing for that.
1404 I have not before had the pleasure of hearing the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. He is the second speaker on the Government Front Bench, coming to us from an international platform, who has been for me immensely impressive. The first was the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, whose maiden speech I described as thrilling, and I believe that description was generally accepted. In the case of Lord Chalfont, thrilling may not be the right description. In fact, I thought his approach was of a "dead pan" nature, but gradually the disciplined, intellectual integrity of what he said had a great effect, and I felt that he should leave us not only with our good wishes but with our assurance that he is a man that everybody could trust.
To the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I owe several items of thanks: first, for having introduced the Motion; secondly, for having reminded me in a letter that I had made a muddle of the date when I said I could not be present; thirdly, for encouragement to put whatever point I had in mind; and, finally, for the great lucidity of his own speech, which was easy to hear and easy to follow.
I want to go back very briefly to August 5, 1914. At about five o'clock in the morning I was fishing for pike in a Sussex lake, and at eight o'clock our property agent passed by. He was a jolly man, the joy of every spaniel who caught sight of him, but on that day there was no joy in his face. He said, "We are at war with Germany. There is no knowing when or how this will end." For the first time, at the age of fourteen, I think I was really afraid, because this had been talked about by my parents, and I think from that day to this no day has passed without my thinking of peace and war during a part of it.
During the course of these meditations, I have had an increasing belief that justice has something to do with peace, and injustice something to do with war. For example, it struck me that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles attempted to impose on Germanic peoples as yet unborn a wholly improper and unjust burden. By degrees, I felt it so strongly that I drifted on in the Army having the conviction that a calamity of great proportions was bound to arise again on that account alone. Since the Second World War the injustice which has most 1405 oppressed me is the thought that we made our peace by drawing a line, to the East of which 100 million civilised Christian peoples were placed in a Communist prison. To some extent that is still the case to-day, and I hope that whenever there is bargaining or negotiation which involves Europe the thought will be borne in mind that these people, too, wish to be free as we are, and that their interests should never be neglected.
I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is really right in believing that the rich are less aggressive, if that is the correct interpretation of what he said. I feel that the Russians are quiescent for a number of reasons. They have got the colonial empire which they wanted, and they have discovered that there is no question of our trying to recover it by force. But some of the subject peoples may decide to rebel, as Hungary did, and with more vigour. I think there is a constant danger in Eastern Germany; not that I think Eastern Germans have a greater claim on our feelings of justice than the rest of Europe. After all for long the profession of Prussia was war. However, I feel that so long as the captive nations remain captive there is danger, and there is injustice which leads to danger.
To turn from Europe for one brief moment to the Far East, I think of a circumstance which may well develop, say, after Vietnam and which we could do much to prevent. There is a possibility that the Chinese People's Republic will appear on the borders of Kashmir and demand, oddly enough, that the Resolutions of the United Nations he carried out or they go in. Were that to occur, it would be similar to the pistol held by Hitler at the time of Munich to apply the principle of self-determination (by which we all desire to live) to the Sudeten Germans. That, if I may say so, was the one merit of Munich; that Germans were placed in Germany instead of Czechoslovakia. Such is the danger, it seems to me, of Kashmir—a small place, one like Alsace, which may easily produce a war. Should we not exercise every pressure we can to get it solved? It has been aggravated, in fact, by the help, in a military sense, which we have given to India, greater than that which we have given to Pakistan.
1406 There is one more area of danger which I should like to mention before I conclude, and that is Africa. Personally, I am not at all happy with the recipe of "instant Uhuru" which we have applied to such large tracts of Africa. I am deeply interested in Africa. I served there forty years ago, and have kept in touch with their aspirations ever since. But I do not think we have done wisely in being so rapid. For example, recently, when Dr. Danquah died in prison in Ghana without being charged, without being tried, without being convicted and without being sentenced, the President of Nigeria thought it right and proper to make a speech calling attention to these facts, expressing his own personal regret that it should have happened and declaring:If we Africans merely substitute indigenous tyranny for alien rule, we have betrayed the cause for which we fought".The radio commentator in Lagos, in making his comment on this, called the attention of his hearers to the fact that in only 5 out of 35 (as I think it was then) independent African States was there anything that could be described as an authentic and free Opposition. The divine right by which the Governments have risen to power—divine as some of them call it—of "One man, one vote" has been sterilised by the addition to that slogan of "One Party", which makes the other right totally irrelevant. I could give a number of examples to illustrate the anxiety which I personally feel about these things. I have the impression that in many cases a tyranny no better than a Communist tyranny, except that it is more incompetent, has been set up with our connivance all over the place—and when I say "our" I mean of the Europeans, who have moved faster and further than anybody since the Roman legions left Britain. I conclude by expressing the very earnest hope that this "instant Uhuru" will not be applied to Rhodesia and Portuguese Africa, for whom I hope a period of preparing the background, if necessary for thirty years, will be allowed.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, may I first congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, on his charming maiden speech, in which he assured us that our endeavours since the war to do some 1407 good in this world have not all been quite so unsuccessful and misdirected as they have sometimes appeared to be? The modesty with which the noble Lord spoke did not quite conceal the fact that he is much wiser and knows a great deal more about this subject than any of us on either side of the House. For the last three or four years the noble Lord has been reading all the telegrams. Not only that, but he has read all the minutes sent in by Ministers on both sides, which I believe are not seen by their opponents when there is a change of Government. The noble Lord has now abandoned the supervision of the Foreign Office for the supervision of another non-comprehensive educational establishment, whose accommodation, I believe, is far superior to and much more modern than that at the Foreign Office, but about which the poet Thomas Gray wrote the line:Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise".I was not educated there, but I believe the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I hope that Lord Caccia will have plenty of leisure there—enough leisure to come here and speak to us very often again.
My Lords, in a Parliamentary democracy, where the Government and the Opposition sometimes succeed each other either at long intervals or short intervals but usually at unpredictable intervals, it is usually a good thing that we should try as far as possible to have a bipartisan foreign policy. Although it is always a duty of an Opposition to expose and criticise any mishandling or bungling of foreign affairs, we ought to try to frame what we say in such a way that our friends and allies will have confidence in the consistency of our policy. This debate has centred mainly on three things: on disarmament, on South-East Asia and on European unity; and on all of these things I should like to see a bipartisan policy prevail.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who is now being bumped in a wagon-lit, has our good wishes, not only for to-night but for the next few weeks at Geneva. I listened carefully to everything he said. I did not expect him to say anything new, 1408 and he did not say anything new, but what he said was none the worse for that. I think, to be quite frank and realistic, the truth is that we could have had disarmament at any time since 1946 if the Russians had wanted it. I think that is the basic fact. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said that he was going to do work which was serious and which was not just a public relations exercise—which, of course, is true so far as he is concerned. But I do not think it would be unfair to say that every Disarmament Conference for the last 18 years has, from the Rusisan point of view, been primarily a public relations exercise which they did not seriously expect to produce any result.
But that is not the whole story. It is always possible that Russia may want a result. Very often their emphasis and their policy changes with lightning suddenness, without very much warning. Therefore we must never cease to be patient, we must never stop hoping, and we must always be ready. I understand some people have criticised the Government for not being ready on July 20, which is the date the Russians proposed, instead of July 27. I do not blame the Government for that at all. I think they have done very well in getting ready by July 27. I think we should always be ready to persevere in these negotiations and should never give up the attempt. We must not assume that this time it is going to "come off". If it does not, never mind; we must still go on. But we must never cease to be ready to discuss disarmament with them.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, is the noble Earl really suggesting that the failure of the whole series of Disarmament Conferences is due just to the Russian attitude? Is it not the case that both sides have used them in their national interests, and for propaganda purposes, rather than for the serious purpose of disarmament?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I know that it is morally very gratifying to take an attitude like that, and to say that we are equally to blame; but in my view it is simply not the case.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, in my view we could have had disarmament at any time during the last eighteen 1409 years if Russia had sincerely desired it. But that is no reason why we should not persevere.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, rightly said that in the present circumstances the most important thing was to get an agreement on non-dissemination. He spoke of two drafts which had been considered by the Government, one of them together with the United States and the other together with Canada. I am not going to ask the Government to tell us whether these drafts are the same as, or different from, the drafts which were drawn up last year, when my Party was in power, and which are no doubt in the Foreign Office files; because I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said, that it is not at this moment in the public interest to discuss the details. The last Government tried to do this and had had drafts prepared for a very long time. The same applies to what he said about the peacekeeping force and the United Nations. I entirely agree with him that if a peacekeeping force (which of course would have to be accompanied by disarmament by the great Powers), is ever to be effective, the United Nations is the only agency of which we know at present through which that force could be provided.
The disarmament plan which we supported, and which was drawn up at the Commonwealth Conference of 1961, did, in fact, provide for a peacekeeping force, following disarmament through the United Nations. So also did the United States plan which we adopted: not because we thought it better than ours, but because it did not much matter which plan we adopted, so long as we obtained agreement. As Lord Chalfont said, if there is a fire and two fire engines come along, you do not mind which one you use. But for the present problems we do not want to put too heavy a burden on the United Nations; we do not want to put upon their shoulders a burden too heavy for them to bear. To get what we want now, disarmament, and an agreement on the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons, the fundamental task is to get agreement between the United States and Soviet Russia. Until we get agreement between those two Powers, the United Nations will be powerless and unable to do anything. Therefore that must be our objective now.
1410 Most of your Lordships who have spoken—and I wish I had time enough to refer to all the excellent speeches that have been made—have mentioned Vietnam. On that subject the Government have lately made one or two tactical moves which have been criticised as being misjudged. It is perfectly reasonable and legitimate to make criticism of that kind, which may very likely be right. But I think it is far more important not to seek to find what tactical errors the Government have made, but to support the Government against the opposition which comes from a very large section of their own Party, especially in another place, and which, in my view, if it were to prevail would be disastrous and might even lead to another world conflagration.
I think that the statements which the present Foreign Secretary, Mr. Michael Stewart has made, in another place, at Oxford and elsewhere, on the war in Vietnam, have been quite first-class. In my view, he has always struck the right balance. He has made it plain that our country wants peace; that we will do our utmost to promote peace, and will neglect no opportunity of doing so and of persuading both our friends and our adversaries to come to the conference table. But at the same time he recognises that if a conference is held upon the basis of an American withdrawal, the only result will be that every country in South-East Asia which is now free and independent will in a short time become the victim of Communist aggression and slavery. President Johnson has declared that he will negotiate unconditionally. Does any noble Lord believe that the Americans are there in order to gain anything, in order to gain territory, or in order to gain wealth or trade? Of course they are not. They are there for exactly the same reason that we are in Malaysia—to protect a free people who are weak against aggressors who are strong and who are trying to take away their liberty. That is the whole essence of the problem.
I should like very much to speak about many other matters—for example, about Latin America, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, spoke, and which I think is neglected too much—but I must conclude with a brief word about Europe. Many of your Lordships, my noble friend the Leader of 1411 the Opposition, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and others have spoken about the need for European unity. I do not want to press the noble Earl, Lord Longford, who is going to reply too hard, because I know that if one tries to incite the noble Earl to say anything he does not want to say it is rather like taking the lid off a beehive; the resulting dialogue is apt to be protracted and diffuse.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I am hoping that he may be able to say a little more than was the case when this matter was debated two or three months ago. At that time I expressed a view, with which I hope some noble Lords may have agreed, that our main reason for wishing to join the Common Market and for signing the Treaty of Rome was not to gain economic advantage for ourselves, but to promote the prosperity of Europe; to promote the defence of the Free World; and, not least, to enable Europe to give more effective economic help to the undeveloped countries, to redress the imbalance between world poverty and destitution, on the one hand, and world affluence, in the industrial countries, on the other: an imbalance which presents us with such a glaring contrast between North America and Europe, on one side, and Asia, Africa and the great continent of South America, on the other. South America, of course, was built up very largely by British capital and I wish that we could pay more attention to it than we do.
My Lords, those are the reasons why I think we ought to press on in our aim of joining the Common Market. We have in this Government a Ministry which I think is called the Ministry of Overseas Aid and which is concentrating on the question of how we can help the poorer nations of the world. The other day we were told that it would issue interest-free loans. I do not know whether any have been issued yet, or whether any will be issued now for a long time—after the Statement yesterday on economic policy. But if I were asked why it is that Britain and Europe have done so little, compared with the United States, to help the poorer countries of the world, my answer would be, "Be- 1412 cause Britain is not in the Common Market." I think that a most cogent reason.
I was very encouraged by a statement made in another place last week by Mr. Padley, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. I think it is in order for me to quote from it because he is a Minister of the Crown and it is in order to quote what is said by Ministers in another place. Mr. Padley said:As has been made clear, we on this side of the House stand for a Common Market embracing the Six, Britain and any other countries which wish to join. We are in favour of Britain participating from the beginning in any discussions on political unity in Europe and we have made far-reaching proposals on defence which are of importance to Europe as well as to the Atlantic Alliance.My Lords, I think that an admirable statement. What I like about it most of all is that it does not mention those five conditions which are supposed by the Party opposite to be so important; not that they are necessarily bad intrinsically, but I should like to impress on your Lordships that to reiterate them, to mention them, is very apt to be misleading.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
At the risk of uncovering a beehive, or whatever it is of which I may be accused, may I say that I made a long speech entirely devoted to this question and I did not mention those conditions. I do not feel that the noble Earl ought to accuse the Government or its representatives in this House of stressing those conditions.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
To be quite fair to the noble Earl, he did not gratuitously mention them, but when the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, interrupted and asked about them, he was obliged to say that the Labour Party still adhered to them. I do not accuse the noble Earl of advertising them gratuitously. I am afraid, however, that other Ministers, including the Prime Minister, have done so, I think mistakenly. I think it causes a great deal of misunderstanding. Some of them are unnecessary, in respect of the Commonwealth and EFTA. Everybody knows what is the position about them.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, it was the condition about no common foreign policy that was the real difficulty.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am coming to that. If you keep on saying, "We are going to be faithful and loyal" as a condition of going into the Common Market it is rather like Mrs. Micawber, who used continually to assure her husband that she would never desert him, to which he could only reply, "My dear, I am perfectly aware of it". It is unnecessary to keep saying it.
As for foreign policy, do your Lordships really think that we want to have a more independent policy, more at variance with European countries than is General de Gaulle? If we are going to reiterate these conditions, possibly giving the impression that we do want to be more at variance with the rest of Europe than France is at present, is it not likely to give the impression that we do not want to join and are trying to make impossible conditions? As for economic freedom and independence, there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome to prevent a Socialist country from joining the Common Market, or a country which is in the Common Market from nationalising any industry. If we keep saying that we are not going into the Common Market unless we are free to nationalise industry, all we are doing is giving the impression that we want to pursue an economic policy at variance with the rest of the Six. That would be a deterrent against our being admitted.
As for agriculture, as I think I said before, the great difficulty is not that agriculture would be starved but that it would be over-fed, so much so that it would have more support than it wanted and food prices would therefore be too high.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I wish to say only one sentence. Surely we should create more misunderstanding if we gave the impression that we are prepared to join the Common Market without mentioning the conditions under which we are prepared to join?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
No, my Lords, I think that shows an absolute misunderstanding of the whole question of negotiation. Every country which has gone into the Common Market makes conditions, and the whole process of discussion among the Six ever since the Market began has been in making conditions with each other and that is what 1414 so much of the trouble has been about. Everyone knows from the result of the long negotiations at Brussels what are the conditions for which we stand. I say that I think the unnecessary reiteration of the conditions has given a false impression.
I should like the noble Earl or the Prime Minister to make an authoritative statement on the lines of the statement made last week by Mr. Padley, a statement of a really positive kind, or, to use an adjective which I believe the Government like, of a "dynamic" kind, showing that we really positively and sincerely want to come in and that we do not want to take advantage of the present difficulties of the Market, either to join up with the other Five against France or to use our technological agreement with France to the detriment of the others. What we ought to want to do, and what we should say we want to do—and no sacrifice of pride would be involved in saying it—is to sign the Treaty of Rome and to join the Common Market for the common good of all of us.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has spoken as charmingly as ever and I would offer him only one piece of respectful advice. It is that if he wants to help this Government to pursue actively a European policy, to attempt to force them to say at every moment how they stand in regard to these conditions which we enunciated some time ago is the worse way to do it.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
All I am suggesting is that they should not say anything at all about the conditions.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
As I was about to explain to the noble Earl, who seems enormously pleased with that answer, if he will restore his mind to the earlier debate he will remember that I made a long and carefully considered Government statement in this House without stressing these conditions. There was no question of reiterating them. But people of one Party or another were so anxious to discover whether they had been repudiated that they raised the issue and therefore I had to say that they had not been repudiated. To call that continually reiterating them is extremely unfair and, if I may say so, is defeating 1415 the object that the noble Earl, and quite a few others on the Benches opposite, had in mind. But enough of that subject.
May I say another word to the noble Earl, who was in his most delightful mood, which I hope that he will retain in the economics debate next week? He was anxious to strengthen the hand of the Foreign Secretary, who has received well-deserved praise from the noble Earl and from the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. There again, if I may say so, it is not the service which I think that he had in mind to do my right honourable friend, Mr. Stewart, if he praises him in one breath and in the next breath denounces a large section of his Party. That is the kiss of death, or, if not the kiss of death, at least the kiss of sickness, and I can only suggest that perhaps it is not the most statesmanlike way to tackle the problem.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I do not think so. If the noble Lord feels that he is guilty of that, I will join him in that mild censure, but I was not meaning to censure him. I can mention other speakers without seeming to criticism them automatically, and I do not think that I have anything on that score with which to reproach the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn.
Before I come to the central issue of the debate, perhaps I should say a word of apology to anyone who, like the noble Lord, Lord Glendevon, feels that the arrangement of speakers was not the most helpful to the House. I think that perhaps most of us are aware that my noble friend Lord Chalfont had to leave unexpectedly to-night and we had to arrange speakers in this way.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
My Lords, if the noble Earl will forgive me, I was not complaining about the arrangement of speakers. I simply put a perfectly sincere question as to why we were going to have two winding-up speeches, one by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and the other now by the noble Earl. That is what I was asking.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
With respect, the noble Earl brought in the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, but that is a red herring. I never mentioned him at all. His speech was not a winding-up speech.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
When I can break into the argument, may I say that the original arrangement was that I should speak first, then my noble friend Lord Chalfont and then my noble friend Lord Walston. Perhaps the noble Lord is with me? When we knew that my noble friend was leaving early, we had to rearrange this and introduce this unusual order of speakers.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I did not hear that. I should like to say how much I agree with many of the things the noble Lord said. In some cases perhaps he went farther than any Government spokesman, irrespective of Party, could go on these topics, but I can endorse explicitly what he said about our goodwill towards the United States. I know that he is well qualified to speak about this and I am sure I shall carry him with me if I say that in all history one cannot point to such spectacular generosity on the part of a great nation as we have seen in the case of the United States since the war. I think that anybody who is to-clay anti-American is like a man who is anti-Semitic or, for that matter, anti-Irish—a man with a diseased mind.
I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, will not expect me to try to answer his speech. I do not think it could be answered at all. We were all extremely grateful that it was made. It was an example of what your Lordships' House can offer to the world in a way which perhaps no other Chamber can offer. He is a man whose immense firsthand knowledge has been placed entirely at our disposal.
If I may cover rapidly one or two of the speeches made since my noble friend Lord Walston made the first summing up, we had expert speeches about the Middle East from the noble Lord, Lord Segal, and from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who comes over here especially when released from his work in Israel. I can say what they already know, but which I must say again—our whole policy is devoted to the furtherance of 1417 peace and stability in the Middle East, combined with the improvement of living conditions in the area. We have this continually in mind. I do not know that I can add anything in a general way to-night, except to say that the particular questions my noble friends raised will receive answers from the Ministers in the Foreign Office or myself. But let me say one thing to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who knows so much about the British information work in the Middle East. In the Government that work is valued very highly. In these days of economy, I do not think it is much good my standing here and saying that in no circumstances could expenditure on that count ever be reduced or suggest that it should be increased. But I should like all concerned to feel that in the most genuine sense this work is regarded as being of immense value.
Perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, who has sat through so many speeches, will allow me to answer his broad view of international affairs as I proceed through my main answer. It has been a debate enriched in various ways, particularly by the presence of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and of the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, to whom so many tributes have been so justly paid. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said that the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, had now taken over the supervision of a well-known comprehensive school. Leaving over the question of whether it is or is not a comprehensive school, I wonder what the discussion will be like to-morrow between the headmaster of Eton and the Provost of Eton. I am sure that the Provost, being the senior officer, will be able to impose discipline, but I think that to describe his function as the supervision of education would not be the normal use of words. However, that is something for the Eton authorities to work out among themselves. I will come later, if I may, to one or two of the fundamental points made by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia. We all followed him with great respect and interest and hope to hear him many times again.
We missed from this debate, I am sorry to say, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who was unable to speak after all. We bear in mind that long series of debates which he initiated to so much purpose over the years. Maybe it is in the minds of not a few of the old hands here that 1418 they were replied to quite often some years ago by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as he now is, who was so immensely popular and respected here. I should just like to say—I hope that I shall not cause any embarrassment to anybody—of the period since Sir Alec left us, the old familiar lines have been true:He nothing common did or meanUpon that memorable scene.I hope he will have further opportunities of service to the country for many years, wherever that service may take him.
An issue running through the debate and through the interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the charming speech of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, was this question of co-operation between the Parties, or, if one tries to take it out of Party context, of the contunity of British foreign policy. Without dwelling on that subject so long as I might have done if I had been opening the debate, I would only say that throughout our history so far as we should like to go, but certainly for 150 years, there has undoubtedly been an element of continuity in British foreign policy, particularly in the sense that when any Government come in, it is bound to be unsatisfactory and maybe disastrous if there is any very sharp break which involves inability to carry along the great majority of the nation. In that sense, there must be continuity.
On the other hand, I think that in the taking over by our great Foreign Secretaries—I will not run over their names now—there was an element of initiative as well as an element of continuity, and where that has been most successful the initiative has been supported by the leaders of the other Parties. That was certainly true of Mr. Ernest Bevin, when he was so strongly supported by Sir Winston Churchill and the noble Earl, Lord Avon, in all the work leading up to the organisation of the defence of the West. I myself feel that any satisfactory policy, whether produced by a Labour Government, a Conservative Government or, it well may be, a Liberal Government, must always have this element of continuity, but if there is going to be an historical policy there must be initiative to cope with new circumstances and maybe to introduce new ideas.
It is now about 17 years since I worked as assistant Minister in the Foreign Office 1419 and, speaking for myself, though I am sure it would be true of others, in coming back to Government after the long interval of 13 years one finds a great difference in the atmosphere to-day. In those years after the war, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, will remember and the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, as well, there was a painful tension in the air. At any moment it seemed possible—not probable—that there might be a Communist attack in Europe. That was the particular problem that weighed down all those concerned with policy immediately after the war.
The atmosphere to-day is quite different so far as that is concerned. The danger point has now risen in Asia, particularly in South-East Asia. I will not dwell further on that subject. I think that most of us followed with profound respect the analyses of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Earl, Lord Avon. To a great extent, without necessarily agreeing with every word, I think we can agree with their accounts of what happened. The view of the Government—and this agrees, I think, with the view of the noble Earl, Lord Avon—is that we must not, so to speak, rejoice in the conflict between Russia and China. It may be that ultimately the present policy of China will bring the United States and the Soviet Union closer together, but for the present it has driven a wedge between them which has caused great difficulties in Asia.
What I should like to stress, to give a kind of characteristic insight into the approach of the present Government, is the view held by the Government, and, I believe, by their advisers, that there has never been a period in our history when such large changes were taking place in the world so quickly and unpredictably. That strengthens the need for initiatives of various kinds. I do not think we have had any real criticism of the initiatives to-day, although perhaps, if the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, had not been making a maiden speech, he might have been mildly critical. But these particular initiatives are always a matter of arguments. I was reading the last volume of the absorbing biography of the noble Earl, Lord Avon—at least, it is the volume that was published last—and he there describes how he wanted to go as Envoy to Russia before the war, after 1420 he ceased to be a Minister, but that this was vetoed by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. I am not saying that it would have been a good thing or a bad thing for him to have gone at that time; but there is always an argument when you adopt any kind of unfamiliar initiative.
We are taking initiatives of various kinds. The initiatives in South-East Asia are well-known. But I should like more stress to be laid than has been made in this House hitherto—though I made an announcement on the subject the other day—on the great success that has been achieved in easing the tension between India and Pakistan over the Rann of Kutch, and in achieving a ceasefire. Tributes have been paid officially. I was authorised myself to pay tribute to the work of our High Commissioners. But I am at liberty, I think—and I am sure my noble friend the Lord Chancellor will endorse what I say here—to inform the House of the ceaseless efforts and the nearly successful efforts made at that time by the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Secretary.
As regards Europe, I am afraid I go away as mystified as I came, a situation, I gather, which I share with the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. I do not think he can expect me to make some new statement to-night about our intentions with regard to Europe. My noble friend Lord Walston has dealt with the matter fairly carefully. However, I should like to tell the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn (without dragging them into the dialogue which he thinks I provoke too readily), that I still do not know whether they are, in fact, in favour of imposing some conditions before signing the Treaty of Rome. I gather that they must be. I cannot believe that the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, would be prepared to sign the Treaty of Rome as it is, without conditions. If that is so, I do not know, really, what they are talking about. We have said that there are still conditions, which no doubt would be discussed in negotiations; and I am sure the noble Earl and the noble Lord would make conditions. We have not been told that they would make no conditions, and I assume that they would make some. I cannot honestly believe that at this moment of time, with all the difficulties in which the Six countries are engaged, which we all regret, they would seriously 1421 suggest that we ought to embark on negotiations in an attempt to enter.
§ LORD GLADWYN
I am afraid I have not made myself clear. It is not a question of conditions. If we have negotiations, we have to negotiate on something. What we desire is that they will sign the Treaty of Rome and accept all the political and economic implications of that Treaty.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I cannot agree to being tied down to a particular statement. The Government have said again and again that they would like to join the Six on suitable conditions. Here there seems to be no disagreement. It becomes a matter of words. The noble Lord might like to make different conditions from those which the Government would make. But what is the point of saying in that general way that we should accept them, I do not know. We have said that we favour it, and that we should like to join. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn must know that at this moment it would be quite out of the question.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
To my mind, the signing of the Treaty of Rome imposes economic conditions; it does not impose any political conditions whatsoever.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
That is a very arguable matter indeed, and I doubt if the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, would agree with that—would he? I think I had better not ask him; that was an injudicious remark on my part. But I think that if the noble Lord has a talk with the noble Lady afterwards he will no doubt prove to her why I do not think he agrees with her. There is no fresh statement coming to-night on the Government's intentions. I have always been an unrepentant European. But I cannot say that if the noble Earl was in the place of the Government he would do anything different from the Government; and that I believe is also true of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. I cannot agree that there is this great difference between the Parties. I think that some of the words being used by noble Lords opposite are fictitious; they 1422 are manufacturing a difference where one does not exist. Everyone must form his own opinion about it.
I was a little depressed, possibly through a misunderstanding, at something that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on the subject of the Commonwealth. As he knows the Commonwealth and has served the Commonwealth better than I have, and has travelled much more widely in the Commonwealth, I listen carefully to what he says. He said that the Commonwealth is not a military force—I agree with that—and not an economic force. But he also said that it could not be a political force or bloc—I am not sure of his exact words. While I agree that at present on many matters some members of the Commonwealth may well vote one way and others another, personally I take the view—and I know this is the view of the Government—that the Commonwealth represents a force for peace for which there is no parallel in the world to-day. One either believes this or one does not. I know the noble Lord has great devotion to the Commonwealth, and I hope he, too, believes it. I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that if one expresses the conviction that the Commonwealth can greatly serve the cause of world peace, one is not moving away from Europe. There is no clash between these two things.
When one thinks of the Commonwealth to-day, we see, as the Prime Minister said, that it is a microcosm of the world itself: above all, a company of nations which transcends creed and colour, and it is spread across the world. I believe strongly that the real initiative to-day is to give help in Asia and in many other parts of the world as well, and I believe that the possibility of this country helping world peace is multiplied manifold by our position in the Commonwealth. There is here the germ of a world order, and the framework through which we can bring it about. This is my belief, and the belief of the Government, and I should hope, in general terms at least, that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, when he has the final word, would agree with this.
The last Commonwealth Conference was an immense success. I believe that the initiative they achieved was the expression of a new kind of purpose on 1423 the part of the Commonwealth, and I feel that there are untold possibilities of what can be achieved in similar ways as we go on. For one moment I turn back to something which was said by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, about British power and influence in the past and at the present time. I am glad that, with his much greater authority in Foreign Affairs—he taught these matters academically—he takes the view which I have always taken: that there is a great danger of exaggerating the power and influence which we possessed in the nineteenth century. People are apt to talk as though in some way we not only ruled the waves but ruled the world as well, and are disappointed in the Press because they find we are not doing it at the present time. There are 50 million people here and 3,000 million in the world, and whatever the precise ratio in the nineteenth century, it was not so totally different. I think that it is a great mistake to suppose that there was ever a time when we in this country could decide what happened in the crucial parts of the world.
The noble Lord took the example of Bismarck's wars, his conquest of Denmark, and the defeat of Austria and France. We were not able to lay a finger on him. We had only a very small Army—it was before the days of the Air Force, of course—and our Navy could not get at him. We are depressing ourselves unduly if we imagine that we have passed into some era when we are not what we were, and if we spend our time lamenting the riches we have lost. I think that there was never an era in which our country had greater opportunities of total influence—I am not talking of military strength—than in the years through which we are passing, and into which we are passing. I should hope and believe that that would be the view of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who is doing such great work at the United Nations.
We were told earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, that the aims of all Parties were the same. I think it was the noble Lord who said this, but he, and others, have quoted Sir Alec Douglas-Home elsewhere, when he said that the common aims were the security of this country and the peace of the world. I myself have great respect for Sir Alec Douglas-Home, 1424 to whom I paid tribute earlier. I think that though that formulation is often used, it is too limited to-day. It is not enough to think only of peace: we have to think of the prosperity of all nations.
I may well be asked what our country can do, with all its economic difficulties—and I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, that we must make a success of our economy: that is clearly the paramount duty, whoever is in power. I should think that we are now entering an era when we are not only concerned with peace (though that is going to be hard enough to keep), but are becoming more and more morally involved in the economic and social fortunes of the whole world. I would say that this era is more advanced than any other in its idealism, and I would say that in that particular task we are capable of mobilising the whole world on behalf of the weaker countries, in a common purpose, more successfully than any nation, and more effectively than we ourselves ever did in the past.
When we think of people like the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and of the ideals expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, about world government, we must realise that we are challenged, and called to a much greater role than ever before. Unless we realise this, I believe that we are simply falling behind the times. I am not going to accuse noble Lords opposite of being backward—they must decide that for themselves. If they feel that I am talking idealistic nonsense, then I disagree with them, and they with me. If they do share this vision, we can all go forward together. But I believe that in these matters the Labour Party are at once more optimistic and more pessimistic than ever before. We are more optimistic because we have more belief in what human nature is ready to accomplish in our era; we are more pessimistic because we are more conscious or certain of the catastrophe which will happen if we cannot build a world government of this kind. That is a matter of opinion. If anybody agrees with us, we agree with him.
The last word of this Government is that we hope to go down in history—and I believe that we shall—as a Government which was ready to give a new lead in promoting not just the peace of the whole 1425 world but the welfare of the whole world. I think that in that we shall eventually be followed by all in this country, whoever happens to be in power. We are grateful to the noble Lord for starting this extremely interesting debate.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I rise only to say four very short things. The first is to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, on his maiden speech. I never thought that after an undistinguished career at Eton—if one may brand oneself so unfashionably in these stirring days—I should be able to congratulate the Provost of Eton on anything, but I am glad to be able to do so. I was fortunate enough, too, to have a year in the Foreign Office, that most efficient and most distinguished of Departments, and at that time the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, was the Permanent Secretary. All I can say is that nobody could have more admiration for his efficiency, ability and knowledge of foreign affairs than I have and those of us who worked at that time in the Foreign Office. I think the House is very lucky to have such a distinguished recruit.
I am also grateful to all those who have taken part in this debate, and not least to the noble Lords opposite, Lord Walston, the Leader of the House, and Lord Chalfont, for the trouble they have taken in replying to and taking part in the debate.
There are only two other things I want to say, very shortly. First, I agree, of course, with a great deal of what the noble Earl said about the Commonwealth, but if he feels strong enough to-morrow morning and would read once again what I said, I think it will fall rather more into line than he supposed. I was saying that the Commonwealth was no substitute for joining the Common Market in maintaining our standard of 1426 life or our military defence. In that context, he would probably agree with me.
Lastly—and I hope this will not be too contentious—the noble Earl was rather chiding to my noble friend Lord Dundee. He suggested that if we wanted to support the foreign policy of the Government and the Foreign Secretary we must not point out that there were large numbers of the Labour Party who disagreed profoundly with that foreign policy. He suggested that we were doing a great disservice by pointing that out, although I should think it was fairly well known to those who could read the newspapers. I do not think it is the job of the Opposition to hold the quarrelling factions of the Government together. If they cannot hold their own Party together, they have the very obvious remedy which, I suspect, would be widely welcomed by the people of this country. The last thing that I want to say—
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, there is just one thing I should like to say, and I think I can say it without any personal offence, in view of what I said earlier. We may have had some difficulties, but we have not adopted the tactic of shooting the colonel in order to get out of those difficulties.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think that is a little unworthy, because I was just going to pay the noble Earl rather a nice tribute, which I will do in spite of that last remark. I was going to say that my noble friends and I greatly appreciated what he had to say about Sir Alec Douglas Home. It is the sort of thing that we expect from the noble Earl, but, just because we expect it, it is not any the less appreciated. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.