Orders of the Day — Great Britain and Soviet Russia (Treaty of Alliance).

– in the House of Commons on 11th June 1942.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. James Stuart.]

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am glad to be able to inform the House that His Majesty's Government have concluded a Treaty with the Union of Soviet and Socialist Republics which confirms our Alliance with that country during the war against Germany and her associates in Europe. The Treaty provides that after the war our two countries will render each other mutual assistance against any further attack by Germany or her associates. It further provides that we will collaborate with one another and with the other United Nations in the peace settlement and during the ensuing period of reconstruction on the basis of the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter.

The House will remember that Germany invaded Russia on 22nd June last year, and that on the same evening my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister affirmed that the Russian danger was our danger and that we should give whatever help we could to Russia and make common cause with the Russian people. Practical effect was given to the Prime Minister's declaration by the signature on 12th July of the agreement for joint action in the war against Germany. In September Lord Beaverbrook, with Mr. Averell Harriman, visited Moscow and negotiated an arrangement for supplying the Soviet Government with the war materials which they urgently needed for the prosecution of the war. This was followed in the political field by my visit to Moscow in December of last year. The purpose of my visit, in the words of the joint communiqué which was issued on my return, was the exchange of views on questions relating to the conduct of the war and to post-war organisation of peace and security in Europe. Since then conversations begun in Moscow have been continuing. The British Dominions, the United States and other countries most closely concerned have been kept fully informed of the whole course of our negotiations.

When I was in Moscow, I gave Mr. Molotov a cordial invitation to visit us in this country, and, when our discussions here had made sufficient progress, His Majesty's Government suggested that Mr. Molotov should come to London to embody our agreement in a formal treaty. Mr. Molotov meanwhile had been invited by President Roosevelt to visit him in Washington. It was arranged accordingly that Mr. Molotov should come here and then go on to the United States. He arrived in London on 21st May. The Treaty was signed on 26th May. The next day Mr. Molotov left for the United States in accordance with his programme. I am glad to be able to tell the House that Mr. Molotov had a safe journey to the United States and back and that he had most useful and satisfactory talks with the President in Washington. Mr. Molotov has now gone back to Moscow. When I sit down a White Paper will be available to Members at the Vote Office. It will contain, in addition to the Treaty, an exchange of Messages between His Majesty the King and Mr. Kalinin, as well as the speeches made by Mr. Molotov and myself at the signature of the Treaty. But I think it would be for the convenience of the House if I gave them now a brief outline of what the Treaty contains. The United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics reaffirm their determination to afford one another all possible assistance in the war and not to enter into any negotiations with the Hitlerite Government or any other Government in Germany which does not clearly renounce all aggressive intentions and not to negotiate or conclude except by mutual consent any armistice or peace treaty with Germany or any other State associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe. The two countries also agree that they will, when peace is re-established, work together for the organisation of security and economic prosperity in Europe. In doing so, they will take into account the interests of the united nations, and they undertake to be guided by the two principles of not seeking territorial aggrandisement for themselves and of not interfering in the internal affairs of other States. The two Governments go on to declare their desire to unite with other like-minded States in adopting proposals for common action to preserve peace and resist aggression in the postwar period. Meanwhile, when the war is ended they will take all measures in their power to render impossible a repetition of aggression and violation of the peace by Germany or any of the States associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe. There is, of course, bound to be some interval after the victory has been gained before an effective international system can be built up for preserving peace and for the prevention of further aggression. The two Governments accordingly have agreed that should one of our countries during the post-war period become involved in hostilities with Germany or an3' of her European associates in consequence of an attack by any one of these, the two Governments will at once give each other "all the military and other support and assistance" in their power. As for the duration of this undertaking, I will quote from the relevant article of the Treaty: This article shall remain in force until the High Contracting Parties by mutual agreement shall recognise that it is superseded by the adoption of the proposals contemplated in Article III"— that is, the long-term system of international security which the Treaty contemplates as our goal which I have already mentioned. The Article then goes on as follows: In default of the adoption of such proposals, it shall remain in force for a period of 20 years, and thereafter until terminated by either High Contracting Party. The Treaty contains a ratification clause. Both Governments are anxious that the Treaty shall come into force as soon as possible. The Treaty accordingly will be laid forthwith on the Table of the House. But our conversations with Mr. Molotov were not, of course, confined to Treaty matters, important as those were. The war in all its aspects was reviewed, and I will now give the House a quotation from the communiqué which is being issued to-day: Full understanding was reached between the two parties with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942. Discussions also took place on the question of further improving the supplies of aeroplanes, tanks and other war material to be sent from Great Britain to the Soviet Union. Both sides were gratified to note the identity of their views on all the above questions. I am sure that the House will join with me in welcoming the signature of this Treaty and the prospect which it opens up of active and fruitful co-operation in war and peace. From our long and friendly exchange of views with Mr. Molotov, we are assured that the Treaty expresses exactly the common desire of the two Governments. We have been enabled to arrive at this happy result through the establishment, by our contact with Mr. Stalin and Mr. Molotov, of complete mutual confidence. This is the time to mention the valuable contribution to Anglo-Russian understanding made by Mr. Maisky over a long period of years.

The signature of this Treaty not only formalises and emphasises the closeness of the collaboration between our two countries during the war. It affords also an indispensable basis for European reconstruction. This does not mean that our two countries alone will be responsible for the peace of Europe when the war is won; that is a burden which will be shared by all the United Nations. It means that without the closest understanding between Great Britain and the Soviet Union there can be no security and stability in Europe either for ourselves or for any of our Allies. The problems of peace are not, of course, for Europe alone, and I hope, with assured confidence, that the good work which our two Governments have accomplished will be welcomed by the President and people of the United States, and will enable our three great countries to work together in the years of peace as now in the hard times of war.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

I feel that the House has received my right hon. Friend's statement with feelings of the most profound satisfaction. We work together as comrades in war and work together in the times of peace. There will be no desire to pursue this topic now, and I am sure the House will wish to study the White Paper. There is just one question I should like to put to my right hon. Friend, not in any spirit of suspicion on my part. Here is an open Treaty, published to the world. Will he now tell this House and suspicious persons outside the House whether in these negotiations any secret understandings have been come to?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend. The whole of the terms of the Agreement arrived at are published in the White Paper now laid. There are no secret engagements or commitments of any kind whatsoever.

Mr. Lloyd George:

As one who has laboured for over 20 years to establish a good understanding between Soviet Russia and this country, I felicitate the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and the Government upon the accomplishment of this Treaty. Had it been a fact some years ago many grave blunders in foreign policy would have been avoided. Not only that: this war could never have occurred.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.